"If this were play'd upon a stage now, I would condemn it as improbable fiction."Bob: Hey, Alice, have you ever noticed how sometimes a character will talk to another character about something that sounds like it's really about the show they're in, but it makes perfect sense in context? Alice: Yeah! Usually it sounds strained because it's hard to make this kind of dialogue sound completely natural. Bob: But if they can pull it off, it's usually good for a bit of comedy. Alice: This might be related to Lampshade Hanging, This Is the Part Where..., Conversational Troping, and any other trope with Fourth Wall in its name. Bob: You mean like Fourth Wall Psych? What about Aside Glance? The inverse would be This Is Reality. A common subtrope is Who Would Want to Watch Us?... wait, why are we talking like this?
— Fabian, Twelfth Night
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- Thanks to food and drug guidelines, just about every drug commercial on American TV is like this, with characters rattling off side-effects in "casual" conversation, sometimes (but surprisingly rarely) lampshaded when the other character will say "You sound like you're trying to convince me to use it!"
- A Bamzu.com commercial features two people on a couch talking about how great Bamzu is. It finishes with the man saying to the woman, "Hey, maybe we could do a Bamzu commercial!" to which she replies, "You think?"
- A series of Geico commercials feature extremely poorly "animated" characters speaking in robotic voices. One of the characters informs the other that the commercial — in which they are currently appearing — took only 15 minutes to produce (which they tie into the amount of time it takes to switch to Geico).
- One Honda commercial had a man talking about his car and the deal he got from it, while his friend says that he sounds like a car commercial.
Anime & Manga
- In Soul Eater, when the teachers are having their meeting about how to rescue Kid from the Book of Eibon, Maka and Soul are trying to listen in on what's going on. They are hiding behind a wall corner in a very over dramatic spy-esque fashion, and Maka says something along the lines of:
Maka: The way we're sneaking around like this, it's almost like we're the protagonists of some supernatural crime story!
- Mahou Sensei Negima!:
- Fairly early in the manga, Ako tells an aged-up version of Negi that she envies Negi because she feels like she's just a supporting character and he's the main character. She is, of course, absolutely right. Negi counters that even if she's a minor character in someone else's story, she's still the main character of her own. As she was the main character of that particular mini-arc, he was right, too.
- In an especially tongue-in-cheek moment, Natsumi refers to herself as a side character right before making a casual observation that turns the chapter (#257) into a Wham Episode.
- It also has a more Fourth Wall-breaky one when Negi sees what his father was like: he exclaims, "It's like he's a character from a totally different manga!"
- Asuna says something similar when Kotaro first breaks out his demon form. Also a Lampshade Hanging, as said demon form is an Homage to InuYasha.
- Similarly, in chapter 277, minor character Tosaka says to Ako and Akira, "Us side-characters gotta look out for each other."
- In one of the Negima?! OVAs (legal, US/Canada only) has a line lampshading the use of towels in a Hot Springs Episode noting that it isn't some TV anime ("OVA" being comparable to what is known in the west as "direct to video" but generally of higher quality).
Haruna: [to Nodoka while she and Negi are together in the hotspring] This isn't some erotic anime, you know! [grabs at Nodoka's towel] You gotta ditch the unmentionables!
- More than once, Naruto is described as being the sort of person who could never be the main character of anything. They are, of course, absolutely wrong.
- There's one point in the manga where Naruto comes running into a fight late yelling, "The main character of a story usually shows up in these types of situations and instantly kicks the enemy's ass!" Naturally, he then proceeds to be on the receiving end of said ass-kicking.
- Jiraiya having written a book about a ninja Determinator whose name is Naruto (which the character of the series was named after by his parents after they read the book) is fourth wall-leaning enough, but a couple of pages of Chapter 448 which were only in the volume release has part of Naruto's speech to Pain/Nagato nearly have him talking about himself as if he was fully aware that he was a fictional character, and all of this is done in a completely serious fashion.
- Acting also as a Take That, Audience! moment, Sakura's infamous fake love confession to Naruto is a verbatim reading of all the arguments Naruto/Sakura shippers used to justify why they should be together (paraphrasing: "I used to love Sasuke, but he's now evil and he's breaking my heart, but you, on the other hand, have always been there for me", and "You used to be a dork but now you're the village's hero, so of course now I love you."). Not only does every single person present have a Disapproving Look on their faces, but Naruto easily sees right through her, calls her out for lying, and rejects her outright by telling her that he hates people who lie to themselves.
- In Episode 499, the penultimate episode of Shippuden (the arc of the preparations for Naruto and Hinata's wedding), after learning of the rest of cast's mission to get the perfect wedding gift for them, Hinata innocently says "I never thought our wedding would cause so much trouble." Considering the amount of Ship-to-Ship Combat and Die For Our Ship that split the fanbase through the course of the series, despite Naruto/Hinata being one of the biggest Fan Preferred Couples in anime and manga for the last fifteen years with the manga's entire run, this is perfectly fitting.
- The Sequel Series, Boruto opens with a monologue in which Naruto's son, Boruto, stresses that this will be his story and that his father was only a part of it at one point; this seems dedicated to assure the fanbase that for his parental similarities, Boruto is not like his father.
- When some of the members of Genshiken graduate, they have a discussion about where the story could go now that several of the characters have left — except it turns out they're actually talking about Show Within a Show Kujibiki Unbalance, which is doing a graduation story at the same time.
- Code Geass:
- During a Breather Episode, Milly remarks "Sometimes you just get these little filler moments in life... and that's fine." This could also be seen as a Take That! toward the fandom, which had a tendency to gripe whenever School Festival episodes came up.
- "Look forward to me, Jeremiah Gottwald, with all you've got!" This is supposed to be addressed to V.V. but it's obvious he's talking to the audience.
- Andy almost does this in Cowboy Bebop, to Spike's confusion. Everytime Andy showed up in the episode, his Leitmotif "Go, Go, Cactus Man" would play - a song that uses heavy whistling. Later on in the episode, Spike hears someone whistling as he walks by, and immediately thinks it might be Andy.
- During an insult contest between Ed and Pinako in Fullmetal Alchemist, one of Ed's is "You're so short you're two-dimensional!"
- America has one of these moments in Axis Powers Hetalia.
America: I'm not stepping out of the house until spring comes around!
[the light goes out]
America: And the light bulb burns out as soon as I say that?! What is this, a comedy movie?!
- Darker Than Black:
- Happens in episode 9: the episode begins with Kiko Kayanuma making her first appearance of the season. As she and a friend board a train, they are discussing their apparent disgust at how a certain unnamed director added a pointless "gag character" to an otherwise "Dark and Serious" movie.
- As an anime fangirl/cosplay enthusiast, she does this a lot. For instance, when she and Gai end up in possession of an (even more) will-less Yin, they try to figure out where to hide her while everyone's out looking for her. Kiko suggests the hot springs, because you have to go at least once; then she looks at the audience and says, "Kiko is doing her best!"
- Death Note:
- The last words spoken during the anime version indicate Ryuk is leaning on the fourth wall. They're spoken by Ryuk as he kills Light, but the words of farewell ring on for the series, reminding everyone that all this time, the whole purpose of everything that's gone on from beginning to end was for Ryuk's entertainment.
Ryuk: It was good while it lasted. We eased each other's boredom for quite a while. Well, Light, it's been interesting.
- At the start of Matsuda's day in the limelight, we get a montage of the other characters making disparaging comments about him, followed by Matsuda saying, "I want a bigger role in this!" It sounds like he's talking to the writers.
- The last words spoken during the anime version indicate Ryuk is leaning on the fourth wall. They're spoken by Ryuk as he kills Light, but the words of farewell ring on for the series, reminding everyone that all this time, the whole purpose of everything that's gone on from beginning to end was for Ryuk's entertainment.
- The English dub of Haruhi Suzumiya has a very clever one in episode six: While Kyon is narrating, the beginning credits are shown. Just as he asks "Who wrote this scenario, anyway?" the current credit is "Series Composition: Haruhi and her friends".
- Katanagatari. Togame tends to make comments that'd break the fourth wall if it weren't for the fact that she's writing everything down for publication.
- The first half of Baccano!'s first episode is what seems like two Meta Guys arguing over when this whole thing is supposed to start, who the "main character" is and whether or not any of it actually had a point. Technically they're an eccentric Knowledge Broker and his assistant trying to sort out the data they have on immortal-related occurrences over the last couple of years, but it sure seems like they're picking apart the show you're just about to watch.
- In the Bokurano manga, several people compare the plot to that of an in-universe manga which is also about kids piloting a giant robot. At the end of that manga, the kids all die and Earth is destroyed.
- In the Ah! My Goddess chapter where Belldandy somehow gets drunk on cola, Keiichi chases after her and trips over an empty liquor bottle, saying, "Geez, you'd think this was a stupid comic book or something!"
- One episode had Misty say that when Jigglypuff drew on her, she looked like a cartoon character. Ash says how ridiculous it would be if they were in a cartoon.
- An Orange Islands episode has Ash and Pikachu take part in a stage show where the trainers do voice-overs that make the Pokémon look like they can talk. In the dub, Ash comments on how hard it is to match the lip-flaps.
- In One Piece:
- On the last page of Chapter 597 Luffy says "The pirate 'Straw Hat Luffy' is going on a holiday for a bit", then at the bottom of the page it is announced that the manga is going on a four week break, its longest so far. We get it, Odacchi.
- In chapter 627, after a seven-chapter-long flashback (one of the longest flashback arcs seen so far), Jinbe apologizes to everyone that it took so long to tell the story. Almost as if Oda was apologizing to the audience for taking so long by having Jinbe say it.
- In episode 268 of the dub, Sanji's worried Nami's hurt when the train they were riding on is blown up, with Zoro commenting that she'll be alright since she isn't a background character like Sanji. More likely just part of their rivalry and played for laughs.
- Happens often in Ouran High School Host Club.
Tamaki: This anime is obviously a romantic school comedy. Haruhi and I are the main characters, and that means we are love interests.
- The third season of the Crayon Shin-chan Gag Dub has a voice announcing "[adult swim]" followed by another saying "they always kick us out right when we catch on".
- Osamu Tezuka is famous for this, at least in his less-serious stories. In the Black Jack story "Baby Blues", a teenaged girl brings Jack an abandoned baby, and he asks, "Whose baby is it? Is it yours?" The girl slaps him — but instead of Jack she's slapping Tezuka himself, with the caption standing in for the slap. Tezuka is of course gone by the next panel and the story continues.
- One episode of Bastard!! had Gara proclaim that you never defeat a major enemy while off screen.
- In Murasakiiro no Qualia Hatou's considerations on storytelling count as this.
- There are two cases in the dub version of Yu-Gi-Oh! 5D's where the theme song for the dub ("Hyperdrive") appears in the story; in one episode, Yusei is listening to it on the radio while fixing his D-Wheel in a garage, and in another, Rex Godwin's henchman Akutsu is humming it to himself while working. (Of course, it is possible that the song simply exists in-universe, as none of its lyrics mention any characters or events important to the plot.)
- Dirty Pair:
- In the original TV series, Kei and Yuri occasionally compare their incredible misfortune to the idealized TV world...
Yuri: If this were a TV show, a charming hunk would appear and say, "Are you in trouble, ladies?"
Old man: Are you in trouble, ladies?
- Also, the Crusher Joe movie shows the Dirty Pair as a fictional TV show and vice versa.
- In the original TV series, Kei and Yuri occasionally compare their incredible misfortune to the idealized TV world...
- In Kill la Kill, the appearance of any new character or technique is commemorated with giant red kanji. In later episodes, it appears as if the kanji are actually physical objects, breaking when struck and having a visible reflection. Nui even leans on hers while talking.
- Puella Magi Madoka Magica:
- In the pilot, when Madoka mentions how she first saw Homura in a dream the previous night, Sayaka says that "the anime character in [her] is popping out."
- The music Madoka is listening to in the first episode is the anime's theme tune.
- In series finale, Madoka's mom also asks if her daughter is an anime character when talking with Homura after she re-writes the laws of the universe and everyone else in the world has forgotten her.
- In the movie, Mami hums her theme music while brushing her hair.
- At the end of Princess Tutu, when the characters have defied Drosselmeyer and got their happy endings, Drosselmeyer wonders just how they were able to overcome him as the author of their story. This makes him wonder if he himself is just a character to another author.
- In Assassination Classroom, the students wear casual street clothes instead of their typical school uniforms on the first day of their vacation. On the following day, they've already gone back to wearing their P.E. jerseys. Two of the students explain that they're both comfortable and that "it would cruel to have to think up clothes for a second day". The context implies that it would be hard for the mangaka to have to think up new clothes to draw for each of them.
- In one chapter of Ojojojo, Tendou holds up some rectangular narrative speech bubbles on a stick as she recaps the events of the previous chapter. Haru dismisses the act as another one of her friend's silly antics.
- At the start of the final third of The End of Evangelion, animation ceases and live-footage commences, displaying Tokyo urban life in the early morning. As the VA's for Misato, Asuka, and Rei stand still amidst a bustle of pedestrians, Shinji and Rei discuss via narration why it is that audience members care about the fate of fictional characters so very much. Bach's Jesus Bleibet Meine Freude plays simultaneously. Heck, the sequence even outright bends the wall, as the live action footage has quite a few fictional elements slyly inserted in it. The Tokyo skyline has several buildings from the fictional Tokyo-3 placed among the real ones through effect shots, and the shots of the voice actresses alternates between them as themselves facing the camera and them in cosplay as their characters with their backs to the camera.
- In the GO Chrono Stone series of Inazuma Eleven, the main characters use their flying time travelling caravan flown by an android bear to create a fictional timeline around a King Arthur story book so they can find King Arthur and transfer his aura into one of their soccer players. When they create the storybook world, they're forcefully thrown into it as the story's characters. This leads to multiple exchanges where the protagonist Tenma is referred to as the main character, and some other characters lamenting how they're a minor character.
- Though Ryou of Gourmet Girl Graffiti never specifically address viewers, she often holds ingredients or dishes she made towards the camera.
- In a Fate/kaleid liner PRISMA☆ILLYA OVA involving a dance contest, the stereo plays the opening theme song.
- Made In Abyss: In the anime's second episode, Riko declares that her discovery of a mysterious robot from deep beneath the earth must signify the beginning of something important in her life. Right after she rhetorically asks what else could possibly be such an obvious story-starter, the opening theme plays.
- "Who watches the Watchm-"
- Also "I'm not a Republic serial villain..." (which becomes ridiculously meta in the movie: "I'm not a comic book villain")
- Young Justice loved to play around with this trope.
- One famous scene featured the Ray, Impulse, and the Post-Crisis Superboy (Kon-El) talking to each other about how their comics — excuse me, their favorite comics — were cancelled for no reason. For added points, all three of them glare at Tim "Robin" Drake when he comes in at the end of the scene. Robin, of course, starred in a solo title that was still going strong at the time and lasted roughly as long as the other three characters' titles combined.
- In another scene, Wonder Girl and Arrowette are using the Internet, but their connection dies. Arrowette angrily remarks that she hates ISPs. Wonder Girl nervously replies, "No you don't! You LOVE! ISPs! Especially the biggest one!" Arrowette realizes her mistake and says "Umm, I'm going to shut up now," as she and Wonder Girl look in the reader's direction. At the time, Time Warner, the parent company of DC Comics by way of Warner Bros., had just completed a merger with AOL.
- Also done in the final part of the Blue Beetle backup in Booster Gold #29, where Paco laments the cancellation of his favorite comic and Brenda attempts to reassure him that the character will still be around.
- A very similar scene occurs during the last story arc of Neil Gaiman's The Sandman comic: Batman, Superman, and the Martian Manhunter are talking about dreams they'd had. Batman and Superman discuss how they've both had dreams about how they're not themselves, but simply actors playing themselves on television. Martian Manhunter laments that he's never had a dream like that (not having had a live-action actor at that point).
- Disney Ducks Comic Universe:
- Don Rosa's Scrooge McDuck comic The Black Knight Glorps Again features pictures Carl Barks painted of Scrooge as in-universe artifacts. Scrooge McDuck calls the person who did the paintings "his favourite artist" while Donald claims they "look like scenes out of a kid's comic book".◊
- The Life and Times of Scrooge McDuck shows how Scrooge isn't happy about the rumors that his #1 Dime is a lucky charm.
- In "The Last Lord of El Dorado", Scrooge's response to a bit of exposition from Donald is "I know all that! What are you, a recap caption in some silly comic book?"
- Y: The Last Man:
- When Agent 355 asks Yorick why he has "Fuck Communism" engraved on his lighter, he explains it's truly from a comic. "They can say 'fuck' in comic books?"
- The main character is named Yorick, after the Posthumous Character in Hamlet. In one scene, a playwright makes a derisive comment about subpar works of fiction trying to seem smarter with Shakespeare references.
- There's a truly hilarious scene in Ultimate Spider-Man in which the title character lampshades many of the common trends in his life and how difficult it makes things for him. It fits the character since he just broke up with MJ due to It's Not You, It's My Enemies and recovering from Gwen's death, but it plays very much like he's actually angry at the writer's devotion to making his life a living hell.
"What else was I supposed to do? She was going to get killed because she's Spider-Man's girlfriend and, frankly, she's too stupid to stay out of trouble when I tell her to. Maybe I- Maybe I should talk to her about this. Maybe in a couple of months she'll figure out how to be smarter about being with me and I won't have to- no. NO! NO! She almost got killed six times out of the last twelve big Spider-Man adventures. There is no way I'm putting her in danger because I don't have anything to do on Friday nights. No. No, leave her alone. [...] So I break up with her, which had to be done, but now I have to sit next to her for... what year is it? What am I? A sophomore? Tenth Grade? Well that means I only have a couple of years left to sit and feel her not look at me as I don't look at her. [...] She'll be making out with Flash Thompson and I'll be NOT making out with anyone ever again because I CAN'T HAVE A GIRLFRIEND BECAUSE I'M SPIDER-MAN AND WITH GREAT POWER MUST COME NOT MAKING OUT WITH MY GIRLFRIEND EVER AGAIN!"
- In one Lucky Luke album, Rantanplan (after having eaten a piece of soap) wonders whether he's the only one making bubbles.
- Done in Quantum and Woody when Woody reads the "Dark Kitty" comic book, an Expy of Marvel Comics' Black Panther (also written by Christopher Priest at the time). Woody badmouths the book with criticisms that are entirely applicable to Quantum and Woody...
"The story is told all out of order — you can't follow the damned thing... God, they just let any idiot write this stuff, don't they..."
- Asterix and the Roman Agent has a few panels where Impedimenta laments that Asterix received a valuable vase from a Roman for being "the most important man in the village." When Vitalstatisix mutters that he's the most important, she retorts, "If anyone was fool enough to write down the story of our village, they won't be calling it The Adventures of Vitalstatistix the Gaul!"
- In a similar fashion, in Asterix and the Soothsayer, when the soothsayer offers to "read" the entrails of Dogmatix, Obelix retorts "No one has ever read us, and no one will!"
- Also, in Asterix and the Cauldron when Asterix and Obelix are trying to make money, Obelix suggests that they could tell tales of their adventures and call them, "The Adventures of Obelix the Gaul." Asterix then replies that nobody would pay to listen to that.
- A story in Tales from the Crypt called "Concerto for Violin and Werewolf" had the main character figure out the plot twist of the story because it was similar to one he had read in an American comic book called Tales from the Crypt. The story he refers to, called "Midnight Mess", was an actual story that had been published a few issues before.
- The EC Comics story "...So Shall Ye Reap!" (Shock SuspenStories #10) shows a mother hypocritically scolding her son for reading what she calls a "cheap lurid comic book" full of "nothing but murder and violence" while being interested herself in reading news reports of grisly murders. Hypocritical Humor aside, this was more or less the complaint Moral Guardians were making against EC's publications at the time.
- From The Flash:
- In The Flash (volume 2) #133, the end of the first Mark Millar and Grant Morrison storyline concludes with Wally putting on a cod Scots accent and Linda telling him "You've spent entirely too much time around Scottish people." Of course, she's talking about Ewan McCulloch, the Mirror Master and not the two writers.
- In The Flash Annual (volume 4) #3, Future Flash, a future Barry Allen, says that if it wasn't for him, Wally would be married and have two kids, and that it's his fault Wally is dead. While the latter is more guilt for not saving the current Wally, it's uncanny how this dialogue matches up with complaints about Barry's actions during Flashpoint which led to the RetGoning of Wally West and his entire family.
- In The Flash (volume 5) #24 has Eobard Thawne, who remembers the pre-Flashpoint timeline and not the New 52 one, mock the new Kid Flash. This Kid Flash was originally the New 52 version of Wally West, before negative reception led to DC reintroducing the original Wally West, retconning the New 52 Wally into the original's cousin. Eobard beats up the new Wally West while exclaiming that he's a "fake" Kid Flash and not even the "real" Wally West.
- Later in that same series, Barry and Wally II have a brief talk where Wally II asks Barry what's up with Wally, and if they will ever discuss it. Of course, this is something readers have been asking DC's writers and editors since the Wallys' brief meeting, and has been skirted around for basically the entire Rebirth relaunch. Barry tells Wally II to be patient and that they'll get to it eventually.
- My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic (IDW):
- In #2, a cave troll treats Fluttershy like she were a doll (including one shot that deliberately puts her in the same pose as the MLP "fashion" pony toys) and combs her hair, has rocks that look like Optimus Prime in his "toy" collection, and Rarity makes him some custom pony dolls. Sweetie Belle (watching from Queen Chrysalis's lair) comments that she'd make a cute toy. The whole scene is rather meta, considering the source material.
- #48 has Discord holding a copy of the current comic's script to complain about the way he is being written in the story.
- In Forever Evil: Arkham War #2, Gordon tells Pierce that he and Bullock call end of the world scenarios "Apocalypse Wednesdays" because they seem to occur weekly.
- In Squee!, the six-year-old titular character suddenly becomes uncomfortably self-aware as he laments his status as a Cosmic Plaything:
Squee: I'd like to take you home, but that's probably not a good idea. See, things seem to go really bad around me, and I'd hate to see something like that happen to you. You'd probably explode or something. It's like my life is being done by some awful, awful cartoon guy.
Stray Dog: Woooof.
Squee: I'm sorry, boy, but it's true. Everything seems like one big, stupid, mean, bitter cartoonist's joke!! And I don't think he even knows how to draw a dog. I mean, look at you! You look like some sort of weird lamb-baby-dog thing. Like he messed up and was too lazy to start over.
- Scott Snyder's Batman run has a very obvious example. Since he was the writer of the New 52 Batman series, he rewrote Batman's origin in his "Zero Year" arc, which began with Batman #0 during "Zero Month", when DC published the new origins (or part of the origin) of their characters about a year after their New 52 Cosmic Retcon. The first page has Snyder blatantly telling people not to flip out because of change and the like, in the guise of a character talking about a refurbished bank. He even puts "Gotham National Bank" in bold, in case you don't get it:
Author Avatar: What was once old will be new again. That was our mission. Perhaps some will accuse us of razing our own past too quickly, too aggressively. Well, to them I say, "before you criticize our new Gotham National Bank... at least try our free coffee!" ... Seriously, though. Welcome to your new bank, team. It's modern and fresh, but it honors the rich history of Gotham National by offering better service, better strategy and better security.
- The Multiversity:
Heroes are for movies. The super-hero is dead.
- In The Just #1, a character reacts in surprise at seeing a comic book and asks if people even read them anymore.
Similarly this little nugget from the Pax Americana #1 issue, which comments on the trend of superhero movies being huge at the box office while actual comic sales are in the gutter.
- In Pax Americana #1, Captain Adam discusses the concept of comic book tropes to a group of doctors, but as he is discussing his ability to read their three dimensional thoughts, he's looking directly at the reader.
- In Thunderworld #1, the Wizard Shazam breaks the fourth wall, telling the reader he was working on his 'omniscient narration'.
- In The Just #1, a character reacts in surprise at seeing a comic book and asks if people even read them anymore.
- Modern Loki is so prolific in doing this that any given speech balloon has a significant chance of containing something that leans on the fourth wall. Lamenting that they don't have the power to write a happy ending for themselves while Aside Glancing at the reader (You could! Please!), stating that "It's never the end of all stories." about Secret Wars (2015) (Yeah. No. Not really a reboot.), and going on tangents about Loki being an important supporting character in Thor's life even when everything is All New All Different.
- The Fictional Video Game in which Noob takes place has verbal Keywords Conversation. At some point a player is explaining something about Non Player Characters to his guildmates, using the NPC abbreviation. The impatient Quest Giver standing right next to them is baffled, wondering what a "Enpeecee" is.
- Spider-Man/Deadpool #6 is all about the current spate of superhero movies. An actress playing Storm asks why the other Marvel actors never talk to her, with the actor playing Wolverine saying that it's like they don't exist.note Deadpool's movie debut proves to be a disaster behind the scenes and is eventually cancelled, but Spider-Man assures him he'll get another shot someday. Then, in a bit of Self-Deprecation, Spidey backs this up by saying Hollywood loves doing Continuity Reboots of the same stuff the audience has already seen a dozen times before. And of course, the guys go to see a movie called Nighthawk v. Hyperion: Yawn of Boredom, which proves to be terrible, and has a Never Live It Down scene involving the two heroes' moms sharing a name.
- Done as The Reveal in New Super-Man #8: in the epilogue a mysterious figure visits Super-Man Zero (China's first attempt at creating a Superman, from Superman: Super League), claiming that he was there at the beginning, and if it wasn't for him there wouldn't be any superheroes. The final splash page shows that he's the Yellow Peril villain from the cover of Detective Comics #1, which is exactly duplicated.
- In Dynamite Comics crossover event Pathfinder: Worldscape, Red Sonja tells Kulan Gath that "she is really tired of hearing his voice". According to writer Erik Mona's official commentary, that is supposed to be a shot at her character's rather lackluster Rogues Gallery, as Gath is frequently used as her Arch-Enemy in many, many stories and it wasn't helped that the concurrent Red Sonja comic published at the same time used him too, a fact that Mona wasn't aware at start of his own series.
- In the 1950 story Mickey Mouse and the Tagalong Pup, Mickey tries to return a whistling dog to the circus and is arrested when the ringmaster assumes that he stole the dog. As he sits in the slammer, Mickey laments "This like one of those ridiculous situations you read about in comic books. I never thought it would happen to me."
- DC Universe: Rebirth #1 is basically an entire issue of this. The original Wally West is revealed to be alive and basically serves as Geoff Johns' (and the majority of DC's readership's) avatar as he laments what has been lost in the New 52 universe, from legacy to love. In what seemed like it would be a Take That!, Wally starts to dissipate into the Speed Force and resolves to "let the past go", as he says goodbye to Barry... only for Barry to save him, and for Wally and Barry to try to find the culprit that rebooted the universe into a dark and cynical place (out of universe, Geoff Johns himself actually wrote the story that did that). It's revealed to be Doctor Manhattan, who basically serves as Watchmen's representative (as well as Dan DiDio's). So basically Johns is saying that Watchmen and DiDio caused the universe to reboot, and for love and legacy to go missing. Further into the relaunch, Wally would repeatedly refer to the timeline as having been "edited", another jab at DiDio.
- Iznogoud: In "The Magic Calendar", when Iznogoud tears off too many pages of the title artifact and ends up in Jean Tabary's studio in the 20th century, Tabary mistakes Iznogoud for a courier sent to pick up the latest Iznogoud story and apologises for the delaysnote but says he only has ten panels left of the current story. Sure enough, there are just ten panels left in "The Magic Calendar", and when Tabary tries to help Iznogoud by gluing pages back on the calendar (thereby trapping Iznogoud in the timestream), he is stunned to see his nearly-finished story turn into blank pages. He shrugs it off and starts over - drawing the title panel of a story called "The Magic Calendar"...
- Happens in Issue 17 of Star Trek: Boldly Go when Gary Mitchell boasts to Kirk about various realities he's visited.
Gary Mitchell: Wait until you see the timelines where you're on an Enterprise powered by mushrooms! Or the ones where all of us are just fictional characters!
- FoxTrot is all over this trope.
- As a sterling example, the last set of dailies is Roger and Andy talking about how, after 19 years, a "major cartoonist" is moving his strip to be Sunday Strip-only. They even suggest ways in which said cartoonist could go out and thank his fans. Andy even gets in a good Lampshade Hanging in response to one of Roger's suggestions: "And break the fourth wall? Not likely."
- Not even the move to Sunday Strip-only stopped these from coming. The strip for July 18, 2010 depicted Jason trying to decide which costume to wear for Comic-Con; showing him dressed up as Pikachu, Gandalf, Batman, Chewbacca, Mario, and a generic TRON character. When Peter suggests he goes as a Newspaper Comic character, Jason complains that he doesn't have a costume for that.
- One example is a strip that was released around the time that The Phantom Menace was released; Jason goes to see the movie, and when he gets home, Paige asks how he liked it:
Jason: Come on, Paige, what are the odds of a geek like me saying anything negative?
Paige: I'd say something like the chances of George Lucas letting a cartoonist see the movie early so he could write about it in more than vague, noncommittal terms.
Jason: ...Well, I wouldn't go THAT far.
Paige: Okay, so there's a TINY chance that you didn't like it.
- Candorville takes a darker-than-usual approach to this, as shown on the quotes page.
- Sally Forth had Ted declare that they shouldn't do a "middle-aged couple gets overwhelmed by social media plot." When asked why he said "plot," Ted answered, "Sometimes I like to imagine my life as a series of week-long story arcs, and I want each one to be gold." Since then, both Ted and Hillary have been doing more and more leaning, sometimes getting pretty close to No Fourth Wall. Sally herself, and Hil's friend Faye, do their best to resist and keep the strip grounded.
- In the To Love-Ru fanfic To-Love-Carnage Rito and Yui have a conversation about Fan Fiction that heavily implies they know they're in a fan fiction. Citing Fan Fiction tropes and hoping "God" won't write them out of the story.
- In New Chance, Naruto met his father (still alive) in the first chapter. Chapter 2 starts with Naruto waking up and thinking it one of the many dreams he has had where "his parents were still alive, sometimes only one, or the Kyuubi didn't attack Konoha.", to name a few, not realizing how many Fan Fic premises he's listing.
- Subverted in the fanmovie Metal Gear Solid Philanthropy. Pierre teases Snake by saying that he's so cool he'd "make a good video game character, no shit — a Nintendo platformer, I'd say!"
- The Kung Fu Panda fanfic A Different Lesson has a brilliant send-up of this trope via a bookseller the heroes visit, where a scroll is for sale which tells the story of the movie. Thanks to Gossip Evolution, willful misinterpretation, and a certain amount of Shout Outs to Fanon, Po is turned into a Fake Ultimate Hero who took out Tai Lung all by himself while the Furious Five did next to nothing (the fight at the bridge becomes a "footnote"); Viper only cares about makeup and pretty clothes, Monkey is mute, while Shifu's Cynical Mentor and Jerk Ass tendencies are lampshaded; the filmmakers' ploy with making Tai Lung appear to be a mindless beast before The Reveal of Ian McShane's voice is also referenced by making the snow leopard a drooling savage with Hulk Speak, and...Tigress is a man.
- In The Familiar of Zero/Spec Ops: The Line crossover Zulu Squad No Tsukaima, the OC Sgt. Crosby does a lot of this, since he is an elite mook from a military first person shooter in a magical world of tsundere and yandere.
- In Oh God Not Again!, when presented with a headline reading "Harry Potter and the Pentawizard Playoffs", Harry muses that it sounds like the title of a book...
- In the Bleach fic Hogyoku ex Machina, Orihime comments on Ichigo's adventures with "We could serialize them, maybe! Shonen Jump would take the manga!"
- Another Bleach fic, Winter War, has one character musing that "sometimes the princess had to save the dragon, and sometimes she had to save the prince as well, and sometimes the princess and the dragon and the knight all teamed up together and went to argue with the person who’d written the story and complain about how they never got anything interesting and new to do." Of course, it's also from Orihime's POV.
- Turnabout Storm:
- Phoenix makes an off-hand comment about one of his world's shows within a show, The Steel Samurai, and comments on how amazing it's that a kids show got so popular with the Periphery Demographic. This wouldn't be a very remarkable comment, but he just happened to say it while being in Equestria.
- While Phoenix and Pinkie are investigating, she starts to hum Pursuit ~ Cornered, one of Ace Attorney's most iconic themes. Phoenix comments that the tune sounds quite familiar to him.
- A rather gory Fan Fic of Digimon, The Interloper, has Christopher Van Numen regarding what had happened in that very day and how it all felt too perfect to be just a simple coincidence, all the while he infiltrates the DSI's R&D Wing, his internal monologue eventually going:
"Were they nothing more but characters, whose capacities for self-determination were undermined by an unfeeling writer—an omnipotent author that had nothing better to do except enthused prostitution to the ideals of entertainment and fame?"
- In the Death Note AU The Faceless Light is skeptical about having Naomi Penber, a woman, serving among his soldiers, complaining that she might get pregnant and slow them down. Naomi counters that there was more of a chance of Light getting pregnant than her.
- In Ace Combat: The Equestrian War, Sky Eye says that "the game is over" for Red Cyclone when Fortress Intimidation is destroyed by Rainbow Dash and Firefly.
- In Chapter 6 of the My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic fanfiction The Apprentice, the Student, and the Charlatan, Celestia and Luna are passing on backstory to protagonists Nova Shine and Twilight Sparkle about the antagonist. Bearing in mind that Nova and Twilight are dealing with romantic issues of their own, this little gem shows up.
“Well, obviously,” Nova commented dryly, glancing at the wall with the hearth, the wall with the door, and the wall with the window as he attempted to organize his thought. “The stallion likes the mare, the mare likes the stallion. The mare is open about it, the stallion keeps it to himself, leading to all this unnecessary drama and tension. Really, this story just writes itself, doesn’t it?” he asked, leaning on the fourth wall.
- In My Stupid Reality a Death Note AU where L is trying to make Light his successor, Light tries to get out of The Program by deliberately failing the psych exam by pretending to be a homicidal maniac who believes all criminals should die. Unfortunately he failed too well and L knew he was faking.
- In one entry in GentlemanJ's fanfic series "The Journey of Graves," the title character finds out about a gentlemen's club (one that's PG-rated, tops) started because the men of Ponyville feel like extras in comparison to the Mane Six, with Graves saying that he doesn't exactly feel that way. Anyone who watched the series knows the guys are right, and anyone who reads the fics knows the metaphysical reason why Graves doesn't feel that way, because he's the main character of the fic.
- Blind by Obsidian Sickle has a part where Naruto, Sakura and Sasuke are on the way to a client and go meta. During the trip Naruto (who's taken writing as a hobby) talks about how he's writing a story but is having problems. He says he wants to avoid just skipping parts but wonders what to write while characters travel saying "If they travel, it'll be boring to just say they're moving then skip to them at the destination". Sakura suggests putting in dialogue or show Character Development to spice it up.
- In Fantasy of Utter Ridiculousness, a crossover between Megas XLR and the Touhou Project, Alice Margatroid demonstrates one of her Spell Cards to Coop and the others. Jamie wonders afterward where the creepy music came from.
- Plan 7 of 9 from Outer Space. Buster Kincaid accidentally swallows a blue pill and realises they're all living in an artificial reality created by machines — thousands of personal computers owned by Fan Fic writers who need to get a life.
- Hivefled features, among other things, characters commenting on the way they're drawn.
- Despite having No Fourth Wall, Calvin and Hobbes: The Series ends with the Five-Man Band looking back on their adventures, providing an outlet for the writers to look back on the series as well.
- In Pokéumans, Brandon's fight with Zeke the Charizard is going badly, not helped by being fought in a room full of lava trickling down the walls. In his narration, after the fourth or so time he burns himself, he remarks that he felt like "some jerk was making me do this for comic relief".
- Tiberium Wars pulls an incredibly meta line when you consider it's a novelisation of a Real-Time Strategy game:
That's how war has been fought since Stalin rolled into the Allies a century ago. You point, you click, and they die. It's how it works.
- The Powers of Harmony went on hiatus for two years due to various issues in the author's real life. The first chapter posted after the hiatus ended has Rainbow Dash, whose group is waiting to meet the dragon lord Bahamut, complain how it feels like they've been waiting for years.
- A Trigun and Gungrave crossover fanfic, Wintertime Business, has Vash wondering why Brandon and Mika look like the people he knows in his era and ends up assuming that nobody there knows why. In truth, both series are created by Yasuhiro Nightow, and Brandon/Grave and Mika look like Legato and Meryl respectively.
- The cast of the Contractually Obligated Chaos series don't usually lean on the fourth wall so much as they sometimes outright bulldoze it. (Given the source material, this is natural enough.) But there's one specific example in Sleeping Beetle which mixes this trope with Mythology Gag. Lydia, who has a canonical ability to somewhat communicate with animals, dryly remarks that this makes her an "actual Disney princess." This prompts Beetlejuice to ask what that makes him, to which she replies that he's obviously "something from a Tim Burton movie."
- The Magi fanfic Take Up My Sword ends with Hakuei being painfully possessed by Arba . The last lines of the story are Arba doing a mix of this and Evil Gloating.
Arba: Your story is over, and now? You are mine.
- This crops up repeatedly in the Dragon Age: Inquisition series Twice Upon An Age. In the Dragon Age games, Varric often talks about writing his books and is in fact a well-known author, so when he makes remarks in the fic about writing a book about what's happening, it seems like a continuation of that gag. However, it goes beyond this when the reader remembers that Varric is credited as the editor of the fanfic. Throughout the entire series, Varric inserts repeated editor's notes into the narrative; these do everything from explaining things to the reader down to outright scolding the author for something. Since the implication is that he's adding these notes while the story is written, and he's therefore actively involved in deciding what gets included in the story, the instances of him talking about writing the story come across as this.
- Pokémon Reset Bloodlines does this every once in a while:
- During its first encounter with Ash, MissingNo notes that in the previous timeline, Ash and his friends lived in a near-eternal state of happiness and joy, "like they were in a children's cartoon".
- In Chapter 24, Anabel, who has recently joined Ash's travel group, thinks to herself that Ash radiates a cheerfulness and determination that she finds charming, "like someone out of those long running animated shows".
- A sidestory centered on "the Dude" note has him remark that even though someone might be a "nobody", it doesn't mean that they can't have adventures or their own story to tell, which is a comment on how many Characters-of-the-Day became Ascended Extras and starred in their own stories, forming an Expanded Universe.
Films — Animation
- The ending for The Boxtrolls has Mr. Pickles and Mr. Trout discussing how neatly everything has wrapped up, as if it was a story, "Assuming we're in one." The stinger goes on to have the pair debate their existence and whether all their actions are controlled by invisible giants. As the discussion continues, the audience sees the sped up movements of a stop-motion animator flitting about a miniature set, manipulating them both.
- When Gopher first appears in The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, he says, "I'm not in the book, but I'm at your service!" "Not in the book" can mean "I'm not listed in the phone book", but he's also alluding to his status as a Canon Foreigner—he was invented for the movies, so he isn't in the book.
- In Moana, when Moana objects to Maui calling her "princess", his retort is a tongue-in-cheek summation of the Disney Princess franchise: "If you wear a dress and have an animal sidekick, you're a princess!"
- Rango has the title character ask the Spirit of the West why he has to go back to town and save the day. The Spirit's response is "No man can walk out on his own story." The occupants of the car are clearly Hunter S Thompson and his lawyer, from Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas
- In Space Jam, when Bill Murray shows up for the climax as a borderline Deus ex Machina, Daffy asks him how he got there and Murray replies, "The producer's a friend of mine." Either Daffy is questioning how Murray got into the Looney Tunes world, and the answer is that Murray knows the producer of Looney Tunes, or they're raising the very valid question of what Bill Murray is doing in a Looney Tunes/NBA crossover movie in the first place, in which case the producer in question would be the film's producer, Ivan Reitman, who was indeed a friend of Murray's. Judging from the disgusted reactions from Daffy (and the leader of the Monstars), they took the latter interpretation.
Films — Live-Action
- Lots of this in the latter portions of Deathtrap, after Cliff reveals that he is writing a play called Deathtrap, based on the Fright Deathtrap that Cliff and Sidney perpetrated in the first part of the film.
Cliff: Everything we did to convince Myra she was seeing a real murder would have the same effect on the audience.
- In The Misfits (1961), Perce, who had an accident a while back, assures his mother over the phone that "My face is fine. It's all healed up, just as good as new." Montgomery Clift had been in a serious car accident in 1956 that scarred his face and damaged his pretty-boy good looks.
- At the end of Shanghai Knights, Roy suggests to Chon Wang (played by Jackie Chan) that they go to California to act in "moving pictures", particularly kung-fu action films.
- Top Secret! leans on the Fourth Wall, which promptly shatters:
Nick: Look, I'm not the first guy who fell in love with a girl he met in a restaurant who turned out to be the daughter of a kidnapped scientist only to lose her to a childhood lover who she'd last seen on a deserted island and who turned out fifteen years later to be the leader of the French underground.
Hillary: I know, it ... it all sounds like some bad movie.
[Nick and Hillary both look at the camera]
- A similar thing happened on Scary Movie except it's about how teenagers are played by mature actors.
- Magnolia: "This is like a movie, and this is the part of the movie where you help me out."
- In Tropic Thunder,, being about a Troubled Production, is basically Leaning On the Fourth Wall: The Movie
- "I think I know a prop head when I see one!" says Tugg as he hefts what is an obvious prop head, seeing as Cockburn's actor is still alive. (Of course, In-Universe, everyone else is grossed out, because Tugg is handling a "real" bit of corpse and even licking "blood" off of it.)
- Robert Downey, Jr.'s character at one point says, "I'm a dude, playing a dude, disguised as another dude!" This could mean, "I'm Kirk Lazarus, playing Sargent Osirus, playing a farmer," or it could mean... "I'm Robert Downey Jr., playing Kirk Lazarus, playing Sargent Osiris."
- A meta example: when pressed to stop acting like Osiris (because they're not filming anymore), Kirk Lazarus says "I stay in character until I do the DVD commentary!" Sure enough, Robert Downey Jr. did most of the DVD commentary as Osiris, turning into Lazarus when the appropriate moment was occurring on-screen.
- In Deathstalker II: Duel of the Titans, the opening has Sultana exclaiming, "I'll have my revenge... and Deathstalker, too!" Cue title screen. Didn't Family Guy make a similar joke?
- In Scott Pilgrim vs. The World, there is a brief scene where two guys are talking about a comic book version being better or worse than a movie version of something.
- In His Girl Friday editor Walter Burns describes Bruce Baldwin as "He looks like that fellow in the movies - Ralph Bellamy"; Baldwin is being played by Ralph Bellamy.
- The Seven Year Itch has the following exchange about a character played by Marilyn Monroe
- Tom: What blonde in the kitchen?
Richard: Wouldn't you like to know! Maybe it's Marilyn Monroe!
- In Jeepers Creepers, our heroes have just decided to go back and see if the creepy guy was really hiding a body. The sister comments to her brother, "You know the part in scary movies when somebody does something really stupid, and everybody hates them for it? This is it."
- In a 1980s Finnish comedy film from the Uuno Turhapuro series, a restaurant 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 is no other explanation for the presence of so many drunk people in one scene."
- The Star Trek films:
- Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country was the final film to feature the entire Star Trek: The Original Series cast, who were well aware of it, showing throughout the movie. In the last scene, when the USS Excelsior, now under the command of Sulu, departs, Chekov says "So, this is goodbye...".
- The trailer for Star Trek has a line where Nero says, straight at the camera, "The wait is over". This line is not in the film.
- Star Trek Into Darkness: Chekov's look of alarm when told to put on a Red Shirt. There's even vaguely foreboding music playing.
- The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers features a scene that was not in the book where Faramir captures Frodo and Sam and takes them to Osgiliath with him. While there, Sam looks back on their journey and says "This is all wrong. By rights we shouldn't even be here."
- In the film Wonder Man, Danny Kaye tries to convince his twin brother (also Danny Kaye) that he's a ghost by walking into a solid stone marker (using trick photography) and asking "What's this, trick photography?"
- The Danish film Nattevagten ("Nightwatch") ends on this note, with characters discussing the events that have happened and noting that if it were a film it would be called "The Night Guard". And at the end of the movie, one of the characters would say "No" at his own wedding. He does.
- Iron Man 3:
- The film opens with Tony Stark opening with explaining his story in such a way that he is talking to the audience. In a post credits scene, it turns out that he is actually talking to Bruce Banner (fast asleep by the way!) in a therapy session, despite Banner's protests that he isn't a therapist!
- Also, Killian speaking to President Ellis: "I just needed a reason to kill you that would play well on TV."
- A few movies use this to deal with actor replacements.
Woman: Mrs. O'Connell, is it true that the Scarlet O' Kiefe character is based on you?
- As a woman runs away from George Lazenby's James Bond in On Her Majesty's Secret Service, he says "This never happened to the other fellow."
- In The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor, Evey became famous for writing novels based on her own adventures. In an autograph signing of her latest book, just before the camera cuts to Maria Bello instead of Rachel Weisz:
Evey: No. I can honestly say she is a completely different person.Tony: I didn't expect to see you here...
Rhodey: (now played by Don Cheadle) Well, it's me, and I'm here, so get over it and move on!
- In Bulldog Drummond Drummond hears Phyllis's story and says "You must admit it's rather like a penny thriller." Bulldog Drummond was an adaptation of the Bulldog Drummond series of penny thriller novels.
- Daniel's card trick in the opening of Now You See Me is filmed from the perspective of the woman he's showing it to. Not only does she play into it, a large portion of the viewers are also going to end up picking the same card.
- One of the funniest moments in Ed Wood comes when Ed asks his DP which dress he prefers, the red one or the green one. The colour blind DP asks which the red one is — something the audience might also be wondering, as the entire film is in black and white!
- A scene near the end of The Fifth Estate shows Julian being interviewed during his stay at the Ecuadorian embassy. At one point, he gives his thoughts on the upcoming WikiLeaks movie — the very movie he is in!
- X-Men Film Series:
- X-Men: In response to Wolverine's complaint about their black leather uniforms, Cyclops asks, "What would you prefer, yellow spandex?"
- X-Men: Days of Future Past: All of the dialogue about the mutants being on the "verge of extinction" and the possibility of starting over has been read by some critics as commentary on the possibility of Days of Future Past "saving" the franchise after the damage done to it by X-Men: The Last Stand and X-Men Origins: Wolverine.
Magneto: We've been given a second chance.
- Deadpool: Although Weasel isn't aware that he's in a film like Wade post-mutation, he still comments at one point "Deadpool, sounds like a fucking franchise." He also earlier states, when referring Wade to the Recruiter, "You should talk to him, it might advance the plot."
- X-Men: Apocalypse:
- The passage from The Once and Future King that Professor X reads to his class is: "The past must be obliterated and the new start made. Let us now start fresh without remembrance rather than live forward and backward at the same time." For the audience, the underlying message is that we should ignore the Ret Gone original timeline of the X-Men movie series and focus on its Alternate Timeline.
- After watching Return of the Jedi, Scott and Jubilee start discussing which one of the previous films was the best, only to be remarked by Jean that the third movie is always the worst.
- This line from Prometheus uttered by David as he holds a drop of the Engineers' organic sludge:
David: Big things have small beginnings.
- Happens accidentally in The Room. When Claudette discovers Mike and Michelle, who are introduced as they inexplicably come into the apartment to make out and eat chocolate, she asks, "What are these characters doing here?" The audience is probably wondering the exact same thing.
- The predicament the park managers face at the beginning of Jurassic World is the fact that attendance has been gradually decreasing as people come to take living dinosaurs for granted. This mirrors how in real life the CGI revolution sparked by this franchise in The '90s has resulted in big budget special effects no longer being the major, automatic audience-attractor they used to be beforehand.
- The film's very first scene is built around saying "Our Annie is not the Annie you know and expect", which alludes to the reaction to the title character's Race Lift.
- A quick gag after "I Don't Need Anything But You" has New Yorkers watching the Stacks and Annie story unfold on the news. A man comments, "If he keeps up singing and dancing like that, there's no way he'd've won anyway."
- Ms. Hannigan has a tendency to do this around musical numbers.
- In The Seven Year Itch, Richard shows his wife (herself appearing in an Imagine Spot) a few alleged flashbacks of other women throwing themselves at him, only for her to scold him for having an overactive imagination: "Lately you've begun to imagine in Cinemascope with stereophonic sound."
- About four minutes into Trouble in Paradise, Herbert Marshall's character says "Beginnings are always difficult." (He's talking about how to start off a fancy dinner.)
- In Kingsman: The Secret Service, Galahad and Valentine discuss Bond movies (not by name). Valentine clearly catches on to Harry's cover, and when he confronts Galahad later, Valentine says it's like a scene in a Bond movie (not by name), where he explains his plan, then comes up with some absurd deathtrap and Galahad escapes. Galahad says it sounds good. Valentine just says "This isn't that kind of movie" and shoots him in the head. At the climax, where Eggsy kills Valentine, Valentine asks him if he's going to come up with a Bond One-Liner (not by name). Eggsy just says "It's like you said to Harry; this ain't that kinda movie."
- Victor Frankenstein: At the SDCC panel, a clip was shown where Victor and Igor are wheeling a gurney down a hallway, and Victor repeatedly yells, "Big presentation in Hall H!" The SDCC panel took place in Hall H, and many of the attendees laughed and cheered at the line.
- Star Wars:
- A New Hope around the 1:30 hour mark has the heroes, after rescuing Princess Leia and securing the Death Star plans, heading off to the Rebel base to deliver them; It's then when Leia says "It's not over yet". She's right, the movie still has 30 minutes left to depict the battle of Yavin.
- In Attack of the Clones, in the scene where Jar Jar enters and greets Anakin, he subtly smiles at the camera, as a nod to his hatedom.
- The Force Awakens starts with this line from Lor San Tekka (in-universe, referring to the MacGuffin he's handing to Poe):
- At the end for the second trailer for Captain America: Civil War, an annoyed Iron Man declares "Alright, I've ran out of patience. UNDEROOS!" Cue the first appearance of the MCU version of Spider-Man, who takes Cap's shield, binds his wrists with webbing, then lands perfectly on a tarmac cart. For extra leaning. the spoilered character's first words? "Hey, everyone."
- In Contact, a film making money for Hollywood by portraying aliens, the main character Ellie says "Beg for some of that Hollywood money! They've been making money off aliens for years."
- In Ocean's Twelve, Tess Ocean (played by Julia Roberts) decides to pretend she's Julia Roberts, since she looks so similar, and runs into Bruce Willis (as himself), who thinks it's her.
- The Stinger at the end of Spider-Man: Homecoming isn't a preview of the much-anticipated Avengers: Infinity War or anything, it's a cheesy PSA like the ones Peter and his classmates watched during the film, in which Captain America appears to discuss the importance of patience even though it isn't always rewarded, leaving you to wonder why you wasted your time. Cap also breaks character and asks someone off-camera "How many more of these?", referencing the sheer number of entries in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
- In Terminator Genisys, the T-800 frequently remarks that he's "old, but not obsolete"; This seems to reflect on the aging action star actor, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and his suitability for the role.
- Kung Fu Hustle: Early on, the main character, played by writer/director Stephen Chow, has a soccer ball kicked his way, does a few tricks with it, then flattens it while shouting, "No more soccer!" This is in reference to the fact that Chow decided to make this movie rather than a much-requested sequel to his previous film Shaolin Soccer.
- The main character of Peter David's Sir Apropos of Nothing has the epiphany early on that he's a supporting character in the storybook world around him. He's not pleased and sets out to change this.
- At one point in The Illuminatus! Trilogy, a character pens a scathing review of a book that seems strikingly similar to Illuminatus! itself:
It's a dreadfully long monster of a book, and I certainly won't have time to read it, but I'm giving it a thorough skimming. The authors are utterly incompetent — no sense of style or structure at all. It starts out as a detective story, switches to science-fiction, then goes off into the supernatural, and is full of the most detailed information of dozens of ghastly boring subjects. And the time sequence is all out of order in a very pretentious imitation of Faulkner and Joyce. Worst yet, it has the most raunchy sex scenes, thrown in just to make it sell, I'm sure, and the authors — whom I've never heard of — have the supreme bad taste to introduce real political figures into this mishmash and pretend to be exposing a real conspiracy. You can be sure I won't waste time reading such rubbish.
- Harry Turtledove has a tendency in his alternate history novels to have characters talk about the absurdity of things like the US winning the Civil War (in his Southern Victory series) or an explosive-metal bomb bursting over Nagasaki (in World War).
- The Lord Darcy stories contain some similar references, usually about how terribly messed-up the world would be if Richard the Lion-Hearted hadn't survived his crossbow wound. In one story, Darcy speaks dismissively of detective-fiction fans, who treat the Serious Business of criminal investigation like it's some kind of entertainment.
- J. R. R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings:
- "You and I, Sam, are still stuck in the worst places of the story, and it is all too likely that some will say at this point: 'Shut the book now, dad; we don't want to read any more.'"
- One chapter focused on Pippin ends with Merry telling him that his recent exploits are impressive enough that they'll probably get their own chapter in Frodo's book.
- Justified in that the both LOTR and Hobbit are supposed to be autobiographical works by the main characters, first Bilbo, the Frodo and in the end Sam.
- Meggie does this in Inkheart at one point, thinking that perhaps the things happening to her are just a story and hoping that the person reading it will close the book because it's "so horrible and scary". There is also a point where Elinor expresses a longing for the romantic medieval times and Dustfinger replies that perhaps she was "born into the wrong story".
- About halfway through the first book of Black Legion the narrator notes that the Inquisitors would like him to skip the Legion's beginnings and get to the "interesting" parts - the sword Drach'nyen, the Black Crusades and the Crimson Path. Replace "Inquisitors" with "readers" and there you go.
- Jane Austen:
- In Robert Jordan's The Wheel of Time series, Thom Merrilin often says that one day people will read about their adventures in books. and that there is no way of knowing who the main character will be. Particularly, he suggests that perhaps he'll be remembered as the hero of the story, rather than Rand: a nod to their analogue characters in Arthurian mythology in which Merlin is sometimes treated as the main character over Arthur.
- Doctor Who Expanded Universe
"The best thing about a book is that you can always tell when you're getting to the end. No matter how tricky the situation the hero's in, you hold the book in your hand and say 'Hang on, I'm two hundred and twenty-nine pages in, with only another fifty-one to go. It started slow, but it's building to a climax.'"
- The Doctor Who Eighth Doctor Adventures novel The Blue Angel has the Doctor start complaining about the Series Hiatus. In-story, his concern is that, being lost in some tunnels, he's afraid his story is over, but it spills over into a Meta Guy-type ramble about stories. The story contains three plotlines; one deals with an alternate Doctor who's an insane human. He frequently refers to his "episodes", which are in fact psychotic episodes, the content of which is quite a bit like episodes of the TV series. The whole book is just very, very meta.
- On p229 (of 280) in the deeply Mind Screw-y Past Doctor Adventures novel The Infinity Doctors, the Doctor, confronted with a book of infinite pages, says:
Mel was somewhat taken aback. "But... but it's there!" he protested.
- In another EDA, The Taking of Planet 5, the Doctor says "There was a time when it always seemed to be Saturday when I was on Earth, and the children’s programmes were excellent, if my memory doesn’t cheat." He then starts talking about Transformers, but the connection's already been made in the reader's mind. (Doctor Who is traditionally broadcast on Saturdays, and "the memory cheats" was one of the phrases associated with former producer John Nathan-Turner.)
- The Fourth Doctor book Festival of Death has a line where the Doctor complains that it's unusual everyone seems happy to see him, because "normally, when I arrive somewhere, people point guns at me and throw me in prison. Within about twenty-four and a half minutes of arriving, usually." Classic Doctor Who episodes are twenty-four-and-a-half minutes long without the titles and credits and tended to get the Doctor captured as a stereotypical, staple Cliffhanger.
- Taken to the absolute limit in the New Adventures story Conundrum, after the Doctor works out that the entire story is taking place in the Land of Fiction. At one point the Doctor plays Scrabble with one of the villains, Mel, then points out that there literally is not room on the board for the word that the narration has just described as being played.
"I know," said the Doctor. "Interesting, isn't it?" In one fluid movement he folded the Scrabble board and tipped the letter tiles back into their tray. "You want to be more careful what you write in future," he remarked.
"I don't understand."
"That's because I wasn't talking to you."
The Doctor was on his feet now and his back was turned to his confused opponent. "No," he said. "I was talking to you!"
- In Atlantis Found from the NUMA Series, a character looks into Dirk Pitt and reports that his background looks like a series of adventure novels.
- In Cryptonomicon, Rudy von Hacklheber mentions that "there are certain old family connections" between him and Enoch Root, but that "the connections make a very long story. I would have to write a whole fucking book." That book would be The Baroque Cycle—which is in fact three volumes and can be described as "a fucking book" if anything can.
- In The Last Dragon Chronicles, after main character David goes on a particularly emphatic rant, his landlady Liz soothes him: "David, stop talking in italics. It doesn't help anything."
- In the Alcatraz Smedry the main character will sometimes makes a reference to how the events of the story would appear if they were written as memoirs, which is what the books pretend to be through Literary Agent Hypothesis. Also, the characters will sometimes refer to how long ago an event happened by how many chapters it took.
- In Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix Moody tells Vernon, "what you don't know could fill several books."
- In his Zamonia novels, Walter Moers has pretty much declared the fourth wall to be a floor. The books contain a note, that Walter Moers is not actually the author of the book, but actually just a translator and editor. The original scripts have been written by Hildegunst von Mythenmetz (Optimus Yarnspinner in English versions), his Author Avatar who is an author in the world of Zamonia. However, Hildegunst has the habit of not simply writing down the story he is telling, but constantly interrupting it and addressing his reader. These parts are so numerous that Moers left them all in when he made the translation. Hildegunst is a Bunny Ears Author who rants about nonsense and fictional events, but is himself a satire of the modern literature scene. Hildegunst is leaning very heavily on the fourth wall at all times, but it is explained by him actually addressing his Zamonian readers and not the real world readers.
- In John Hemry's The Lost Fleet novel Invincible, Geary muses about the unrealistic cover that would probably be put on books about his life. He describes the covers the series actually got.
- Richard Bachman Stephen King's pseudonym's book Thinner has a character complain that the premise sounds like "Something out of a Stephen King novel".
- From Smoke and Shadows:
"Do your best and happy endings are inevitable?" Her lip curled. "You're living in a fantasy world."
"Hello!" Tony jabbed a finger toward her. "Wizard!" Held up his hand to show her the small scars on his wrist. "Vampire!" A larger gesture to take in the entire studio. "Television! Fantasy's seeming pretty damned real to me right about now."
- Zeus Is Dead: A Monstrously Inconvenient Adventure does this often, at least when it's not actively taking a jackhammer to the wall. The Fates, upon their introduction, refer in vague terms to the reader. Thalia discusses Leif's refusal to accept his call to adventure. The narrative addresses the reader directly on numerous occasions.
- In How Much for Just the Planet?, there's an Action Film, Quiet Drama Scene moment where Chekov, Scotty and two Klingons are hiding out in a sand trap on the 18th hole (as their golf game was interrupted by the Brigadier and Sergeant Benton bombing the shit out of it) and take the opportunity to do a little stargazing, apparently looking towards the Paramountain:
Scott's eye was caught by an unusual constellation: a ring of stars haloing a distant peak. "Look at that, now. Doesn't it awe you a little? To think there might be a higher power than us, arranging matters?"
"Or that we are the property of some vast indifferent thing?"
- Characters in the Lord Peter Wimsey series have a penchant for talking about how much more convenient their lives would be if they were in a detective story, often courtesy of an important character who's a novelist.
- Agatha Christie's Hercule Poirot novels have a few examples.
- Ariadne Oliver is a character who appears in seven of the novels. Like Christie, she is a mystery writer who doesn't much care for her principal hero (vegetarian Finnish detective Sven Hjerson) but has to keep writing about him because he's popular with readers. Christie uses Ariadne to poke fun at the mystery genre, as well as herself and her own mistakes in her stories.
- In Curtain: Poirot's Last Case, we have Hastings saying "I was tired of this silly joking about my 'speaking countenance'. I could keep a secret as well as anyone. Poirot had always persisted in the humiliating belief that I am a transparent character and that anyone can read what is passing in my mind."
- In Palimpsest, two characters discuss the physics of their alternate world:
"There are some theories. You know, no one really knows. It's not like there's a manual. A couple of times, I heard that someone wanted to write one, publish it as fiction — but we would know. We would see right through all those made-up characters and silly little narrative twists. We would know what it was: a primer."
- Peacekeeper, the fifteenth novel in C. J. Cherryh's Foreigner series, centers around major character Cajeiri's ninth birthday party and wraps up a number of plot threads that have been dangling since about book seven of the series. It has several remarks to the effect that "the next wholly auspicious number after nine is fifteen" in the numerology of the atevi (the aliens who are the main focus of the book). In-universe, it's Cajeiri noting — or someone noting to him — that this is the most significant birthday party he's going to get for quite a while. But it also reads as meta-commentary; since Cherryh didn't manage to wrap up this particular plot by book nine of the series, she needed to drag it out through book fifteen if she wanted the structure of the series to respect its characters' numerology.
- At one point in Dora Wilk Series, Miron suspects that him and Joshua being forbidden from helping out Dora is not becuase it may cause an inter-system scandal, but because it would make Dora's job easier, worded so that you can almost hear "and the book would be over in moments".
- Bored of the Rings has this on the last page of Chapter IV:
Suddenly Frito had the overpowering feeling that he had come to a turning point, that an old chapter in his life was ending and a new one beginning.
- Journey to Chaos: Shortly after his arrival on Tariatla, Eric remarks that his life has become very dangerous and strange, kind of like something out of a fantasy novel or video game.
I'm rescuing a princess with a mercenary, a sentient staff, and a ghost. It's like one of those RPGs I used to play when I was a kid . . .
- We Can't Rewind: Narrator and protagonist Don Richards occasionally stops to point out several things in his story that he's convinced would surely be different if he were living in a fictional story; particularly that unlike in all the made up stories in which bad guys typically get their comeuppance, the teacher who molested and made a single mother out of his new wife Denise back when she was eleven vanished as soon as he realized she was pregnant and was never seen again, let alone brought to justice.
- The First Law: In the third book of the series, Ardee West complains about trying to get through the third book of The Fall of the Master Maker, griping that it's all just a bunch of battles and journeys, with too many wizards to keep straight. All of these could be criticisms of The First Law itself. Sand dan Glokta admits that he never could finish the first book.
- In the Workaholics episode "The Fabulous Murphy Sisters" Karl is apparently a videographer going to direct Adam in his demo tape for the guys' new sport - Karl is played by one of the show's co-creators, who also frequently directs the episodes, making Karl's use of film jargon "Talent on set" and surprisingly helpful direction less so.
- 30 Rock:
- Season 4 opens with Jack looking directly at the camera and welcoming everyone to Season 4. He is actually talking to the TGS staff, and "Season 4" is the name of the restaurant they're at.
- In the Season 6 episode "Grandmentor," when Hazel fails to ensure that Tracy gets his requisite 14 hours of sleep, leading him to go crazy and say things like "We're on a show within a show! My real name is Tracy Morgan!"
- In a Season 7 episode, Josh sidetracks Liz when she's racing against the clock. She's frustrated that he's picked this moment to finally "have a thing," referencing the fact that he's been Out of Focus on the show for a while.
- Late in the 11th and last season of Cheers, some of the gang go to an old drive-in theater and see a Godzilla movie. Cliff notices that the lead actress in this edition of the Godzilla series has been recast. Woody muses, "I don't understand, why would an actress leave right in the middle of a successful series?" This references Shelley Long's well-publicized departure from the show after 5 seasons.
- There's a dialogue like this at the end of Season 2 in Lois & Clark:
Perry White: It's like we're supporting characters in some TV show that's only about them.
Jimmy Olsen: Yeah! It's like all we do is advance their plots.
Perry: To tell you the truth, I'm sick of it.
- Scrubs is fond of this:
- "I wish there was a show on NBC that was about the lives of interns at a hospital. Yeah, and it should be a comedy, too."
- One episode plays with this in the beginning. Three times it seems that JD is addressing the audience directly, but it turns out he's addressing someone in the room standing behind the camera. Except for the third and last time, when someone wonders whom he's talking to.
- At the end of the same episode, we get this:
JD: Come on, I know it's tempting to just mail it in, but there's still a lot of people who rely on us week to week. I think we owe it to them to be as inspired as we were our first few years. Now, I know we never do great come medical awards season, except for Dr. Shalhoub, he wins everything, but I still think we're as good as anybody else out there.
Turk: The Nielsens beg to differ.
[cut to shot of unhappy looking couple]
JD: Oh, they're just upset because their insurance won't cover a private room.
- Again in one episode where Turk and JD are driving away in a car, and the following conversation can be heard as a voiceover.
J.D.: Hey, don't you hate it in films and stuff where people will drive away in a car and even though the car's moving away you can still hear the characters talking?
Turk: Yeah, I hate that.
- Another episode has J.D. imagine that his life is a sitcom, which turns out to be a more clichéd one with a Laugh Track. Yet another episode features a Clip Show in which J.D. remarks that his memories are coming back to him like on a TV show.
- Yet another episode combines this with Take That! when J.D. discusses Grey's Anatomy. "It's like they saw our lives and put it on TV."
- On the episode "My ABCs" where Sesame Street characters appear in the fantasy segments, Oscar the Grouch is appointed as the new chief of medicine and tells J.D. that he'll be watching him, and that "I never blink." Of course, seeing as he's a Muppet with immovable eyes...
- Covert Affairs: In "Suffragette City," while Annie is in a coma, Dream!Auggie tells her that the dream's shadowy Big Bad, whom she needs to find, codenamed Blackbird, is in room 309. This is episode 3x09.
- Also, in the diner scene, when Annie looks at the receipt the date is 9/11, which rather implies disaster, a theme throughout the episode. The real date she was there when Jai died was the fourth of July. In fact, this episode ran on 9/11...
- Matt's line "I think we've had enough Punisher for one evening" while he, Foggy and Karen are watching the news on Frank Castle's arrest towards the end of "Penny and Dime" is kinda funny if you've been binge-watching the first four episodes of season 2. So is Foggy's remark of "I think I've had enough excitement for one evening" when he's darting off a few moments later to give Matt and Karen a moment.
- In "Guilty as Sin," during Stick's exposition schtick on the Hand-Chaste War, Matt, clearly having a hard time believing all the elements of the story, questions how the Hand could have discovered immortality and why are they so devoted to seeking it. Stick, naturally, cuts close to Matt's Catholic background, by pointing out how his whole belief system hinge on one guy pulling that off. Which becomes doubly hilarious when you consider that Season 2 came out on March 18, a Friday, and the subsequent week that most people are likely to binge the entire season was "Holy Week"note .
- In "The Man in the Box," Claire Temple pointing out Matt's serious Messiah complex ("Hey, uh, Saint Matthew? Enough with the hair shirt already") is amusing again because of the timing of the release of season 2 and Holy Week 2016.
- Doctor Who:
- "The Sensorites", being the show's one year anniversary, starts with a part where the companions all talk about how they've all changed since they set out with the Doctor, and he agrees "It all started as a mild curiosity in a junkyard, and now it's turned out to be quite a spirit of adventure."
- At the end of "The War Games", the Second Doctor says he's "quite well known on Earth", referring to the popularity of the show. This was because, when the storyline was going to be the finale of the whole show, the Bolivian Army Ending was going to have the Doctor change his form, so as to comfort the children and assure them that the Doctor was on Earth protecting them from the monsters and could look like anything.
- In "Robot", the new Doctor's ranting at Harry Sullivan is clearly supposed to be an announcement to the viewers that even though he's different to his predecessor he's closer now to how he was originally intended to be: "I'm THE Doctor. The definite article, you might say."
- In "The Brain of Morbius", Solon compliments the Doctor on his 'magnificent head'. The Doctor says he used to have an 'old grey model before this' and 'some people liked it' (at the time the episode was made, the Third Doctor was the Fan Darling). Then he goes on to say "I prefer this model", serving as a gentle Take That! and a statement of favouritism from story cowriter Robert Holmes.
- In "Logopolis", the audience was well aware thanks to promotion and news reports that Tom Baker was leaving to be recast with Peter Davison. So, the spectral character who knows the Doctor will inevitably die at the end of this story and quietly observes him, waiting for him to do so but not directly intervening to cause or prevent it, is called the Watcher.
- When Colin Baker first takes over as the Sixth Doctor, his first story ends with a challenge to companion Peri that is clearly aimed at the viewers: "And I would suggest, Peri, that you wait a little before criticising my new persona. You may well find it isn't quite as disagreeable as you think. [...] Whatever else happens, I am the Doctor, whether you like it or not."
- After the 18-month hiatus, in the first episode of "Trial of a Time Lord," the Doctor's opening line is "Am I late for something?"
- In "Remembrance of the Daleks", a BBC announcer in 1963 is cut off while announcing a new science-fiction series called "Doc-".
- In the direct-to-video not-exactly-Doctor-Who film Downtime, UNIT codes for the first two Yeti incursions are NN and QQ — which also happen to be the production codes for "The Abominable Snowmen" and "The Web of Fear".
- The Series 3 episode "Blink" introduces the Weeping Angels, a race — one so ancient not even the Doctor knows when they came into being — that is "Quantum Locked": if observed by any living creature, including themselves, they turn to stone. This includes when the audience is watching them.
- In ""Forest of the Dead", one of the things that convinces Donna that she is in a constructed reality is that she starts noticing the scene breaks.
- In "Music of the Spheres", the Doctor talks to the audience at the BBC proms through a time portal in the TARDIS. The audience responding is a real audience from the Doctor Who proms, however.
- In "Planet of the Dead", UNIT scientist Malcolm Taylor eagerly tells the Doctor that he's a huge fan, and he's read all the files, to which the Doctor replies, "Really? Which was your favorite? The one with the giant robot?" Doubles as a Continuity Nod in reference to the Fourth Doctor story, "Robot".
- In the fifth season of the revival series, the Eleventh Doctor quietly laments: "We're all stories, in the end."
- This is the same season where the most significant date in the universe turns out to be the 26th of June 2010, because that's the date of Amy's wedding (and the date of the season finale).
- In "The Big Bang", the Doctor was trapped in the Pandorica at the end of the previous episode, Amy has been shot dead, and it looks like he set up a Stable Time Loop for the younger Amelia to open up the Pandorica to free him. However, when it opens, Amy is in there instead. As she comments, "this is where it gets complicated". The show then cuts to shortly after the events of the last episode and shows just how complicated it gets.
- Similar to the "must be Tuesday" line in Buffy, in "The Impossible Astronaut" the Doctor claims Saturdays are "big temporal tipping points when anything's possible." Except for a few seasons in the 1980s, and Christmas specials when Christmas falls on another day of the week, Doctor Who has traditionally aired on Saturdays since its inception.
- In "The Almost People", the Ganger Doctor is struggling to deal with all of his regenerations, crossing into each version of the Doctor as he makes his way to his current incarnation. Eventually he reaches Ten and, in David Tennant's voice, says "Hello, I'm the Doctor—" before being cut off as he screams "DON'T! LET IT GO! WE'VE MOVED ON!" in what is possibly a Take That! to the fans still unhappy with Tennant's departure.
- In "Let's Kill Hitler", Amy mentions how the Doctor's had all summer to look for Melody, after there had been no new episodes (in the middle of a series no less) for the whole of summer.
- In "Night Terrors" the parent of George mentions that he had been scared of something that he had seen on the television, and that it had prompted them to turn if off. Instinctively, the Doctor responds "Oh, you don't want to do that." This is likely a reference to the scandals which took place in the 1980s over if Doctor Who was too scary to be viewed by children. The producers of the show very much took up the policy that it was fine to scare the young viewers, as long as they didn't attach that fear to anything grounded in the real world.
- The show also sometimes makes references to its title. In "The Wedding of River Song", it is revealed that "the first question, the oldest question in the universe, hidden in plain sight" is just "Doctor who?" It's hidden in plain sight, because it's the show's title and has appeared at the beginning of every episode for 50 years! It's also the oldest question in the Whoniverse and the utterance of "Doctor Who" becomes a major plot point in Series 7 and the final Eleventh Doctor episode, "The Time of the Doctor".
- In the episode "Asylum of the Daleks", the Doctor says "it's Christmas!" to the Daleks. Immediately after this line, Jenna Coleman appears as Oswin even though fans had been told she wouldn't debut as the new companion... until Christmas.
- In the mini-episode "The Night of the Doctor", Cass is frustrated with her crashing ship's computer, which apparently thinks she needs medical attention. She tells it, "I'm trying to send a distress signal — stop talking about doctors." Then we hear a man off-camera say, "I'm a Doctor..." Cut to the Eighth Doctor looking at Cass (and the camera). "...but probably not the one you were expecting."
- "The Time of the Doctor":
- The Eleventh Doctor/Matt Smith leans so hard on the fourth wall it's surprising it doesn't fall over. Is it the Doctor or Matt Smith saying this?
"We all change. When you think about it, we're all different people all through our lives, and that's okay, that's good, you gotta keep moving, so long as you remember all the people that you used to be. I will not forget one line of this. Not one day. I swear. I will always remember when the Doctor was me."
- Clara tells the Time Lords that the Doctor's name is not his Gallifreyan name but "the Doctor," and that if they love him they should help him prevent his end.
- The Eleventh Doctor/Matt Smith leans so hard on the fourth wall it's surprising it doesn't fall over. Is it the Doctor or Matt Smith saying this?
- "Deep Breath", Peter Capaldi's first true episode as the Twelfth Doctor, deals with Clara's initial reluctance to accept a new, older Doctor with a radically different personality. The point becomes clear during a scene near the end where the Doctor begs Clara, and by extension the audience, to "just see me".
The Doctor: You can't see me, can you? You... you look at me and you can't see me. Do you have any idea what that's like? I'm not on the phone, I'm right here. Standing in front of you. Please, just... just see me.
- In "Robot of Sherwood", the Doctor is convinced that Robin Hood is only a legend and can't be the real deal. At the end, Robin tells him, "And remember, Doctor: I'm as real as you are."
- "Kill the Moon" hinges on everyone on Earth being asked to vote whether or not the creature should be killed by switching their lights off if they want it dead. Due to a later broadcast slot and the fact that it was being shown in October, chances are the viewer would be watching it with the lights on, and even people who wanted the creature dead were unlikely to get up from the sofa to turn the lights off - so the viewer has cast their vote. Of course Clara decides to let the creature live.
- Series 9 plays with the issue of major character deaths in the Steven Moffat-era seasons (Series 5 onward) often being undone or revealed to not be what they seemed. Half of the season's Cliffhangers tease the deaths of the Doctor, Clara, and/or other recurring characters. Two major character deaths from Series 8, Missy and Osgood's, prove to have been more complex than what the audience saw at the time — and the former character says as soon as they appear that yep, they're back, let's get on with things! The Doctor saves "The Girl Who Died" with alien tech but makes her immortal and ageless as a result; because he can't take her on as a companion due to the risk of Immortality Immorality for both of them (as he is functionally immortal himself), she becomes a problem he has to deal with for a long time. It all leads up to a finale in which he puts the entire universe at risk of destruction to save Clara Oswald from her fixed-point-in-time death, and all of the other characters tell him he should have just accepted what happened in the first place!
- Since one of the main characters of Last Christmas is Santa Claus, a lot of mileage is made out of comparing Santa's ontological status with that of The Doctor. Right from the cold open:
Santa Claus: Believer until the age of 9. Why did you stop?Clara Oswald: Because you're a fairy tale. I grew out of fairy tales.Santa Claus: [sigh] Did you, Clara? Did you really?
- The Elementary episode "Flight Risk" leans on the fourth wall, when Alistair (pretending to be Sherlock's father) asks Watson "how's the sex?". This is evidently taking a stab at the criticism the show received before airing, that having a female Watson was for the sole purpose of being a love interest to Sherlock.
- At the very end of the Grand Finale of the drama Wizards of Waverly Place, Chancellor Tootie Tootie says, "And that's our show, everybody! Thanks for watching!" Almost as if it and the gameshow itself are directed towards us, the viewers.
- The sitcom Yes, Dear has one episode where someone faces the couch away from the audience and they keep saying it doesn't feel right. When asked why, they say simply, "I dunno," then keep turning and look back at the direction of the audience, while wondering.
- In the episode "Mr. Monk and the TV Star", Monk suspects the star of a TV crime show of murder. During the investigation he meets an obsessed fan, Marci Maven (played by Sarah Silverman), who continually comments that the suspect's show had recently changed its theme song, and that nobody liked the new one. Of course, her comments are aimed at Monk itself, since it had recently changed its award winning theme song to one by Randy Newman that many fans disliked ("It's a Jungle Out There"). At the end of the episode, Marci comments to Monk that he should have his own TV show, and makes him promise that if he ever gets one he'll never change the theme song. The episode then goes to the credits while the original theme song plays it out.
- When Marci reappears in "Mr. Monk and His Biggest Fan," it is revealed that she also has all of his cases named, with the names of the episodes in which they occurred.
- Carly's final speech during the episode "iStart A Fan War."
- Spencer's awareness of being involved in a B-plot in every episode. Having no actual subplot in "iPity the Nevel," he appears doing random antics out of sheer boredom, wandering into the webshow taking swigs from a bottle and appearing mildly drunk. He also asks if they want his advice or need his help with anything.
- The short-lived series Nowhere Man, which is about a man who is "erased" by a Government Conspiracy and then sees a TV show about a man who was "erased" by a Government Conspiracy, which was made by the actual Government Conspiracy just so no one would believe him if he tried to tell anyone the truth. And in the last episode, he discovers that all of his memories and his entire life are a simulation.
- In a final season episode, children's entertainer Nanette Guzman asks the eponymous doctor, "Do you have any idea what it's like to play the same character for twenty years?" Kelsey Grammar has played Frasier Crane for 20 seasons across two shows.
- The 100th episode has Frasier record the 1000th episode of his radio show, with Seattle organizing a Frasier Crane Day in his honour. Frasier Crane Day really happened.
- Michael Bluth from Arrested Development gives a speech at a dinner party about why the Bluths are such an unlikeable family, and about how they might not deserve to be saved from their fate. This was in one of the show's last episodes before cancellation, and the speech was also clearly about the fate of the show itself.
- Earlier in the same episode, Michael has a conversation with his father about where to get some financial support from. At the time there had been talk about continuing the show on another channel.
Michael: No, I don't think the Home Buyers' Association is going to want us.
George: Well, then it's Showtime.
- Lampshaded when Michael talks about how the family can't afford to act proud any more and they'll beg for help if that's what it takes.
- When the series ended there was a similar moment when Maeby was pitching her TV series (based on her family life, making it essentially Arrested Development) to none other than Ron Howard, the show's producer and narrator. He replies, "I don't see it as a TV show. Maybe a movie..."
- In season 4, Lindsey is shocked that Tobias doesn't realize he comes across as gay, stating that "It's sort of a Running Gag...in our family."
- Played with in one episode, when Tobias comments, "If this were a Lifetime Moment Of Truth movie, this would be our act break." The pre-commercial sound cue plays... and then the Narrator says, "But it wasn't," and the episode continues.
- Earlier in the same episode, Michael has a conversation with his father about where to get some financial support from. At the time there had been talk about continuing the show on another channel.
- Star Trek: The Next Generation:
Picard: "All this might just be an elaborate simulation running in a little device sitting on someone's table."Everyone leaves except Lt. Barclay, who looks contemplativeBarclay: "Computer... End Program?"Credits Roll
- In the finale "All Good Things...", Q talks about "putting an end to your little trek through the stars".
- Near the end of "Ship in a Bottle", Picard, just short of smirking, muses about their reality, with a line that leans in even more than it did originally thanks to the advent of smart phones:
Deanna: "In another time and place, this could be funny..."
- In "Contagion", Deanna remarked about how the ship's constant malfunctioning could be seen as humorous from an outside perspective, were someone watching.
Sela: We should not discount Jean-Luc Picard yet. After all, he is human. And humans have a way of showing up when you least expect them.
- The final line of the fourth season finale "Redemption: Part I" comes from Sela, who, due to Timey-Wimey Ball, is the daughter of the late Tasha Yar. Both are played by Denise Crosby. Since she's addressing characters roughly positioned in the same place as the camera, one gets the feeling she's addressing the audience more than the characters.
- Star Trek: Deep Space Nine:
- "Far Beyond the Stars" has Captain Benjamin Sisko hallucinating/having a vision that he's Benny Russell, a science fiction writer from the 1950s who actually writes about Deep Space Nine itself. At the end of the episode, when the whole thing was revealed to have been a dream (vision, whatever), he wonders if life aboard the station is the illusion.
- At one point, the producers considered putting a scene at the end of the series finale that would have had Benny Russell walking into Paramount Studios with a Star Trek script in his hands.
- In "Little Green Men," Quark turns out to be the Roswell alien. One of the minor military officers sworn to secrecy would have been identified as Lt. Roddenberry.
- The episode "In The Pale Moonlight" is framed as a video recording in Captain Sisko's personal log, with the events of the preceding two weeks presented as flashbacks. All of the log-entry scenes are shown from the station computer's point of view, with Sisko facing the camera. Technically, he's only talking to the computer (which is never shown), but the feeling that he's addressing the audience directly is almost irresistible.
- In "Rules of Engagement", various characters are testifying at an extradition hearing. The testimonies are given directly to the camera.
- In "Body Parts", an accident forced Dr. Bashir to transplant Keiko O'Brien's baby into Major Kira. On a few occasions during her surrogate pregnancy, Major Kira blamed Dr. Bashir that it's his fault that she ended up pregnant. In real life, Nana Visitor (Kira) was pregnant with Alexander Siddig's (Bashir) baby.
- Star Trek: Voyager:
- The two-part episode "Future's End" featured the ship traveling back in time to the mid-1990s and encountering another time traveler from an additional 300 years in the future, had Captain Janeway remark: "Time travel. Ever since my first day in the job as a Starfleet Captain, I swore I'd never let myself get caught in one of these god-forsaken paradoxes. The future is the past, the past is the future. It all gives me a headache."
- In season 4, B'Elanna Torres started wearing an engineering jacket and was never shown from the chest down due to the actress' real life pregnancy. In the two-part episode "The Killing Game", where the crew was implanted with mind control devices by aliens and forced to take part in holodeck adventures, B'Elanna Torres's holodeck character was a pregnant woman. After the mind control devices were disabled (but with the holodeck effects still active), the crew commented that the 'simulated' pregnancy seemed so real that it even kicks.
- Stargate SG-1 has done this countless times.
Martin: A top secret government program involving instantaneous travel to other solar systems by means of a device known as a Stargate!
- The episode "Point of No Return" played it straight forward.
O'Niell: Sounds like a good idea for a TV show…if you're into that sort of thing.
Martin: I'm talking about a twist; something nobody's expecting!
- The episode "200" almost in its entirety, and to a lesser extent, "Wormhole X-Treme". In the instance below, the characters are actually talking about a movie spin-off of a Show Within a Show based on the "real" Stargate Command. (Ironically, O'Neill's "surprise" appearance really made it into the commercial for that episode.)
O'Neill: [walks in] You mean something like this?
Vala: I don't think anybody will see that coming.
Daniel: Nope, there'll be spoilers.
Carter: Are you kidding? It'll be in the commercial.
Native: He is Jaffa!
- In "200", the stargate breaks down and Mitchell says "How can something work perfectly fine for 10 years and suddenly it doesn't work anymore?" That's a definite reference to the show's recent cancellation. In a later episode, Sam tells a one-shot character "the Stargate Program just doesn't get the support it used to from the people in charge" when he expresses disappointment in their facilities. Again, a reference to the show's impending cancellation.
- In addition, the episode "Secrets". Daniel Jackson admitted that he had not succeeded in his original mission, but promises to continue, though he fears that it may take many seasons.
- In the episode, "Fallen", a native on a planet SG-1 is investigating recognizes Teal'c as a Jaffa, and O'Niell gives a clever retort.
O'Niell: No, but he plays one on TV.
Kinsey: You want to take down the Trust. I can help you.
- During the episode "Full Alert":
O'Niell: I'm sorry, I must have missed an episode. I thought you guys were working together.
- Stargate Atlantis:
- Rodney: [Talking about TV] Most of which are fictional representations of ridiculously attractive people in absurd situations. (An absurd situation to the attractive people promptly occurs)
- There's also an episode where John, wandering through a forest as usual, says "It's almost as if someone in their warm, cosy room typing at their computer sent us here for their own amusement."
- When Stephen Colbert accidentally dropped acid, the ensuing existential crisis could be taken two ways — either the character worrying about his insecurities and whether he's lying to himself, or the character briefly realizing that he ''is'' just a character. This was mostly to clue in new viewers to the Alter-Ego Acting thing, since the show had just gone global.
"Where does this Stephen end and that Stephen begin?"
- Battlestar Galactica: When Roslin finally tells Adama she loves him, his response is "'Bout time."
- The Arc Words "All of this has happened before, and will happen again" seem awfully appropriate for a remake.
- Then there is the First Cylon War, fought several decades earlier against an older model of Cylon.
- In the first season, one episode begins with a woman being hunted by a gang of vampires. The vampires suddenly turn around, and one of them says, "You." The camera then shows us the person who has surprised them, starting with the feet and panning upward: black boots, a long black trenchcoat, a sword... and then we get to the face, which is that of a young black man (Charles Gunn) we've never seen before. He smiles and says, "You were expecting somebody else?"
- In the second episode of the fifth season, Lorne says this about Angel and Spike's mutual love for Buffy:
Lorne: The vampire slayer that both men loved, both men lost. Oh, I could sell that to a studio in a heartbeat. I'm seeing [Johnny] Depp and [Orlando] Bloom. Then again, I see them a lot. (He notices Wesley giving him a strange look.) Sorry, I need to get out more—I've been spending so much time running Wolfram & Hart's entertainment division.
- "Stop looking up my skirt!" It all but reaches through the fourth wall and smacks certain male viewers for what they're thinking at the moment.
- In the season 4 episode "Driven", where Tony goes to visit Jeanne at her work, she's talking to another doctor about how oncology results take around a day, but Dr. House gets them in ten minutes.
- The episode "Jet Lag" of season 7 ends with Ziva looking at a picture Tony took, commenting, "I think it would look better in black and white." Cue the standard ending black and white shot of said picture.
- On the subject of Dr. House... Cuddy: "You come in with a case like this 24 times a year!" On another episode, a businessman wonders about the cost-effectiveness of four doctors who only treat one patient per week.
House: What say we take five? Get some coffee. Go pee. (House walks out into the hallway. Cut to commercial.)'
- House on his penchant for Eureka Moments that occur at highly convenient times:
I'll go talk to Wilson about something completely unrelated and see what happens."
- Similar moment to this when House is suddenly distracted by a eureka moment and Wilson says "You're about to get up and leave without saying anything, aren't you?"
- In the finale episode of Season 2, House initially thinks that he might be hallucinating (he is) because he begins noticing the scene breaks.
- In the episode "Three Stories," it's framed by House telling a series of diagnostic tales to a seminar full of med students. One story starts to get heavy, with a patient going into cardiac arrest and the doctors scrambling to save him.... Cut to House, calmly standing in front of the students.
- House on his penchant for Eureka Moments that occur at highly convenient times:
- In the episode "Dual and Duality" of Blackadder the Third, Edmund contemplates his legacy:
Edmund: Yes, I'm afraid my ambitions stretch a little further than professional idiocy in West London. I want books written about me. I want songs sung about me. And then, hundreds of years from now, I want episodes from my life to be played out weekly at half past nine by some great heroic actor of the age.
Baldrick: (smiling) Yeah, and I could be played by some tiny tit in a beard.
- A less extreme example, from earlier in the same series:
Dr. Johnson: Sir, I hope you are not using the first English dictionary to look up rude words!
Blackadder: I wouldn't be too hopeful. [Looks into camera] That's what all the other ones will be used for.
- A less extreme example, from earlier in the same series:
- The title character of Chuck thanks Casey for saving his life "at least once a week".
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer:
- In season 5, Tara talks about The Hunchback of Notre Dame: "But he's not really good. He has no moral compass. The only reason he does good things is to win the love of this woman who could never love him back. That's how you know it can't end well..." Gosh, who else could that be referring to?
- During "Once More with Feeling", Buffy famously alludes to her namesake show's timeslot with the following remark:
Buffy: Dawn's in trouble. Must be Tuesday.
- Also from the musical episode, while Anya and Xander are talking over each other trying to explain the weirdness of their random duet that morning:
Anya: "It's like we were being watched. Like there was a wall missing from our apartment, like there were only three walls, and not a fourth wall."
- In the episode "Get It Done", Buffy mentions the Hellmouth's tendency of "blowing in May". This alludes to the fact that apocalypses usually occur during season finales, which air during this month.
- Buffy saves Willow & Xander in the opening of the first episode of season 2. She then asks them "Missed me?" while looking straight at the camera.
- In the comics, Xander refers to "every month, every Wednesday".
- "Normal Again" has numerous examples of this, as Buffy is hallucinating she's in a mental institution and her reality is actually a fiction.
- Another example from the comics season 8: when the talking dog is trying to recruit him and tells him that he's been chosen for the plan, Angel says he is "definitely twitchy about CHOSEN". The dog replies with "Yes, that goofy little cheerleader spun you right round." Apparently the dog decided to take the word "Chosen" as a reference to Buffy, the Chosen One, but for the readers, Angel's statement and the dog's answer is leaning against the fourth wall, as "Chosen" is also the title of the series finale.
- The cover for After These Messages We'll Be Right Back has Xander, Willow and Dawn crowding round to watch TV...of Buffy, with the story based on the proposed Animated Adaptation.
- There is Lampshade Hanging on the fact that something bad always happens on Buffy's birthday.
- In Season 1 of How I Met Your Mother, Barney is telling Ted that the Universe doesn't care about Ted's love life. Marshall interjects jokingly, "Unless Ted's love life is the glue binding the entire Universe together!" Everyone laughs, of course. If only they knew...
- Ted's daughter complains in the season 2 premiere that it feels like he's been talking for a whole year.
- In season six, Lily comments that "Ted can really drone on about a bitch." She probably should've warned her (presumably) godson and goddaughter about that...
- "The Stinson Missile Crisis" is practically nothing but this, as far as the Framing Device is concerned.
- In Season 8, when Marshall gets the group to the apartment to play "Who Wants To Be A Godparent?", he turns to the camera and says, "Right after a word from our sponsors." Robin, Barney and Ted look at each other and then Ted asks, "Why is he talking to the wall?" Cue commercial.
- Employed a few times by Sledge Hammer!. One notable one occurs in the first season finale when the chief tells a terrorist making a live television broadcast, "Your show's been canceled!" Sledge asks, "You talkin' to me?" (As noted, this was expected to be the last episode.)
- An episode of The Pretender has Jarod, the titular pretender, feign insanity and get locked in an asylum. One of his analysts asks him his last name and he responds with "I don't know..." [devilish grin—which on Michael T. Weiss looks SERIOUSLY evil] "It changes every week."
- The end of the 100th episode of CSI: Miami where they say "They all think it's easy to get to one hundred".
- The Will & Grace episode "No Sex 'N' The City" lampoons the show and sitcoms as a whole.
- During the series finale of Will & Grace this exchange occurs between the breakout characters Jack McFarland and Karen Walker:
Karen: Y'know, sometimes it seems like our sole purpose in life is just to serve Will and Grace.Jack: Right. It's like all people see when they look at us are the supporting players on the Will & Grace show.
- During the series finale of Will & Grace this exchange occurs between the breakout characters Jack McFarland and Karen Walker:
- In the first season of Heroes, Hiro and Ando make a lot of jokes about Star Trek. All of them seem to be leaning pretty heavily on the Fourth Wall when Mr. Sulu shows up as Hiro's father. Not to mention Spock being Sylar and President Whorfbama.
- Done quite a bit on Community. Abed, partially thanks to being the group's resident Genre Savvy Meta Guy, is a bit obsessed with media and constantly interprets the events around him as if they were the plot of a sitcom. In the beginning of the second season, Jeff criticizes Abed for all the self-referential meta-humor, saying that it's "so last season."
- Abed comes really close to breaking the Wall in the second-to-last episode of Season 5, where he seemingly tries to evade/misdirect the cameraman, nearly outright states that he's in a TV show, and almost looks directly into the camera, among a couple other things. May have also been Noticing The Fourth Wall and Visible Fourth Wall. He breaks it in the following episode, albeit in an unrelated way, and briefly.
- This is approaching the point of being a running gag during the last few seasons of Supernatural. First, the Winchesters discover that they have been written about in a popular book series (complete with fan-girls and fan-boys), then they meet the author of said books, who apologizes for the poor writing in certain panned episodes. In a later episode, they even go to a fan convention all about the Supernatural series. And this is saying nothing of Dean's "they do know we're brothers, right?" reaction when he finds out about Wincest...
- Also in Supernatural, Castiel is named after an angel who in lore helps people who travel a lot and is an angel of Thursday. The Winchester boys travel a lot, and guess what day the show aired at the time?
- There is also Crowley's remark to Castiel in a Season 6 episode: "Castiel. Haven't seen you all season." The fact that it was a bald-faced lie aside, it was an odd way to phrase the greeting, unless it was a passing bit of fourth-wall leaning.
- Early in Season 4, Dean surfs the fans online of the books and discovers Wincest (shipped by some actual fans of the show) and complaints of fans, both of which annoy him.
Dean: Simpatico says the demon plot of Supernatural is trite, clichéd, and overall craptastic. Yeah well screw you, Simpatico. We lived it.
- Crowley does this again with Castiel when he mentions that Cas is the angel of Thursday and today isn't his day. During that season, Supernatural switched to Friday nights.
- "It's about time we had a nice black and white case," was spoken at the start of the episode that was shown in black and white.
- In "There Will Be Blood," the Alpha says, "See you next season," as Sam and Dean are leaving.
- In the Season 2 episode "Hollywood Babylon," Sam remarks that the (strangely overcast) weather in L.A. is "practically Canadian." Supernatural is of course shot in Vancouver, Canada.
- In Season 10, Dean and Sam run across a high school musical based on books about their lives. Dean reacts badly to this and chews her out on using different music choice. And coincidentally ...
Dean: There is no singing in Supernatural!
Tech Girl: Well, this is Marie's interpretation...
Dean: [laughs sarcastically] Well, if there was singing, y'know, and that's a big if, if there was singing, it would be classic rock. Not this Andrew Floyd Webber crap!
- In Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip, Danny Tripp and Jordan McDeere discussing the Show Within a Show's low ratings while Jordan is in the hospital for complications with her pregnancy. Danny mentions that a crisis in a pregnancy is a surefire ratings boost. At the time, the real show was teetering on the brink of cancellation after falling ratings.
Simon: That man is psychotic!
- In "Objects in Space", the character Wash expresses his disbelief that someone could be psychic: "That sounds like something out of Science Fiction." When his wife, Zoë, responds with, "We live in a spaceship, dear," he says, "So?"
- In the pilot, Mal plays a very cruel joke on Simon by convincing him (and the audience) that Kaylee has just died of a gunshot wound note . When Simon picks up on it, the following exchange has Mal essentially standing in for Joss Whedon, allowing Whedon to poke fun at his infamous love of screwing with his audience's emotions.
[cut to another room on the ship, where Mal's whole crew is laughing hysterically]
Wash: You are psychotic!
Mal (laughing): No, you should have seen his face! Oh...I'm a bad man.
- Grey's Anatomy
- Shonda Rhimes definitely knows what she's doing with this line from the season 8 finale: "I don't know how this keeps happening! We keep dying we're in a plane crash, Mer, like right now!"
- Also from the season 5 premiere, when Cristina calls Meredith out for always wangsting to her about her Derek drama, even while actual important, real-life events are happening around her.
- In Weeds, Nancy once told her son Shane that he could grow up to a be a "doctor, lawyer or business executive", a clear reference to the theme song.
- The band Remy Zero plays the show's theme song, "Save Me". In the Season 1 finale, Remy Zero appears as themselves and plays "Save Me" for the high school dance. Clark and his friends comment, "These guys are awesome."
- In an episode that has vampires in it, Clark tells Professor Milton Fine, who is played by James Marsters (who also played the vampire Spike on Buffy the Vampire Slayer) about the vampires, to which Fine replies "Clark, there's no such thing as vampires". The name of the chief vampire in the episode is Buffy Saunders.
- In the episode with Clark and Lois' engagement party, Oliver Queen makes the toast: "They've finally realised what the rest of us have known for a very long time."
- At the end of the two-part pilot, Jonathan asks Clark if he'll be okay. Clark asks him to get back to him in about five years. The line makes no sense (a high-school-aged teenager would be thinking in four-year increments, if anything) except as a reference to the amount of time needed to complete the 100-episode minimum necessary for effective second-run syndication. This is confirmed in the DVD commentary, in which the producers joke that it would have been too obvious to have Clark say "Ask me again in a hundred episodes."
- Veronica Mars:
- In the Cold Open of one episode, Veronica describes her relationship with another character: "We used to be friends... a long time ago." Cue theme music, which includes the chorus, "A long time ago, we used to be friends."
- There is also an exchange between Veronica (played by Kristen Bell—25 at the time) and Duncan (Teddy Dunn, also 25) about Logan sleeping with an older woman... who was 25.
- In an episode of Parker Lewis Can't Lose, an early FOX hit, Parker encounters a student who has been in detention so long that he's lost track of the "outside world." The exchange went something like...
"Dude...what do you see out there?""Well, Batman is out, heavily-armored turtles are in, and..." (looks around, lowers voice) "...there's a fourth network.""No way, dude!!"
- Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon's DVD special act when Mio became the Big Bad. She turns and smiles at the camera that's like she's asking to the viewer "Surprised I came back?"
- Boston Legal has a habit of doing this more and more as the series goes on, with frequent references to the lead actors' previous roles as well as the show's own tropes and real-world issues, such as schedule changes.
- During a particularly complicated schedule change for the series, several of the characters appeared for a meeting during the cold open. When nobody else showed up for the meeting, the conversation went something like this:
"Are we early? I thought we were on Tuesdays at 9.""Actually, we rescheduled. Now we're Wednesdays at 10.""So are we going to be Wednesdays at 10 every week?""No, we're actually going to be Wednesday at 10 for a week, then take a week off, then we'll be Wednesdays at 9."
- In the second episode of season 3, two new lawyers join the firm. When Danny meets them, there is this exchange:
Jeffrey Coho: "We’re the new guys."Denny Crane: "Oh, please. If there were new guys, they would’ve shown up at the season premiere."Claire Simms: "He’s smoking, for God’s sake."Denny Crane: "It’s a personal gift from Bill Clinton. If you only knew where this cigar has been."Claire Simms: "Okay, he’s officially the grossest person I’ve ever met."Jeffrey Coho: "See that sign that says, “Crane, Poole & Schmidt”?"Denny Crane: pointing to himself with his cigar Crane. "Welcome to Boston Legal."Claire Simms: "Jeffrey. The gross man is fondling me."Denny Crane: "It’s the official firm greeting."Claire Simms clears her throat.Denny Crane: "Cue the music."
- In another episode, one of the lawyers is so ecstatic at being re-hired by the firm that he bursts into song. The song? The Boston Legal theme song. His performance is used in place of the usual opening credits sequence, with scenes of his gleeful singing inter-cut with the usual cast headshots.
- Stars William Shatner and James Spader often have dialog that alludes to their previous film and television roles. For example, Shatner's character reacts with anxiety when he hears about salmon parasites known as "cling-ons," and Spader remarks to Shatner — while both are dressed as flamingos — that he looks "pretty in pink."
- At one point William Shatner's character says: "I'm Denny Crane! I once owned my own spaceship!"
- In another episode Denny briefly ponders a communicator-shaped cellphone.
- During a particularly complicated schedule change for the series, several of the characters appeared for a meeting during the cold open. When nobody else showed up for the meeting, the conversation went something like this:
- In Black Books, the three main characters are thinking about going to the cinema and look up what's showing. They find a film with a plot synopsis that sounds exactly like that of the show itself, but decide against seeing it because it sounds awful.
- In an episode dealing with Lady Godiva.
Piper: Woman. Keep your clothes on, this is a family show. Really.
- In "House Call", the 101st episode, this conversation happens:
Witch Doctor: You ever vanquish a demon in this house, by any chance?
Phoebe: [laughing] Oh, only about a hundred.
- In an episode dealing with Lady Godiva.
- During the last season of Mad About You, Paul and Jamie are sitting quietly together, when Paul says, "It's the last season," and Jamie looks at him quizzically. Turns out he's talking about the M*A*S*H marathon he's been watching.
- In the Burn Notice episode "Sins of Omission", Michael starts the episode relating what had happened since he'd been blown up straight to the camera. It turns out that he was talking to Carla.
- The tail end of the final episode of Happy Days, when Tom Bosley's character makes his toast to newlywed Chachi and his wife (Joanie) is like this.
- "I Like To Watch". One of the camera guys following the group around says something about "Beautiful people solving crimes" having potential as a series.
- Also in that episode, which is about a film crew following around the CSI team, one of the interviewers asks Grissom's opinion of the show. His response is, "There are too many forensic shows on TV."
- In one episode of Kamen Rider Hibiki, the titular hero is seen telling some customers at the restaurant where he works about this movie that "just came out the other day". He describes it as a period piece about "this group of really cool warriors", or something along those lines. The day before the episode aired, The Movie, Kamen Rider Hibiki & The Seven Fighting Demons, which takes place in Japan's Warring States era, premiered in theaters.
- Cougar Town:
Jules: [about having 'Fakesgiving' in spring] "What if we're not around next fall? What if a new group comes in and replaces us? Everybody's going to be like, "What happened to the Cul-de-Sac Crew? I miss them. And who are these new people? They're not so good."
- Just about the full first act of the first TBS episode after being Un-Canceled.
- In the Press Gang episode "The Big Finish," Tiddler says to an arguing Lynda and Spike, "We've all been following this dopey love story since page one." Page One was the title of the first episode.
- This seems to be the cornerstone of Raising Hope's comedy.
Shelley: I wouldn't worry about that movie, Jimmy. A poor family raising a serial-killer's baby? Not many people are gonna wanna watch that. Least, not in my demographic.
- In the third season episode "Throw MawMaw From the House, Part 2" begins with MawMaw (played by Cloris Leachman) talking to the camera, giving a recap of the previous episode. Two nursing home staff are in the background and we see from their point of view that she is actually talking to the wall. One staff comments about how crazy she is and the other agrees, saying that "Yesterday she claimed she won an Oscar and slept with Warren Beatty", both of which actually happened to Cloris Leachman.
- In the episode "Modern Wedding", Burt expresses his frustration regarding Hope's supposedly-executed biological mother that "we're kinda done with the whole Lucy-coming-back-from-the-dead-thing. It's like, every year we think she's gone and then she comes back in some crazy way, messes up our lives again. It's gettin' old."
- In one episode, Jimmy laments that it seems like every week he finds out about some horrible thing his parents did to him, or mistake they made, when he was a kid.
- At the conclusion of the second-season Christmas episode, Shelley remarks, regarding "The Chances of Natesville" movie-within-the-show that makes fun of the Chance family:
- The Christmas Episode from the second season of 3rd Rock from the Sun has the Solomon family realizing that it's been nearly a year since they first arrived on Earth. Tommy reminds Dick that they landed on January 9, with Harry chiming in "at 8:30 Central," the airdate and time the series originally premiered.
- In the third episode of The Neighbors, titled "This Just Got Real", when (alien) Jackie is going to have dinner with Debbie and her friends from New Jersey, she prepares by watching The Real Housewives of New Jersey. A few times during the episode, after making a quip or insult to one of the other ladies, she turns to the camera and comments on why she said what she said. Often, the camera angle will then shift to show her talking to the wall.
- This happens fairly often in Glee, when the glee club members (or Sue) point out popular criticism or plot holes, like why rules that were established for glee competitions don't ever seem to apply to competing clubs, and references to names for couplings supported by fans.
- In an episode of Beauty and the Beast, in one of the ending balcony scenes, Vincent notes that maybe someone out there is watching and smiling. ...Someone?
- Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
Maria Hill: What does SHIELD stand for, Agent Ward?Ward: Strategic Homeland Intervention Enforcement and Logistics Division.Hill: And what does that tell you?
- Mad Men: In the Season 5 episode "Lady Lazarus," SCDP makes a commercial that in the preliminary phase has a Beatles soundtrack; upon review, they comment that while the track is perfect, licensing Beatles songs is very expensive, and they should probably go with one that sounds almost like it. At the end of the episode, Don complains to Megan about how he doesn't know what's going on in pop culture anymore, and she hands him a copy of the Beatles' Revolver. The episode ends with Don listening to "Tomorrow Never Knows"—the real version, and it reportedly cost AMC a quarter of a million dollars to do that.
- Revolution: In an episode with the gang Storming the Castle, Miles described their seemingly impossible mission, then, in context talking about how often they ended up in these situations, said "well, just another Monday, right?" The show aired on Mondays at the time.
- Victorious: In Tori Tortures Teacher during lunch Andre asks why none of them "ever sits on that side of the table", which would feature them facing away from the camera.
- In Terror in Cupcake Street the main cast and Sikowitz discuss why they are the only ones chosen. They later realize the fact their classmates "never talk and just react" as a nod to the extras.
- In Who Did it to Trina Andrè hints at the plot's "Rashomon"-Style. "Aw, no! Now we have to hear another story about what happened from a unique point of view?!"
- Becker: Done a couple of times in the series finale. (Unusually, the series was cancelled against the producers' wishes but with sufficient advance notice to provide the series with a proper ending.) In one scene, Dr. Becker looks at the test results for a patient named Mr. Nielsen, and says, "I don't know what the problem is. These numbers aren't that bad!" Another patient talks about having problems with his kidneys, and Becker tells him, "You were doing okay until they developed the stones," which could also be taken as an allusion to The Stones, the series that replaced Becker on CBS's schedule (and lasted only three episodes).
- Cristela has this exchange about sitting courtside at a basketball game:
Cristela: The only time stuff like that happens to people like us is on TV.
Felix: [resignedly] Yeah, but people like us will never be on TV.
- Arrow: Similar to the Buffy example, Detective Lance, thanks to his distrust of Laurel, is skeptical when she tries to warn him of an impending bio weapon attack.
Detective Lance: The city's in danger, it must be May.
- In the episode when Vixen makes her live action debut, Oliver explains to the others that he'd met her in an "animated" adventure. Bonus points for Steven Amell barely being able to keep a straight face while uttering the line.
- In a Season 5 episode, Felicity is asked how often people come back from the dead. She answers that it seems like every Wednesday.
- The Flash (2014): Felicity, crossing over from Arrow, notes that everyone seems to be in a worse mood than normal with a meta-comment on the differing tones between the two shows:
Felicity: I thought Central City was supposed to be the fun one.
- Joe West has this to say about a metahuman who can make anything explode:
Joe: Human bomb, huh? Must be Tuesday in Central City.
- Joe West has this to say about a metahuman who can make anything explode:
- In Legends of Tomorrow, when Rip is explaining the schematics of a prison and asks if everyone understood, Snart says "This isn't my first prison break." Wentworth Miller was the lead role on said show.
- In Korean drama Lie To Me, one of the characters ask if there is a pregnancy involved, and the other responds that they watch too many dramas.
- Mr. Robot is a show about hackers. In one scene, two of them gripe about Hollywood Hacking, causing one to say, "I bet you right now some writer's working hard on a TV show that'll mess up this generation's idea of hacker culture."
- Game of Thrones:
Bran: "They have no idea what's going to happen."
- The show has Ramsay Snow remark, "If you think this has a happy ending, you haven't been paying attention."
- Bran does it as well in the Season 6 teaser:
- Subtly and played for laughs — when Bronn and Tyrion realize Podrick's sexual prowess and interrogate him on the subject, the scene abruptly changes, like a mini-cliffhanger.
- In the "Birthday Girl Down" episode of Henry Danger, Henry is at the party announcing the suspects who could have knocked Debbie off her roof the year before by changing the ball speed, he stated that he would reveal who the actual culprit was after a short break. Cue the commercial.
- Flashback's appearance and name led to his role in this episode, to provide the flashback to the party.
- iZombie is a show that features a zombie as it's Main Character and heroine. One episode has her and Clive visit the set of a Show Within a Show about a Zombie Apocalypse, leading to this joke:
Zombie Extra: Someone should really make a show with a zombie as the main character.
Clive: That sounds dumb.
- In Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, Rebecca's law firm is bought out by a new partner who quickly establishes that he is now in charge. The employees sing a song where they worry about introducing a new character ("I mean, he's such a character") this far into the season ("it's almost fall"), and wonder if it's a stunt to boost their ratings (on legalscores.com).
- Roseanne liked to indulge in this trope:
Jackie: You're supposed to be eating in the commercial today. If you ruin your appetites now you're never gonna be able to eat on camera!
- In the Season Three premiere, Roseanne comes into the kitchen and remarks that it's such a beautiful day, she feels like singing. Over the summer of that year, Barr had infamously performed the National Anthem extremely badly at a baseball game, earning much criticism.
- In one episode, Dan comments that his and Roseanne's lives feel like different problems every week...and that they relive those same problems over the summer.
- In an episode where The Connors are about to appear in a commercial for the food court at a mall and Jackie walks into the room to discover them eating:
Dan: (smirking to Roseanne) Is that so?
- The biggest examples, though, come from when Sarah Chalke replaced Lecy Goranson as Becky.
- At the end of her first episode, the family watches Bewitched and discusses the fact that Dick Sergeant replaced Dick York. Becky comments that she likes the second Darrin better.
- When Goranson returned to the series, characters repeatedly asked her "Where the hell have you been?" every time she came on screen, with Roseanne commenting that "it feels like you've been gone for three years!"
- One episode showed an adult D.J. (played by John Goodman) being taken to a psychiatrist, as he won't stop repeating the phrase "They say she's the same, but she isn't the same..." The end of the episode jokingly plays clips of both Goranson and Chalke playing Becky, which apparently drove D.J. crazy.
- When Chalke returned to play Becky for the episode where the family travels to Disney World, Roseanne asks her "Aren't you glad you're here this week?"
- Chalke plays a mom taking her children trick-or-treating in an episode during Goranson's return to the role. She talks about how nice the Conners seem, and how she wishes she could be part of their family.
- Nicky, Ricky, Dicky, and Dawn: In "New Kid on the Block", the quads were discussing whether their lives would make a good TV show and were arguing about what the title would be. Of course, Nicky chose "Nicky, Ricky, Dicky, and Dawn"
- A Series of Unfortunate Events (2017):
- Count Olaf isn't sure how much time has passed in the series, saying that it's either a year, a week, or a season.
- Upon the Baudelaires fleeing to Lucky Smells by themselves (which did not happen in the books the show is adapted from), Mr. Poe exclaims that the entire thing has gone off-book.
- Right before The Marvelous Marrriage, Count Olaf tells the reporters interviewing him, "Well as an actor, I think live theatre is a much more powerful medium than say, streaming television."
- Stephano makes very clear his preference for long form entertainment that can be consumed from the comfort of your own home.
- When Stephano calls one of his minions about the change in plans, he snaps that he knows long-form television is better and that they should do as he says.
- When on the drive to Pufrock Preparatory School, Mr. Poe says that it's the end of the season, so the Baudelaires have a lot of catching up to do.
- Dear White People: When Reggie, Joelle, Lionel, and company return from watching a bad movie, they begin ranting about the different ways people of color are typecast and stereotyped in movies while looking directly at the camera. It still sounds natural in context.
- The Season 5 premiere of Chicago Fire has Gabbie taking a friend visiting from out of town to Molly's, and the friend says she's never been to a firefighter bar. Gabbie replies that they get cops, doctors, lawyers...well, not so many lawyers anymore. Chicago Justice had been canceled at the end of the previous season.
- The Great British Bake Off: In Series 5's pastry week, Kate mentions that she can almost hear the fast-paced music played on the Bake Off when there's only a short time left. Of course, said music is playing right at that moment.
- Just about any example in This Is a Song.
- Whenever a singer says "stop!" and the music temporarily halts.
- During the 2012 Grammys, Taylor Swift switched a line in her song "Mean" to read "Someday, I'll be singing this at the Grammys..."
- Wynonna Judd's "Girls with Guitars" contains the line "Oughta be a song about girls with guitars."
- Coldplay played on this with their breakthrough song "Yellow"
- Deep Purple's "Smoke on the Water" tells the story of the band recording the song.
- Carly Simon's "You're so vain, you probably think this song is about you."
- "Weird Al" Yankovic's parody of George Harrison's "I've Got My Mind Set On You", titled "This Song's Just Six Words Long."
- "From a Window Seat," by Dawes, which is about the songwriter riding in an airliner, taking notes to be used in composing the song:
So I reach down for my notebook to see what impressions could be spunBut it's just buildings and a million swimming poolsSo I leaf back through the pages to see where I am fromOr for some crumbled map of what it's leading toAnd I find that the hero in the song that I am writingDoesn't know he's just an image of myself
- Buffalo Springfield's "Nowadays Clancy Can't Even Sing":
Who should be sleeping but's writing this song,Wishing and hoping he weren't so damn wrong?
- The name of the game for a lot of Zyuden Sentai Kyoryuger. Notable Instances include:
- Kyoryu Violet's introduction, in which he knocks over the background he is speaking in front of.
- The entire first few minutes of the Distant Finale, Zyuden Sentai Kyoryuger 100 Years After, so much so, it's practically a Deconstruction. The beginning, based on the opening from the TV show, is filled with these moments where characters recoil in fear from the normally casual explosions, and various other goof-ups are made. The team is soon after criticized by the monsters they are fighting for not behaving like a true Sentai team.
- Jefferson Starship's song "Light the Sky on Fire" (and the subsequent video in the Star Wars Holiday Special) features lead singer Marty Balin looking skywards and asking the following:
Yes, I would really like to knowWhat are they watching us for?
- Marty Robbins: Robbins' masterwork is considered to be the "El Paso" trilogy that began with the epic song of the same name, an even more epic prequel titled
- Triple H likes to do this. In his WWF Attitude (video game) intro, he speaks to the player as "that fat-ass guy sitting on the couch." In WWE'12 he expressed frustration at the WWE becoming PG-13 when feuding with the Miz. He thinks Edge is a smart guy for marying Vickie Guerrero. "Marrying the boss to get ahead in the business? That's genius!" Throw in his partner-in-crime Shawn Michaels and they nearly break the wall down, from a baby photo with Triple H's head poorly photoshopped on to wondering who got Vince's daughter pregnant. Also during the writer's strike when Triple H came out, made a bad joke and then remarked "Who writes this stuff? Oh yeah, they're on strike!"
- On October 10, 2011, Michael Cole said that he got a ton of Twitter posts and emails about how everybody missed him. When Jerry Lawler challenged him to show him one of these, he mentioned somebody named "Sean C" who sent him one of these. Michael Cole's real name is Michael Sean Coulthard.
- When he isn't leaning on the wall, CM Punk is often cheerfully (or angrily) booting it down.
- On the Raw following Wrestlemania 22, Edge said to Triple H, "That's the problem with you, Hunter. You think you own the place." In real life, Triple H is married to Stephanie McMahon.
- Our Miss Brooks: An interesting example in the radio episode "Reckless Driving''.
- Miss Brooks, Mrs. Davis, Mr. Conklin, Mr. Boynton, Harriet and Walter are on Mrs. Davis' porch listening to the radio.
- Steve Allen suddenly drives up asking for the way to Hollywood - turns out he's going to host the summer replacement for Our Miss Brooks.
- The radio is tuned to Our Miss Brooks Miss Brooks calling it the show "with the school teacher with my name".
- Miss Brooks, incidentally, thinks Eve Arden is "a doll". Mr. Conklin hates the pompous principal, while Walter Denton likes "one character in particular."
- Eve Arden announces her summer replacement, saying she would be listening to Steve Allen's show that summer. Everybody on the porch commending her nice speech. Allen, however, wonders if she'll really be listening. Cue Eve Arden saying of course she would, he has her job!
- The Big Finish Doctor Who adventure Legend of the Cybermen has the Doctor and his companions Jamie and Zoe trapped in the Land of Fiction, where they are constantly being tricked into narrating their actions, with a segment where Jamie finds himself in a sound-studio, reading his dialogues from a script while a director (voiced by director Nicholas Briggs himself) tells him to emote more.
Zoe: None of this is real. This is all a wonderful children's adventure that adults adore.The Doctor: You are watching this from another level of consciousness, aren't you?
- Also from that adventure:
Nobody No-One: How do you know if you yourself haven't been travelling through a universe only consisting of written language and sound for decades?
- A Death in the Family pits the Doctor against the Word Lord Nobody No-One, whom he finally traps in "The Hand of All", a universe entirely consisting of narratives, yet it seems just as real as the actual one. Nobody No-One calls the Doctor out:
- The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy had a scene with Zaphod dramatically speaking while "Also sprach Zarathustra" grew in volume under him, until Zaphod tells Marvin to cut it out, whereupon the final two notes barely make it out.
- Welcome to Our Village, Please Invade Carefully has a couple of these.
- In one episode, Lucy uses the alien computer to Skype the outside world but finds that nobody believes her story about the alien invasion. The computer says it would back her up, but people would think it was just an actor putting on an alien computer voice.
- In another, The Resistance plan to put a hidden message in the village newsletter and use the alien minions to get it to the outside world, but decide that even if they could, the Perception Filter makes everyone outside the village ignore it, so outsiders would simply assume Cresdon green was a fictional location invented for a sci-fi series.
- In the New World of Darkness, there's an insane, possibly evil, god-like intelligence called the God-Machine as a setting fixture and antagonist. The G-M regularly influences NPCs to behave bizarrely and causes all kinds of weirdness that players are often expected to investigate and thwart. Of course, being part of the World of Darkness, it only exists in a given campaign insofar as the other GM includes it.
- The description of the disadvantage "delusions" in The Dark Eye lists "We are all just part of some strange game." as an example.
- The Magic: The Gathering expansion Oath of the Gatewatch has a group of cards of different colors, each depicting a planeswalker promising to keep watch, but no black version is present. Three expansions later, Eldritch Moon completes the theme with "Oath of Liliana", whose flavor text reads, "I'll keep watch. Happy now?"
- At least one Palladium Books RPG includes the job skill "Role-Playing Game Designer," which grants the character an extra Physical Endurance stat due to the exhausting demands of the job.
- Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead plays with the fourth wall a lot. The first scene centers on the characters flipping a coin ninety times in a row and it comes up heads every time. Guildenstern comes quite close to realizing that the reason this is happening is because they are fictional characters and the result of every coin-flip is determined by the author, not by chance; but he never quite figures it out.
- William Shakespeare did it:
Cassius: How many ages hence shall this our lofty scene be acted over in states unborn and accents yet unknown!
- In Twelfth Night, the line "If it were played upon a stage, I could condemn it as an improbable fiction".
- As You Like It: "All the world's a stage and we are but players."
- From Julius Caesar, immediately after Caesar's assassination:
- In Macbeth, "Life is but a walking shadow, a poor player who struts and frets his hour upon the stage..." note
- It's a key part of the Pantomime format that while one character will have No Fourth Wall, the rest of the cast are only allowed to lean on it.
- Cyrano de Bergerac: This play is a blend of farce and drama, and his first act is placed at the Burgundy Theater. Cyrano has interrupted the Show Within a Show La Clorise. The rest of the theater actors are rehearsing a new play, and Cyrano invites them to a Sword Fight he will have with one hundred men.
Cyrano: Come all—the Doctor, Isabel, Leander,
Come, for you shall add, in a motley swarm,
The farce Italian to this Spanish drama!
- The 2011 revival of Company does this when Bobby and April are discussing Bobby's apartment. As the set was left to be as simplistic as possible, all of April's remarks about the (non-existent) decor ("That's darling!" "Isn't that tasteful and interesting!") were made in reference to the conductor and the audience (with Bobby at one point even reaching out and poking the conductor.
- In Eugene Ionesco's Rhinoceros, we get this exchange:
Jean: Instead of squandering all your spare money on drink, isn't it better to buy a ticket for an interesting play? Do you know anything about the avant-garde theatre there's so much talk about? Have you seen any of Ionesco's plays?
Berenger: Unfortunately, no. I've only heard people talk about them. [...]
Jean: There's one playing now. [both turn to stare at the audience] Take advantage of it.
- The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy Radio Show Live underwent heavy cuts to get five seasons into a two hour show. Near the end, Slartibartfast brings up a number of the missing scenes and mentions that the eddies in the space-time continuum have lead to Arthur missing whole chapters of his life.
- In the third act of Arsenic and Old Lace, O'Hara says, regarding his own play, that he wants to "just run through the third act quick."
- The Phantom of the Opera features the following lyrics in the song "Prima Donna," following some Gratuitous Italian: "You'd never get away / With all this in a play / But if it's loudly sung / And in a foreign tongue / It's just the sort of story audiences adore / In fact, a perfect opera!"
- Dog Sees God: "Do you ever feel like you're not a real person? That you're the product of someone's imagination and you can't think for yourself because you're really just like some creation and that somewhere there's people laughing every time you fall?"
- In the last line of Charley's Aunt, Lord Fancourt (who had been impersonating Charley's aunt so Charley could tell his sweetheart's father that he had a chaperone) tells Donna Lucia (Charley's real aunt) that "in future I resign to Sir Francis Chesney all claims to 'Charley's Aunt.'" Brandon Thomas, who wrote the play, also was the original Sir Francis.
- The Book of Mormon's Act I finale has a lyric from Elder Cunningham about how "[he's] gonna stand up and steal the show!"
- In the musical Merrily We Roll Along, Frank introduces Mary Flynn to The Beautiful Elite as his friend, saying, "We go way back." "But seldom forward," Mary quips. Of course the characters don't go forward, since the show they're in runs Back to Front (and this is the first full scene).
- Downplayed in Bullets Over Broadway. They don't exactly wink to the audience, but there is obviously a scene where the Show Within a Show briefly overlaps with the real show.
- In some productions of Oliver!, the lyrics for Fagin's song "Reviewing the Situation" end with "There is no in between for me/But who will change the scene for me?", whereupon the set immediately starts to revolve as Fagin heads back to the fireplace to count his money.
- The Mrs Hawking play series: In Gilded Cages, when Mary comments that Nathaniel is rooting for her and Arthur's relationship, Arthur responds, "Of course he is. Who wouldn't be?" This has the double meaning for those members of the audience who may be shipping certain characters.
- Chrono Trigger:
- After Dalton modifies the Epoch and gets ready to test it, the Heroic Theme plays, to which he exclaims "No, no, no! stop the music!" at which point the crisis theme starts and he comments on how "that's better"
- Additionally, In the endgame sidequest to stop one of Magus' Generals in the Middle Ages, in one of the rooms of Ozzie's Fort, there are two conveyor belts with chains at the top and holes at the bottom. When Ozzie turns the crank, two monsters ride the chains from the depths and land on the conveyor belts, the Battle Theme starts playing and the party readies to fight, but the conveyors dump the monster in the pits, causing the party to face the player and blink as the music breaks down to a stop before Ozzie runs away.
- In Black Mesa, before the resonance cascade you can find a scientist lampshading NPC behavior (as well as the fact that Gordon and his fellow physicists never seem to do more than push buttons):
Scientist: I've got two PhDs, and an Oersted Medal, yet I find myself doing work best suited for an intern!
Coworker: Please. You do very meaningful work here.
Scientist: Really? Push that button! Walk over here! Push this one! Stand and stare at the screen! Walk back over there! Push another button! Again!
Male Scientist 1: You're living in the past.
- Additionally, there's another group of scientists that can be heard arguing about the merits of reproducing an old experiment with modern technology.
Male Scientist 2: That experiment is singlehandedly responsible for inspiring my career in science.
Female Scientist: How much recognition do you think you're going to get for reproduction, though?
Male Scientist 1: You should focus on creating something new and unique.
Female Scientist: He does have a point.
Male Scientist 2: Oh, but this is more than a replication, I assure you. For one, it shows how far our field has come since the original study was published, and to say nothing of the modern perspective necessary to monitor its influence. I mean, combined with today's technology, I've recreated-
Male Scientist 1: Bah, I can't stand to hear another word of this malarchy. (walks away)
Female Scientist: Don't mind him, but here's something to think about for the next time: Creativity is the art of hiding your influence.
- In a quest in RuneScape, the player must help a Spoiled Brat finish some missions. When they come across an obstacle, said brat asks if it is a glitch.
- The Nightmare Muspah familiar, if spoken to, muses on its nature as the living nightmare of a dying god, and asks the player character who dreamed them into existence. The player character isn't sure they like this philosophical tangent.
- The Stanley Parable does this a lot, given that the Narrator serves as a medium between the player and Stanley, who the player is controlling.
- At one point in Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty, Snake lectures Raiden about how computer simulated violence (i.e. video game violence) is completely unlike violence in real life, unintentionally discussing the argument that violent video games contribute to real life violence.
- Arguably, the entire point of the game was to lean on the Fourth Wall. Raiden, like the player, wants to be the guy, Snake, despite never having met him, although he has "simulated" his other missions. When the opportunity comes to prove himself, however, he constantly fails. Unlike Snake, he wants to go home instead of feeling at home on the battlefield. At the end, none of the bosses (with the possible exception of Fatman) are actually confirmed dead by his hand. Raiden is essentially a deconstruction of a generic video game character, with the player sharing his role of Butt-Monkey. For more information, read this.
- "I'm a whole different game from Liquid!" yells Solidus. Later, immediately after the penultimate boss battle, he warns the player that there's going to be a lot of cutscenes coming up by promising Raiden, "No more games".
- After a long wait for Metal Gear Solid 2, and a long cutscene, Snake acknowledges the players's frustration with what would become his Catch-Phrase - "Kept you waiting, huh?" This is Repeated word for word in the adventure mode in Super Smash Bros. Brawl where what is probably a few hours of play time after a short cutscene teased at his role in Subspace Emissary, Snake pops out of his cardboard box and says the line directly to the camera before his first gameplay section begins, as if he acknowledges everyone that had been dying to play as him in a Smash Bros game when he was revealed in the previews. Not a single coherent word was spoken anywhere else during a cutscene, outside of those accompanying an attack, in the entire game.
- In Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater, if the player wishes to avoid a long sniper battle with the End, they can take the easy way out by setting the PS2's internal clock more than a week ahead (or by simply not playing the game for more than a week). When the save file loads, a cutscene will be shown of Snake finding the End already dead of old age, and calling Major Zero on his Codec. As a way of chastising the player for cheating, Snake comments that he regrets "disappointing" the End, as it was his dying wish to have a real fight. Zero, however, orders Snake to get his head back in the mission, telling him, "It's not a game. It's not a sport. You think you're competing for the gold at Tokyo or something?"
- Naomi and later Big Mama give similar lectures to Snake's MGS2 lecture in Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots, while the visuals show us the covers of violent games such as Metal Gear, Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake, Metal Gear Solid and so on. Some Fourth Walls are just too thin to be leaned on safely.
- Then there's the chase scene in Act 2 of MGS4, where Snake is defending Drebin's vehicle, and at one point they get chased by a Mobile Gun System. Drebin very intentionally chooses to refer to the opposing vehicle by its acronym, resulting in lines like "We've gotta shake off that MGS!"
- Early on in the first Metal Gear Solid, while Snake is walking over a grating designed to make loud noises when stepped on (thus attracting the attention of nearby guards), you can call Master Miller to have him give you an explanation about how to walk quietly. He gives a detailed explanation on how to put your heel down first then slowly shift your weight onto that foot to prevent making any noise, suggesting Snake should try it - and Snake, who moves at the same speed regardless of whether you're lightly pushing the left stick or holding it as far as it will go, notes with frustration that "I can't do it!"
- Tomb Raider: Anniversary, a remake of the original game, begins with Lara being hired to find an artifact she previously spent years searching for. Or as Natla puts it, "This is a game you've played before".
- In Pokémon HeartGold and SoulSilver, Steven makes a remark along the lines of, "Have we met...before? That's not possible. All the Trainers I have battled seem to have the same look, anyway. Especially the ones who gave me tough battles..." referring to the main character of this or really any Pokémon game.
- In the post-game portions of Pokémon Black and White, Cynthia explicitly compares the hero/ine's determined expression to that of the hero/ine of Pokémon Platinum.
- Pokémon Black 2 and White 2 have a Running Gag of random characters mistaking you for the previous games' protagonist. Even Hilbert/Hilda's mother. The best lean of BW2 is performed by Ghetsis in the Giant Chasm, commenting to the teenage player character that random teenagers always seem to screw up his plans... so this time, he'll just get you out of the way first.
- In Pokémon Ruby and Sapphire, a Bug Catcher in an early Pokémon Center talks about the trading centers located on the second floor. When the games were remade as Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire, the Centers were cut down to one story since the trading feature had been retooled as part of the Player Search System (accessible from anywhere in the game), so instead he talks about how they used to have second floors "about ten years ago".
- In Pokémon Platinum, when Charon starts talking down to Mars, she tells him that "You only joined us recently, you know!", in reference to how Charon didn't exist in the original Diamond & Pearl.
- In Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Gates to Infinity's postgame, Hydreigon has an odd moment where he senses something and looks around curiously, eventually appearing to settle his gaze on you before giving a Quizzical Tilt. In the climax of the postgame, it turns out that he was looking at you; just "you" as in the player character who had returned to the human world at the end of the main story, but had been watching him and the rest of their friends from the other side.
- In a conversation involving Tiki in one of Fire Emblem Awakening 's DLC episodes, when asked by someone jealous of her Really 700 Years Old nature, she says "You must see these things in perspective. I used to look no older than a wee child. If people who knew me then saw me now, they would be shocked by how I aged." Players who knew Tiki from Marth's original games certainly were shocked at how much she'd aged in Awakening.
- In Drawn to Life, at one point, Marie asks Jowie how the Creator can see the Raposa; Jowie comes up with a theory that involves the Raposa living in a white box with two windows and a magic wand, and the Creator looking into the white box to perform experiments on them. Marie dismisses it as the stupidest idea she's ever heard.
- This was done in Kane and Lynch: Dead Men while they were riding in an elevator. Kane dismisses the idea that anyone would play a game based on two washed up thugs like themselves. The sequel (like the Fight Club example) has the camera as a third character as Kane tends to shoot glances right at you from time to time. Since he's insane however it kinda makes sense.
- In Warcraft III: The Frozen Throne, during the briefing before the final mission, Arthas exclaims something along the lines of: "It's time to end the game ... once and for all." Which is a reference to Malah's line from Diablo II: Lord of Destruction: "You knew it would come to this. Kill Baal; finish the game!"
- In Terminator 3: Redemption, the T-850 kills the T-X with the Pre-Mortem One-Liner "Game Over". Very aptly, it's the end of the game.
- In Persona 3 Mr. Edogawa notes that Summon Magic is "widely seen in books, movies, better video games, and so on...". Shin Megami Tensei combat is heavily reliant on summoning demons (except for Digital Devil Saga, where the characters turn into them instead).
- Mr Edogawa later has an entire lecture on Jungian Psychology, which forms the basis behind the entire Persona series.
- Persona 4 continues the trend: During one pivotal late-game scene, when a major twist is revealed, the plot so far is called a "cat and mouse game" and a character remarks, "Games like these always have to have some kind of twist at the end to keep things interesting."
- In both Persona 3 and Persona 4, Edogawa holds a lecture on the arcana of the tarot. Tarot Motifs are very prominent in the Persona series, especially from the third game onward, where they tie in with the games' Social Link/Confidant mechanics, in addition to the major plotline bosses in 3 being themed after the arcana.
- Rise's final Social Link event ends with her saying she doesn't know what to do after this since "if we were on TV, this would be a wrap." Cue fadeout.
- Persona 5:
- The protagonist will stick his hand out to the screen when you open the menu, with text reading "Don't look at me like that" in the corner of the screen. This is often done in Japan when making eye contact with fictional characters. The fact that the protagonist is doing it implies that he's not the fictional one.
- Igor will regularly refer to the events of the game as, well, "a game." Though in his case it's more an allusion to the Picaresque / thief Caper nature of your activities.
- In one of her Confidant events, Futaba will comment on how fortunate she is that people seem to show up to help her right when she needs it, and in her usual use of gamer lingo, she'll state that her "Luck stat must be high." She legitimately does have the highest Luck stat of your entire party, and by a wide margin.
- In the same scene, she also asks the very non-playable Mishima "Are you an NPC?" because he's so boring and plain.
- In the Mountain Range level of The Nameless Mod, you can sneak up on two mooks facing a jumping puzzle the player must pass in order to enter the facility through the back way. One of them mentions how stupid and dangerous it is for people to use it, and that its is "just like those old video games, adding in a stupid jumping puzzle instead of just giving you more enemies to shoot."
- In God of War: Ghost of Sparta:
Thanatos: You are nothing but a pawn in a game you don't even know is being played.
- In Dragon Age: Origins, at the landing that leads to the Mage Tower, there are a pair of NPC's beyond a fence that are discussing how they're merely "in a play", prompting one to dismiss the idea that they're being watched by "beings" for amusement by pointing out that he has a boil on his big toe that proves the theory wrong - at which point he claims that anyone doing so are simply sick, twisted bastards.
Hawke: I'm sure someone thought far too long about my name.
- In Dragon Age II, a mage Hawke can say this to Carver, if asked whether they're curious about the origin of their name:
- Used in Resident Evil: The Darkside Chronicles Game of Oblivion (which is a recreation of Code Veronica). When walking up the stairs to fight Alfred Ashford, you are attacked by two zombies and Steve Burnside leans on the Fourth Wall here.
Steve: Zombie, zombie, zombie, zombie! Ugh, it's like a damn video game!
- In the Mega Man Battle Network series, installing the "Humor" program into Mega Man makes him do and say some nutty things. Battle Network 6 gives us this conversation between him and Lan:
Mega Man: Lan, do you ever get the feeling that someone is operating you...Like you aren't in control of yourself?
Lan: What do you mean?
Mega Man: You operate me, right? Well, what if someone was operating you like some kind of game? What if you weren't really in control?
Lan: You mean someone is operating me!? I'm not a Navi, I'm a person!! Why would anyone operate me like I'm the star of a game? A game in its 6th hit installment perhaps... Are you feeling alright Mega Man?
Mega Man: Sorry...I'm just saying...What if?
- One level in Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time takes place in a library. During gameplay, the Prince's sidekick/love interest Farah will occasionally read excerpts from books, and eventually the Prince exclaims, "If you want to be useful, try finding a book that'll tell us how to get out of here!" Farah replies with, "This isn't that kind of game", causing the Prince to mutter, "Game? She thinks this is a game."
- In Portal's end song: Still Alive''
GLaDOS: And we're out of beta, we're releasing on time.
Wheatley: Look at this! No rail to tell us where to go! This is great, we can go wherever we want! Hang on now, where ARE we going? Let me just get my bearings... just follow the rail, actually.
- In the sequel, a few of Wheatley's lines.
- Also from the sequel, at one point Wheatley announces "This is the part where I kill you." Then the chapter name comes up, and it's "The Part Where He Kills You." And then the Steam achievement notification pops up, and it's also "The Part Where He Kills You." Cue achievement/Trophy description: "This is that part".
- Super Mario Bros.:
- Super Mario Galaxy 2 does this when Mario is low on lives or runs out and gets a Game Over. If you are low on lives, Lubba suggests using the orange Luma (Player 2) to help you with the more difficult tasks and to have more fun. If you run out of lives, he will suggest to Mario to take a break. Similarly, if you lose a lot of lives in the process of getting through a level, he'll commend Mario for pulling through on a galaxy he was having a tough time with.
- There's also Mario humming the theme tune of Super Mario 3D Land.
- In Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon, Luigi will hum what is actually the background music in an attempt to maintain morale.
- Mario Party 5: When it comes to the final five turns, Bowser will show the current player ranks and then remark 'At this rate, (leader) is going to beat all of you! If it's that easy, this ain't a Mario Party!', in what can definitely be read as an acknowledgement from the developers of how you can be screwed out of the lead in no time at all in this series.
- Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance has several conversations wherein a character is playing a war game and asks for strategic advice on a battle that just happens to be very similar to the battle you're about to play.
- While Sam & Max: Freelance Police breaks the Fourth Wall regularly, sometimes they teasingly poke the glass, like lampshading their formulaic exchanges:
Sam: Random but innocuous comment.
Max: Irreverent reply which hints at mental instability!
Sam: You crack me up, little buddy.
- In the first episode of Season 2, the Bad News headline reads "New S&M Season". If you examine it, though, Max says it's a shame Sam (a dog) doesn't wear a collar since the paper says they're in style.
- The penultimate episode of Season Three has Charlie Ho-Tep using Sam as a pawn in his Evil Plan, as he's the perfect Straight Man, an easily controlled guy who always does what he's told.
- At the beginning of Earthbound, Pokey explains some of the game's mechanics to Ness, then apologizes for all the "game-type advice."
- Near the end of Shantae: Risky's Revenge, the title character shows reluctance at helping a boss from earlier in the game, claiming that she saw her "exploding in some sort of massive Stage Clear spectacle."
- Silent Hill 3: "Is this the end? Time to roll the credits."
- Have Silent Hill 2 as an Old Save Bonus and you get a cutscene of Heather attempting to retrieve something from a toilet, before deciding it's too gross.
(while looking directly at the camera) Who can even think about doing something so disgusting?
- At the end of the credits for Silent Hill: Shattered Memories, Kaufman's analysis notes on the patient are directly referring to what he's deduced about you during the therapy sessions. Not the first game that's done this, until he ends the notes with "Lots of ground uncovered. Might be best to go back to the start and reexamine everything with the knowledge we have now. Think patient will agree?"
- Have Silent Hill 2 as an Old Save Bonus and you get a cutscene of Heather attempting to retrieve something from a toilet, before deciding it's too gross.
- In Scratches, Arthate's working notes contain his musings over whether the threat in his latest horror novel should turn out to be natural, supernatural, or Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane. This corresponds to the original ending of the game itself, and to each of the multiple endings of the Director's Cut version.
- Touhou occasionally breaks the fourth wall, but more often makes passing comments in throwaway puns that give translators headaches that lean pretty heavily on the fourth wall. A good example is Marisa's comment in Imperishable Night where, when asked what she was doing out at night early on in the game, Marisa replies, "It's my annual Youkai Extermination Month. I'll go wherever youkai live." - Imperishable Night and the other Windows Touhou games before it were all released in the same month of consecutive years. It's worth noting that even though the game came out in the same month in real life, the games take place during different seasons in-game (with the seasons being important basic elements to several of those games, like Perfect Cherry Blossom being about someone stealing the season of Spring, keeping Winter from passing), meaning the joke only makes sense when it is referencing the fourth wall.
- In Mass Effect 2's DLC Lair of the Shadow Broker, Shepard must battle waves of mooks with Liara as a hacking tool slowly unlocks a door for them—Shepard will reminisce about the days when you could just slap omni-gel on everything. Liara says the change made a lot of people angry.
- In Mass Effect 3 the player meets with recurring character Conrad Verner once again. A well-known glitch in the second game was that Conrad would claim you had drawn a gun on him, even if you had not taken that option in the first game. Conrad apologizes for the mistake, saying he was really stressed out. Possibly as an added joke, he will say this even in games where you actually did hold a gun on him. Conrad is also surprised that weapons now use "thermal clips" instead of cooling down. His doubts about the efficacy of this switch mirrors what many players said, with a line about how "you might as well be going back to limited ammunition" reflecting suspicions that the change was done to appeal to fans of more traditional FPS games.
- In the Citadel DLC for Mass Effect 3, you can overhear several soldiers talking about missions they were on, clearly referencing the multiplayer. For instance, an Infiltrator rants to a Vorcha about how one Vanguard she deployed with was focused on racking up kills instead of completing the objectives.
Vorcha Soldier: Vanguard charge away! Upload go slow! Bad for team!
- One of these multiplayer characters is an N7 Fury talking to an Alliance Procurement Officer, who gets her a heavy shotgun, thermal clips, and a strength enhancer. Given that none of these things are optimized for such a class, those who've played the multiplayer get this is a nod to the fickleness of the Random Number Generator nature of the online store.
- In No More Heroes 2: Desperate Struggle, after Travis kills Alice, the 2nd ranked assassin, he unleashes all his bottled rage due to Character Development at Sylvia. Except if you take the rant for yourself, it strikes really close to home.
See that? Now THAT was a BATTLE! Look at this blood! We HUMANS are ALIVE! Even if we ARE assassins! Doesn't matter if it's a video game, movie, drama, anime, manga... We're ALIVE! People shed blood and die. This isn't a game! You can't selfishly use death as your tool! THIS is Alice's blood! I bet you've already forgotten she existed! Same way you would have forgotten me! And that's why I'm tearing down the UAA!
- Not that they're doing this in a game that ever had a fourth wall in the first place...
- In The Reconstruction, whenever a character joins the guild's roster, there's a little fanfare that plays. When the starting cast joins in the beginning, Qualstio says "Is that nauseatingly cheerful music gonna play every time someone joins?" at one point. Kulkumatz also asks "What was that sound?" when he joins. Also overlaps with Left the Background Music On.
- Ember does this in Spyro: A Hero's Tail. Her line goes "Don't take that bridge to the swamp, Spyro. If you do, I might never see you again". This both refers to the fact that it's dangerous, and she may not see him again, and that she disappears from the game after you cross the bridge.
- Later, when Spyro encounters a mammoth boss, he mentions that all he has to do is run around for while until he figures out the boss's weakness, then hit him three times. The mammoth then stomps him flat. This is basically Spyro describing how to beat all the bosses in that game (and in several other Spyro games too).
- The Disgaea series does this fairly regularly. For example, an optional conversation from the first game:
Goleck: The Prinnies were talking about "Multiple Endings..."
Laharl: ...Huh? Endings to what?
- In StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty, just before the final mission if you click on Tychus he will comment that he is worried about the artifact they are using and that he fears it might shatter the entire space-time continuum. Raynor's response is to tell him that it's not science fiction.
Hell, it's about time.
- Ten years passed between the release of the original StarCraft and the announcement of its sequel. What were the first word's spoken by a character and the only line in the trailer?
- One of the many examples from Super Robot Wars Original Generation:
Sanger: Shut up! The Colossal Blade is the sword of my soul! As long as I have this I can still fight! This mech will inherit my soul! Behold the power of...
*Giant writing on the screen*: Episode 30: Dygenguard!
Vigagi: What was that!? And what does 'Episode 30' mean!?
- Tenzan, who learned how to pilot mechs entirely through video games, constantly sees everything in video game terms. After he is defeated, he insists with his last breath that he'll just press Continue and try again with full HP. Which is something the player can actually do in case of a Game Over, but he can't.
- In the Monkey Island series:
- In Escape from Monkey Island, a frustrated Guybrush Threepwood complains, "It's like my life is a neverending series of puzzles!"
- After Escape, fans had to wait 9 years for a new game. When it arrived, it was in episodic format, with episodes coming out a month apart. At the end of the first episode a woman says "I've been waiting a long time for this!", to which Guybrush replies "Can't you wait a little longer?" Later, the woman turns out to be a fangirl.
- Several times in Rusty Hearts, such as:
Frantz: Why do they have you cooking for the soldiers anyway? It's obvious you're terrible at it.
Patricia: There weren't enough NPCs...
Angela: I'm only doing this because I need the experience points.
- In Phantasy Star IV when leaving the party he vastly out levels, Rune mentions to not think about defeating Zio, as "At this stage of the game, you're no match for him!", with "game" argubly being a figurative speech given his cocky personality.
- Golden Sun: Dark Dawn has a moment of this at Belinsk Ruins when Karis and Sveta wonder if someone else is guiding the party's actions.
- The Elder Scrolls
Vivec: "When I die in the world of time, then I'm completely asleep. I'm very much aware that all I have to do is choose to wake. And I'm alive again. Many times I have very deliberately tried to wait patiently, a very long, long time before choosing to wake up. And no matter how long it feels like I wait, it always appears, when I wake up, that no time has passed at all."
- The 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 to the point of leaning on it (and sometimes outright breaking it) 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.
- In Morrowind, the Tribunal deity Vivec (cryptically and metaphorically) states in his dialogue and his 36 Lessons series that his "godhood" comes from realizing that he was in a video game and using that knowledge to edit the situation around him. He makes vague references to things like the Player Character ("The ruling king who only he can address as an equal"), pausing the game, console commands, and the Construction Set Level Editor. His explanation on what happens if he should "die" also sounds a lot like reloading a saved game:
- Oblivion has a Dunmer NPC who identifies themselves as a member of House Hlaalu, a faction from the previous game, only to note that such distinctions don't matter anymore.
- In the city of Windhelm in Skyrim, there's a book in Calixto's Museum of Curiosities called The Book of Fate, which purports to show the reader's fate. When the Dovahkiin reads it, the book is blank. When you think about the nature of the series (and its habit of making Fourth Wall jokes)... (It's actually a critical point. The book remains blank for anyone who has no fate, which in the lore refers to the "Heroes" referenced in the Elder Scrolls themselves, which in turn is referring to the player characters of each Elder Scrolls game.)
- Near the end of the true final fight of Asura's Wrath, Chakratarvin's final form starts doing his own QTE's that are similar to your own QTE's, as if someone else is controlling him.
- Of all games, FIFA Soccer 2012 does this. Martin Tyler and Alan Smith comment casually on the fact that the players' passing looks like the players are part of a computer game if they're timed right and accurate enough.
- Tales of the Abyss has some skits triggered by having the characters fight in their alternate swimsuit costumes. In the skits, they wonder why they're dressed like that, claiming they have no idea why and feeling like some unknown force was causing them to do it.
- The in-battle quotes are also weirdly fourth-wall-leaning-ish. In the Tales Series characters often have incantations, quotes for when they're at low health, etcetera, which all make sense in the context of a fight. In Abyss, the AI members have quotes if you order them to take certain actions, but the character you're controlling doesn't verbally give the order. So if you ask Jade to cast Thunder Blade for the eight hundredth time, when he snaps "oh, very well," he seems to be snarking at you.
- Tales of Vesperia has the same thing as Abyss if you make Karol run around in a towel. He says someone's making him wear it because they thought it would be funny, but everyone in the party insists it wasn't their idea, and then Karol looks really confused.
- Similar to the Abyss example above, party members will often pick on your playstyle if you do weird/bad things like running around without attacking, using too many artes, or using too many items.
- In Ōkami, Ninetails has the same Celestial brush ability that you do. If you take too long drawing your attacks on the canvas, its own brush appears and cancels them. This falls into Leaning on the Fourth Wall territory because the brush looks the same and pauses time like you do.
- The third Splinter Cell game did away with the previous two's use of alarms as the player's "lives", where even outside of missions (or sections of them) that would immediately fail if the player got detected once, they still usually had a limit of being detected three times before game over. This was pointed out in the second mission of Chaos Theory:
Lambert: Fisher, we just pulled up Celestina's dry-dock report for the Maria Narcissa. They have a newly-installed central alarm system.
Sam: Don't tell me... three alarms and the mission is over?
Lambert: Of course not, this is no video game, Fisher.
- Implemented in Ending D in NieR. Since it involves a Heroic Sacrifice, with cancellation from existence, this translates into erasing all your save data.
- In World of Warcraft there is an NPC in Honor Hold who claims he feels as though he is going through the same sequence of actions repeatedly, making reference to going through an action loop.
- Deadly Premonition's York constantly talks to his Imaginary Friend, Zach, and has a tendency to do whatever Zach tells him to do, regardless of whether or not it makes sense at the time. Zach is essentially the player, and Word of God is that Zach was created to bridge the gap between player and PC and explain why the PC is free to go Off the Rails.
- In Batman: Arkham City: This comes up frequently as Enemy Chatter.
Criminal: Arkham City's worse than the old one. I should get a refund.
Thug 1: So what happens now?
- One dialogue among three thugs inside the museum during the epilogue initially sounds like they're just discussing what's going to happen to the inmates now that the Arkham City experiment has failed. But considering that players never hear who the 'they' they're talking about are, it sounds an awful lot like they're talking about where the sequel will take place. Here's the exchange, with a bit of paraphrasing.
Thug 2: I guess we'll just stay here until they figure out what they're doing next.
Thug 3: C'mon, man. What could they do next? Arkham County? Arkham Country? Big-ass Arkham World?
Thug 2: I dunno, man. These guys are crazy, aren't they?
Thug 3: Yes, they are.
"Helloooo, Batman! You can hear me, right? It's just, you don't seem to be coming to the movie theater, and I'd hate for you to read the spoilers on the Internet again!"
- In "Harley Quinn's Revenge", a couple of thugs discuss the fan theory that Batman carried Clayface out of Arkham City, not the Joker before one of them dismisses it as stupid and unrealistic. The other responds that so was the idea of two Jokers.
- Joker (as usual) leans on the wall throughout the both games. However he outright leans so hard the fourth wall cracks with this line:
- Red Dead Redemption: Undead Nightmare has the exchange between Marston and the Film Maker.
Marston: Listen, any idea what the hell is going on here?
Film Maker: No, but its brilliant. Man turned against man, kindhearted neighbors turned into savage flesh eating monsters! Do you see it? It would make a fantastic movie!
Marston: Who would enjoy that? What kind of sick person would like that?
Film Maker: My sir! The Lowest Common Denominator! My people.
Marston: You're gone, friend...
- Several lines of dialogue in Spec Ops: The Line are clearly aimed as much at the player as at Capt. Martin Walker.
John Konrad: You're here because you wanted to be something you're not - a hero.
- The Simpsons Game has a moment, after the Sea Captain spends an entire level assisting Bart and Lisa in overthrowing the dolphins (based on the Halloween Special "Night of the Dolphin").
Sea Captain: Y'arr, I've had a great time today, kids. I almost never appear this much in the series...
Bart and Lisa: Huh?
Sea Captain: ...of events that constitute your lives.
- In one of the mission postings in Final Fantasy Tactics Advance, the poster complains about a law that requires people to not have full HP, which has caused people to randomly attack him because of the silly law.
- XCOM: Enemy Unknown: At one point during the alien base infiltration mission, the following remark is heard from the peanut gallery that is your base's command staff:
Dr. Shen: Is this what the aliens do for fun? At least they're not playing ... computer games.
- When you take down the first enemy in Scenario 22 of the Earth Route in Shin Super Robot Wars, the enemy will use a Spirit Command. Of course, Zuhl's "galactic" genius is not matched by his assistant, who rapidly starts pushing the wrong buttons. After a while of this (culminating in Tekagen), Zuhl furiously orders his subordinate not to use any more Spirit Commands. All this is done to Ryusei Date's vast amusement.
- In Crash Twinsanity, right before warping to the Tenth Dimension, Cortex, while speaking to Crash, hints at a reference to the game's apparently unfinished development. Originally, two additional dimensions were planned to be implemented into the game, but were ultimately scrapped due to a restricting timeline budget from Interactive Studios.
Cortex: Come, now, as we explore... a new dimension!! ...It should have been two dimensions, but we ran out of time.
- The Neptunia series does this all the time, and takes full advantage of its primary cast being the Anthropomorphic Personification of various game consoles to be particularly blunt about it. A particularly unusual example in Hyperdimension Neptunia Victory is Noire's equipment options, which have their descriptions written as though the PS3 (as in, the one sitting in your living room running the game) is quite proud of itself for rendering such appealing objects for its patron goddess to use.
- Michael in Grand Theft Auto V tells his psychiatrist, "One minute I'm one person, and the next I'm another person."
- We also have this billboard◊.
- When Trevor first looks over the city, he remarks: "Los Santos, end of the fucking Earth." Los Santos literally makes up the lower extremity of the game's map.
- In Half-Life 2 and its Episodes, the vortigaunts possibly subtly refer to the player, using wording like "Far distant eyes look out through yours" and "We serve the same mystery".
- Done in Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords a few times, generally by Kreia, in regards to Experience Points. The line from the rejoined Jedi Council about the Player Character getting strength through killing others is a particularly spelled-out instance.
- In Hidden Expedition 4: Devil's Island the concluding paragraph of a history of the Elysian Islands commented that the islanders really needed a scientific genius to swoop in and save them all. "But that kind of thing only happens on TV, and sometimes in games."
- In Devil Survivor, at the end of the first day, Atsuro mentions how the COMPs' function apps (which are used by the player to access various game functions) are being opened up to them one at a time as though whoever set them up were easing the users to using them. He then starts to compare it to a video game, before being interrupted by Yuzu.
Atsuro: It's like those games. Start the player off easy, and then...
- In Devil Survivor 2, after Daichi saves Hinako from a group of demons, she chastises him for being so loud about it, saying "This isn't a video game! You don't have to call your attacks!"
- There are two instances of this in The Logomancer that are serious rather than comedic:
- Switch out a few words, and Glenton's description of his Forgotten Plantation and other logomancers' constructs could easily fit into a discussion about the purpose and artistic trajectory of the video game medium. Other logomancers create escapist paradises that are enjoyable but not particularly stimulating; Glenton wants to use his creations as an educational tool, recreating old myths and stories as interactive adventures that provoke thought and analysis.
- In "Edited For Content", Ardus' discussion of his novel is clearly a commentary on the writing process in general and the artistic motives of novelists. And though the parallel is never made explicit, it is distinctly possible the discussion applies to the writing of the game itself, as many of the tropes used or subverted in the game (such as In Medias Res and Infodump) are discussed rather extensively.
- Blizzard is a company in the world of Video Game/Overwatch that produced all of the other Blizzard games. D. Va is a champion StarCraft player, and Blizzard has an in-world amusement park which contains rides based on their other games.
- One of Venom's taunts in Spider-Man is him humming part of the famous opening of the original Spider-Man cartoon.
- After completing Eternal Darkness a couple of times, Alex will narrate in the ending that she feels as if a hole has opened in her mind and given her a glimpse of "a strong ally", but she can't figure out its identity; it's implied to be the player.
- Pit's first line in Kid Icarus: Uprising is "Sorry to keep you waiting!". He's talking to his superior the goddess Palutena but it also counts as pointing out the fact that the game came out 21 years after the previous game.
- In Puzzle & Dragon Z, when they reached the final stage of The Passage of Life, the Hero, Nick and Sara mention how they've gotten to the end of the dungeon. Sara says that at the end of a dungeon there's only one thing there could be. Prompting everyone to simultaneously shout out "BOSS BATTLE!"
- The Witness: The prize for completing a hidden, difficult-to-achieve reward is a lecture that talks about why hidden, difficult-to-achieve rewards shouldn't be the coolest part of a game. Naturally, the hidden achievement was one of the most talked about part of the game from players, because it was so cool (and the lecture was actually well-researched, too.)
- Most of the other shows involved in the crossover game Super Robot Wars V also have characters Spared by the Adaptation or otherwise better-off than they were in canon. Near the end of the game, almost everything that Black Noir has to say is some form of complaint about characters getting off easier than they were supposed to.
- In the game The 11th Hour, one of the characters, Samantha, has rigged a series of security cameras inside of Stauf Manor to keep an eye on the goings-on there. During the video where she's shown referencing her recordings, it's actually presented via captured footage of the game's predecessor, The 7th Guest, which is made obvious by a split-second appearance of the game's skeletal hand cursor.
- In Stellaris, one of the precursor civilizations you can investigate actually died because of this. The Vultaum attained an advanced society marked by a particular love for virtual reality games, until a philosophical movement formed that believed that "the entire universe was an artificial reality which all sentient beings had been unwittingly plugged into for the amusement of some higher power." The movement grew until at one point its adherents all committed mass suicide in an attempt to "disconnect" from this reality by overloading its system, and the Vultaum who didn't participate were too few to repopulate the species.
- The Legend Of Zelda Triforce Heroes has Mr. Tudor, who explains the game's Hero Tokens system. It serves as a reward for good online behaviour, but Tudor explains it in terms of not being like 'false heroes' who 'refuse to see things through'.
- Until Dawn pretends like it's Breaking the Fourth Wall by occasionally having a psychiatrist character appear and speak directly to the camera about how "you" are "playing your little game," making it seem like he's talking to the player of Until Dawn. It's eventually revealed that "you" is actually one of the characters in the game, and the "little game" he's referring to is the character's elaborate prank he's playing on his friends.
- In Splatoon 2, after the Chicken vs Egg" Splatfest Marina comments to one of Pearl's comments with "It's funny because we're all living in a simulation and free will is a lie." It refers to the fact they're in a video game, but also refers to the ideas that life is actually a simulation and that free will doesn't truly exist.
- The Dangan Ronpa franchise does this a fair amount, but nowhere is the fourth wall leaned on harder than Chapter 6 of New Dangan Ronpa V3 (WARNING: MASSIVE SPOILERS). The entire killing game turns out to have been staged as part of a TV show entitled Danganronpa, and the mastermind is effectively an Ascended Fangirl who's working with Team Danganronpa (a self-insert Expy of the game's real-life development team) to produce the show, which is currently in its 53rd season. The mastermind then displays comments being broadcast in by the audience, many of which resemble stereotypical internet comments such as "Danganronpa 25 was the best!" or "This is why I wish Kaede had survived!" It only gets more and more obvious as the ending goes on, with the fourth wall buckling under the weight; by the end, the killing game is only ended when Shuichi has Keebo use his link to the outside world to communicate directly with the audience and demand that they stop supporting the show in order to get Danganronpa taken off the air.
- This trope is used often in Ace Attorney. At one point in Trials and Tribulations, presenting Maya with Phoenix's profile prompts the pair into a conversation over Phoenix's strange anime style hair:
"I mean, you normally only see hair like that in video games."
- This is also played in the first game when Dick Gumshoe referees to his constant use of "pal":
"Hey! You can't just go around saying pal like that! That's my endearing character trait!"
- In Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney, if you select "Refresher course, please!" when Kristoph Gavin asks if you want a refresher on cross-examinations, Justice will think "Better safe than sorry, especially this early in the game!"
- In Investigations, upon meeting Lauren Paups for the first time, Kay comments on how she reminds her of a cartoon character. Although technically the games aren't cartoons, and you'll probably get yelled at by fans for calling the art style that of a cartoon, it's close enough.
- In Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Dual Destinies, there's a campaign going on to try and combat against false evidence and false charges in the legal system. This campaign includes at least two stuffed animal mascots, a elephant-judge called "Phony Phanty" and Rhino-lawyer called "Bum Rap Rhiny". This fact ends up strangely becoming important during the Juniper Wood's bombing trial, at which point Phoenix thinks to himself, "Who knew the legal world could inspire a whole line of merchandise?".
- This is also played in the first game when Dick Gumshoe referees to his constant use of "pal":
- Junior's "gamer talk" in Fleuret Blanc very obviously provides tongue-in-cheek hints on obscure gameplay mechanics (such as the Scoring Points), even if it's ostensibly about different games.
- Ciel and Kohaku in Kagetsu Tohya both complain about their popularity. Kohaku is obviously referring to Tsukihime and breaking the fourth wall. Ciel... well, she breaks it a minute or two later (by commenting that even if she isn't popular, at least her sprite lets her carry an item. Yay umbrella) but hasn't yet by that point and is really referring to the school government play thingy. Oh, and she also complains about how it was called off because they didn't want to make sprites or anything for all the adults in the play... Uh... Yea, it's that kind of game, except when it isn't.
- This line from Little Busters!, lampshading Kyousuke's role as the Big Brother Mentor:
Riki: This always happens. He suddenly appears, dispenses advice and vanishes, like a scene in a manga.
- Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors has the entire game world shown on both screens of the DS, with gameplay and novel pages being shown in the bottom screen while Junpei's view of the other characters in the game world being shown on top. It's even specifically drawn attention to in order to describe how Akane's psychic powers work. To her, she is seeing both her own viewpoint (the bottom screen, representing her present) and Junpei's (the top screen, representing her future) and is using information from the future to solve the puzzles and gathering information to save her own life as well as Junpei's.
Akane (In Narration): Perhaps you can think of it as 2 movies showing on the same screen, at the same time. Eventually, it becomes difficult to separate them, and determine which movie is which. However, if I concentrated, I was able to focus on one or the other. That was why I was able to grasp what was happening in front of me.''
- SOON: After getting the anti-robot bomb, that narration states "Things are getting intense. If only real life had save points or you would totally save right now..."
- Doki Doki Literature Club!, a harmless Dating Sim, features an entire conversation on the first day about books, eventually getting into topics like "stories with deep psychological elements," the horror genre (and eventually surreal horror specifically,) and how an author can take advantage of their audience's own lack of imagination to throw them for a loop. Three guesses what the real genre of this game is.
- Red vs. Blue:
- Near the end of Season 5, Church expresses irritation at the fact that "something dramatic happens exactly every five minutes" (which is the length of a typical episode).
- In Season 11, Lopez the robot gets asked about his creators (i.e., the other characters) and says, "You're going to want to sit down for this story. It's about twenty hours long and I only enjoy telling it in five-minute intervals."
- An early episode of Season 14 has Agent Florida, upon assembling everyone at Blood Gulch, muse that he could make the conflict last for fourteen seasons. When Vic asks what he means, he laughs it off and explains he means actual seasons.
- In Season 15, Vic claims that he's been cutting the footage of the Red and Blue Teams' time in Blood Gulch into five minute movies. Intrepid Reporter Dylan states that there are at least 100 of them.
- RWBY: Velvet is a one-off character who became such an instant hit with the fans that she was given a recurring role and a fan-designed uniform, but her weapon was kept deliberately secret during the design competition. When her team is finally introduced in battle in the Volume 2 finale, Velvet starts to reveal her weapon but is told by Coco to not waste it on the current fight because she's spent all semester working on it. It is a major tease for the audience, but turns out to have a valid in-universe reason for being so restricted in use. It's a camera that allows Velvet to fight with any huntsman weapon she's photographed. However, it's a one-shot use, and she has to take new photographs before she can use it battle a second time.
- Episode 6 of RWBY Chibi proceeds to break the fourth wall's legs when Pyrrha Nikos, who died at the end of Volume 3 of the main series, is alive and well here. When Ruby tries to explain what happened, Nora promptly stops her and tells her than Pyrrha is fine and "Nothing bad. Ever. Happens. Everrrrrrrrrrr.
- Neko the Kitty obliquely referring to his status as title character
- In this scene from College Roomies from Hell!!!, Roger isn't breaking the fourth wall, he's stoned out of his gourd on hallucinogenic blue mushrooms and talking to a Simpsons poster.
- In Something*Positive, Davan's furniture is in storage when Aubrey comes round. She says "Where's all your furniture? It's like we're in a comic and the cartoonist is too goddamn lazy to draw in the background like he usually does."
- In another strip PeeJee asks why everything seems to revolve around sex. Davan instantly replies "Bad writing", but he's not really listening, he's hating the novel he's reading.
- When Jason asks where comics characters go when their series is over, Aubrey suggests "the background of another, crappier, comic" and then they go on to discuss two characters S*P inherited from other webcomics. Aubrey says Helen (from Penny and Aggie) is a decent person, but "For some reason, people get angry when she's around". Helen's appearances in S*P always drew angry emails from some P&A fans who didn't like how S*P's author wrote her.
- Agents of the Realm has a moment when Kendall asks about local legends and Paige is about to drop a four-page-long Infodump:
Paige: This is going to be a hell of an exposition.
- Frivolesque has Suzie and Marianne, two background extras who tend to discuss things that lean strongly against the fourth wall whenever they get lines. Chloe also exhibits this behavior sometimes.
- Homestuck has this in Caliborn, who partially functions as a parody of the fans of the comic that criticize its glacial pacing. In a particularly slow part of the comic, while talking to Dirk, he points out the angst that the Alpha kids constantly have, wanting them to get on with the actual plot.
- Grrl Power
- Gunnerkrigg Court, page 499:
- Schlock Mercenary did this, especially early on, sometimes featuring an amusing Lampshade Hanging:
Schlock: I think [the chin] looks cool. Kinda heroic, like it belongs in a comic book or something.
Narrator: For the sake of the fourth wall, the chin's coming off.Kevyn: ...a conversion bomb. Just one of those will take out the kitesfear, the entire hellevator, and then severely, irreparably irradiate this side of Luna.Tagon: Tell me again why I'm not allowed to use profanity or obscenity right now?
- This page of Girly: "These dickweeds sure can't get enough of it, all this swirly pitch blackness..." "It's probably because it's so easy to draw... [next panel] our attention with it."
- The Order of the Stick:
- Tarquin (Genre Savvy already) calls out the readers when Thog turns out to be the arena champion.
Tarquin: It's weird no matter how many people he kills, the audience still thinks he's lovable.
- Two just-introduced characters have a conversation that's perfectly mundane within the story, but take a whole double meaning when you know that Veldrina is a cameo granted as reward for contributing to the kickstarter effort for the webcomic, and Wrecan is a posthumous cameo for a high-profile fan who'd passed away a few years earlier.
Veldrina: Can you believe I threw 5000 buck down just to get stuck here?!?
Wrecan: And it felt like it took two or three years to get this far!
Veldrina: That's money I could have spent on a new brooch. Or maybe a nice cameo.
- Tarquin (Genre Savvy already) calls out the readers when Thog turns out to be the arena champion.
- This strip of Wapsi Square starts with Conversational Troping between Shelly and Heather, and ends with Shelly asking who the audience is in this scenario while looking directly at the "camera."
- Discussed (sort of) in this Dinosaur Comics strip wherein God notices the fact that time passes in panels and mentions it, then when questioned about what he meant, insists that he doesn't know and neither should T-Rex.
- the Kitty occasionally talks to a pretend audience in-comic. In later strips he also appears outside of the comic panels to deliver an additional sign-off gag.
- In Question Duck, when the duck and main human character return with Wild Hair after Schedule Slip, another character asked where they had been. (This is only the third time in this strip that someone other than the duck has spoken.)
- Nadine in Demolition Squad does this from time to time, pointing out that she has completed the SAME year in school three or four times over, that she is an unrelated teenager below the age of majority freeloading at the principal characters' apartment for no clearly explained reason, that he would do well not to mention this is a job interview, that she has been wearing the same outfit for several years, and so on.
- Happens early on in I Was Kidnapped by Lesbian Pirates from Outer Space
Susie: Lesbian pirates from outer space! Psh! Sounds like a comic book to me. One that I'd definitely read.
- The punchline of XKCD #1054 depends entirely on you reading the speech bubbles instead of imagining them as spoken dialogue.
- In Life:
- Felicia is about to go live with her webcomic site when she realizes the comic doesn't have any color. Guess when the Life archive switches to full color?
- After the calculus final.
Felicia: Now I just have to wait until report cards to see how I did... when do they usually come out?
Madison: Two weeks from now, I think...
Felicia: Bleh... I wish I could just skip ahead two weeks...
Madison: That's a little...
[two weeks later!]
Felicia: I got a 76!
- In Misfile, Ash and Rumisiel have a very interesting exchange while shopping:
Ash: . . . Besides, I feel like I have to start being the protagonist in my own life story.
Rumisiel: You're screwed then. I'm totally the protagonist of our collective lives.
Ash: You are life's side character at best, and probably an antagonist.
- Dragon Ball Multiverse: At one time, Vegeta complains that his waiting after his first fight seems to him like two years. Guess how much real time had passed since the fight.
- El Goonish Shive
- In one strip, the characters are talking about shipping in general, and Elliot/Susan shippers in particular. As for why they'd be talking about people shipping themselves, Susan and Elliot have an in-universe movie review show, and they have pretty good on-screen chemistry to the point where many people in-universe assumed they were a couple.
- In another comic, after Elliot accidentally reveals information that he wasn't intending to due to jumping to conclusions, the strip immediately cuts to Tedd who appears to be calling him out on it despite being in a completely different location. However, it turns out he's just watching an old sitcom, and commenting on a similar mistake.
- During Grace's genderswap birthday party, after multiple strips in which Sarah's transformation is delayed, Ellen says there's going to be a riot if she doesn't transform soon ... referring of course to the others at the party, who can't order the pizza until everyone's transformed.
- In an impressive bit of Meta-fiction that leads back to This Very Wiki, Skin Horse has a scene where Sweetheart is reading the Ironic Echo Cut page, only to be interrupted with an Ironic Echo Cut.
- Erfworld in explanation for the magic discipline Turnamancy:
That was why the seemingly disparate acts of turning wheels and turning prisoners fell under the same kind of magic.
- Bad Machinery: In this strip, Shelley asks Lottie what happened over a period of a year when this title was on hiatus, and suggests that Lottie has been uncharacteristically inactive. Lottie responds with a list of events, some of which occurred in other comics set in the Bobbinsverse.
- At the end of the General Protection Fault storyline "Harry Barker and the Prisoner of Angband", Sharon tells Ki about her Harry Barker dreams and comments she wishes she had the creative skills to write them as fanfic since they might amuse some people. Ki replies "Or irritate a certain class of others." Darlington had previously noted in The Rant that these were the two reactions to the Harry Barker storylines. In the final panel, they're both looking straight at the reader as they discuss the copyright issues of Sharon publishing the dreams.
- In 'w'The Bird Feeder'' #182, "Celebrities," Terry claims one shouldn't look down on someone who treats fictional characters, especially those who appear in comics, as if they're real.
- Puck does this from time to time, with the line in question usually coming from Daphne
- Timmy occasionally notes that all the historical figures visited by The Time... Guys are played by the same actor.
- Nearly every episode of The Allen And Craig Show is about making that episode, and the characters consistently address the audience, camera guy, and the fact that they have very little money to produce the program.
- The 3rd RP of Darwin's Soldiers gives us this little quote:
Cpl. Thomas Stern: It's as if someone is watching us and giving us what we need in order to get through our problems. That's very odd. Too much like 'deus ex machina' for me.
- Done in an episode of Potter Puppet Pals where Harry says towards the end, "...leave a comment, or submit a video response. And remember to subscribe!" It is presumed he's saying it to the audience before the camera cuts to Ron and Hermione, who look very confused.
- In the final chapter of Sailor Nothing, one of the main villains gives a Breaking Speech that can be taken as him addressing either the characters or the audience.
- Survival of the Fittest: a common trend that appears at least once each version is to have a character rant at one of the cameras. While they're usually directed at the terrorists and/or the in-universe audience, a portion can also be interpreted as applying to the readers of the site themselves, in some examples being in a You Bastard context.
- In his Anime Abandon review of City Hunter: .357 Magnum, Bennett the Sage looks at the bottom-right corner of the frame to check how much time is left in the video when he realizes he's only thirty minutes into the source material.
- In Video Game High School, Brian Firenzi plays a high-school-age character but obviously looks much older. Near the end of season 3, another character tells him that he "looks like a thirty year old man" but he just laughs it off.
- TV Tropes:
- In Nan Quest, the Big Bad asks Nan "Do you have a single thought of your own making?" in the course of a Breaking Speech. Given that her every thought and action was dictated by the tgchan collective, well... no, she doesn't.
It was like he was living in a damn comic book.
- Parodied in Naruto: The Abridged Comedy Fandub Spoof Series Show at least twice. The Stinger of episode 5 has the Hokage going off on an extended rant about bridges, which really sounds like he's talking about the concept of The Abridged Series.
Hokage: Personally I don't see what's so important about a bridge. I mean, come on. First one guy makes a bridge, and everybody uses it, they're like "Ooh, look! A bridge! That's new!" So like, these other two guys make another bridge. It's kinda like the first one, but people use it anyway because the other guy is like "Oh, their bridge is pretty good too, check it out!" And then these three other guys are like "Oh, we're going to make the best bridge ever, we're going to combine our talents and be like 'Oh, look at our bridge, it's totally amazing, ooh!'" It's like, turns out really good, it's like the best out of all the other bridges. Everybody subscribes to it.Naruto: Subscribes to it?Hokage: I mean, uh, everybody crosses it. Because it's a bridge. Yeah. And before you know it, everybody and their mother is making a bridge. So there's a bridge... everywhere. Nobody even knows why they're making a bridge anymore. They just want people to cross it. They don't care where they're going. The first guy is like "I'm gonna go to conventions to promote my bridge!" It's like, it's just a bridge. It's not a big deal. Get over it.Naruto: What's he talking about?Kakashi: Apparently, bridges.
- At the beginning of episode 7, which was released around the time MasakoX left Naruto: The Abridged Series, Kakashi (just before collapsing from exhaustion from his battle with Zabuza) quotes MasakoX's leaving speech almost word for word. After he collapses, Naruto says this:
Naruto: Bowie-sensei! You can't leave! We need you! Who else is going to provide all the voices? (long pause) ...Of reason?
- Justice League
- The episode "Wild Cards" ends with Hawkgirl and Green Lantern kissing, resolving the UST that had developed between them since the first season. This is followed by the voiceover of an old woman saying "It's about time!" The camera cuts to show that this is the same old woman who has been playing a slot machine since the beginning of the episode, and she just hit the jackpot. Earlier in the episode, Joker announces that the League is being timed on how quickly they can defuse the bombs. A "digital clock" appears on screen and starts the clock ticking at 22:51, the typical run time of the show straight. He then comments "Oh, what were you expecting from me; a round number?" Later he looks at the clock and comments that there isn't a lot of time. Sure he's breaking the fourth wall on his Show Within a Show, but he's leaning on ours as well.
- Green Arrow makes an entrance where he sings along with his own theme song.
- South Park:
- The show has a funeral for Chef in-show, where Kyle seems to be discussing the out-of-show reasons why the late Isaac Hayes chose to leave the program. Kyle expresses his fondness for Chef, and it's clear that he's also expressing the writers' fondness for Hayes.
- The beginning of the 200th episode has Kyle and Cartman exchanging insults. Stan tells them to stop, saying "all you're doing is rehashing a bunch of old stuff!"
- The 201st episode had the boys saying that it was silly people would care more about knowing who Cartman's father is than showing Muhammad. He is in fact referring to the show's fanbase.
- The conclusion of the 232nd episode "Raising the Bar" depicts the characters lamenting the low standards they have for entertainment and style of living, while saying so they take full responsibility for Lowering the Bar themselves as a society, as a hand-wave to everyone saying the show has a low quality of humor.
- Episode 103, involving Joozian aliens who control all of television.
"You've made it to a hundred episodes, you should be proud!"
"Yeah, a show should never go past a hundred episodes, or else it starts to get stale with ridiculously stupid plotlines and settings."
- In Cartman's anti-Family Guy rant, he explicitly compares himself as a character in a comedy show to the writing of Family Guy, much to Kyle's confusion.
- In "Naughty Ninjas," it's mentioned that Officer Barbrady has been working as a cop for about twenty years, and "has been here longer than almost anyone." As a matter of fact, he was one of the few characters to appear in the very first episode, nineteen years before.
- In "Skank Hunt," the girls are discussing being harassed by the titular Internet Troll, and mention that they're sick of "taking the backseat" and being an "afterthought" in town. Over the course of the show, the girls usually range from being Out of Focus (Wendy, Bebe) to Living Props (pretty much everyone else).
- In "Members Only," the newly-elected Mr. Garrison mocks PC Principal and calls him the reason he became President, referencing accusations that the annoyances of SJWs and liberal elitism was what made moderates vote Donald Trump into office.
- In "Members Only," there are a few subtle references (such as a scene inside Tom's Rhinoplasty and the return of Sheila's catchphrase) meant to invoke a sense of nostalgia in the show's fans, which is ironic, considering that this season is all about is the dangers of unchecked nostalgia.
- In the Ultimate Spider-Man TV show, when Stan Lee's resident Author Avatar for the show hears Spidey's comment on how catchy Amazing Spider-Man (the original title for the comics in their earliest incarnation) sounds, he promptly writes it down, saying that it could be big. Then Spidey says that it would be less than spectacular. Not to mention The Reveal that Stan came up with the name S.H.I.E.L.D.
- In The Boondocks, Bushido Brown tells Huey, "Man, you come straight out of a comic strip" (a Shout-Out to a line from Enter the Dragon). He literally does.
Ebony: Robert, you'll be fine. Next week you'll have some crazy adventure with another woman. You won't even remember this little episode.
- This exchange from one of the final episodes of season 3, which was originally going to be the last season (Note that the use of the word "episode" is not meant in the context of a TV show):
Robert: I dunno. I'm not too sure I have many episodes left.
- Futurama pushes this as far as it can go in Bender's Big Score with the Fox...er, "Box Network". After being told that they have been uncancelled, Leela stands in front of a pile of ventilation machines and asks "but what does this mean for our many fans?" "It means we're back on the air! ... Yes! Flying on the air in our mighty spaceship!"
- In "Beast with a Billion Backs":
Amy: (just after the wedding) This is just like a movie with this happening in it.
Harold Zoid: I got a part in a fancy DVD-movie! It's only one line but I'm gonna ham it up like you wouldn't believe!
- The first ninety seconds of the Un-Cancelled series are overloaded with this:
Professor Farnsworth: We plunged into a massive wormhole, never to be seen again!
(they disappear through the wormhole, the ending of the fourth movie, then suddenly reappear)
Bender: Yeah, we're back.
Hermes: Sweet coincidence of Port-Au-Prince! We're back at Earth!
Professor Farnsworth: Of course! That was the Panama Wormhole, Earth's central channel for shipping!
Zoidberg: Heh-heh-heh-heh-heh. How humourous.
Professor Farnsworth: Yes, it's sort of a 'Comedy' central channel. And we're on it now!
Amy: (gasps) I get it!
- Leela has a wall-leanin' line at the end of the season six midseason premiere episode Neutopia when Planet Express is narrowly saved from going out of business by putting out a nude calendar of all their female employees.
Leela: Thank God most of our fans are huge perverts.
- In "Obsoletely Fabulous", after Bender discovers that his upgrade was All Just a Dream:
Bender: If that stuff wasn't real, how can I be sure anything is real? Is it not possible, nay, probable, that my whole life is just a product of my or someone else's imagination?
- In "Fear of a Bot Planet", when Bender needs to be rescued but the danger to Leela and Fry is extreme:
Fry: Well, what are we going to do?
Leela: I don't know, I don't know. It's not an easy decision. If only I had two or three minutes to think about it.
(The show then immediately cuts to a commercial break.)
- In "Beast with a Billion Backs":
- The Simpsons is surprisingly shy with these, perhaps because creator Matt Groening was adamant about the show maintaining its own reality and not resorting to fourth wall gags. Still, a few nods slip through.
Homer: It may be on a lousy network, but The Simpsons are on the air!
- In the first clip show, "So It's Come To This: A Simpsons Clip Show," Bart abruptly sets up a clip of an Itchy and Scratchy episode, which has nothing to do with what is being talked about. After it plays, Marge asks Bart why he brought that up. Bart replies, "It was an amusing episode....of our lives."
- In "So It's Come To This: A Simpsons Clip Show," Grandpa Simpson described comas as such: "It's like one of those TV shows where they show a bunch of clips from old episodes."
- In "Brawl in the Family" when they think the family is cured of its dysfunction, Lisa muses "Could this be an end to our series ... of events?"
- In "Mr. Plow", when the family watches the Mr. Plow commercial on a bad channel in the graveyard time slot.
Jay: And if you ever want to visit my show —
- In "The Blunder Years", they teased at showing a clip show when Homer briefly reminisces about jumping Springfield Gorge in "Bart the Daredevil", only for Lisa to say "No, Dad, everyone's sick of that memory!" and the episode to resume normally
- Let's put things into perspective, first: Jay Sherman, a character from The Critic, crosses over with The Simpsons in "A Star is Burns". The Critic has him host a Show Within a Show. Marge knew of Jay because of this show within another show. The result? This exchange at the end, where the family is bidding farewell to Jay:
Bart: Nah, we're not going to be doing that.
Dr. Hibbert: Well, I couldn't possibly solve this mystery. Can you? (points at camera)(beat, then camera pans to show that Hibbert is pointing at Chief Wiggum)Wiggum: Well, I'll give it a shot. I mean, it's my job, right?
- There's a list of all of the meta-references on The Simpsons at SNPP: http://www.snpp.com/guides/meta.html
- In The Simpsons Movie, Homer complains about paying money to see the Itchy and Scratchy movie when they could have seen the same stuff on TV for free, and declares everyone in the theater to be a huge sucker. Especially... *points at the camera* you!
- "Who Shot Mister Burns? Part I" ends with the following:
Marge: Oh, my. All this senseless violence. I don't understand its appeal.Bart: We don't expect you to, Mom.Lisa: If cartoons were meant for adults, they'd put them on in prime time.
- The "Treehouse of Horror X" segment "I Know What You Diddily-Iddily-Did" has a similar joke. After accidentally running over Ned Flanders, the Simpsons find the phrase "I Know What You Did!" written in blood everywhere they go, including on their front door. Lisa asks who saw them, and the camera slowly pans around the village, showing many characters looking suspicious, before finally ending on Homer pointing straight at the camera. Then the view changes to show he's pointing at Marge (who was in the car when Flanders was run over), who angrily tells him to stop it.
- In "Treehouse of Horror V", one of the tombstones from the opening sequence is for "Amusing Tombstones". This was the writers' way of showing that they were tired of coming up with ideas for humorous tombstone messages. Similar sequences had been used as introductions in all four previous "Treehouse of Horror" episodes, but have not been used since this episode.
- In "Barting Over", Lisa discovers a videotape showing Bart appearing in an advertisement when he was a baby. Bart says he doesn't remember doing a commercial... then, he takes out a Butterfinger bar and eats it.
- In "Krusty Gets Busted", when Marge finds Bart, Lisa, and Maggie watching "Itchy and Scratchy":
- In "Homer and Apu", as the family sit down to watch TV, Homer remarks "Everything wrapped up nicely. (checks his watch) Hmm, much quicker than usual." A subtle reference to the fact that the episode still had ten minutes of running time left.
- "The Springfield Files" uses the same joke, with a Framing Device featuring Leonard Nimoy As Himself telling the story to the viewers. Just over halfway into the episode, he makes a closing statement and says "Good night", followed by this exchange.
Squeaky-Voiced Teen: Uh, Mr. Nimoy, we have ten minutes left.Nimoy: (awkwardly): I see. Let me... just... go get something out of my car.(He leaves, followed by the sounds of rapid footsteps, a car door slamming, and a car driving off. Squeaky-Voiced Teen comes into view.)Squeaky-Voiced Teen: I don't think he's coming back.
- The final scene of "Blood Feud" has the family discussing the moral of the episode, eventually coming to the conclusion that there was no moral.
- Homer in "Mr. Lisa Goes to Washington":
Homer: Cartoons don't have any deep meaning. They're just stupid drawings that give you a cheap laugh. (stands up and his pants slip down, revealing his butt)
- In the episode "The Front", Roger Meyers Jr., talking about ''The Itchy & Scratchy Show'' to Bart and Lisa, says that often, to save time, animators will reuse the same background over and over again. As he says this, the three very obviously walk past the same background again and again. This technique is often used in The Simpsons in general.
- Happens in My Life as a Teenage Robot, when Tuck, convinced that he's indestructible, decides to drive turbo-charged tricycle down a nearly vertical ramp, over City Hall, and into a pool of sharks. Jenny insists she won't save him this time.
Jenny: This is your last chance to back down, Tuck.
Brad: Yeah, once you jump that shark the show's over.
- Family Guy does this ALL THE TIME, especially in earlier episodes where they would talk about being able to stay on their current network. One notable example occurs in "Seahorse Seashell Party". Meg has had enough of the crap the rest of her family has put her through over the years, and after giving Reason You Suck Speeches to Chris and Lois, she turns her attention to Peter, mentioning at one point that if anybody in the outside world saw how he treats Meg, he would be in jail by now.
- Ben 10: Alien Force has an example which combines this with Development Gagnote
Kevin: This is the stupidest show ever.
Ben: This isn't a good one to start with. It's not Sumo Slammers Classic; it's Sumo Slammers: Hero Generation! It's a sequel to the original series, but they kinda messed it up. It's set five years in the future and the bad guy is friends with the good guy.
- SpongeBob SquarePants
- Considering the length of the average episode...
Squidward: Why must every 11 minutes of my life be filled with misery?
- In one episode, SpongeBob hums a snatch of the show's ending theme, also occasionally used as background music.
- In the episode "Nature Pants" after SpongeBob leaves to live in nature, Sandy and Squidward make bets on how long he'll last.
Sandy: I'll give him a week.Squidward: I'll give him eleven minutes.
- Considering the length of the average episode...
- In one episode of Teen Titans the titans are Trapped in TV Land. At one point Robin yells at the in-cartoon TV viewers to not watch a show due to a villain modifying it. After a few moments of screaming, Raven says it isn't working, obviously. In the same episode, Cyborg mentions that they are in the first episode of the fourth season of the program they got trapped in. They were indeed on the first episode of the fourth season on their own series.
- An episode of Jimmy Two-Shoes has Jimmy saying "I'm glad everything worked out, 'cause usually 'bout this point in the story something goes really wrong." No points for guessing what happens next.
- Spider-Man: The Animated Series
"Take Over the World, Kingpin? Now you're starting to sound like a Saturday-Morning cartoon villain!"
- One episode had Peter say, "This is starting to sound like a bad comic book plot!" This was in reference to the show's adaptation of the much-reviled Clone Saga from the comics. The title of the episode was "I Really, Really Hate Clones."
- One of the episodes from the "Six Forgotten Warriors" arc has Spider-Man give us this wonderful line:
- Episode 19 of Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated ends with the producer of a reality show wondering if he could make a show about four kids and their talking dog driving around in a van solving mysteries; the gang immediately reject the concept as being unwatchable.
- Young Justice:
- In the eleventh episode Conner gets angry at M'Gann, when she's trying to help him with his daddy issues, and states that they "don't live in a fantasy world where all problems are solved in 30 minutes."
- Another episode has the first meeting of Aqualad, Superboy and Nightwing since Aqualad left the team. Superboy jokingly calls the situation a "regular reunion special."
- In the X-Men: Evolution episode "Spyke Cam", Evan is given a video camera to do a class project. When he tapes Kitty and Rogue having an argument, Rogue catches him, and threatens straight into the camera (and speaking directly to the viewer) that if she sees any video of her on the camera "They're gonna be calling you Spike-less."
- Hawkeye joins the Avengers in The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes! after helping foil the Leader's plan to turn everyone in the world into gamma-irritated monsters. Part of his foiling involved turning four infected Avengers back to their normal selves. The very next episode sees him having to free four Avengers (three of which had previously succumbed to gamma-powered transformations) from the clutches of the Masters of Evil. Once all the heroes reunite, Hawkeye remarks, "I'm not so sure I wanna be part of a team I have to rescue every week."
- On more than one occasion in Adventure Time, the Ice King has appeared to have the knowledge that there are people watching him. In "Beyond This Earthly Realm", He asked Finn if they could try to see beyond the TV to the people beyond. The Ice King then says it's just crazy Wizard talk. In "Reign of Gunters", when starting to talk about an Offscreen Battle, he then looks straight at the audience and teasingly says he can't say more.
- On Phineas and Ferb, Doofenshmirtz engages in Conversational Troping by comparing the misunderstanding between him and his daughter to a crazy sitcom. Then he says, "This isn't a sitcom, this is real life!" He and Perry then glance uncomfortably in the direction of the audience.
- Used once in Recess when Gretchen wins a NASA contest because of her essay, and thinks she's going to be going on the space shuttle. This comes to T.J.'s attention, who's life long dream is to go on one of those, so he puts her through "training". One part has her having to swing from a rope attached to the top of the swing set while a group of other kids throw dodgeballs at her, and she starts fooling around before they do, prompting T.J. to say this:
T.J.: Gretchen! You're an astronaut, not a cartoon character!
- The Powerpuff Girls' "Best Rainy Day Adventure Ever" has the girls spending a rainy afternoon in their bedroom playing Powerpuff Girls role-playing, narration and everything. Blossom fills the roles of a monster, Miss Bellum and Mojo Jojo while the Professor is cajoled into playing Bubbles.
- In the Invader Zim episode 'Hobo 13', while Zim and GIR are traveling to said planet, Zim starts humming a fast-paced version of his own theme song.
- In Kim Possible one episode involves Kim and Ron on the set of a tv show, with Ron asking why the male and female leads never actually start dating, and Kim replies that they keep it that way to maintain suspense.
- Another episode had Dr. Drakken watch TV and remark, "Just because she has your brain in your head doesn't mean you can't love her!", referring to a previous episode where Kim and Ron had a "Freaky Friday" Flip.
- Gravity Falls
- During The Teaser for "Little Dipper", after Gideon's latest rampage, Stan nonchalantly asks the twins if they want to finish the latest episode of Duck-tective. They oblige, and Mabel mentions that her "favorite part is the theme song". Cue actual theme song.
- At the end of the "Clay Day" segment of "Little Gift Shop of Horrors", Harry Claymore and the gang from the Mystery Shack watch Shimmery Twinkleheart fight off Claymore's monsters just offscreen:
Grunkle Stan: You were right, Mabel, stop motion is pure evil!
Soos: And probably really expensive.
Claymore: Incredibly expensive...
Soos: This is an impressive fight though, I'm glad we're facing towards it.
- After the cold open in "The Last Mablecorn", Dipper and Mabel find an old, cursed board game and decide it could take up the next 21 minutes of their time. They are then are called away for a family meeting and the episode's actual plot of Mabel dealing with a frustrating unicorn.
- "Dungeons, Dungeons and More Dungeons":
Stan: I'll have you know that Duck-tective has a big mystery element and a lot of humor that goes over kids' heads! (beat)
- Duck-tective resurfaces, this time as a way of commenting on Gravity Falls' sizable older fanbase.
Mabel: He had a twin brother all along? That's the big twist we've been waiting for?Grenda: What a rip-off!
- Later, when the characters finally settle down to watch Duck-tective's much-hyped Wham Episode, they're disappointed by its Twist Ending—substantially the same one Gravity Falls itself had used two episodes ago (with a bonus nod to the percentage of the fanbase who saw it coming.)
- There are a few examples in Pound Puppies (2010). One statement from "Taboo" involves Lucky's ability to be, well, lucky in placing puppies.
Cookie: Seriously, Luck, how do you do it? How do you always find the right dog for the right person right at the last minute when it looks like everything is going to fall apart?
- In Metalocalypse, "Dethmas" ends with Dr. Rockso and the band's collective mothers crashing Murderface's Christmas special and ruining it. Dick Knubbler steps in front of the camera and tells the cameraman that he should probably just go ahead and roll the credits. The Metalocalypse credits start rolling.
- My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic frequently has characters hum a portion of the theme tune or that of an older iteration. Which is to say nothing of Pinkie's behaviour which usually goes beyond this trope.
- In "Twilights Kingdom Part 1", Spike says he remembers the events of "Equestria Games" like it was yesterday. It was the previous episode.
- In "Slice of Life", Sweetie Belle comments that friendship problems get solved in about half an hour.
- In a What Could Have Been example, "Slice of Life" was going to have a scene where the pony version of Flash Sentry appears and asks Cranky Doodle Donkey why everypony seems to automatically hate Flash as soon as they meet him even though he has done nothing wrong. This references how several fans instantly disliked his human counterpart for being Twilight Sparkle's love interest, in spite of his kindness.
- The Simpsons/Family Guy Crossover is full of these.
[Peter and Homer are flying an old fighter plane, Peter guns down an enemy plane following them, both cheer]
Bob: [pops up in third seat] Yeah, we did it!
Homer: [points at Bob] What's he doing here?
Peter: Oh, we gotta carry him 'cause he can't fly on his own. We let that other guy try, and look what happened.
[Cuts to Cleveland flying a similar plane with front propeller on fire, plane goes into spinning nosedive]
Cleveland: Oh no, no, no, no, NO, NOOO! [his plane crashes and burns]
- In one episode of Samurai Jack, Jack prepared to battle Aku but the latter merely brushed off the idea of it being the final climatic battle.
Aku: Oh, put that thing away. We all know what's going to happen. You'll swing your sword at me, I'll fly away, and probably say something like, "I'll be back, samurai!" And then I'll flutter away over the horizon, and we won't see each other for about a week. And then, we'll do the same thing all over again.
- The clincher being when Jack assumes Aku is trying to play some kind of mind-game and attacks him anyway. The exact same scenario Aku described takes place, including the taunt of "I'll be back, Samurai!", and after a beat, Aku re-appears with a knowing, "You see?"
- The show's Grand Finale does this to great effect, as the episode begins with almost every major character Jack has met on his travels going to their televisions to see an announcement from Aku about "The End of Samurai Jack"...which starts with the opening narration sequence from the original 2001-2004 run.
- In the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2012) episode Into dimension X, Mikey thought of this when he wonders if someone is watching him and his brothers watch TV from another world .
Mikey: What if someone somewhere is watching us on TV right now? They'd be watching us watch TV on TV, bro.
- One episode of Ned's Newt has Newton look at a VCR box for the show and claiming that it would be impossible for Ned to carry out the Zany Scheme Newton was planning on at the time seeing as the episode was only fifteen minutes long.
- From the Animated Adaptation of Back to the Future:
Marty McFly: Is there a Tannen in every century?
- Wander over Yonder
- In the Christmas Episode "The Gift", Wander and Sylvia deliver presents to "everyone we've met over this past season…of our lives!"
- In the second season finale, Commander Peepers' reacts to Lord Hater's He's Back moment with:"Where has this guy been all season... of our lives!"
- In "The Cartoon", when Lord Hater sees his cartoon self becoming friends with Wander, he hastily tries to come up with a new ending. Then he gives up with a groan of "Animation is so hard! People who do this for a living deserve more credit and respect!" Cue awkward pause.
- Transformers: Rescue Bots takes place in the same universe as Transformers Prime, and thus Bumblebee is the Intelligible Unintelligible in both series. Until the season 4 episode "Uninvited Guest", in which Bumblebee now speaks with his Transformers: Robots in Disguise voice after having his voice box fixed. Blades struggles to accept the change, just like some of the viewers might.
- Steven Universe:
- In "Know Your Fusion", Pearl tells Garnet to ask what Steven and Amethyst are up to, and Garnet says "I can't." This is actually an In-Joke alluding to one of the rules the writers have for themselves: Garnet never asks questions.
- Later, Sardonyx turns her room into a talk show, including a studio audience she addresses as if they were the real life audience of Steven Universe. This includes acknowledging that Sugilite isn't really in "this episode", but asks if they still need to pay "her [voice actor]". Which is later followed by a joke that actually breaks the fourth wall, in which she shows clips from previous episodes that are outright labeled "Courtesy of Cartoon Network."
- One short has Steven doing a live reaction to a new episode of "Crying Breakfast Friends". The end of the short has Steven remark that he'll see his viewers for the next episode, "Whenever that is, am I right?" before winking repeatedly: a reference to Steven Universe's own sporadic schedule.
- At the climax of the Cold Slither episode of G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero, the fans at the concert seem upset and rowdy because the band isn't there. (Because the Joes foiled their Evil Plan and drove them away, but the fans don't know that) so the Joes put on their own show, singing the theme song.
- The trailer and first episode of DuckTales (2017) is full of this, with comments about how Scrooge McDuck "used to be a big deal" spurring Scrooge into leaving retirement and going back into adventuring.
Scrooge: I'm back!