Fake Interactivity

"We've got to tell the bird to put the egg down! Say, 'Put it down!' Again! Now flap your wings while you do it! Flap your wings and yell! Don't question it, just do it!"
Maraka, Saturday Night Live, "TV Funhouse"

Sometimes works pretend to be interactive when, by the definition of their medium, they aren't. You know what this means, right?

*Beat* note 

You're absolutely right, it means that anything the audience does has no effect on the program!

Anyway, this is common in children's programming (e.g. Edutainment) to encourage a form of Audience Participation. Sometimes, instead of a blank pause the work will have a chorus of voices chime in with the expected answer.

When this trope is used in a Show Within a Show, it could involve The Tape Knew You Would Say That.

Shows with Fake Interactivity have No Fourth Wall.

Compare But Thou Must, the video game equivalent, where the interactivity allowed by the medium isn't utilised. Not to be confused with the audience shouting at Too Dumb to Live characters.


Anime and Manga
  • In a rare example of a show for older kids doing this, the Inaho episodes of Yo Kai Watch contain a segment called "Yo-Kai Search Quiz", where the viewer has to help Inaho find where that week's Yo-Kai is hiding. The characters count down while waiting for the viewer to choose the correct answer.

Comic Books

  • In the climax of Care Bears Movie II: A New Generation, a girl named Christy has been hurt by dark magic, and the Care Bears tell the audience that they have to chant "I care!" along with the other characters in order to save her.
  • The Pretty Cure films (save for the ones from Max Heart through Splash Star, as well as the Spring Carnival movie) have objects called Miracle Lights that are used at the climax. Each patron in the theater is given one, and has to use it at the climax while shouting "You can do it, Pretty Cure!". People who don't have the lights are encouraged to support them with all their heart.

Film—Live Action
  • In the movie Thomas and the Magic Railroad, the audience is supposedly responsible for putting the cushion out to break Mr. Conductor's fall. This is averted in the actual series, however.
  • The Oogieloves in the Big Balloon Adventure tried to do this with instructions at the beginning of the film encouraging the children to do certain things when certain events in the film took place.

  • The TV show watched by Millie Fahrenheit 451 has the protagonist's wife Millie, who is utterly obsessed with her TV Room. Not a room containing a TV, mind you; a room where nearly all the walls are televisions. Her favorite show (and many others, no doubt) has the gimmick of mailing episode's script a few days ahead of time, letting viewers memorize their lines. During the show, a light in the corner of the screen indicates when the viewer is supposed to speak. All Millie thinks about are the characters of the show, and she even demands that her husband replace the final wall of the room with a fourth TV so she can feel more immersed. No Fourth Wall, indeed.
  • Mo Willems' Pigeon series of books, beginning with Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus present this in literary format, encouraging the readers to shout out "No!" when the Pigeon begs to do something he's not allowed to do, like driving the bus. Some of these stories were later adapted for DVD by Scholastic and Weston Woods. There are other children's picture books that have adopted this format as well.
    • The children's book Open Very Carefully has a similar concept; it follows the story of a crocodile who invades a book and encourages kids to shake the book, turn it, and other things in an attempt to get the crocodile out.

Live-Action Television
  • Blue's Clues used this technique so heavily as to call attention to itself. Usually, pre-recorded children's voices would answer the question.
  • The Sci Fi Channel would run advertisements where they would ask the viewer to please place their hand up to the screen. There was then a sequence where a futuristic laser beam would "scan" an outline of a human hand. The voice would then say "You have been cleared. Thank you."
  • Downplayed in Mister Rogers' Neighborhood. Mister Rogers rarely required the audience to play along, but he did talk to the camera as if it was the viewer. In fact, the well-remembered "Can you say X" example (which Fred Rogers felt would have been condescending) only ever happened once.note 
    • Parodied in Bloom County, as Opus learns English from the show. In the first of those strips, he responds to "Trumpet player" with "Terflump Gerflump"; in the second, he answers "Public servant" with "bozo". In both cases, Rogers just says "Good!"
    • In another strip, Oliver's Banana Jr. computer does the same thing, but responds to the TV by saying "Ted Koppel is a waffle". When Mr. Rogers says "Good!", the computer addresses the house: "MISTER ROGERS HAS GONE BANANAS!"
  • After averting it for nearly ten seasons (although it did have Barney Says), Barney & Friends did this when the show switched sets.
  • And aside from the occasional Fourth Wall break, Sesame Street avoided this as well for the most part. Then along came "Elmo's World".
    • There's also "Abby's Flying Fairy School", but the characters ask each other questions rather than the audience.
  • Drake & Josh both try to talk to the people watching the show. In a truly hilarious bit, Drake is warmly received by his audience and given a plate of cookies through the fourth wall, while Josh is both insulted and spit upon.
    • In another episode, Crazy Steve is watching Dora the Explorer, asking Dora why she would need to ask the audience something so simple when she could probably figure it out herself.
  • Subverted in Angel , which had a fairly dark take on this in the "Smile Time" episode. Puppet demons hosted their own show and used it to steal the souls of little kids. In The Teaser, a kid was watching the show and as the mom walked out of the room, the lead puppet watched her walk away and then talked straight to the kid. This looks like normal Fake Interactivity until that particular kid, and no one else so far, loses his soul.
  • Played with in Romper Room: The host could use the Magic Mirror to "see" who was watching, naming children who'd written to the show. Since this was a show franchise produced by local stations, it was likely that a given child watching might be called.
  • Shane and David do this during the beginning of The Upside Down Show.
  • Pee-Wee's Playhouse, being a parody of the "kid's show" genre. As an interesting side-note, the plastic overlay from Winky Dink inspired Pee-Wee's "Magic Screen" segments.
  • Parodied in a Saturday Night Live spoof of Dora the Explorer called "Maraka", in which the title character asks about the meaning of life, the nature of free will, and the Robert Blake murder trial while acting as though the viewers are giving a specific answer. Maraka also becomes aggravated when the "audience" does not pretend to toboggan down a mountain.
  • In several of David Copperfield's TV specials, he would perform a magic trick with the viewers at home, largely involving a series of cards on the screen and asking the viewers at home to pick a card and then move around the cards until he figures out which card you are on. He isn't really interacting with the viewers at home, he's using instructions designed to herd the viewers to a specific card.
  • Sam on the 1986 VHS Rent-a-Friend would like to be your friend. [1]
  • On the PBS children's math show Odd Squad, each episode includes a short "recruitment video" requesting that young viewers sign up with their math-mystery-solving agency. The recruiter's invitation is always addressed to, "Hey, you with the hair. And the eyes. Yes, you!"
  • The home edition of 1961 ABC game show Camouflage had clear sheets of film included for viewers to put over their TV screens and with the crayon included trace the object the contestants on the show were attempting to find and trace.
  • Common in local kids' shows of the 1950's and 1960's, such as Bozo the Clown. The Washington, DC version for instance had "Bozo ball", where he would throw a ball at a specific viewer after reading out their name and address.

Professional Wrestling
  • Pre-taped interviews ("via satellite") are usually done this way, with the announcers or another wrestler involved with the promo playing along to the video. Usually resorted to when someone like The Rock is off filming a movie.

  • An early (and iconic in Britain) example comes from Listen With Mother, The BBC's radio program for children in The Fifties: "Are you sitting comfortably?" (Pause) "Then I'll begin."
    • When the BBC moved to TV, it became Watch With Mother. Fifty-odd years later, the show inspired the villainous "Wire" in the Doctor Who episode "The Idiot's Lantern."
  • In New Dynamic English, Max would usually ask the listener questions regarding the interview. There's also "A Question for You" where Max asks a question with an answer that is up to the listener.
    • Elizabeth also does this to the listeners in Functioning in Business.

Stand-up Comedy
  • Discussed regarding Language Lab cassette tapes in an Eddie Izzard routine, segueing into The Tape Knew You Would Say That:
    Tape: Ou est le plume de ma tante? [pause] Ou est le plume de ma tante?
    Student: La plume de ma tante est pres de la chaise de ma tante. As well you know.
    Tape: Oui, la plume de ma tante est pres de la chaise de ma tante.
    Student: How does this tape know what I'm talking about?
    Tape: Ou est la plume de mon oncle?
    Student: Le plume de mon oncle est bingy-bongy-boogy-bongy.
    Tape: [affronted] Non! Pas de tout! Je ne me connais pas "bingy-bongy-boogy-bongy." Qu'est-ce que vous dites?

  • Doctor Who Live: The Monsters Are Coming! used mostly live actors, but featured the Doctor in the form of pre-recorded footage of Matt Smith on a screen. Several times, the Doctor asks the audience to help him break the Miniscopes by chanting "Geronimo!" as loud as they can. Of course, the footage just continues regardless of what the audience is doing.

Video Games
  • Sent up in Wonder Project J2. A selling point at the time was that Josette, the Robot Girl whom you have been tasked with raising, would respond in full voice to player input, which generally came in the form of simple "praise/scold" prompts. In one of them, if you praised her dancing ability, she would modestly deny her talent, insisting that since you'd taught her everything she knows, you must be a much better dancer, and asks for a demonstration. After staring out of the screen for a few seconds, she claps her hands and laughs happily, admitting that she can't actually see you, but she's certain you were fantastic!
  • Used somewhat bizarrely in Barney's Hide and Seek. If the player starts the game and then goes long enough without providing input, Barney will simply start walking toward the end of the level all by himself. He won't complete the actual objective of finding hidden kids or presents, but he will walk all the way from the beginning of the game to the end after only a single button press on the controller.
  • Steamshovel Harry. It purportedly is a game about jump physics where you have to save the earth from an asteroid that will strike in ten minutes. Unfortunately, the mandatory tutorial video takes ten minutes and you die immediately afterwards.
  • Hate Plus has a sequence where *Hyun-ae tells you to make a cake before you can progress. This is a real-world cake. The game suggests recipes for you and checks to see if the amount of time each recipe takes to complete has passed, but if you wait the correct time, *Hyun-ae has no way of knowing if you've actually made a cake or not (unless you tell her). There is an achievement for sending the developer a photo of you eating the cake with her, though.
  • In Batman: Arkham Asylum, the player is told to either press the middle stick on their controller or tilt their mouse to dodge a gun when affected by the Scarecrows gas, you obviously fail and get a game over screen no matter what you do with the "quit" and "try again" buttons allowing you to continue past the fake interactivity.
  • This is actually a plot point in Act 2 of the Agent plotline in Star Wars: The Old Republic. What you tell your character to say and what he/she actually says are often two different things, because your character was brainwashed into following the orders of the group you were infiltrating.

Web Comic
  • Played with in this Ozy and Millie strip.
  • Inverted in one Homestuck panel. Homestuck actually is frequently interactive, with Flash animations and game segments, but once trolled the readers by displaying a loading screen, followed by: "You spend no less than 90 seconds staring at this fucking GIF image before you realize the actual Flash animation is on the next page."

Web Original
  • Parodied in the Homestar Runner Strong Bad Email "for kids". Strong Bad demonstrates how bad of a kids' show host he would be with an Imagine Spot. He asks the kids to say "The Cheat", which they do (though one says "Christopher Columbus") and Strong Bad gives them an F Minus Minus regardless. Then when they fail to find The Cheat hiding behind a box (they say he is "right there" but do not specify), he flips out and threatens to kill their dogs.

Western Animation
  • Wonder Pets normally avoids this pretty studiously, but did do it once in a Something Completely Different style story.
  • Dora the Explorer (to the point where the show is supposedly set inside a computer game with an onscreen mouse pointer) and sister show, Go, Diego, Go!! are the defining examples of this in modern media.
    • When Swiper comes around, remember to shout "Swiper, No Swiping!" along with Dora until he goes away.
    • It does this in the PS2 games based on the franchise too, despite the interactive media.
    • It also happens in Dora and Friends: Into The City!, but less frequently.
  • A mainstay of Ni Hao, Kai-Lan, especially when the episode gets to the point of resolving the Character Development issue of the day.
  • Also a staple of the Nick Jr. channel's "Puzzle Time" interstitials with Moose A. Moose.
  • Happens on Bo on the Go, a Canadian CGI series that could best be described as Dora with the Serial Numbers Filed Off.
  • Pinky Dinky Doo has a segment of this nature at the end of each story, which takes the form of a quiz section.
  • French animated TV series Didou (known as Louie in the UK and Australia) plays this trope straight.
  • Animated TV series Boo also plays this trope straight, requiring the viewer to point out where Boo's hiding. As the show's Title Theme Tune explains "Can you find Boo? It's all you have to do!"
  • The Wally/Waldo TV series does this somewhat during breaks, showing a static picture and encouraging the viewer to locate Wally/Waldo before time runs out.
  • The trope appears in the Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends episode "One False Movie" in the Dora parody "Explorin' With Lauren".
  • Played with very briefly in The Simpsons episode "Who Shot Mr. Burns?":
    Dr. Hibbert: "We can't figure out who did it... can YOU?" *Points at the screen*
    Wiggum: "Well, yeah, sure, why not! I mean, it's my job, right? Ha-ha!"
    • This was connected to a contest the show was running in which viewers could figure out the assailant to win a prize.
  • Used in Stanley, mainly by the goldfish Dennis to quiz the viewers.
    • Similarly, the Fish character on the PBSKids series The Cat in the Hat Knows a Lot About That! does this in short segments called "Fish Facts." Played for humor, because the answer to the question is always demonstrated in the background by the actual animal while Fish is asking the question. "You're right! Next time, I'll stump you for sure." In the third season, however, the animals appear in bubbles surrounding the cat to try to make things a bit more challenging.
  • A mainstay of the modern Playhouse Disney/Disney Junior programs My Friends Tigger & Pooh and Special Agent Oso.
  • The Ur-Example, Winky Dink marketed a plastic overlay and crayons, which were to be used to draw props on-screen (for instance, a ladder to help the title character out of a pit.) A number of children simply drew on the screen.
  • Parodied on one of the Show Within a Show programs that Meatwad watches on Aqua Teen Hunger Force. A puppet sings and flail about, occasionally directly addressing the in-universe audience in a demonic tone. None of the characters seem to notice this at all.
    This is your left, and that's your left!
    This is your left, that's your left!
    This is your right, and that's your right!
    This is your right-You're gonna die!
  • Not only does The Lingo Show have prerecorded children's voices answering the questions the insect characters ask, but the characters also encourage viewers to "wave their hands above their heads like antennae".
  • The Disney Junior show Little Einsteins stars four child prodigies who, by the age of six, have mastered various musical instruments and forms of interpretive dance, but are still worse at problem-solving than your four-year-old is, and constantly needs their help. Er... sometimes, anyway. Can be Fridge Brilliance, since prodigies or not they're still just children.
  • Another Disney Junior show, Jake And The Neverland Pirates, is pretty much Dora with pirates and better animation. Features Peter Pan in the pilot and Captain Hook as a running villain.
  • Parodied on Phineas and Ferb with "Ducky Momo", a Show Within a Show which is a strange hybrid of Hello Kitty and Dora. Here's a sample of what an episode entailed;
    Narrator: Ducky Momo needs to get to the other side of the Bumbleberry river. Can you help him find the bridge?
    Kid 1: It's right there! Behind you!
    Kid 2: To your left! Your other left.
    Kid 3: No! No, not that way.... that's a candy wrapper.
    Kid 1: Now where is he going?
    Kid 3: How has he survived this long?
  • Played straight in Team Umizoomi. The team addresses the viewer as their "UmiFriend".
  • Super Why! has this, calling the viewer "Super You". With the Power to Help!
  • Another Playhouse Disney show, JoJo's Circus, had the main character and her "pet lion" Goliath, mainly to encourage exercise by asking the viewers to get up and exercise or dance with them.
    • Even in Handy Manny, ever since the start of season 3. They couldn't re-do the classic animation with the tools dancing on a stage. Instead they had a mash-up of different scenes from episodes with Kelly asking trivia questions to the viewers.
  • The animated series Wonkidoos uses this. Similar to Blue's Clues, childrens' voices are used to answer the question. Unlike most of these examples, they don't even give you time to answer the question yourself!
  • Happens during the next episode/end credit segments of Doc McStuffins. Only in the first season, however, it was dropped like a hot potato afterwards. The show's creator actually created the show with a purposeful intention of not doing this in the first place.
  • The Wishing Ways segments of Maryoku Yummy do this.
  • On Wallykazam!, Wally will quiz viewers on things such as what word starts with a particular sound.
  • While the Veggie Tales series averts this, the trope is played straight with the rare video VeggieTown: Greetings from Bob and Larry.
    • Parodied in "God Wants Me To Forgive Them" when Larry asks the audience if they're interested in hearing about their adventures while stranded on an island, followed by the obligatory Beat. When Bob asks Larry about what we said, Larry admits he doesn't know and just assumes we said yes.
  • Mickey Mouse Clubhouse features the cast asking the audience for help.
  • An episode of Laff-A-Lympics featured an applause meter device for home audiences to gauge which team they wanted to win a specific event via their applause. Mildew Wolf (one of the show's commentators) held his mic up to the camera for the presumed home viewer applause.

  • Android phones often have a Google search widget that consists of a search bar. It looks like you can type into the search bar, but it will actually just open up the Google search app, and only from within can you actually enter input.
    • Although the "Google Now Launcher" subverts this primarily because it technically is part of the search app (the "Google Now" screen also shows up as a page within it)

Alternative Title(s):

Fake Interactive Childrens Show, Faux Interactivity, Non Interactivity