Say, who are you? Narrator:
I'm the narrator. Tigger:
Oh, well, please, for goodness' sakes, narrate me down from here.
In most series, the Narrator
rests comfortably beyond the Fourth Wall
, able to tell his story in peace.
The Interactive Narrator isn't so lucky. While this type of narrator exists "off-camera", the characters of the story are fully aware of his narration and are able to interact with him. Author Powers
are also not uncommon among these narrators, allowing them to change the entire setting at will.
if the narrator in question is particularly snarky
or critical of the characters' actions
. This often results in the narrator arguing with the characters like a sort of Dungeon Master
. This extends to comedic examples of disgruntled villains attacking or abducting the narrator and attempting to take his place in order to make life miserable for the heroes.
This would be a subtrope of Medium Awareness
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- The narrator in Samurai Pizza Cats would break the Fourth Wall with the characters and engage in Lampshade Hanging with them. He even had his family kidnapped by the Big Cheese, as part of a plan to finally defeat the cats. The same show once decimated the concept by having the narrator "accidentally" read the lines of the wrong episode.
- The Narrator in Sgt. Frog also plays with the fourth wall a few times: he often gets yelled at, threatened, or outright attacked by the characters in the show for revealing their inner thoughts or reading an unflattering description of them. In episode 31, Keroro gets stranded in the middle of nowhere after his new hover-bike conks out, and he passes the time by trying to strike up a conversation with the Narrator.
- Haruhi Suzumiya's chronologically-first episode features one of these. It turns out to have been just Kyon being Kyon
- Hayate the Combat Butler's narrator is interactive, both arguing with the main characters and at one point being pinned as the culprit during the Murder Mystery episode.
- Due to the show's No Fourth Wall, the Narrator of Bobobo-bo Bo-bobo regularly interacts with the cast. They often get on each other's nerves, such as if Narrator messes up recaps.
- Code Geass has an example of this in one of its Picture Dramas, where Kallen can apparently hear the narrator and starts arguing with him ("What Kallen really wanted was for Lelouch to praise her." "Don't put your words in my mouth! Who the hell ARE you?!") It turns out that the narrator is Jeremiah, and Kallen is obviously none too happy about having a narrator beholden to another character.
- The narrator of Negima!? (the second Negima anime) often talks with the cast.
- Amagami SS has a narrator in its third arc* that the characters sometimes respond to.
- In one of Keith Giffen and Robert Loren Fleming's Ambush Bug stories, the story's villain plans, after attacking the heroes, to go after the narrator for an egregious pun.
- The newspaper comic strip Overboard often portrays the writer/narrator as a man sitting in front of a drawing board in one of the rooms of the ship. The characters will occasionally wander in and talk to or threaten him in an attempt to change the plot.
- The narrator of the Insecticomics is actually one of the Vok, a race of reality-altering hyperevolved beings. In one comic, he narrated a "Meanwhile" scene change to his own scene.
- The 80's comic strip Bloom County which frequently broke the 4th wall, had an interactive narrator that would at times squabble with the characters (especially Opus, who usually had his ugly truths revealed by the narrator). One sterling example was in a storyline when the characters went on strike. Steve Dallas is the only one to remain, and the rest of the cast has been replaced with scabs. Steve is about to start a scene with the hot blonde they've gotten to replace Bill the Cat.
Steve Dallas: (pretending to be reading from the script) Act I, Panel 1: Bill the Cat gives Steve a Swedish coconut-oil massage.
Scab: A massage? Are you quite sure?
Steve Dallas: If I'm lyin', I'm dyin'.
Narrator: He's lyin'.
Scab: I quit.
Steve Dallas: (shaking fist at air) *-#!!$% UNION NARRATOR!!
- Cartoonist Bruce Tinsley frequently interacts with the title character of Mallard Fillmore, appearing as a giant set of fingers holding a pencil above the panel.
- Uatu the Watcher frequently narrates Marvel Comics Else World stories, most notably the "What If?" series. Usually he remains aloof from the events (as is his preference), though occasionally an Alternate Universe version of him becomes involved. In Earth X, however, we're led to believe that he and protege X-51 will narrate the entire story from the moon—but X-51 refuses to stay uninvolved, and soon other characters begin showing up to hassle the Watcher. Similar events occur in the sequels Universe X and Paradise X, feature different narrators.
- The Babymouse graphic novels have this kind of narrator, with Babymouse often telling the narrator to shut up when it makes keen observations on her life.
- In Warren Ellis' Supergod, a character who possesses the power of quantum perception is able to perceive the narration accompanying his panels, and comments on it. The Narrator himself, a character recounting the story at a later date, has no idea that this is happening.
- The narrator does this in Bloom County, and the cast doesn't always like it. During the final arc of the original series, he makes a joke at Opus' expense, and Opus angrily remarks, "I'm not gonna miss that guy!"
- In one Star Trek: First Contact parody (written in a script format), the story's narrator was assimilated by the Borg halfway through. For a while, the story is then narrated by the Borg, before the Starfleet crew activate the Emergency Narration Hologram.
- In the Kingdom Hearts fanfic Those Lacking Spines, the narrator takes on two forms; as the actual writer of the literature (with a habit of torturing Vexen), and as in the slightly-crazy fan of one of the protagonists, namely, Xaldin.
- There is an unposted fanfic of Death Note that involves a wisecracking narrator whom everyone except Near... mostly, hates named Zadi. She tries to remain offscreen, but in one chapter they ended up in Oz and she became a character who both narrated and talked for said chapter. Also, Matt hacks into the narration a lot so it gets confusing. And they have No Fourth Wall
- Rocky Horror Picture Show. The narrator comes awfully close to this, dancing with the rest of the cast. The stage version plays the Trope straight.
- In the Brendan Fraser live-action movie of George of the Jungle, the narrator is an active and slightly malignant force. At one point a Mook picks a fight with him over his insulting description, to which the narrator responds by rewinding the movie just to taunt him. (The mook's comrade then asks, "Did you just argue with the narrator?") The sequel has the narrator reach in and pick up a villain who annoyed him, a Deus ex Machina resolution to a plotline.
- "Charles Dickens" (actually Gonzo) is the narrator in The Muppet Christmas Carol, and is usually in or near the scene in question when it happens. Rizzo finds this a bit hard to believe, which leads to the following exchange outside Scrooge's house:
Rizzo: How do you know what Scrooge is doing? We're down here and he's up there!
"Dickens": I keep telling you, storytellers are omniscient. We know everything.
Rizzo: Well, hoity-toity, Mr. God-Like Smarty Pants.
- The narrator in the filmed version of Joseph And The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat isn't active enough for the characters' tastes—she'll wander right into the middle of the action, eating a drumstick and cheerfully ignoring the starving characters staring hungrily at it.
- The Stranger in The Big Lebowski. Half-way through the movie he turns up to meet The Dude and talking to him. At the end, he's there again and delivers the last monologue to the camera, in the bar, before ordering some Sarsaparilla.
- The Mexican Christmas film Santa Claus features a scene where the Devil tries to tempt a poor girl into stealing a doll from a toy store. The narrator immediately says, "No, Lupita, don't listen to him!" This scene was prime joke fodder when this movie featured on Mystery Science Theater 3000:
Crow: Ah, the eternal conflict between evil and the narrator!
- In Casino, Joe Pesci's onscreen character, who also functions as one of the offscreen narrators, is killed, abruptly ending the simultaneously happening speech of his narrator character in the middle of the sentence.
- In The Smurfs, Narrator Smurf is an actual Smurf, and this is his job. The opening narration parodies this in Left the Background Music On style by revealing that the voiceover is in fact Narrator talking over the rehearsal for the Blue Moon Festival.
- King Dinosaur. The Mr. Exposition narrator abruptly starts intruding on the film, such as doing a fast countdown for a rocket ship.
Servo: Whoa, whoa, whoa! So now the narrator is calling the shots?
- The Hudsucker Proxy. Treads a fine line between this Trope and Narrator All Along.
Now, technically, I'm never supposed to do this...
- The live-action How the Grinch Stole Christmas features Anthony Hopkins as Narrator, at one point the Grinch implores him to keep his voice down, since he's in the middle of raiding a house. And he did.
- Jack the Narrator from The Stinky Cheese Man And Other Fairly Stupid Tales. He argues with the Little Red Hen, he spoils the ending of "Little Red Running Shorts" (at which point the characters simply walk away, leaving blank pages where the story was supposed to happen), and he gets kidnapped by the Giant when he tries to tell "Jack and the Beanstalk".
- In Simon Hawke's The Reluctant Sorcerer, the Big Bad is an archmage described as possessing extremely potent mystical senses. He promptly demonstrates this by demanding to know who the mysterious voice talking about him is. He goes on to have several arguments with the narrator, resulting in abrupt scene shifts, and in the last volume of the series, travels to the Narrator's dimension and buys out his publishing company in order to force him to change the ending of the book so that he wins!
- Anthony Trollope, used the omniscient observer voice. However, in one novel, he interacted with the characters slightly by declaring that he once caught one of the characters fibbing.
- Applied In-Universe in Tanya Grotter series (Three guesses What this lampshades. At the magical school , they have a game called "Drakonbol", which involves dragons. There also is a commentator. Whren said commentator is injured, Bab-Jagun, one of the plaerers becomes a resident "playing commentator" This wouldn't be so bad - except players are routinely eaten by said dragons. They don't 'usually devour said players, but you cannot comment on a play outside from there...
- The Last Thrilling Wonder Story: Wolfe argues with his protagonist, punishes him for not following the plot, and realises at the end that the character has broken through the fourth wall and is coming for him.
Live Action Television
- Steve Jackson's game Munchkin plays with this trope a little. The cards themselves can be understood to tell a loose story - for example, a character may be a Feline Bounty Hunter locked in combat with Cthulhu wielding a Laser-Maser-BoBaser (play it once and you'll understand). The "narrators" (players) are encouraged to argue and debate anything not explicitly stated on the cards, with the ultimate authority resting with the game's owner.
- Rocky Horror Picture Show. The Narrator often interacts with the cast, which is fair, since the audience always interacts with him and the cast.
- The story of Into the Woods is told by a narrator. In the first act, the characters don't interact with him too much, though it is clear that they can hear him. Halfway through the second act, however, the fairy-tale characters start giving Aside Glances to the narrator as he describes the action in a frustratingly omniscient way, and they then decide to sacrifice the narrator to the Giantess in an attempt to convince her he was Jack. The characters' logic is that, as the narrator himself protests, he isn't "one of us." The other characters lament that without him, they'll never know how the story ends. Not coincidentally, this is where everything really spirals out of control.
- Spamalot! features The Historian who begins the show with an expository speech culminating in "...this was England!" The curtain rises on pseudo-Scandinavian folk dancers singing the praises of Finland. He frustratedly states that he said "England", and the dancers shuffle off, with one of them even commenting that he should "enunciate better". He also sets the scene for Act II, where King Arthur and Patsy are lost in a Large and Expensive Forest. He does not get killed by Lancelot.
- The Balladeer from Assassins frequently interacts with the villainous men whose ballads he sings.
- Taken even further in the revival, where the Balladeer is transformed into Lee Harvey Oswald.
- In Blood Brothers, the Narrator not only assumes the roles of various minor characters throughout the show, but also interacts in some capacity with the main characters. How much and in what ways this is done varies from production to production, but a fairly standard usage is hits presence visually haunting Mrs. Johnstone and Mrs. Lyons whenever their bargain is recalled.
- The Leading Player from Pippin starts off speaking directly to the audience, but by the end of the play he is giving Pippin himself instructions on how the play should end.
- Officer Lockstock in Urinetown interacts with everybody, especially with Little Sally as they explain a lot of the s. This is also beautifully lampshaded in the final number, with a line that might also be a Shout Out Into the Woods:
Little Sally: Aren't you afraid they'll see you?
Officer Lockstock: Oh, I may be a cop, but I'm also the narrator. So no one can touch me, not if they want the show to end.
- Che in Evita switches back and forth between being visible and invisible to the other characters. When he is visible, he's usually playing a role (e.g., a nightclub waiter, a reporter).
- Ditto Lucheni in Elisabeth; however, no characters are aware of his narration.
- The Somewhat True Tale of Robin Hood features a narrator called the Town Guy, who "manages to work his way into every scene whether he belongs there or not," constantly snarks with Robin and is even buddy-bud enough with the stage manager to control the scene transitions.
- When the archery tournament is suddenly changed to a bowling tournament, he also reveals that he is the best bowler in the land (whereas the Sheriff is the second best) and proceeds to give Robin lessons.
- In "Our Town", Thornton Wilder uses a Stage Manager to aid in telling the story. Early performances had actors simply sitting in chairs reciting their lines, and the Stage Manager was a necessity. Later, directors had the actors do more acting, but the Stage Manager still played an important role.
- Joseph And The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat has a female narrator explaining the story, and the role can get pretty superfluous depending on the production (the 1999 movie adaptation in particular has her doing some pretty ridiculous things). Also, if the narrator wasn't around, there would be no significant female role at all.
- In VI He shrugs it off as "Mechanical Flatulence from the ship" near the start
- In Neverwinter Nights 2 : Storm of Zehir, the narrator for the opening and ending is a character. After the ending, you can bluff or threaten him into changing the ending.
- In Dissidia: Final Fantasy, the Narrator is revealed in the secret ending to be Cid of the Lufaine. In said ending, he appears to be narrating the end of the story, only for Cosmos to raise her head and begin speaking to him. It's a rare occurrence of this trope being absolutely dead serious.
- The trailers for the Persona 4 Arena have the Lemony Narrator giving insulting nicknames to each of the Team's members which, naturally, they complain about.
- The narrator in the Mortal Kombat games is also Big Bad Shao Kahn. In some games, when he wins a fight, the narrator will sometimes say "I win" instead of "Shao Kahn wins".
- In Bastion, the narrator is Rucks, one of the last survivors of the Calamity and the one responsible for creating the Bastion. He provides running commentary on the Kid's journey, as well as his voice when he talks to the other survivors.
- The narrator of the Source Mod The Stanley Parable seems to gently nudge you in the direction that leads to freedom. And by gently, we mean he gives you the solution to a puzzle almost completely upfront. If you try to go Off the Rails in any way however, he quickly grows annoyed at your attempts and will try to stop your progress in any way he can, giving you a "The Reason You Suck" Speech along the way.
- The Stinger of Super Mario Galaxy 2 reveals that Rosalina was actually narrating the game's plot via a storybook she was reading to the Lumas. At the end of "The Perfect Run", she writes herself into her own book to give Mario/Luigi the final Power Star.
- The Narrator in Sam & Max: The Devil's Playhouse turns out to be an interesting subversion. In the final episode he's revealed to actually exist within Sam & Max's universe, as the personification of Max's super-ego, and lives inside his brain. Even after we learn this, however, he continues to narrate somewhat and address the audience beyond the fourth wall.
- Nazi Zombies: The Demonic Announcer/Samantha Maxis.
Demonic Announcer: FETCH ME THEIR SOULS!
Fetch my grenade, Devil-Voice!
- The Pokébattles Narrator is usually depicted as an omnipotent (or so it claims), genderless, sadistic Lemony Narrator... and whom the player can almost always hear and interact with.
- In one episode of Naruto The Abridged Comedy Fandub Spoof Series Show, there is a Pokémon esque narrator. Naruto immediately notices and throws a knife at her off-screen and we hear her writhing in agony. She eventually gets better and resumes her duties, which prompts another knife attack.
- In Dragon Ball Z Abridged the narrator bets on the results of a fight with some of the other characters. Needless to say, he wins.
King Kai: Wait, don't you already know the outcome of the fight?
Narrator: Um... Nooooooo...?
- Briefly happens in Glove And Boots' "Ode To Seuss" - some narration suddenly shows up in one sequence, and Mario tells the off-screen narrator to be quiet, while still ending up finishing the rhyme:
Narrator: So they dug, and they dug,
Until day turned to night
And the ungleblung shadows-
Mario: Quit talking, all right!?
- Ultra Fast Pony:
- In "A Library With No Twilight", Rarity and Applejack are able to hear and react to every word Phil the narrator says. Since Phil spends the whole episode encouraging them to hook up in the creepiest way possible, Rarity and Applejack eventually respond by mocking him. In later episodes, other ponies can still hear Phil, but they all agree to ignore him.
- The caption writer gets into the act later. He argues with Scootaloo (who is The Unintelligible and can only be understood via translated subtitles) by covering up her subtitles with his own captions. None of the other characters can tell what she's saying for the duration of the argument.
- In Wacky Races and its Spin-Off The Perils Of Penelope Pitstop, the narrator is almost a little TOO interactive.
- In the Animated Adaptation of Earthworm Jim, the characters often interact with the narrator. In one episode, the narrator was once held at gunpoint by the villains and forced to read lines they'd written.
- Rocky and Bullwinkle's narrator was similar, complete with rampant fourth-wall breaking and kidnapping.
- In the aforementioned kidnapping incident, the kidnappers quickly realized that without the narrator to say things like "And just then, a familiar figure entered the room", the plot could not progress. So they let him go.
- In The Movie, being reduced to moving in with his mother and narrating his own life when the show was cancelled.
- A lot of Jay Ward series had this type of narrator, really, with Hoppity Hooper and George of the Jungle being other prominent examples.
- The Powerpuff Girls
- In one episode ("Simian Says"; done also as comic book story "See You Later, Narrator"), Mojo Jojo kidnapped the narrator and took his place, which granted him control over the universe.
- In another episode where Mojo Jojo turns the entire world into dogs (It's a Long Story), the narrator called him out on it. In response, Mojo Jojo turns the narrator into a dog too.
- In another episode, HIM brainwashes the whole town into hating the Powerpuff Girls. The narrator screams at the girls, "Oh for crying out loud, would you three shut up for once!? Always crying and moaning about something... sheesh, you give me a headache!"
- The Rocky and Bullwinkle-type Narrator on Sheep in the Big City frequently berates the characters, who can answer back snappily, and sometimes has his booth invaded by other characters (at one point, he is actually beaten up for criticizing one character's plotline). Unlike Rocky and Bullwinkle, however, this narrator was actually given a backstory (his name was Ben Plotz) and was frequently shown onscreen, recording his narration in a studio booth.
- He was actually kidnapped by the villains at one point, just like the previously mentioned Rocky and Bullwinkle example. And then Sheep reveals himself to be the real villainous mastermind of the entire show, and plans to use the narrator for his "Narrator-Powered Raygun".
- During an episode that ended with a Downer Ending, the narrator decided that he hated the ending and invoked a Deus ex Machina to make a Super Happy Ending.
- Freakazoid had a narrator who was active in the story.
- The narrator in Danger Mouse was known to occasionally argue with the title characters, and his misreading the stage directions would lead to reality itself changing (e.g. reading out the time 12:15 sent them to the year 1215).
- The narrator of the newer Goofy cartoons on House of Mouse interacted with Goofy quite a bit, whereas in the old cartoons the narrator mostly would do his own thing while Goofy's actions would simply juxtapose on their own...Goofy did seem to be aware that ''someone'' was watching, however, even without the narrator.
- In How to Be a Gentleman, Goofy exacts his revenge on the unseen voice that's been tormenting him for so long... with a giant club.
- And speaking of House of Mouse, there were a few instances of John Cleese lending some narration. Usually without the interaction, but in one particular cartoon, The Nutcracker, Cleese not only argues with the characters and gets flustered by the confusing casting (including flat-out lying to Donald about the Rat King's ultimate fate to get him to actually do the part), but he also manages to kick Ludwig von Drake out of the picture (temporarily, to his great frustration).
- Protagonist Kuzco narrates the first half of The Emperor's New Groove in extremely snarky fashion, even complaining when other characters are given more screen time than him. When on-screen Kuzco finally begins to turn away from being a Jerk Ass, he tells narrator-Kuzco to shut up and go away. He does, and there is no narration in the second half of the film.
- Winnie the Pooh's narrator talks with the characters at least once per story...
- The most extreme example of narrator-character interaction is "And Tigger too", when Tigger and Roo got stuck in a tree, the narrator tips the book on its side to allow Tigger to slide down to safety. (In the Disney version, all the action takes place inside a book, and includes other gags of this nature)
- In The Tigger Movie's opening scene, Tigger is upset at the title of the book usually used in the other Pooh Bear Adventures. The Narrator asks "well, what would you call it then", to which Tigger Rearranges the print on the page to form his own title.
- WordGirl's narrator, in addition to explaining the plot, comments on the absurdity of the show, as well as advancing the plot himself, such as explaining where the villains are hiding. A Running Gag involves him adding a Cliff Hanger to the plot in the middle of an episode, leading to the characters' complaining.
- One episode had a second narrator narrating the episode in a dramatic manner. The Narrator has an obvious bias towards the main character. The villains that tend to be more Genre Savvy on the show will often notice this and complain.
- In one episode, the villain known as Chuck, The Evil Sandwich-Making Guy, passed a sandwich above the screen, and the Narrator ate it.
- In one Dave The Barbarian episode, the "storyteller" was enslaved by the resident evil pig. The problem was solved by Dave and his family hiring a new one.
- Veggie Tales
- Used in a short about the life of Maewynn Soccet, who would later become St. Patrick. The narrator is played by the bit-character Lutfi, "The Teensy weensy cucumber".
Maewynn Soccet: Wait a minute. That's not normal!
Lutfi: If you were too normal, you would not have a holiday named after you!
Maewynn Soccet: Good point.
- In The Story of St. Nicholas, Bob and Larry actually enter the story they're narrating, and whenever Larry suggests something Christmassy to be added to the scenery, it appears. Larry is amazed at first, and Bob explains that since they're the narrators, the story happens however they tell it.
- Goes back at least to "Dave and the Giant Pickle", where Dave makes additions to Bob's narration.
Bob: Dave and his brothers spent most of their time in the fields taking care of the sheep, which could be hard work, because their sheep had an unusual problem.
Dave: They tip over.
- Also happens in Josh and the Big Wall - Bob wanders onto the set while explaining the backstory, prompting Joshua to ask who he is.
Bob: I'm the narrator.
- The narrator of Pocoyo who, awesomely, is Stephen Fry
- In the "Woodland Critter Christmas" episode of South Park, Stan comes into conflict with a narrator who describes him doing things he didn't, and wouldn't, do, and transports him to places when he refuses to go there himself. The narrator turns out to be Cartman.
- The narrator of Disney's Hercules is named Bob (his wife is Mrs. Bob, they have two kids). While he rarely interacts with the main characters he is in competition with the Muses and frequently argues with them. Bob is apparently just an invisible Charlton Heston as he and his family appear in one episode wearing large souvenir hats.
- An episode of The Beatles has the Fab Four on a cruise ship, with a narrator describing the cruise's various amenities as they run and hide from their fans A Hard Day's Night-style. Eventually, they complain that he's giving away all their disguises by talking about the parts of the ship they happen to be in, and he politely obliges their request that he go narrate somewhere else.