Frame Break

A Painting the Medium and Medium Awareness trope, where characters interact with the confines of the scene. For example, interacting with borders around comic strip panels by crashing through the side or falling out the bottom. In live action media, it might be implied that two characters are in two completely different locations, only to subvert this by having one of them reach into the other scene.

A Sub-Trope of Odd-Shaped Panel and Ninja Prop.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • In an early Dragon Ball chapter, Goku hits Yamcha so hard he flies into the top frame of the page and cracks it.
  • Obligatory Mahou Sensei Negima! example: Negi, Blue with Shock, holds on to the frame in a "Kilroy was here" pose when he contemplates what Evangeline's going to do to him for losing the ring she gave him.
  • When a character is formally introduced in One Piece, they often stand outside the panel, overlapping it.

    Comic Books 
  • She-Hulk did it once or twice. One issue of She-Hulk has her ripping through two pages of ads to go after a villain.
  • Ambush Bug once jumped back several pages to rescue Cheeks.
  • X-Men: Kitty Pryde, in some comics, can phase through panels.
  • An issue of Superboy has Doomsday (actually a clone of him) smash through the entire bottom half of a page in attacking Superboy, destroying the frames in the process.
  • In part 10 of the Sonic the Hedgehog/Mega Man: Worlds Collide crossover, Duo does this when he flies off to fight the Chaos Devil.
  • Astérix:
    • The characters sometimes use the comic's panel dividers to support themselves.
    • Asterix and the Secret Weapon features a bird being bothered by noises in the forest and flying straight into the next panel, which is at sea, where a seagull looks at it in surprise.
  • Issue #17 of The Unbelievable Gwenpool is mostly composed of Gwen going How Do I Shot Web? over her new Ninja Prop wielding abilities which culminate into her not only touching the panel border, but pushing a pencil through it, then breaking into her future (the next panel), and finally falling through the hole out of the comic.

    Comic Strips 
  • "Little Sammy Sneeze" by Winsor McCay used this as early as the 1900's.
  • Little Nemo used this on occasion. In one strip, Flip tears off the bottom frame of a panel and uses it to knock down letters from the comic's logo.
  • Pearls Before Swine:
    • Done fairly often; sometimes the characters sit on the top of the panels, sometimes the panels are tilted, causing issues in-strip, as well as "Panel Walking" into other comics.
    • Pearls occasionally has jokes that work best if the comics page happens to be laid out just right:
      • The Family Circus has Billy denying that he was spilling sunflower seeds in the kitchen. The Pearls strip that day has Rat throwing sunflower seeds down and out of the panel. When positioned directly above The Family Circus, Rat's abuse of the long-running comic became apparent.
      • Another has Rat comment about being able to see up Blondie's skirt. Obviously the joke worked best when Pearls was immediately beneath Blondie.
  • Every so often a character in Pogo would literally lean on the fourth wall this way (or at least against the frame border); on occasion Albert would use it to strike a match for his trademark cigars.
  • Liberty Meadows occasionally featured things like Ralph trying to hold onto the panel borders while Brandy drags him off to therapy. *SNAP* "Stupid cheap panel borders!"

    Fan Works 

    Films — Animation 

    Films — Live Action 
  • Ghostbusters (2016) had some scenes in the 3D version where characters and elements would protrude over the black letterbox bars. When Erin saves Abby from falling into a dimensional portal, the whole movie expands over those bars. On home video, the 2D version also features these protrusions.

    Live-Action TV 
  • One Monty Python's Flying Circus animation had a Comic Book superhero bouncing off the walls of his panel in an attempt to escape.
  • Quiz show University Challenge always shows the two teams in split-screen, one above the other (in reality they're sitting at desks next to each other). This was parodied on The Young Ones when its characters appeared on the show, and Vyvyan kicked through the "floor" to attack the opposing team.
  • Though it was a split screen in this case, one segment of "Formidable Opponent" on The Colbert Report (where two Stephens would debate via chroma-key tricks) had Stephen Al-Bert (his terrorist counterpart) blowing up the split-screen at the end of the segment with a rocket launcher; when the smoke clears, the image is mainly broken like glass and all three Stephens have vanished.

    Tabletop Games 
  • In the Advanced Dungeons & Dragons "Monster Manual", the border around the fire elemental is burning up due to the close proximity. Similarly, the rust monster is corroding its border.

    Video Games 

    Web Animation 
  • In the Strong Bad Email "Virus", one of the effects of the virus is that the frame does not scroll when Strong Bad walks, causing him to pop out of the video and into the blackness surrounding it.
    Strong Bad: Woah! It's cold out here...

    Web Comics 

    Web Original 

    Western Animation 
  • In The Fairly Oddparents, when Timmy magically goes into the Crimson Chin comic book, he's able to jump from frame to frame (and time travel by doing so).
  • In the intro of The Beano Video we see numerous instances of this, including Teacher being used by the Bash Street Kids as a battering ram.

Alternative Title(s): Panel Break