A form of fourth wall breakage, an Aside Glance occurs when an actor gives a brief, silent glance to the camera as a way of acknowledging that their current situation — or the person they're speaking to — is stupid, weird or otherwise unusual.
It's generally used as a way to acknowledge the audience's assumed reaction and show that the glancing character is just as smart as them and just as aware of the absurdity of the situation. Importantly, the glancer should never speak to the audience, nor should the other characters (if it is fiction) acknowledge that the person just glanced away.
The glance can be either a normal look or an Eye Take.
The trope has its roots in the "aside", a trope from the European dramatic tradition that had characters making one-line comments to one another which are unheard by the other characters. Originally this was used to undercut dramatic tension but was turned around over time to allow for serious usage, in plays such as Hamlet. Characters also began to make remarks to the audience or to themselves rather than to other characters. This was modified into the silent glance, which was used in stage comedy routines and subsequently found its way into the films of Laurel and Hardy and other movie comedians, thus making it Older than Television at least. The speaking version still exists, too, in various contexts, including comics; see Aside Comment. Compare Fourth Wall Psych and Meaningful Look.
Used a lot in This Is Reality situations.
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In Kekkaishi Tokine is discussing with Tokiko about bridges to dimensions, Tokiko then makes a out of the blue comment that Tokine should not be so hyperactive, when she was acting normally the entire time, Tokine then proceeds to make an Aside Glance to the audience complete with the transitional Face Fault.
Kyou and Tomoyo both do this after teasing Sunohara into another outburst.
Kyou gives Tomoyo one when Tomoyo gives Nagisa her Graceful Loser line, "So you're why he's doing this... I'm so glad it's for someone like you."
After telling Sunohara that since Kappei kept talking to him about Ryou, it means he trusts him, right? And therefore he must be interested in him right? So it's Operation Jealousy riiiight? He doesn't actually give an aside glance, since he doesn't have a sprite. But he does say briefly '...what?' to the reader before continuing on.
The title character of Lupin III does this at least constantly.
Kaname throws us one in the second episode of Full Metal Panic! after Sōsuke buys into a very obvious con to force him into garbage duty.
In the second episode of Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann, Kamina makes an exceptionally boisterous boast, causing Yoko to look at the camera momentarily and wonder aloud where he gets his confidence. This is immediately lampshaded by panning out to show that she was talking to thin air.
In a relatively early episode, Chopper starts to yell at Nami when she wakes up from her sickness at Dr. Kureha's place, and then he acts awkwardly all of a sudden, prompting Nami to look directly into the camera and ask aloud if he can't hide his feelings.
Sanji does this twice in the beginning of the sixth movie when one of the island's champions, Muchigoro, is introduced. First time, he tells the audience that Muchigoro's definitely an idiot. The second time he does this is after Muchigoro is tricked by Usopp saying, "See? He's an idiot."
Usopp does this multiple times after meeting the Barbar sand pirates during the Alabasta arc in a filler episode.
In the anime adaptation of Haruhi Suzumiya Kyon does one following one of Haruhi's many, many enthusiastic rants.
In DC One Million, we discover the ultimate fate of Superman: In the distant future, he spends 100,000 years hibernating in the sun, and emerges in the 853rd century as an unstoppable super-god. After bringing Lois and the entire planet Krypton back to life with a wave of his hand, his final act is to give the reader one last knowing wink.
Iron Man and Spider-Man gave a prominent Aside Glance prior to the Civil War. In the previous issues, Mary-Jane had suffered a broken arm, then shown up shortly after without a cast or anything. When fans pointed out the mistake, the writers added a discussion between Parker and Stark, revealing that Stark had fixed her up with some kind of injected bone glue. The panel immediately after the explanation shows both characters looking straight at the reader.
The Joker tends to do this, due to him being one of the only DCU characters who is self-aware of his status as a comic book character. Meta-awareness is frequently part of the Joker's toolbox. Near the end of the "Emperor Joker" comic storyline, he actually yells at the comic's artist.
Done in the Disney Comics Beagle Boys story "Short Order Crook". After being instructed to by "Cousin Half-Pint" (a short Beagle Boy), the Beagle Boys have torn off their numbers so they can't be identified but then become confused about which of them is which, not even remembering their own numbers and as two of them are discussing it, Cousin Half-Pint looks out of the comic at the reader and scowls while jerking a thumb at the other two, as if to ask "can you believe how stupid they are?"
Huey Freeman of The Boondocks does this regularly, making just his reactions to the stupidity of those around him just as funny as any of his rants.
Garfield does this in every strip, usually with Jon during the punchline.
Used frequently by the title character in The Joker Blogs, but justified in the fact that there actually is a cameraman for the Joker to Aside Glance at, and that the Joker already has Medium Awareness and regularly breaks the fourth wall in the comics. One of the funnier uses:
Joker: (to a bum on the street) Do you wanna die? Ted the Bum: Uh... Well... Uh... kind of... Joker: (incredulous look at camera)
It's a bit hard to tell in Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, but when the fat, penitent, diaper-clad "Baby" Brent tries to convince Sam and Flint to let him come along on their attempt to stop the food machine, putting his arm on Sam's shoulder for emphasis, she briefly turns and gives an uncomfortable look to either Flint, the camera, or both.
In Hoodwinked, Red Puckett practically is a master of this, as there are at least four or five that she gives during her story.
When Red is taking the recipe book from behind the Concealing Canvas in Granny's store, the woodpecker she is with asks if the Bandit will get the book. Red turns to the bird and replies, "Not today," with the camera angle positioned such that it looks like she's speaking to the camera.
When Red encounters Japeth and he denies having spoken normally instead of singing for a brief second, she pauses to give the camera an exasperated stare.
Two others happen with Red during "Be Prepared", the song in Japeth's shack: she does an indirect Aside Glance when she says "Oh, good. More singing," after pleading to Japeth for help causes him to break out in song. Also, when the line "I got horns that open pickle jars.." comes up, Red holds out a pickle jar for Japeth to pop the lid off of, then gives a bemused look at the camera.
The Wolf does one himself, after his hyperactive assistant and photographer Twitchy claims he doesn't drink coffee — while talking so fast it's hard to understand what he's saying.
In Alpha and Omega, Eve tries to tell her daughter how to handle her date if he gets out of line. Being Eve, her advice was to "take those beautiful teeth of yours, go for the throat, and don't stop until the body stops shaking". Kate's response was wide-eyed shock, during which she gives an Aside Glance.
Esmeralda from The Hunchbackof Notre Dame actually winks at the viewers for a few seconds during her dance at the Feast of Fools before poledancing with a spear.
Seta from Grave of the Fireflies gives a mildly scolding look at the audience near the end of the film, specifically juvenile delinquents of Japan in 1980s. Takahata specifically made the film for the delinquents to appreciate what they have while understanding what their parents would have suffer from the war.
One early example has Jay and Silent Bob talking to Holden McNeil about their plans to stop the Jay And Silent Bob Show Within a Show from being made. Holden tries to tell them that the project won't go anywhere anyway, saying "A Jay and Silent Bob movie? Who would pay to see that?", which is immediately followed by all three of them looking at the camera. Silent Bob smiles.
A cop tells Federal Wildlife Marshall Willenholly that someone may have arranged a breakout of animals to draw attention away from a jewelry robbery. He says that sounds like something out of a bad movie, and all the characters turn to look at the camera. An angle change reveals that they all just happened to look along the road at the same time.
And when Jay and Silent Bob finally get to the Hollywood filmset, they come across Matt Damon and Ben Affleck as they argue about their current roles in Good Will Hunting 2: Hunting Season. They take pot shots at various movies both have done, until finally Affleck says, "What do I keep telling you? You gotta do the safe picture, then you do the art picture. And then sometimes you gotta do the payback picture because your friend says you owe him." [Both look at camera.]
During the massive argument that breaks out at the climax of Blake Edwards' A Shot in the Dark, Clouseau vainly tries to restore order but winds up staring helplessly into the camera.
A chase sequence in the classic Burt Reynolds film Smokey and the Bandit sees Bandit outwit a police vehicle by quickly driving behind a building and turning off the lights, then slowly driving away when the policemen leaves. The Bandit stops to look back, then smiles to the camera before he roars off.
Kevin of Home Alone acknowledges the audience a couple of times, usually for expository purposes; "I made my family disappear!" But the best example of this trope occurs in Home Alone 2. He addresses the man next to him on a plane, who then begins babbling extensively in French. Kevin slowly turns and gives a good long "Why me?" look at the camera.
In Death Proof, Stuntman Mike smiles at the camera before getting in his car.
Eddie Murphy also does this in Trading Places, when the Duke brothers condescendingly explain that you might find bacon in a bacon lettuce and tomato sandwich.
John Belushi in Animal House turns to give the camera his trademark single raised eyebrow after he climbs the ladder to look into the sorority house window and discovers the girls in the midst of a semi-nude pillow fight.
An unintentional example in Hot Fuzz: Timothy Dalton's eyes, for a split second, stare right down the barrel of the camera. Director Edgar Wright apparently found it amusing enough to leave in the finished film, also timing the faint sound of an old-style cash register in the background to coincide with it.
Danny: What was it like being stabbed? Angel: It was the single most painful meeting of my life. Danny: What was the second most painful? Angel: (stares directly at the camera)
At the end of Pretty in Pink, Butt Monkey Duckie is so shocked on discovering a girl's interest in him that he looks right out the fourth wall.
Undercover Brother. While the title character is flying through the air toward some enemy Mooks, he briefly turns his head and looks at the camera.
At the end of Imagine Me And You, the male lead Heck meets a beautiful girl on a plane and gives the camera a quick smirk.
Justified in Terminator 2: Judgment Day: When Sarah Connor fails to get out of the asylum due to good behavior, she attacks the doctor who doesn't believe she's actually changed. After she's restrained, the doctor looks at the screen (that is, the camera that they set up to film the interview) and makes an aside: "Model Citizen..."
Like the above example in Comic Books, the Superman movies starring Christopher Reeve ended with Superman flying in space and giving a wink to the camera.
In Jumanji, Peter is sent on a frantic run out to a garden shed to get an axe. Arriving there, he finds a padlock on the shed door. Fortunately, there's an axe lying nearby! He picks up it and... starts to whack at the lock. Belatedly, he realizes what he's doing, shoots an embarrassed look at the camera, and runs back inside.
Yuri glances at the camera twice in Werewolf. Given the context of both scenes, it's likely that neither Aside Glance was intentional, but the crew treat them as such for the sake of their jokes.
(Yuri, disguised as a doctor, examines a patient and then looks at the camera) Tom Servo: Audience, what's your diagnosis?
They do this a lot. In Cave Dwellers the elder and his daughter are having a conversation about what to do with the MacGuffin when the elder steps away as if lost in thought but is accidentally looking straight at the camera:
Tom Servo: What do you, the viewers at home, think?
During the Training Montage in Robin Hood: Men in Tights, the villagers are demonstrating their complete lack of skill while trying to draw arrows from their quivers. Robin just looks to the camera with a look of amused despair, then back to his pupils with a snort.
Topper: Do you have any idea what would happen if you stay here with me? Ramada: Of course I do. Sex. Wild, free, passionate, unbridled sex. I would fondle you in ways you can't imagine. I would pleasure you at any time, in any place, in any way, for as long as you could possibly desire. Topper: [aside glance, complete with arched eyebrow]
Right after Kaylee says "It's real simple," in the pilot episode of Firefly, Jayne flicks his eyes up. May be unintentional. The camera has come around to face him as he gives a "you gotta be kidding me" look, but Jayne is looking at Kaylee, not the camera.
Felix does this several times on The Odd Couple. Once after Oscar draws a mustache on Felix with a marker in an episode titled "You Saved My Life".
Jonathan Ross uses this pretty much constantly in his Talk Show, Friday Night with Jonathan Ross.
In Harry Hill's TV Burp, a particularly awful clip or line of dialogue is often followed by Harry giving a pained glance to the camera. (This is one of the weirder uses, since most of the show is Harry talking to camera, only to Aside Glance to a different camera...)
(featured clip of battery hens) Voice: What animal, of any description, want to live in here? Harry Hill: A fox?
A Dalek manages to do this in "The Daleks' Master Plan" - Mavic Chen is spiralling into a Villainous Breakdown and a Daleks confronts him about his incompetence. Chen rants impotently at it and then slaps the Dalek in the eyestalk. The Dalek flails around in confusion for a second, briefly fixing the camera with its eyestalk as if to ask 'can you believe he did that?' It's a real testament to the skills of the Dalek operators that they could pull this off.
Some unintentional ones are done by the First Doctor. The actor had a bit of a habit of flubbing lines and occasionally, after catching himself completely mangling a sentence, would glance over at the director as if to ask if there'd be a retake.
In "Spearhead From Space", when the Brigadier and the other members of UNIT leave the Doctor alone and unguarded in his hospital bed, he gives the camera a short, conspiratorial look.
"Invasion of Time":
After the Fourth Doctor fails to operate his sonic screwdriver, he announces "even the sonic screwdriver won't get me out of this one," presumably to himself, and fixes the camera with a brief stare.
The Doctor breaking the fourth wall by looking directly into the camera is used in a significant shot showing him returning to his normal personality - there is a closeup of his severe, sinister face, not looking at the camera in the usual television fashion, which slowly resolves into the biggest, most terrifying smile ever while his eyes suddenly fix straight onto the camera lens.
The Made-for-TV Movie: after the Eighth Doctor acts oddly, Grace gives a baffled glance at the camera.
The fourth series finale also has Martha grin out at the camera during the big celebration scene, although the context is that she is looking at one of the Doctors.
Near the end of Asylum of the Daleks, Oswin casts a brief glance directly into the camera after she says, "and remember", which is seen as a direct message to the viewers since the actress (and possibly the character) would return later in the season.
Used by several characters in both the US and UK version of the faux-documentary TheOffice. Characters who are "allowed" to shoot nonplussed or aside glances at the camera tend to be the most self-aware (Jim Halpert from the US series uses this device most often, often several times an episode; for the UK version, it's usually David Brent or Tim). Other characters almost completely ignore the implied film crew and seem intent on retaining as much Genre Blindness as possible.
This trope is also subverted once by having one of the usually-oblivious characters, Dwight Schrute, imitate Jim's mannerisms by sarcastically mugging for the cameras (complete with an eye roll).
Karen also lampshades it once when Jim moves to the branch in Stamford, asking "What is that?" after imitating Jim looking into the camera.
In the UK series, this is subverted when Neil notices that a janitor is staring at the film crew and glances camera-wards to see what he's staring at.
In one episode, Jim is hiding in a car from Karen. Karen does not see Jim, but does notice the camera in the car with him. Jim pushes the camera out of sight and shoots an angry look above the camera, at what is assumed to be the cameraman.
Frequently used on Bottom: Richie occasionally blurts out something so awkward that Eddie will shoot an Aside Glance at the camera. Granted, this is one of their more subtle instances of Breaking the Fourth Wall, but still...
In an episode of That's So Raven where Eddie develops psychic powers and becomes popular because of it, one of his new friends comments that he should have his own TV show. This prompts Raven to cynically question who would wanna watch a show about a teen psychic and look deviously at the camera. Obviously the writers were very proud of the joke.
Happens from time to time in Neds Declassified School Survival Guide. On one occasion, Ned and Cookie's reasons why Moze shouldn't do a volcano (specifically) for extra credit included "Plus it's been done on every show ever" followed by a s-l-o-w turn towards the camera.
Stanley Roper does this very often, combined with a silent chuckle, on Three's Company, generally after making a Double Entendre at his wife Helen's expense.
In The Daily Show, many of the field reporters will do this when their interviewee is talking about something absurd.
A Finnish TV show called Frank Pappa Show did this with the character of "the milk maid", a blonde dressed in a traditional outfit, who would interview various celebrities of the time and occasionally shoot an aside glance with a blank expression towards the camera as they happened to say something unintentionally (on the interviewee's part, at least) comical.
Since the character was not milked enough during Frank Pappa Show, she also appeared in every Iltalypsy episode.
New BBC3 series We are Klang! has this as a common staple for two of the three main characters, when they lampshade an easy crack, like talking to a pair of buttcheeks.
"Where are the hidden agendas?" "I can't find them anywhere."\_
The Stonem siblings on Skins occasionally get to do this.
In the Discovery Channel game show Cash Cab, Ben Bailey (the host) frequently does this in response to answers from the contestants.
A contestant was once asked the name of a certain tattoo dye (henna) and blurted out "Hentai!" This prompted a long, knowing aside glance from the host.
Jack Benny, of course. Frequently accompanied by a well-timed Beat for maximum impact. A fewgoodexamples. There's plenty of Lampshade Hanging in the last one. And, as that last clip shows, Johnny Carson knew his way around this trope as well.
The title character of Magnum, P.I. does this frequently, particularly when something ridiculous has occurred or he's done something mischievous.
In one scene, Michael's mother gives him a look and then indignantly walks out the door. A few seconds later, Fiona (his partner in UST) does the exact same thing, causing Michael to give a truly freaked out look right at the audience, silently asking "Did you just see this shit?".
He has also done it at least twice when the job involved religion. No, not at the audience, at God.
Sam gives us one of these at the end of his movie.
This happens in many episodes of The Mighty Boosh. The series 3 episode "Party" has two particularly good examples:
When Howard Moon sputters that he's a mere ten years older than Vince Noir, both characters turn to the camera, silently acknowledging that they are contradicting previous canon (an earlier episode stated they were the same age) and reality (Julian Barratt is only five years older than Noel Fielding).
Later, Tony Harrison (also played by Fielding) tells Howard, "Wow, you're older than me!" and then smiles right at the camera.
Another prime example, the Crack Fox rather terrifyingly shushing the audience.
Las Vegas: Danny McCoy, the lead, is trying to track down an ex-thief. He finds her at a strip club-gold bikini, heels, sits in front of her, and offers her a Benjamin. She takes it, says she's taking him someplace private, and leaves the room. When he catches her outside, in her car, she says she thought he was a bill collector. When they've ascertained that she didn't steal the jewel, she stands up and puts one leg on Danny's doorframe, saying she owes him a lap dance. Danny asks if he can get his money back. She says no refunds. Danny looks at her legs for a second, then turns and grins at the camera and wiggles his eyebrows. End scene.
Stella. Constantly. Lampshaded over the hill and back again, ironic since it's already a Lampshade Trope. Characters will look at the camera, smile at it, wave at it, notice that other characters are looking at the camera and awkwardly change their positions to look too. Sometimes all four in a row. In at least one case, a character is looking at the camera, the shot changes, and they're still looking at the camera despite being in mid-word during the cut.
Moonlighting: Bruce Willis frequently broke the fourth wall.
The Tonight Show had a recurring skit called "Noches de Pasión con Señor O'Brien", which takes the form of a Spanish telenovela in which Conan is the star and hero. Whenever his character would announce his name, he would stare into the camera and shout his name. In this instance, the trope is used to display a character's badassery.
That sounds almost exactly like when Conan guest hosted Saturday Night Live and starred in a sketch about a superhero, "Moleculo the Molecular Man". People would say his name, and he would turn to the camera and bellow, "THE MOLECULAR MAN!" Including when he was disguised as his Alter Ego, which is how they figured out he was Moleculo (THE MOLECULAR MAN!).
He did this occasionally on his edition of Late Night, particularly when he would take a camera crew along with him on excursions. In one bit, during a visit to the doctor, he very slyly winked at the camera as the very attractive female physician lifted his shirt in order to listen to his heartbeat, while in another, he almost panicked when dealing with a nutty pedestrian.
Bud Bundy does this a couple of times on Married... with Children, looking slyly at the audience on those very rare occasions when he was about to get some action from a girl.
T.J. from Smart Guy does this in an episode where he succeeds in finding a new drummer for the band in which his older brother, who claims to have tough standards for the candidate, is the lead singer. The one who makes the cut is a girl around his brother's age.
Hustle: The crew often give aside glances while they're in the middle of a con, as one of the series' trademarks was its breaking of the fourth wall.
In a variation of this trope, Alec Baldwin's character is under pressure to join his acting crew and say a few lines on live TV. Unfortunately, he's a horrible actor and has no idea what he's doing in front of a camera, also having an amateurish tendency to stare directly into one. At one point a friend reminds him to avoid doing this, after which Baldwin looks directly into our camera.
The show has done some more straightforward ones. A Cold Open begins with Pete saying, "So we're agreed. Assuming nothing goes wrong in the next eight hours...," and Liz gives a knowing look over his shoulder. And in the flashback that shows the last time she slept with Dennis, she asks him to come up to her apartment to "change a couple lightbulbs," and he turns to smirk at the camera.
Monty Python's Flying Circus. Members of the troupe would often turn and look directly at the camera/audience, usually to register their disbelief in the situation.
In the Fish License sketch, John Cleese does this right after he asks to buy a fish license for the first time and the clerk gestures for him to move down to the next window.
Cleese: The man's sign must be wrong. I have in the past noticed a marked discrepancy between these post office signs and the activities carried out beneath. But soft. Let us see how dame fortune smiles upon my next postal adventure.
In the Hungarian Phrasebook sketch the tobacconist (Terry Jones) rolls his eyes after a fireman (Michael Palin) breaks character.
In an episode of Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers called "Best Man for the Job", Kim and Tommy are having an intense running argument about their respective campaigns for class president. This extends to when they're morphed, to the point that they're delivering Offhand Backhands to Putties while arguing instead of concentrating on the fight. One of the Putties goes down, looks at the Rangers, and then looks right at the camera with a look of "You've got to be kidding me, right?" (According to Jason David Frank, a lot of the times the actors for the Rangers would dress up as Putties to help pad scenes. Gotta wonder if it was one of them.)
In a first season episode of America's Next Top Model, uber-Christian Robin is commencing a group prayer when the (openly) gay atheist Ebony turns to the camera and rolls her eyes mid-prayer, in a rare example of a reality TV show personality acknowledging the camera during a non-talking head sequence.
Troy and Abed In The Morning! Notably, one instance where Jeff berates someone for appearing on this non-show, pointing out the lack of cameras: Abed looks directly into the camera.
The second documentary episode has Abed putting together a documentary with the help of a couple extra cameramen. The last shot of the episode before The Tag is Abed giving one of the other cameras a pointed look, making it a curious example, since it applies both to his in-universe documentary and the episode itself.
Mad TV's Jordan Peele, playing as R. Kelly in "Trapped in the Cupboard," is in a grocery store and looks toward the camera during a line. Another customer notices this and looks in the same direction quizzically.
Castle does this when his mother asks in bewilderment, "You haven't heard of the Serenity?" in reference to a spiritual retreat she plans to attend. There have been a few Firefly references in the show to date; it is unclear if Nathan Fillion asks for them or if the writers are just big fans.
In Miranda, the title character. All the time. And once hilariously done by her mother Penny when she's imitating her daughter.
The late Bob Holness in a famous Blockbusters out-take when a contestant meaning to say "organism" accidentally offers the answer "orgasm" instead.
In the How I Met Your Mother episode "The Mermaid Theory", Future Ted is trying, in voice-over, to explain why Barney and Lily were arguing. As he is retracting various reasons but still not getting the story right, the two of them glance at the camera, and then Barney glances at his watch. They are, in fact, breaking the interior fourth wall with Future Ted. In other words, Barney and Lily are breaking Future Ted's fourth wall, not Neil Patrick Harris or Alyson Hannigan breaking the actual fourth wall. Simple, huh?
Bear of Bear in the Big Blue House was an absolute master of these in the form of Eye Takes in response to the craziness that sometimes occurred around him.
Johnny Carson of The Tonight Show was particularly known for delivering bewildered aside glances to the audience whenever the guest did something particularly humorous or surprising. Most other talk show hosts do the same.
Happens amusingly on Glee when one of its voiceovers appears to be from Brittany...until it turns out that she's actually speaking, and Blaine has no idea who she's talking to or what she's staring at.
In the Home Improvement episode "Unchained Malady", Tim has been having a string of bad luck which he starts to believe is from his not forwarding a chain letter that he had scoffed at earlier. One of the warnings at the end of the letter was that "a naval officer in Borneo disregarded this letter and three days later he was decapitated". Tim talks to Wilson for reassurance later, and has this exchange with him:
Wilson: Well, personally, Tim, I place no credence in chain letters. Of course, I did have a friend once who didn't return a chain letter, and he disappeared mysteriously.
Two of the characters in the backglass for Sharkey's Shootout give sidelong glances to the viewer.
The human woman on the backglass of Big Bang Bar cocks her head backwards to look at the player.
In a summer 2011 episode of WWE Raw, CM Punk gives the hard camera an unimpressed glance when met with verbal threats—including being called "a skinny-fat ass" from Triple H during a promo. This gave birth to the "CM Punk Is Not Impressed" meme.
La Rosa Negra did them whenever the Ring Warriors crew seemingly ribbed her by periodically cutting out her themes to unfitting music.
Often done by the Muppet characters on Sesame Street, The Muppet Show, etc. In one scene in The Muppet Movie, after getting thrown about in a bar brawl, Kermit mutters to the audience "I hope you appreciate that I'm doing my own stunts," and the piano player gives the camera a "who are you talking to?" sort of look.
Happens in an episode of Mongrels that had numerous jokes surrounding 9/11. The characters lampshade it by repeatedly saying that the events in the episode had nothing to do with religion, then glance at the camera.
In one episode of Candle Cove, Janice asks the Skin Taker why his jaw moves back and forth, he looks at the camera, not her to give his answer "to grind your skin".
In the opening of the first act of Sunday In The Park With George, Georges is painting Dot and is disappointed with her bad concentration. The end of the first act involves all the characters freezing into the positions of the people in the famous painting.◊ When the second act opens, the cast is still stuck in the positions in which they were painted. Jules tells Dot "[she has] excellent concentration." Dot breaks character for a moment and gives the audience an Aside Glance.
Live productions of Avenue Q occasionally have Trekkie Monster give the audience an exasperated aside glance when Kate confidently claims that "Normal people don't sit at home and look at porn on the internet." Much laughter ensues.
The main character of Crash Bandicoot, especially the original trilogy, in SPADES. On a side note, he even has separate stance animations depending on whether you turn him to the camera or sideways: straight brings a smirk on his face (he SEES you!), turning him sideways makes him look derpy.
In Jak II: Renegade, in order to sign up for the races, Jak and Daxter must sign a contract. One of the stipulations is giving away rights to almost any use of their likenesses. When he gets to the final entry ("Game rights?!") he and Jak glance at the screen.
Similarly, at one point in Jak 3: Wastelander, a young monk in Spargus City tells our heroes "This isn't a game!", and the two look at the camera with befuddled expressions on their faces.
In The Secret of Monkey Island, Herman Toothrot frequently does this. Guybrush has the option to ask him what he's looking at, and Herman responds "The people watching at home, of course!"
During the first dinner scene in Deadly Premonition, York looks straight into the camera while talking to his split personality Zach. The fourth wall has a hard time in this game.
During the intro to the fight with Psycho Mantis in Metal Gear Solid: The Twin Snakes. While said boss is flaunting his impressive psychic abilities, he boasts the ability to move things with his mind and offers to demonstrate. He then tells the player to put the controller on the ground. The camera suddenly shifts to a side-view of Snake, who turns to the camera and nods, gun still trained completely on Mantis.
Ratchet: We're late again. Clank: We always seem to be a bit late. Why is that? (both look at the camera with puzzled expressions)
In both the first and second games, Ratchet will turn his head to look at the player questioningly if he hasn't moved recently, even while firing a weapon. The interval can be disconcertingly short.
The intro to Lemmings 2: The Tribes ends with the elder telling the little lemming that the tribes will have help from "the ones who saved us before", whereupon they both turn their heads towards the screen and look directly at you.
The Bard from the 2004 version of The Bard's Tale does this in several cut scenes, even talking back to the narrator.
This is the default stance the Turtles have in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Arcade Game for the NES, which is a bit annoying as they are constantly staring at you whenever they are standing still. They would do this in the actual arcade game, too. Though at least there the Turtles would face forward for a second or two and then look at the player as if saying, "Still there?"
Characters in The Sims 2 often channel this trope: they will occasionally just glance up at you, the player, positioned in the sky looking down upon them. This is particularly amusing when you pause while they are doing this, making them freeze staring at that spot in the sky, move the camera elsewhere, and then unpause to watch them shift their gaze to the camera's new position.
With the University Expansion pack, you could tell any sim to look at you and smile on demand for photos. You could even have them pose in various ways while looking at you.
Used in a rather Loony Toons way in King's Quest VI: Heir Today, Gone Tomorrow in a couple places where Alexander can fall off cliffs. Instead of immediately falling, he stands in the air, looks at the player, and waves before falling to his death. In a similar scene where the fall is not fatal, he can be heard to yell "Hey, quit making me fall!". This is more of a generic fourth wall break, however.
Quite a bit of Star Trek: Borg might fall into this trope, but it's mostly justified since the player is seeing things entirely from the perspective of a character. Some of Q's reactions to "you" that the rest of the characters don't pick up on definitely count, however.
Used by the title character in Voodoo Vince, during his first meeting with Cosmo the Inscrutable — in response to the latter's Evil Laugh.
In Ghost Trick, if you ever get caught by "Bad Sissel", a.k.a. Yomiel, they react by freezing time, and then turning and looking directly at the camera. They then promptly tell you that you can't stop them, and cause an instant game over. It's somehow very unsettling and creepy.
In the supplemental video "Meet the Medic" for Team Fortress 2, the Heavy can be seen directing some concerned glances toward the camera.
Used at least once in Neurotically Yours. In the "Jiggly Butt" episode, Germaine asserts that she doesn't have to stop shaking her rear because nobody can see her. Foamy glances knowingly at the audience.
The characters in Zero Punctuation will stop and look at the fourth wall if Yatzee says something particularly odd. The Guitar Hero review is probably the best example.
Used at the end of More Brawl Taunts, a collection of jokes regarding Super Smash Bros. Brawl written by Rina-chan and animated by Kirbopher. At the end of the main bit, the scene jumps back to the two watching it, Kirb sighing and saying "Great, now we just have to wait until people put this up on YouTube without crediting us. To which Rina replies "Oh, come on Kirb, no one would do that." Both then look at the screen and simultaneously raise their eyebrows. Cue credits.
The music video for Bob Mould's "I Don't Know You Anymore" has an intro segment in which Colin Meloy of The Decemberists gives Bob advice on how to market his new single, including "you have to have at least one celebrity cameo in your videos." Immediately after he says this, they both pause, turn their heads and look directly into the camera.
Another example is with the Slappy the Squirrel being very Medium Aware in her first short.
Slappy: Oh, don't worry, kid. I've faced off against Doug the Dog before, I know all of his tricks. Haven't you watched my old cartoons? I've beaten him a thousand times. Skippy: But those were just cartoons! This is real life! Slappy: (looks dryly at camera) Don't tell him, he might crack.
Try and find an episode of Animaniacs where they didn't.
As does Danny Phantom. Coupled with its frequent usage of Sounding It Out, at times it almost seemed as though Danny was conversing with the viewer, without any fourth wall breakage.
In the Darker and Edgier (not to mention much better animated) Season 3 of ReBoot, Dot and Enzo are trapped in a graveyard in a First-Person Shooter while the player (looking exactly like Ash from Evil Dead 2) slaughters Binomes off camera playing the roles of zombies. They wince at the carnage, and Dot cries out "What kind of sick monster would want to play a game like this?" Both then turn and glare at the camera.
The Joker did this several times in Batman: The Animated Series. His breaking of the fourth wall was subtly treated as part of his characteristic insanity and also included such examples as occasionally whistling his own theme music.
On one episode, when Smithers catches on fire he calls out, "Help me Mr. Burns, I'm flaming!" Burns looks at the viewer and shakes his head with a "My, my" expression.
In "Pygmoelian", after Carl fails at cheering Moe up, and ends up making the rest of the people at "Moe's Bar" depressed, he looks directly at the camera and says "See, this I why I don't talk much."
Made fun of in the first of the two-part episode when Burns is shot. Doctor Hibbert says "I can't figure this out! Can... you?" and points right at the "camera", holding the pose for a few seconds before the view switches and you see he was really pointing at Chief Wiggum (who could have been behind the viewers' point of view, or it would have even been Wiggum's point of view before the view-shift).
They recycled it for their The Da Vinci Code parody: We come out of a commercial with Lisa basically saying "Have you figured it out yet?" and then revealing she was talking to Milhouse.
In The Spectacular Spider-Man, after Spider-Man repeats verbatim dialogue that the Green Goblin has just heard from Tombstone, Goblin briefly turns to the camera and quips "Anyone else getting déjà vu? Oh well, let's run with it."
The eponymous Heroic Mime of Pucca does this after being told by Ching that she has a beautiful voice.
One episode of Johnny Test featured Johnny and Dukey stuck inside a Steve McQueen movie, or its closest in-universe equivalent. At one point, about when they learn the main character is going to drive a car off a cliff, one of them says, "Why couldn't we just have watched cartoons like normal kids?" Both then turn to look at the camera.
In the old Goofy cartoons, especially the "How to" shorts, Goofy spends a great deal nodding, winking, smiling, gesturing, and staring in confusion at the viewer and/or invisible narrator. And to quote Art Babbit, "When something stupid befalls him, he mugs the camera like an amateur actor with relatives in the audience, trying to cover up his accident by making faces and signaling to them."
In the episode "Missing Identity", SpongeBob tells some fish in a diner the story of how he lost his identity (to be exact, his name tag, which was on his shirt the whole time, but he was wearing it backwards). Over the course of the episode, he does two of these glances, except he makes them particularly drawn-out, slowly turning and staring straight at the camera. The first is in response to one of Patrick's moments of incredible ignorance, and the second comes after the waitress in the diner says she's borrowing someone else's name tag. Both are Shout Outs to Jack Benny. The hand on the cheek is a trademark of Benny's.
Wonder Dog does it on a regular basis, usually when Marvin says something stupid. He did it several times in "The Power Pirate" when Marvin made stupid puns and at the end of "The Weather Maker" when Wendy and Marvin did an Everybody Laughs Ending.
In "The Power Pirate", Marvin tries to impress Wendy and Wonder Dog with his fake British accent. When he fails, he turns to the camera and shrugs.
At the end of "The Planet Splitter", Wendy and Marvin take away Wonder Dog's steak bone (he's on a diet) and leave. Wonder Dog pulls out another steak bone, takes a bite out of it and winks at the audience.
In "Too Hot To Handle" the alien agent Kobar does this after Wonder Woman delivers an iceberg to Dairyland (a farm area in the heart of America). He's a little smug because he's responsible for the heat wave that required Wonder Woman to obtain the iceberg in the first place.
Reddy does this in the Ruff And Reddy story arc "The Treasure Of Skipper Kipper" when Ruff explains that the voice calling for help can help them get off the island on which they're stranded.
American Dad! makes use of this in a particular episode where Roger encounters a very blonde girl. Almost every other line she has provoked this response.
This happens with relative frequency in The Replacements, which loves subverting this trope (generally by having a cut reveal someone standing in the "camera" spot the characters were looking at).
In the middle of one episode, Sheldon essentially summarizes everything that had happened thus far in the episode, after which he looks directly at the fourth wall and says "What do YOOUUU think [will happen]?" Cut to Buzz, who is standing right in front of him.
Other characters pull this off from time to time, including Doofensmirtz himself in "Out of Toon". After his dancing ray hits both him and Perry the Platypus, causing the two to compulsively dance together, he glances at the camera with the remark "And to add insult to injury, the platypus is leading."
From "Cheer Up Candace":
Phineas: Candace has a great sense of humor! Remember that time she got her face stuck in the sink? Isabella: (aside glance)
Perry gave the audience one when Dr. Doofenshmirtz unveils his latest plan to flood Danville and charge people ridiculous sums of money for the only form of transportation that he himself invented: the B.O.-A.T., which looks (and functions) exactly like a boat. Perry, despite being The Voiceless, seems to say to the audience "Leave it to Doofenshmirtz to invent something that already exists!"
Peter: And since you're black and I'm white, that makes it more a-special for the audience! (aside glance)
Lampshaded to hell and back in Turtles Forever, where 1987 Raphael does this all the time — to the utter confusion of everyone who isn't from his reality. At one point, the 2003 Dragon Hun has had just about enough:
Raph: (to camera) Some people just can't handle change. Hun: (follows his gaze) Why do you keep doing that? Who are you talking to?! There's no-one there!
In the Nelvana cartoon of Martin the Warrior, the searats give a rather creeped-out look to the camera when Clogg starts gushing about how awesome his "new friend" (actually a spy for the good guys) is. May be either because they're weirded out by "Tibbar the magic rabbit" or a case of Getting Crap Past the Radar, implying even the characters can spot the Ho Yay ...
In "Applebuck Season", after the sleep-deprived Applejack falls asleep in the middle of accepting her trophy for saving the town from a stampede, Twilight Sparkle and Pinkie Pie both look at the camera with baffled expressions on their faces.
Pinkie Pie has a somewhat exaggerated reputation for this. She gives an aside glance at the end of "Bridle Gossip" (though Word of God says it was unintentional), and one after sending off a picnic basket full of balloons in "Lesson Zero" (though she could also be said to be looking at Fluttershy).
Pinkie Pie and Rarity give a shared aside glance in "Putting Your Hoof Down", after Iron Will introduces himself like he's giving one of his motivational lectures.
Which might instead be Audience? What Audience?. Pinkie Pie and Rarity look more than a little confused, as if wondering "Who are you talking to?"
Fluttershy gives one in "A Bird in the Hoof" adding "Always works." Obvious considering there is no one else in the room at the time.
In "Wonderbolts Academy", Pinkie Pie rambles on how Rainbow Dash has forgotten about her friends, to which Applejack gives the audience a "Yes, this is happening" side glance.
In "Simple Ways" Rarity complains that Spike cannot possibly understand the feeling of being in love with a pony who loves someone else. Spike disagrees.◊
Mr. Magoo does this in "Hotsy Footsy". Magoo thinks he is at a college reunion dance, but he has walked through the exit door, through a back alley, and is in a gym where wrestler Francis the Terrible is taking on all comers! Magoo sees the long line of wrestlers being carried off after being injured, turns to the screen and whispers "loaded!"
In Young Justice, the Joker looks at the camera and says, "Admit it: you can't turn away," when the Injustice League is introduced.
Keep an eye on Wally in the background of the penultimate scene of "Bloodlines." When Impulse delivers his "Gotta run" pun, Barry smiles, Jay Face Palms with his tin hat, and Wally just turns this exasperated "Look at what I have to deal with" face towards the camera.
In the "Happy Bake Oven" episode, Marco does a very obvious aside glance to the audience when Captain Murphy says he can't see the squid on the radar.
The mouse controlling Captain Murphy's body actually gives a quick wave to the audience in the episode "I, Robot (Really)".
Rugrats gives us a rather hilarious example during The Trial with this exchange between Angelica and the twins as she tries her role as prosecutor:
Angelica: Do you swear to tell ruth, all ruth, and nothing but ruth so help you Bob?
(Phil and Lil look at each other confused)
Angelica: (whispering) Just say you do.
Phil and Lil: You do.
(Angelica casts Aside Glance directly at the camera)
The Pink Panther goes the Groucho eyebrows at the end of the short "Dial P For Pink."
In the dream sequence of the Bakshi Mighty Mouse episode "Mighty's Wedlock Whimsy," our hero (doing a Ralph Kramden) looks at us in silent ire as the Cow (doing Ed Norton) meticulously prepares, bakes and eats a rotten potato.
Some people feel this even extends into Real Life, giving an aside glance upwards to heaven, to a random side, or to an onlooker. No examples needed.