When characters breach internal fourth walls to go on adventures in books, films and so on. Generally they travel into one or more books or films to become part of the plot, or, at least, to observe the plot first hand. This often forms part of an allegory or metaphor for escapism, the idea that the imagination allows a reader to 'enter' a work and subconsciously cast themselves as an observer or a main character. This is one reason why the lead characters of books are often very vaguely or loosely described
, allowing the reader to assume the hero's identity as a form of role-play.
Compare and contrast Trapped in TV Land
. See also Reading Is Cool Aesop
. Not to be confused with From Beyond The Fourth Wall
, when the fourth wall is the one between us and them.
open/close all folders
Anime & Manga
- In Monster Rancher, Genki travels to the monster world through a computer game; however, this example may be a subversion since it is alluded throughout the series that Genki may actually have travelled through time to the distant future instead of into a game. In particular, the post-apocalyptic setting and the fact that Genki isn't dumped back into his room in front of an end-of-game screen in the last episode speaks volumes. Not to mention that once he arrives there is no indication that the world he is visiting is a game.
- Fantastic Four: True Story by Paul Cornell. The FF travel through various well-known works of literature.
- Justice League of America villain the Queen of Fables. She is eventually defeated and trapped when the heroes trick her into entering a copy of the US Tax Code: a work that contains no imagination and so one from which she cannot escape.
- In Grant Morrison's The Filth, The Hand uses Intrepid Fictioneer tactics to mine cheesy golden-age comics like Secret Original for Weird Science gadgetry.
- Comic Book Planetary introduces a "fictional man" who turns against his creators and abandons the story for other comics. It's implied he's Grant Morrison.
- The Deadopool Killogy has Wade Wilson attempt to murder the Marvel universe, then the works of classic literature that inspired it, then alternate versions of himself all in an attempt to conclusively and permanently die.
Films — Animation
- In The Pagemaster Richard travels through a mash-up storybook world based around tightly and neatly divided Adventure, Fantasy, and Horror genres and is, essentially, traveling from one book to another trying to find his way out.
Films — Live-Action
- Last Action Hero, starring Arnold Schwarzenegger. A young boy gets sucked into the latest installment of a fictional action movie franchise using a magic ticket and try to stop the villain of the movie from using the ticket to wreak havoc in the real world.
- The NeverEnding Story and its two sequels where a boy travels to the world of Fantasia by reading the book of The NeverEnding Story and having to save the world inside the book from the various evils that wish to destroy it.
- Harold Shea, back in the 1940s, invented the "syllogism-mobile", which allowed him to visit worlds of fiction. Unfortunately, it didn't always work quite like he planned, and he didn't end up in quite the works he was aiming for.
- The Inkworld Trilogy has select few characters who are able to send people and objects into and out of stories when they read out loud.
- The NeverEnding Story, where a boy travels to the world of Fantasia by reading the book of The NeverEnding Story and having to save the world inside the book from the various evils that wish to destroy it.
- Only You Can Save Mankind, Johnny and other characters travel into the titular computer game and rebuild large parts of it with their imaginations. Their actions alter the game in real time and actually affect sales.
- Jasper Fforde's Thursday Next books are the trope namer and codifier here. Thursday finds out that fiction has a 'behind the scenes' and that all books are intrinsically linked, with characters as actors in the work. Thursday goes on to travel from book world to book world. Incidentally, fictioneer is a derogatory term meaning a writer of large amounts of tatty pulp fiction.
- Cassandra's Affect has a main character, Cassandra Matthews, who is not only aware she's a character in a book, but also travels through several books during her adventures.
- The 10th Kingdom subverts this in that it is revealed that most fairy tales were written by people who wandered into an actual fairy world.
- Lost in Austen.
- MythQuest: Alex and Cleo travel into myths, mostly to search for their father, but on at least one occasion it was because they liked the idea of living a particular myth.
- In Myst, this was the premise. Certain people had the power to create worlds by writing about them in books (or something like that). They could travel into them — and, if the book, which then served as a gateway between worlds, was damaged, they could be trapped.
- The general plot of Wario: Master of Disguise has Wario enter a TV program about a master thief out of both jealousy and wanting the money in the series locations for himself. He sadly realizes at the end that the Telmet (device used to warp into the TV) cannot transfer the money out as well as him.
- SCP Foundation's SCP-423, also known as "Fred", is a roving character who can hop between books for fun. SCP-826 is a pair of bookends that allows one to enter any work of fiction placed between them.
- In the Futurama episode "The Day the Earth Stood Stupid", Fry travels into books and assumes the roles of various characters.
- Gumby's theme song points out that "he can walk into any book", and he does so frequently.
- The Fairly OddParents
- In Channel Chasers, this happens to Timmy.
- The episode "Shelf Life" has Timmy chasing Tom Sawyer through different books after he stole Cosmo's wand.
- The Teen Titans animated series has them chasing Control Freak through a bunch of different TV shows.
- In Blues Clues, the main character, Steve, would "scadoo" into books to find clues. The story itself seems to take place inside a book.
- The Super Readers of Super Why! enter fairy tales to help advance a story that has become stuck.