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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

If somebody is not in the break and doesn't understand who the ones breaking the wall are talking to, see AudienceWhatAudience. If the other characters ''are'' aware of the wall but are also aware that they're not supposed to ''show'' that they're aware, that's ScoldingTheFourthWallBreaker.

If it's made ambiguous whether or not the fourth wall is being broken, it's LeaningOnTheFourthWall. If something slams into the screen and literally ''breaks'' it, it's CameraAbuse or InterfaceScrew. If the characters are attempting to use, or implied to have used, the fourth wall to escape into the real world, it's TheFourthWallWillNotProtectYou.


* BreakingTheFourthWall/{{Advertising}}
* BreakingTheFourthWall/AnimeAndManga
* BreakingTheFourthWall/ComicBooks
* BreakingTheFourthWall/ComicStrips
* BreakingTheFourthWall/FanWorks
* [[BreakingTheFourthWall/LiveActionFilms Films Live-Action]]
* BreakingTheFourthWall/{{Literature}}
* BreakingTheFourthWall/LiveActionTV
* BreakingTheFourthWall/{{Music}}
* BreakingTheFourthWall/{{Theatre}}
* BreakingTheFourthWall/VideoGames
* BreakingTheFourthWall/WebComics
* BreakingTheFourthWall/WebOriginal
* BreakingTheFourthWall/WesternAnimation

!!Other examples:


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

[[folder:Films -- Animation]]
* ''WesternAnimation/KuboAndTheTwoStrings'':
** At the very start of the film, Kubo does his signature "if you must blink" speech, but tacks on a few things to provide some backstory exposition, which makes it seem like he's directing this specific speech at us. It's like he's telling us to pay attention.
** At the end, Kubo says "TheEnd" in voice over.
* The teaser trailers for ''Film/{{Marmaduke}}'', ''WesternAnimation/KungFuPanda2'' and ''WesternAnimation/{{Ratatouille}}'' all have the main characters break the fourth wall.
* In ''WesternAnimation/TheSpongeBobMovieSpongeOutOfWater'', when the background characters refuse to go the surface.
-->'''Random Fish:''' All secondary characters come with me.
* In ''Disney/WreckItRalph'', when [[spoiler:Turbo]] is giving his MotiveRant to Vanellope, he [[http://images3.wikia.nocookie.net/__cb20130703184119/scratchpad/images/5/57/Turbo_Thumbs_Up.jpg mugs for your attention]] right the hell out of nowhere [[FreezeFrameBonus in one single frame]].
* In Creator/DreamWorksAnimation's ''Film/CaptainUnderpantsTheFirstEpicMovie'', Harold and George occasionally break the fourth wall by talking to the audience and even freeze the movie at certain points to explain what's going on.
* In ''Disney/LiloAndStitch'', the titular duo look directly towards the viewer twice during their dance at Mrs. Hasagawa's fruit stand. Just before that, when Lilo gets Stitch to move his hips to the side, he looks at the viewer and oohs in wonder before the duo immediately go into their dance. A more subtle fourth wall-break happens earlier in the film when Stitch is adopted, with a nice little EasterEgg on his adoption paper.
* At the end of a particularly downer scene in ''Disney/TheEmperorsNewGroove'', Kuzco literally stops the movie reel and uses a marker to remind the [[ItsAllAboutMe FILM that the movie is about HIM]], and not Pacha.

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

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

* ''Radio/JohnFinnemoresSouvenirProgramme'' uses this fairly regularly, especially in the latest episodes.
** Possibly the most explicit example is in Season 5, Episode 4, where one of the sketches is actor Simon Kane getting increasingly annoyed at actor and writer John Finnemore about the fact that he always plays the discontented characters. During the sketch, he frequently points out that John Finnemore has written all of this, and it isn't even his opinions.
** Series 2, episode 4: Margaret Cabourn-Smith gets grumpy about the fact that her only role in the last sketch is as an owl.
* In Creator/TheBBC's remake of ''Flywheel, Shyster and Flywheel'', Michael Roberts, playing [[Creator/TheMarxBrothers Groucho Marx]] playing Waldorf T. Flywheel, would often ad-lib in character as Groucho, but not necessarily as Flywheel. On at least one occasion he commented on what had been a topical reference in 1932, and its complete failure to get a laugh in 1990.

[[folder:Tabletop Games]]
* ''TabletopGame/TwilightSparklesSecretShipficFolder'' has Cheerilee, who knows she's in a shipping card game and wants no part of it.
* In the ''TabletopGame/MyLittlePonyCollectibleCardGame'', the backs of the 2013 demo cards have Derpy Hooves saying "This is a demo, right?"
* This is part of Guise's power in ''TabletopGame/SentinelsOfTheMultiverse''. In the video game adaptation, he's shown editing his own character bio, and most of his cards are themed around parodying various comic book trends and genres.

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

[[folder:Visual Novels]]
* Subverted at the end of ''VisualNovel/ApolloJusticeAceAttorney'': We see Phoenix talking to what sounds like the player. [[spoiler: He's actually talking to the members of a jury]].
* In ''VisualNovel/AkatsukiNoGoei'' the maid Tsuki tells Kaito that he's Tae's boyfriend, bodyguard, teacher and more and he gets irritated at the long string of uninterrupted kanji. So she replies by saying the same thing, except this time it's all in hiragana, meaning it's nothing more than a long, incomprehensible string of syllables. That's why kanji exist in the first place.
* In ''VisualNovel/AsagaoAcademyNormalBootsClub'' Mai does this frequently throughout the story with other occasional examples from some of the boys.
* In ''VisualNovel/DanganRonpa'' when Monokuma starts expositing on the backstories of the culprit and victim in Chapter 2, he says to hold O (or Ctrl in the PC version) to skip it in case you didn't want to hear all this.
* Deconstructed in ''VisualNovel/DokiDokiLiteratureClub'' [[spoiler:where Monika, a side character meant to introduce you to the game, who possesses MediumAwareness was driven insane by the knowledge that shes a fictional character. Being fully aware that neither she, her world, nor her friends really exist. Becoming obsessed with ''the player'' since they are the only part of her world that's real.]]
* ''VisualNovel/HatofulBoyfriend'' is [[MediumAwareness pretty aware that it's a dating sim]], and a silly one at that. However, the standout moment is the introduction to the sequel ''Holiday Star'', in which Ryouta directly addresses the audience to explain that it takes place on a separate timeline from the original game to [[CuttingOffTheBranches prevent continuity errors]].