Abed: Shirley, would you like to spin off with me? I'm just riffing here, but maybe we could open a hair salon.The Fourth Wall can be a fragile thing, but some are more fragile than others. Oft times, it stands just outside the sight of the characters, completely unnoticed, even though we all know it's there. But sometimes, even when everyone else can't see, there's one character who notices that there happens to be a script, or that someone's watching them, or that they're living life on a set. As you can probably guess, this trope is about that one guy in the group who knows his life takes place behind a TV screen, knows that he's being written by someone, or can see the little effects that happen all around him. Usually, his friends dismiss him as being completely off his rocker, though to be fair he probably is. Compare Meta Guy, who is the stage below this: completely Genre Savvy, but not necessarily knowledgeable of the Fourth Wall. Audience? What Audience? is a related trope when one character breaks the fourth, but the other doesn't under it. Also compare Red Pill, Blue Pill.
Shirley: I don't understand, Abed. Is this you being "meta"?
Shirley: I don't understand, Abed. Is this you being "meta"?
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Anime and Manga
- Rosario + Vampire has Koe the bat, who narrates to the audience, as well as acting as a censor by flying between the camera and any inappropriate shots - no one knows who he keeps talking to all the time.
- Love Hina: Has Mutsumi and Su doing this from time to time, For example:
- Mutsumi talking to Naru about a letter from Keitaro:
"Don't you remember…I told you about it just a few pages ago."
- Su talking to Keitaro about his broke leg.
"Can't ya just put a band aid on it and make it better in the next scene like ya normally do?"
- The anime-only Kentaro. Originally The Rival, morphed into something of a personified Deus ex Machina, who makes some comment about the narrative he points at the subtitles when Naru gets his name wrong.
"Well. I suppose that's all the screen time I'm getting this time."
- Mutsumi talking to Naru about a letter from Keitaro:
- Many tankobon volumes of manga (ie, any individual-series manga you'd pick up in a shop) have additional sketches or comments from the author between chapters. Some of these are just random blurbs of information about the author and what went on when making the series, others fall into this, bordering into No Fourth Wall territory. A particular set of examples in several of the tankobon volumes of Fruits Basket are single-panel reactions from characters stating their disdain at not being featured as prominently in that particular volume, with another talking about the one with the most focus, or whoever's on the cover. Some go as far as to have the characters actually holding the very book themselves.
- In AnotherHOLiC, the Xxx HO Li C story written by Nisio Isin, Yuuko Ichihara says that something is "most vexexing". When Watanuki asks if she just stuttered, she replies "No. Merely a typo."
- Jessie, James and Meowth in Pokémon, particularly in the English dub, frequently reference the writers, the artists, the audience, the half-hour time slot, and the fact that they're in a "cartoon"—and if they're in a movie, they're sure to appreciate being "on the big screen". None of the other characters seem to notice this.
Jessie: Prepare for trouble like you've never seen!James: And make it double, we're on the big screen!Ash: I'll have to catch this on video!TR: GAH! (near-face fault)
- Or do they?
- Nah, he was just being Very Punny with their new motto.
- Himeko and Bossun from SKET Dance.
- Ajimu of Medaka Box is fully aware she's in a manga, saying that fighting Medaka head-on would be pointless since she's the main character and thus will always win in the end. Her ultimate goal seems to be ending the manga before the Animated Adaptation airs, and her plan for doing so involves dethroning Medaka and instating a new protagonist. It's ultimately subverted: she isn't truly aware that she's a character in a manga, she just very strongly believes it because reality seems to follow the same kind of "narrative" as a Shonen Jump manga. She wants to defeat Medaka so she can accomplish something that breaks the narrative, allowing her to commit a Seen-It-All Suicide. Medaka does lose her main character status, but prevents the suicide and challenges Ajimu to really do the impossible by defying her "role" and finding her own path in life. Additionally, she cameos in the last episode of the anime and speaks directly to the audience, explaining that the episode will be covering sidestory material since the story left off in a place that couldn't be turned into a satisfying ending.
- Kumagawa seems like this, but in reality he's just read a lot of Shonen Jump manga and sees reality in terms of tropes and clichés.
- In Daily Life with Monster Girl, Lala is a very subtle variation: It's a Running Gag that she'll move her removable head around to make sure that her face isn't blocked by speech bubbles or other characters.
- Marvel Comics:
- Deadpool is known for being able to see through the fourth wall and snap it in two if he wants to. The reasoning is because he's a very special kind of insane, which occasionally allows him to perceive things others cannot. From being able to see the yellow boxes that he thinks in, to referring to the last time he showed up by issue number, Deadpool's odd observations are even occasionally plot points; for example, Deadpool is unaffected by Marvel's recent massive retcon of the past twenty years of Spider-Man's history, leaving some fans to speculate it was put there as an editorial escape plan if necessary.
- Likewise, She-Hulk is known for knowing about the fourth wall. She has arguments with editors and artists, has at least one time used panels to win a fight or skip over boring parts of a story, and has complained about advertisements or used them to her advantage. Unfortunately, with Marvel becoming Darker and Edgier by the minute, she's seen doing this less and less.
- The current excuse for removing this aspect of her character is that She-Hulk is no longer aware of the fourth wall, and has forgotten all these instances of knowing about it. The times when she was, have been explained away as a "side-effect of her gamma-irradiation" which caused her to see things that may not have been there.
- Word of God had previously stated that She-Hulk's fourth wall vision was somewhat fluid in terms of canon— if she was using it, then she had it in that storyline, if she wasn't using it, it wasn't something she ever had. In her third series, in which she works at a law firm that studies actual issues of Marvel Comics as legal documents, an issue of her second series was read in-universe, and she was asked if she really thought there was an audience watching, she replied no— but said it to the fourth wall.
- Lyra has revealed she also has a perception change ability, but instead of seeing the fourth wall, she sees all gamma particles when in a meditative state. According to some sources, she still has the ability but just lets Deadpool have fun with it instead.
- There's also Squirrel Girl and her squirrels, Fun Personified. In the GLA she was only allowed to break the fourth wall during the recaps. But Monkey Joe and Tippy-Toe didn't sign any contract (why would they?), so for them, there is no fourth wall.
- When Deadpool and Squirrel Girl team up in a GLA special, the Fourth Wall doesn't so much break as slink away quietly with its tail between its legs. Rather than explain to her in detail what happened to her boyfriend Speedball, Deadpool just hands a copy of the relevant comic to Squirrel Girl and lets her read it.
- Most of the characters written by Fabian Nicieza become Fourth Wall Observers during the recap pages. They are allowed to, because the recap pages are not in continuity (a clause even Deadpool is forced to follow).
- Which doesn't prevent him from, in the story, wishing that the recap page were in continuity so he might have a clue about what the hell was going on.
- Amazingly, these recap pages are in continuity for Squirrel Girl.
- The Unbelievable Gwenpool is what happens if you let a comicbook nerd loose in the comics she is a fan of. Up to and including narrating her own exploits, identifying (occasionally criticizing) the writers and artists on the book, trying to invoke/exploit tropes and falling on her face when she runs into a subversion.
- Modern Loki is an interesting case... the jerk will happily tell everybody that he's living story or lecture about the plot. But he's generally a subversion, as his worldview is about the gods being metafictional in the Marvel Universe, but from this doesn't leap to the conclusion that the whole universe around him is fiction. Generally.
- In issue 66 of Alpha Flight, Whitman Knapp becomes one of these for the length of the issue, treating the writer with sarcasm. It turns out to be a delusion created by the Dreamqueen.
- The Incredible Hulk used to pal around with a group of super-powered do-gooders called The Pantheon. Except Paris wasn't quite the do-gooder they thought. In addition to causing outright chaos, he speaks to the reader, is aware when the end of the book is coming up and at one point, turns the book OFF. Creepy.
- Rick Jones, long-time superhero sidekick, has developed 'comics awareness' as detailed in Captain Marvel #60.note He does not seem fully aware he is in a comic book, but he can clearly see the forest for the trees. Years of dealing with cosmic beings who can rewrite reality on a whim has made him the most genre-savvy of the entire Marvel Universe. He recognizes when it is time for the wacky adventures to stop for now. It's not perfect, mind, he accepts the comforting delusion that his wife had a pleasing lesbian affair due to telepathic influence, not because she was bi and the marriage was on the rocks.
- DC Comics:
"I wanted you all to have a little more fun. And to sell a whole bunch of issues."[offpanel Superman] "What?""Nothing."
- While The Joker is occasionally like this in normal comics as well, in the Emperor Joker storyline, where he gains 99% of Mr. Mxyzptlk's powers, he becomes one of these big time, occasionally making references to the comic and the industry, which the other characters usually ignore. Among the best of these that he did was sticking a "Why Didn't Anyone Call In To Save Me" sign on Jason Todd's skeleton (a reference to the fact that DC used a phone-in poll to decide whether he would live or die), and, faced with the fact that he couldn't erase Batman from existence due to his obsessions, yells at the artist to stop redrawing him.
- Mxyzptlk himself is Fourth Wall Savvy. In an issue of Superman/Batman:
- Ambush Bug is another example from The DCU. He and Squirrel Girl are sort of like both Distaff Counterparts and alternates of each other.
- As is Animal Man. His entire series played with the Fourth Wall constantly. Later on, he temporarily ascended to a higher plane of existence which upgraded his powers and also caused him to learn all of his life was a comic book. He temporarily suffered a Heroic B.S.O.D. until he was able to use it to his advantage. He begged the author of the comic for his family to be brought back to life after the author supposedly killed them all to make him Darker and Edgier. The author was leaving the book anyways, so he agreed. When Animal Man called the author out on his Writer on Board agenda towards showing the evils of eating meat, the author admitted it, but then quickly threw together a bunch of crappy supervillains to fight Animal Man to teach him a lesson while he both apologized for it and then ranted about how Humans Are Bastards so eating meat is wrong. Since then, he's learned to live with it, although he still comments on it from time to time. For instance, when he's asked for help from other superheroes, he usually says something like "Oh God, I hope it's not another crossover where they kill off a bunch of C-List heroes like me."
- There was an issue of (no shock here) Grant Morrison's run on JLA where Martian Manhunter sought Animal Man's help on something, to which Animal Man replied with horrified sobbing and scream "Oh god no I'm integral to the plot!". Manhunter left a bit creeped out by A.M.'s "unique" view of the universe.
- He's lost the fourth-wall breaking with his current incarnation in the New 52, apart from the odd Continuity Nod referencing Morrison's defining run.
- In the pre-New 52 Harley Quinn comic solo, usually an imaginary Harley comments to viewers on events in the comic.
- The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy story "Future Tense" (Cartoon Network Block Party #36) has Grim saying he can use his scythe to find out what Nostradamus is saying about his future, with Mandy finding it too convenient: "Doesn't this comic have any standards?" she asks.
- Flint Dartson of A Loonatic's Tale is renowned for constantly breaking the fourth wall. While he may not make it known to the other characters, he continually acts knowing that there is a script and author causing the events around them.
- The Marvel Comics finale of Mighty Mouse has this all over the place. It starts with the action stopped after the first page as Pearl Pureheart boycotts the rest of the issue because comedian Andrew "Mice" Clay was appearing (a nod to Nora Dunne refusing to appear on Saturday Night Live because Andrew "Dice" Clay was appearing).
- Although most characters saw the 4th wall in the Sonic The Hedgehog series, they seemed to have lost this ability when the comic's genre shifted. However, Bean the Duck continues to break the wall.
- My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic (IDW):
Discord: Oh, so this is going to be a philosophical issue. Great.
- Unsurprisingly, Pinkie Pie does this fairly regularly. During the "Reflections" arc, she chastises Twilight Sparkle for trying to make sense of an Alternate Universe by saying that their own reality doesn't make sense and that continuity is overrated. Later, during a battle between two other characters, she admonishes them for doing something not allowed in a children's comic book.
- Just as unsurprisingly, Discord gets in on the act in the Friends Forever series:
Discord: Never mind.
- In a Simpsons Comics Hallowe'en story, after multiple alien invasions and random people spending several panels ranting about conspiracy theories, Sideshow Bob turns up to tell the Truth — they're "all merely pen and ink creations trapped in a juvenile comic book!" He gets laughed at at first, but proves his case by pointing out the comic book panels and then forcing everyone to look at the reader.
- An interesting case in Supergod in which the Dajjal was talking out loud while the narrator was also making an Apocalyptic Log. Since he is The Omniscient, then he is probably aware of the fourth wall.
- Pinkie Pie in Twillight Sparkle's awesome adventure knows that she's in a terribly-written fanfic, leading her to make snarky comments, and eventually a full-on Rage Against the Author, about the story's quality.
- Naturally, Narrator of Empath: The Luckiest Smurf, since he is essentially the same character from The Smurfs film series.
- An entire clan are made up of these in The Unsung Story of the Inconspicuous. They're all aware of the fact that they're living in a story and make it a point to do their absolute best to stay out of the way of the plot.
- In the RWBY fanfic, Shard, minor OC character Zek often makes comments that indicates that he is somewhat aware that he is in a story. He also nicknames many of the characters after the people they allude to. Such as Yang being Goldilocks. Lampshaded further by the fact that he can't come up with a nickname for major OC character Aero, who is his best friend.
- Pinkie Tales
- There's Pinkie Pie of course, which leads to her constantly bickering with the narrator of the week and causing all kinds of mischief For the Lulz.
- More surprisingly Applejack of all ponies is this, as she often breaks character to point out various oddities in the story, like why she of all ponies was cast as the fairy godmother and often tries to address her friends as she would in the show.
Films — Animated
- Genie from Disney's Aladdin is one of these; though his insights usually have more to do with real world events, celebrities, and popular characters than actually referencing the fourth wall, he still has the same effect on the other characters. The cartoon series discusses this at one point, where Aladdin explains to Jasmine that Genie is just referencing things that don't exist yet, and basically admits that he just ignores him when he does this.
- All the characters of Wreck-It Ralph are fourth-wall observers in-universe, as they can literally see the player of their game through either a huge window in the air or a screen on a robot, but one character takes it one step further for the purpose of Paranoia Fuel: Turbo, during his Motive Rant to Vanellope, turns and gives his signature thumbs up to the people watching the movie◊ in just one single frame.
Films — Live-Action
- Stranger Than Fiction is an interesting variation. The main character can hear the narrator and recognizes a sort of fourth wall, but the narrator is actually someone in his world whose writing dictates his life. In fact, they eventually meet.
- The Graverobber, of Repo! The Genetic Opera, so very much. He speaks directly to the camera on multiple occasions, and even refers to the medium he's in during "Epilogue".
- Boris Yelnikoff from Woody Allen's Whatever Works
- Paul in Funny Games. A rare dark example.
- This trope's inverse is basically the plot of The Truman Show: Every character can see the fourth wall except one.
- In a Finnish comedy film from the Uuno Turhapuro series, a waiter has been tricked, by two alcoholics, into drinking a full bottle of vodka. Later, when a lady enters the restaurant, and listens to the waiter singing a song, she glances around, and declares with an enlightened face: "I see. This must be a Finnish movie. There's no other explanation for the presence of so many drunkards in one scene."
- The titular character becomes this after returning to his fictional life at the end of Last Action Hero.
- Ferris Bueller from Ferris Bueller's Day Off regularly comments directly to the audience about the film's plot, about the other characters, about being in High School, and so on. At the end of the film, after the credits, he even says to the audience, "You're still here? It's over! Go home! Go."
- Groucho Marx of The Marx Brothers incorporated this into almost all of his movie roles. It's one of the traits he passed on to Bugs Bunny.
Groucho (looking out at the theater): "I may be stuck here, but there's no reason you can't go out into the lobby until this all blows over." (from Horse Feathers)
- Like his original comic book self, the star of Deadpool is constantly breaking the fourth wall, commenting on everything from his own actor to the film's budget. He even makes fun of X-Men Origins: Wolverinenote .
- Kaitlyn Werhner, from the story Dark Red Mind, is well aware that she is fictional, knows she's being written, points out certain tropes that occur, and even tries to hurry dialogue along so the reader doesn't become bored. She's not just a fourth wall observer. She's a fourth wall manipulator.
- Ed in The Chronicles of Blarnia.
Susan: ...Do you think we might be in a children's book?Ed: Of course we are, if you look down you can see the page numbers.
- A similar thing happens with Bromosel in Bored of the Rings, after it has been foretold that he'll die sometime "around page eighty-eight." None of the others seem to understand this, but whenever they get into dangerous situations, Bromosel is mentioned as taking a quick glance at the page number.
- In the superhero novel The Silver Seven the character Timothy Wonder looks directly at the fourth wall on numerous occasions, calls out tropes as they are played, but still demonstrates a complete lack of Genre Savvy.
- One of the Reminiscences of Ijon Tichy from Memoirs of a Space Traveller by Stanisław Lem is about a scientist that succeeds in creating sentient AI in the form of computer-generated phantoms living in a digital world. One of these beings is aware of how things are (or rather foreknows it), and is held by the others as a madman. It is suggested in the story that its characters may well be in the same situation.
Live Action TV
- In one of the later seasons of The X-Files, a movie producer witnesses a skeleton assemble itself and walk/dance around the room. When talking about it later on he says: "It was either animatronics or CGI." For the record it was the latter.
- Originally, Denny Crane was the only one who knew that Boston Legal was a TV show. In later seasons other characters, particularly Jerry Espenson, start to notice as well.
- If Abed on Community had a job description (other than "student"), it would be "Fourth Wall Observer." He believes the world to be like TV, and because he's a character in a TV show, it is. He can even predict the future thanks to his knowledge of tropes. Heaven knows why he doesn't have a handle here.
- Abed does break the Fourth Wall occasionally. In one episode opening skit, the other characters ask him if he can stop acting like everything is a TV show. His reply? "That's kind of my gimmick... but we did lean on that pretty hard last week, so I guess I can lay low for an episode." He has no further lines that episode. And, yes, the previous episode had been particularly Abed-heavy.
- This gets even better when Jeff starts to understand Abed's way of thinking a little bit after some time, slightly becoming a Meta Guy himself. More frequently referring to 'seasons' and 'episodes' as well.
- This is ultimately deconstructed. Abed doesn't truly believe he's in a TV show, he just has great difficulty understanding the world around him. Framing his life as a TV show makes it easier for him to understand, and is sort of a coping mechanism of his. When his life temporarily turned into a mafia parody, he dropped the meta shtick as reality then made perfect sense to him and didn't need a framing device.
- In the ‘Til Death episode "Hi Def TV", the character Doug spends whatever screen time he has being the Fourth Wall Observer. He is suddenly fully aware of when the camera is on him, that their food is from brands that don't exist, convenient plot elements, censors, the laugh tracks, that all the rooms have only three walls and there is no such thing as a second floor. He is even unfortunate enough to catch a glimpse of one of the mics. Needless to say all the other characters think he's a little off his rocker.
- Effy from Skins does this quite often, most noticeably in the final shot of the finale of series two.
- The eponymous character in Malcolm in the Middle turns to the Fourth Wall in the middle of scenes to talk about his Dysfunctional Family directly with the audience. No one else in the show seems to notice.
- Made in Canada lead character Richard Strong would open every episode with a short rant about a topic that would turn out to be pivotal to the episode's plot and explain to the audience mid-episode where he stood with his own scheme amidst the stack of other zany schemes. The episode ends with either the winner looking to the camera and saying "I think that went well" or the loser saying "This is not good."
- Lovejoy regularly speaks to the audience, usually to share a witty observation. No one else seems to notice or comment on this, though Lady Jane does giggle once when she overhears him.
- One visitor in The Cube is a film critic who tells the man that he's just a character in a teleplay, and produces a TV to show him the ending.
- Tracy Jordan on 30 Rock when he's off his meds.
- In a recent episode of How I Met Your Mother, where Marshall and Lily hold a game show to decide which of their friends is to be the guardian/godparent of their newborn child, Marshall gives the opening narration of the show to the camera. Ted asks him who he's talking to.
- There were times on Green Acres when Lisa Douglas couldn't sleep because she could see the credits. Oliver never saw them.
- Then there was the time when Oliver ended an episode with a stirring speech — only for Lisa to interrupt, asking where that patriotic music was coming from...
- MythQuest: In-universe whenever Alex or Cleo travel into a myth. Also Gorgos, who knows he's in a myth.
- There's a hilarious sketch in A Bit Of Fry and Laurie, where Fry and Laurie are policemen looking for a criminal. At one point Laurie, caught up in his speech to the woman present, walks off the living room set and past one of the cameras. When he realizes what he's done, he then casually strolls back on, never breaking character or stopping the sketch.
- The main character in the US version of House of Cards (US), Frank Underwood, regularly soliloquies directly into the camera's lens, often to inform the viewer of his deceptive behaviour.
- The Burns and Allen Show: In the TV series, George addressed the camera in every episode. In the live episodes (the first two seasons), George addressed the camera and the theater audience. In the filmed episodes over the remainder of the series, George not only addressed the camera, he also had a TV in a den that allowed him to watch the other characters in the show.
- The main character in Fleabag makes comments and looks to camera all the time, of which the other characters are unaware. This takes a dark turn in the final episode when she realises that she can't turn it off and we're still watching as she has her breakdown.
- WWE's Triple H holds the crown of fourth-wall breaking. From hinting at his Real Life marriage to Stephanie McMahon to cracking jokes about the referees, the sound crew, the cameramen, and how the heel / babyface relationship works. Some of his more humorous examples are:
- To an audience at a Raw taping: "And for the millions, who, five minutes ago, were watching at home. (crowd boos) Oh, come on! It's like, 11:08, guys, we're off the air!"
- After a microphone malfunctions at a press conference: "Crack sound team we got here. Where'd you buy these things, Wal-Mart? I think we're gonna be auctioning them off later, you might wanna get a receipt."
- To Shelton Benjamin, coming down the ramp during an episode of Smackdown: "Shelton man, stop right there. That's not how this works. See, I'm doing what we call a 'promo' (does air quotes). In this 'promo', I'm gonna stand here and talk about how I'm gonna beat you in our match. And then you're playing what we call a Heel, you've gotta wait till my back is turned and then sneak up on me. That's how this works."
- To Vince McMahon off of Vince's outraged "What are you doing here?", after first waiting several minutes for the crowd to stop cheering: "I'm waiting for this pop to die down, man, did you hear that?"
- The whole "CM Punk will leave the company with the title" story has kind of turned Punk into a fourth wall observer. Every story connected to it revolved around real life issues. Its very evident when Punk had promos with John Cena because there's an obvious contrast when Punk is talking about the stuff that make all the smarks cheer their heads off while Cena stays totally in character and treats Punk like the evil Heel.
- In the 2013 stage musical Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Willy Wonka is this — possibly owing to his being both a Large Ham and Mr. Imagination — and turns his awareness of the fourth wall to his own amusement. He turns out to be the unseen narrator of the "Creation Overture" at the top of the show. At the end of Act One, as the Golden Ticket tour group heads into the factory, he follows along behind them — but before slamming the door shut invites the audience in as well. At the top of Act Two, he is revealed to be "conducting" the entr'acte and even briefly takes a seat in the front row (or, even better, on a front row audience member's lap). At the end of the show, he addresses the audience to reveal that he's going to continue his creative adventures...in their world. During the first stretch of the curtain call, after everyone else has taken their bows, he is revealed to be sitting in a box seat in the auditorium.
- Final Fantasy:
Kefka: After all, she's a - good ol' friend of mine!
- Kefka in Dissidia: Final Fantasy is at least a minor example. One of his victory quotes is humming the famous victory tune, and he briefly looks at the camera and addresses the audience in at least one cutscene.
- For a more minor example, Prompto in Final Fantasy XV also sings background music from time to time and comments on the game mechanics.
- The Scout in Team Fortress 2 refers to himself as a class, the battlefield as a map, and taunts people by telling them to Rage Quit.
- The MLB: The Show series does an admirable job making its in-game presentation as if it were a TV broadcast, but occasionally, the commentators will break the fourth wall. During a cutscene of a frustrated pitcher, Rex Hudler will comment that "he's using words we can't use in the video game!". And if you get a generous call at the plate as the year's cover athlete, Dave Campbell will remark, "See, that's the kind of call you get when they put you on the cover on the game." Conversely, if Roy Halladay (opposing franchise MLB 2K11's cover boy) has a bad call go against him, Campbell will opine that Halladay would have gotten the call if he was on their cover.
- In Dead Rising 2, player character Chuck Greene, always says something relevant when you have him put on new clothes. Get him to crossdress, and he'll express discomfort, saying things like "Um...Seriously?", "Uh..." "If you say so..." and "I got a bad feeling about this." These seem to be his only moments.
- Deadpool carries his Medium Awareness into video games with him. You fight him in Marvel Ultimate Alliance 2 because he declares that it's time for an "obligatory mini-boss fight". In Marvel vs. Capcom 3 he geeks out over meeting Street Fighter characters (and thinks that KOing them means he gets the cover of Street Fighter V), makes "Welcome to Die!" and "Curleh mustache" jokes upon seeing Magneto, criticizes Spencer's redesign, beats opponents with their own health bars, grabs the camera to address the player... long story short, he knows he's in a video game. And wait until you see what he gets up to in his own video game...
Deadpool: "Taunt Button!"
- If a certain bartender in RuneScape is asked where a brave adventurer might find her or his fortune, he fears that giving away hints will make the 'computer game' too easy. One of the options on the resulting dialogue tree triggers an amusing conversation in which the bartender attempts to explain things by heavily breaking the fourth wall, only for the player character to give up and tell him that he is obviously mad.
- In Max Payne, a mysterious voice turns Max into a Fourth-Wall Observer. During one of Max's hallucinations on the drug V, he is told by a letter (heavily implied to be from his dead wife, Michelle) that he is in a graphic novel (what the cutscenes are presented as). He instantly realizes that his life is all fragmented still shots and the fact that he can see his thoughts and words hanging in thought/speech bubbles in the air. Another letter then tells him that he's in a computer game. Once again, he instantly sees "weapon statistics hanging in the air, endless repetition of the act of shooting, time slowing down to show off my moves. The paranoid feeling of someone controlling my every step."
Max: Funny as hell, it was the most horrible thing I could think of.
- In Rogue Galaxy: All the characters have flavor lines they say as you move around. These lines might change given where you are, and what events are unlocked. Well... Kisala, when you play for longer than a certain amount of time without saving (or defeating a few bosses also seems to trigger it) she says something along the lines of "shouldn't you get to a save point?" And if you play more than 3 hours or so, "You've been playing a really long time! Aren't you tired?"
"You've been playing forever. Why don't you call it a day."
- Travis Touchdown of the No More Heroes series fits this well. He says a lot of things that imply he's aware he's in a videogame, like telling the player what button to press to start the game. He even speaks to the player during a sum up scene of him explaining how he got into this mess in the first place.
- A scientist in the StarCraft universe holds a theory that they are all nothing but units in a computer game obeying some greater entity's whims. Naturally, she is mocked by everyone else.
- In Dragon Age II, a patron at the Hanged Man frequently comments on various aspects of the game and openly wonders if he's just a character in a story that someone else is telling... and why he couldn't have been made more attractive.
- Secret of Evermore has a ranting prophet in the city of Nobilia. He declares his entire universe to be at the control of a "button-pressing overlord" and eventually gives you the option to transform him into one of several objects. If the player cancels out of the dialog, he thanks you (the player) for not polymorphing him and gives your character an item.
- Psycho Mantis from Metal Gear Solid may be one of the most famous examples. He knows how many times you've saved, reads your memory card and comments if specific games are on it, makes your controller move "with his own mind".
- Cranky Kong of Donkey Kong Country spends most of the time cynically yearning for the days of Nintendo Hard games with rudimentary graphics, while complaining about how the games he is in now can't compare to the ones he was in during his youth.
- The dwarf sidekick in Save the Prince is very much aware of the fact that he's in a game. When the main character Giselle asked what he was doing at the start of one level he said he was consulting the strategy guide, and when she asked if they were still a long way from the castle toward the beginning of the game he replied that they were only on level nine.
- BlazBlue: "Don't worry. Your friend on the other side of the screen will remember all this."
- The Neptunia series takes this trope and goes to town with it.
- Undertale has Flowey, who is aware of the player's capability to save, load and reset the whole game, and how they can use it to keep coming back after dying or change choices for different outcomes.
- Sans is one as well. Unlike Flowey, he's a deconstruction of the trope.
- The Terror Mask in the Splatterhouse remake is quite aware that it is in a video game, noting some of the things that Rick does is why the game has an M-rating, that he was originally going to be a Villain Protagonist, and occasionally telling the player to hurry up and click continue on the game over screen. Even when it delivers the Title Drop, it's done in a blatantly Breaking the Fourth Wall way:
Show him why we call it... 'SPLATTERHOUSE'.
- The Plumber from the Ratchet & Clank series. Also has Medium Awareness.
Almost didn't recognize you in high-def!See you in the next reboot!
- The Elder Scrolls series has M'aiq the Lair, a recurring Easter Egg Legacy Character who has appeared in every game since Morrowind. M'aiq is a known a Fourth Wall Observer (and Leaner and Breaker) who voices the opinions of the series' creators and developers, largely in the form of Take Thats, to both the audience (given the ES Unpleasable Fanbase) and isn't above above taking some at Bethesda itself. His "meta" dialogue understandably doesn't make any sense from an in-universe perspective and justifiably makes him seem very detached from the game world.
- Com'c: Block is a professional wall breaker specializing in walls labeled "4". He doesn't fit the "not believed by anyone else" part of the trope, however, because the author has made him unnoticable to the characters with an intact Fourth Wall.
- Krixwell doesn't have a Fourth Wall. Justified because he is the author.
- It seems this isn't a problem with Nope Guy - NG has been shown to interact with both Block and the main characters, which may indicate that he is also an example of this trope.note
- Cherry from RPG World is quasi-Fourth Wall Savvy. She keeps questioning the tropes of the game in which they exist.
- Drowtales: Kiel "has an imaginary friend who just happens to be wherever the camera is." Said friends — and by extension the readers — are actually the demonic taint itself.
- Subverted after Book 1 ends. After Naal'sul mutates into a demon fused with an experimental summon spirit, she starts excreting shadowmandyr essence, a special substance that allows demons to possess and control tar without leaking The Virus. Suddenly, the readers gain a LOT of influence in the story itself, effectively breaking the fourth wall and cleaning out the edges.
- In The Order of the Stick, all of the characters show Medium Awareness and huge amounts of Genre Savvy, but Elan generally shows more than the rest, but not necessarily knowledge of the fourth wall more than the rest (as the characters consider the fourth wall more part of the sets of rules for their universe, and rarely ever directly break it as much as reference it). However, the Oracle does show complete omniscience in that regard, talking to the audience as well as the general Medium Awareness the characters show, and gets the same reactions as most of these examples, thus, he is one of these relative to the rest of the characters, even though the other characters show bits of No Fourth Wall themselves. This has extended as far as borrowing things from themselves in other places on the site, with the artwork for those places being contemporaneously updated to reflect the change.
- Think of it this way: Most of the characters have a jackhammer with which to dig a hole (size varies with the character) through the Fourth Wall, through which they can look at and interact with our world. The Oracle? He gets an Earthmover, and is very well acquainted with the controls.
- In particular, the demon roaches who are always loitering around can break the fourth wall at will, and do so at every possible opportunity.
- Tea, the white-haired girl in Gunnerkrigg Court, appears in some between-chapter bonus pages to talk directly to the reader. Since author Tom Siddell has stated that all strips (except for the one in which he himself appears alongside Tea) are Canon, it can be deduced that Tea has the power to see our world and know about her own world's true nature.
- Just about every single character in Jayden and Crusader.
- The four kids (and Karkat) from Homestuck each get a few pages after their introduction for fourth wall breaking, though after that they are stuck with an intact fourth wall for the rest of the story.
- Jack Noir had a Fourth Wall, but someone stole it. The fourth wall eventually becomes a plot point.
- And then there's Doc Scratch, who is perfectly aware of the readers thanks to being The Omniscient. He even pranks us and calls the author a fool.
- Hinted at with Vriska in Act 6, leading up to her ridiculous fourth wall breaking tantrum.
- Joel in Concession. In fact it was recently revealed that spiritual awareness involves knowledge of the fourth wall.
- The protagonist of A Beginner's Guide to the End of the Universe is not a full-fledged Fourth-Wall Observer who knows he's in a comic, but he's the only person in the world who is aware of the game mechanics of the RPG-Mechanics Verse. All of the other characters just brush off his references to them as nonsense.
- Penny from Out at Home behaves this way regularly, most recently here.
- Erin from Dragon City pretty much knows it's there. The rest of her family is quasi-aware of it because she often gets in trouble for breaking the fourth wall, but for the most part, everyone else pretends they don't know.
- In Keychain of Creation:
- The Sidereal fate-ninja Nemen Yi dodges attacks by jumping between panels and utilizes skewed perspective to do things that should be impossible (such as slashing three people standing ten feet apart with a single strike). On one page she even breaks off part of the nearest frame and uses it as an Improvised Weapon, which other characters still cannot see. (In Exalted, Sidereals can see and manipulate Fate in a way no other human can.) However, she does not acknowledge the audience.
- The Fair Folk take this to the next level: They're fully aware that they exist in a webcomic, and in fact attack the party solely because they wouldn't exist otherwise. They also operate the Fourth-Wall Mail Slot, bringing letters to other characters who have no clue who sent them. Of course, the humans think they're insane. All this is perfect, because in Exalted The Fair Folk very much treat themselves, each other, and Creation as fiction and story-telling, and they've even been compared to role-players.
- In Persona 4TW, Teddy is this; it's more or less his new gimmick instead of Bear-puns and -kuma Verbal Tics. Hasn't started talking directly to the audience yet, though.
- Everyone in Roommates (and presumably in its Spin-Off s Girls Next Door and Down the Street, so in the Buildingverse) has some level of Medium Awarenessnote ... But the Good Omens guys take the cake: They know the author, his/her phone number and Crowley steals his/her beer.
- Magellan features the cult of murderers called the Character Assasins, who assasinate people seemingly indiscriminately. Their leader believes they are all characters in a fictional world, and that by finding and killing the "Alpha Character", they can take control of the creator. All characters in the world treat him like a loony, but in a way he's Properly Paranoid (though assuming the "Alpha Character" is the protagonist, he did get the wrong one). Naturally, he breaks the fourth wall during his rants.
- Everyone in 1/0.
- The Scumthorpe Files has Carrie and Throatslasher who knows that they exist in a 3 and occasionally discusses about the game's features/mechanics and addresses the readers at times.
- Tiernan in Leif & Thorn sometimes thinks about reader reactions. She doesn't tell the other characters, since she's a cat and can't talk.
- While everyone in L's Empire has Medium Awareness to a certain degree, gods and demigods have what's known as "Viewers Recognition", a type of omniscience that lets them see everything that the audience sees.
- The Bird Feeder has Darryl.
- Marcoand Marty has Puzzle Rat the Puzzle Fink. He only appears to ask the audience to help the Title Characters solve scavenger hunt clues, and refers to himself as a plot convenience. Marco(a cat) finally gets fed up and eats him, leading him to come back as a ghost.
- One Dr. Rioghail of the SCP Foundation went mad, believing he was coming up with SCPs, writing reports on them, and submitting them to the SCP database for review.
- Gavin Taylore in KateModern becomes one of these, when he's going crazy. Most memorably when he attempts to confront the executive producer of the show for making his life hell.
- While other characters ignore the Fourth Wall, Shadi from Yu-Gi-Oh! The Abridged Series has the job of protecting it.
- In the Interactive Text Adventure The Motley Two, Rambar Devito has this attribute as part and parcel of his Psychic Powers. Other characters can "hear" the extradimensional voices telling them what to do (I.E. the readers), but only Rambar can talk back to them.
- James in TV Tropes Will Ruin Your Life tends to apply his knowledge of tropes to his life, with varying degrees of success.
- In I'm a Marvel... and I'm a DC every character already knows they're fictional characters with films and stories being made about them. Deadpool, true to his character, manages to take it one step further, as he is the only one who is aware that they're actually action figures in a Stop Motion web series. He even comments on the quality of the animation, his yellow subtitles, and the wait between episodes.
- Cuddles is heavily implied to be this in the Happy Tree Friends episode "Blast From The Past", in which he makes a remark just before his death which reveals that he is the only Tree Friend to have become aware of the fact that he dies all the time.
- Evilina from The Nostalgia Critic. When he's prostrated on the floor at the end of Son of the Mask and begging for death again, she decides to leave him alive because the complaints were too loud when he Died Happily Ever After in To Boldly Flee.
- Digeri Dingo from Taz-Mania. So very much.
- Sometimes Bull Gator as well.
- Sammy the Fish becomes one of these in an episode of the Canadian stop-motion series What It's Like Being Alone.
- Greg Weisman had the idea that Puck in Gargoyles would be able to do this, but Executive Meddling prevented it.
- Which would have been ingeniously in-character, since he breaks the fourth wall at the end of A Midsummer Night's Dream...
- In what has got to be a consolation for the above, in the Weisman-run The Spectacular Spiderman, the Green Goblin was shown to see through the fourth wall on occasion, and in one instance of this, quotes/paraphrases lines from Puck in A Midsummer Night's Dream.
- In Batman: The Brave and the Bold, Bat-Mite was turned into this in order to rescue him from the Scrappy heap, giving him a refreshing spin on his usually annoying characterization that just doesn't fit with usual Batman fare. This eventually gets deconstructed; Bat-Mite applies his reality-warping powers in an attempt to force the show to jump the shark and get cancelled, allowing a darker cartoon to exist. When Ambush Bug points out that a Fourth Wall Observer wouldn't be welcome in that type of cartoon, Bat-Mite is forced into nonexistance.
- The Joker in Batman: The Animated Series occasionally becomes this:
Joker: (while preparing to throw a bolo over the wall of Arkham Asylum in order to snag a passing truck and escape) Don't try this at home, kiddies!
- In the Adventure Time episode "Beyond This Earthly Realm", Ice King is hinted to be this as he stares into the static on Finn and Jake's TV set (and eventually at the audience) while rambling:
Ice King: Whaddaya think, Finn? Can we pull back the veil of static and reach into the source of all being? Behind this curtain of patterns, this random pattern generator... so clever, right here in every home, watching us from a one-sided mirror... (realizes Finn is staring at him) Heh heh, whoops! Just wizard-talking to myself!
- Megavolt in "Darkwing Duck". Let me count the ways: complaining that the show's theme song is stuck in his head, observing that the "frequency fiend" monsters could return if they obtained a part from a standard television set, momentarily thinking himself to be the villain of Scooby-Doo (before correcting himself: "Wrong cartoon!"), and, to take the cake, inventing an in-universe device that teleports him and Darkwing to a world where they're only a cartoon—in other words, our world.
- Stewie from Family Guy frequently breaks the fourth wall; talking directly to the audience or being one of the most heavy abusers of Toon Physics. It helps that most of the characters don't seem to understand him so his fourth wall breaking wouldn't seem odd to them anyway.
- Angelo Rules: Angelo is fully aware of the camera and often talks to the audience as if were one of his friends joining him wherever he goes.
Alaina (Angelo's sister): (ranting about fashion)Angelo: (turns to look at us) "I'll spare you the next 5 minutes." ("fast forward" icon appears next of him and the scene speeds up until they get the mall at which point a "play" icon appears and he gives the viewer a "You're welcome" look)
- My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic:
- Pinkie Pie graduated from Meta Mare into this trope as the show went on.* She's interrupted the Iris Out multiple times, shaken the camera, directly addressed the audience, frequently abuses Toon Physics, and more. Her friends dismiss all her odd behavior as "Pinkie just being Pinkie", with one episode's moral directly resulting from Twilight deciding to no longer question how the character works. Word of God says that Pinkie is allowed to do almost anything as long as it's funny.
- Discord, unsurprisingly: he is a Mad God who's title is "Spirit of Chaos and Disharmony", after all. While Pinkie Pie usually sticks to making heavy use of toon physics, Discord regularly shows even greater Medium Awareness with his mischief, gives the odd Aside Glance or two, and occasionally addresses the audience directly.
- Downplayed in Archer. Cheryl can hear the background music as shown in "Sea Tunt", but doesn't realize that it's because she's in a cartoon.
- Archer himself has been implied to be this a few times. In "Scorpio", Lana asks him "where'd you get that grenade?" to which he irritably replies "Hanging from the lampshade!". In "Skytanic" Archer recognizes that the bomb is a metaphor for Cyril and Lana's relationship problems. In the Season 2 finale, he comments that one fight scene is "not the explosive climax I was expecting". In "The Man From Jupiter", he notices that there are two identical sequences and asks "was that the same footage?". In one episode, he shouts "Trope alert!" after the Pope and Woodhouse are noted to be Inexplicably Identical Individuals. After a montage of scenes in "White Elephant" foreshadowing events of the fifth season, Archer whispers "Archer Vice!", the title of the fifth season, and no one else knows what he's taking about. In "Achub Y Morfilod", he looks into the camera for no apparent reason and says "Glenngoulie. For the best of times."
- Steven Universe: Sardonyx is the Domain Holder of her room in the Gem Temple, which is set up like a late-night TV talk show. During the episode "Know Your Fusion", she asks the producers if they have to pay Nicki Minaj for reusing her voice clips despite her not actually being in the episode and all the clips from previous episodes are captioned "Footage Courtesy of Cartoon Network◊".
- Rick from Rick and Morty regularly addresses his own antics as if he's a fictional character (such as referencing his "catch phrase" as such), mentions things like character arcs and show seasons, and of course takes Jerry on a "RICK AND JERRY EPISODE!!!". One fan theory has it that he's aware that, in all the infinite parallel universes, he'd logically be a fictional character in half of them.
- There is a variant of paranoid schizophrenia now named "Truman syndrome", in which the patient believes that their lives are actually a television show. This may be the best and most controversial example of Defictionalization ever.
- Anyone who has a lucid dream. In a nutshell, they're dreams that you're aware they're dreams whilst having them. Exactly how aware you are of them being dreams varies, however. With enough awareness, you can take full control as a Reality Warper or will yourself awake.
- A fair number of religions also subscribe to the belief that we are subject to supernatural observation (from Heaven/Hell/both), and some adherents speak to these cosmic observers not only in public or private prayers, but also in casual monologues the same as any of the characters in the fictional works listed above do to their audiences.
- A lot of people break an imaginary fourth wall when talking to themselves, sometimes because explaining something to someone else (or pretending to do so) resolves the problem or crystalises the issue in our own minds. Since the rise of documentary style comedies, a meme has developed of people descibing a real-life frustrating or weird conversation or situation and them 'looking at the camera like on The Office'. Perhaps it's equivalent to 'casting your eyes to heaven' - we've always selectively imagined a sympathetic oberver to our lives and reactions, only now we tend to imagine the camera rather than a deity.