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 even if they can't pull it off, it's usually good for a bit of comedy.
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.
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!
Fairly early in the Mahou Sensei Negima! 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!"
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 Hotsprings 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 Negiare 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 in Naruto, the title character is described as being the sort of person who could never be the main character of anything. They are, of course, absolutely wrong.
Also, 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 determinatorwhose 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 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.
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 ShowKujibiki Unbalance, which is doing a graduation story at the same time.
"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: 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?!
Happens in episode 9 of Darker Than Black: Ryuusei no Gemini: 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!"
The last words spoken during the anime version of Death Note 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.
The English dub of Suzumiya Haruhi 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.
An episode of Pokémon 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.
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.
The third season of the Shin-chanGag 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.
There are two cases in the dub version of Yu-Gi-Oh! 5Ds 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.)
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.
Also "I'm not a Republic serial villain..." (which becomes ridiculously meta in the movie: "I'm not a comic book villain")
One famous scene in Young Justice 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.
Young Justice loved to play around with this trope. 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.
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?"
FoxTrot does this occasionally, usually to make comments about his own writing/drawing process. One example is a strip that was released around the time that Star Wars Episode I 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.
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.
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.
The Flash (Vol 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.
In Forever Evil: Arkham War #2, Gordon tells Pierce that he and Bullock call end of the world scenarios "Apocalypse Wednesdays" because they seemed to occur weekly.
In The Flash Annual #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 of guilt for not saving 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. Wally has since been reintroduced, but is significantly younger and isn't married, nor does he have two kids.
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 is 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 Reboot. 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.
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.
Phoenix makes an off-hand comment about one of his world's Show Within a ShowThe 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 thought process eventually goes into:
"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 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.
In 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 say show Character Development to spice it up.
In Pokeumans, Brandon's fight with Zeke the Charizard is going badly, not helped by being fought in a rom 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".
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.
Holden delivers a monologue about becoming tired of writing Bluntman and Chronic comics. ("I mean, you gotta grow, man.") During the speech, he indicates that he knows that Silent Bob, played by writer/director Kevin Smith, knows what he's talking about.
Holden: "Think about it. A Jay and Silent Bob movie? Who'd pay to see that?"
Jay: *wink at camera*
Bob: *whole thumb-up and grin at camera*
As they break into the movie studio, they run onto the set of Good Will Hunting 2: Hunting Season; and get to stand around as extras during filming, only for Ben Affleck to comment that this was the sort of movie you did because you're friends with the director, with a nod to the camera.
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."
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.
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."
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 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.
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 Danny Kaye 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 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."
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:
Woman: Mrs. O'Connell, is it true that the Scarlet O' Kiefe character is based on you? Evey: No. I can honestly say she is a completely different person.
Superman's "What do you think?" at the end of the second trailer for Man of Steel seems aimed at the audience as well as Lois.
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!
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 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.
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.
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".
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.
The Doctor WhoEighth 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.
"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.'"
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.)
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 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 habbit of not simply writing down the story he is telling, but constantly interrupting it and adressing 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 adressing his Zamonian readers and not the real world readers.
In Jack Campbell's The Lost Fleet novel Invicible, Geary muses about the unrealistic cover that would probably be put on books about his life. He describes the covers the series actually got.
"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.
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?"
Live Action TV
Several instances from 30 Rock, but one of the best occurs in the Season 6 episode "Grandmentor", where 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!"
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. Cue the following bit of dialogue:
Norm: She left halfway through the Godzilla series.
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.
JD: 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 had J.D. imagine that his life was a sitcom, which turns out to be a more clichéd one with a Laugh Track. Yet another episode featured a Clip Show in which J.D. remarks that his memories are coming back to him like on a TV show.
Yet another episode combined 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 appeared in the fantasy segments, Oscar the Grouch was 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, who 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...
In the fifth season of the new 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).
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 "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 "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 "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!" An unsubtle nod 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.
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.
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 the episode "Asylum of the Daleks", the Doctor says "it's Christmas!" to the Daleks. Immediately after this line, Jenna-Louise Coleman appears as Oswin even though fans had been told she wouldn't debut as the new companion... until Christmas.
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".
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".
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."
When Colin Baker first took over as the Sixth Doctor, his first story ended with a challenge to companion Peri that was 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."
Note that "iPlayer" refers to the The BBC's online service for watching episodes of BBC TV shows online, including Doctor Who. The Eleventh Doctor's final episode, "The Time of the Doctor", gives us this exchange between Clara Osward and Matt Smith's Doctor:
The Doctor: You can't keep using the TARDIS like this. Clara: (carrying uncooked bird) Like what? The Doctor: Missed birthdays, restaurant bookings. And please, just learn how to use iPlayer.
"The Time of the Doctor" also gives us this gem, with the 11th Doctor/Matt Smith leaning 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 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 telling the Time Lords that the Doctor's name is not "Doctor Who" but the Doctor, and that if they love him they should help him prevent his end.
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.
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 was directed towards us, the viewers.
The sitcom Yes Dear had 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." And then they keep turning and look back at the direction of the audience, while wondering.
In the Monk 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.
iCarly: 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 was about a man who is "erased" by a Government Conspiracy, sees a TV show about a man who was "erased" by a Government Conspiracy that was made by the 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 his memories and his entire life are a simulation.
In a final season episode of Frasier, children's entertainer Nanette Guzman asks the titular doctor "Do you have any idea what it's like to play the same character for twenty years?"
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.
George: HBO? 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.
Near the end of "Ship in a Bottle", Picard, just short of smirking, muses about their reality:
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 contemplative
Barclay: "Computer... End Program?"
In another episode, Deanna remarked about how the ship's constant malfunctioning could be seen as humorous from an outside perspective, were someone watching.
Deanna: "In another time and place, this could be funny..."
The final line of the fourth season finale 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.
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 Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episode "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.
A similar scene was considered for the last scene of the episode "Little Green Men" in which 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 an 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.
A similar framing device is used in Rules of Engagement, where various characters are testifying at a extradition hearing. The testimonies are given directly at camera.
The Stargate SG-1 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.)
Martin: I'm talking about a twist; something nobody's expecting! 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.
Also 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.
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.
Also in Angel, 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?"
"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 a 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: [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 "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.
The title character of Chuck thanks Casey for saving his life "at least once a week".
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?
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, the 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 had Jarod, the pretender of the title, 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".
That Will and 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.
In the episode 'Heeeeeere's Lassie', Shawn says "I think this is just a case of your imagination getting the best of you. Happens to Gus and I once every seven days."
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 SavvyMeta 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 it in the second-to-last episode of Season 5, where he seemingly tried 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 went 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 was 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.
Crowley does this again with Castiel when he mentions that Cas is the angel of Thursday and today wasn'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 Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip, Danny Tripp and Jordan Mc Deere discussing both 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.
An episode of Star Trek: Voyager 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 the Firefly episode "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?"
Fridge Logic: please note that, from Wash's perspective, the conversation looked a lot like this:
Walsh: "You're saying she's psychic? That sounds like something from Science Fiction."
Zoe: "We're truckers, dear."
On the other hand, Firefly is set in the future of the real world, so we can assume science fiction about spaceships exists... it's just out of date.
Or someone saying "we're having this conversation from different countries over a globally linked information network".
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 Simon had previously endangered Kaylee's life by delaying treatment of her wound until Mal got him safely away from the Alliance, and Mal threatened to throw him out of the airlock if Kaylee didn't survive. 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.
Simon: That man is psychotic! (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.
Shonda Rhimes definitely knew what she was doing with this line from the Grey's Anatomy season 8 finale:
Cristina: I don't know how this keeps happening! We keep dying we're in a plane crash, Mer, like right now!
And 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.
In an episode of Smallville 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."
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."
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 had a habit of doing this more and more as the series went 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 another episode, one of the lawyers was so ecstatic at being re-hired by the firm, that he burst into song. The song? The Boston Legaltheme song. His performance was 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 celphone.
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.
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.
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 said 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 opionion 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 restaraunt 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.
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 Uncancelled.
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.
In Raising Hope, 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 Chloris Leachman.
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?
Ward: Strategic Homeland Intervention Enforcement and Logistics Division.
Coulson: And what does that tell you?
Ward: That someone really wanted our initials to spell "SHIELD."
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 Peggy 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 , 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.
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.
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."
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." He thinks Edge is a smart guy. "Marrying the boss to get ahead in the business? That's genius!" Throw in his partner-in-crimeShawn 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 Sean Coulthard.
When he isn't leaning on the wall, CM Punk is often cheerfully (or angrily) booting it down.
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 bydirector Nicholas Briggs himself) tells him to emote more.
Also from that adventure:
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?
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:
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?
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.
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. [...]
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": "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 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!
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.
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.
"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?"
Repeated word for word in the adventure mode in Super Smash Bros. Brawl where after what is probably a few hours of play time in Subspace Emissary, Snake pops out of his cardboard box and says the line directly to the camera 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 in the entire game.
In Metal Gear Solid 3, 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?"
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. 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.
Naomi gives a similar lecture to Snake's MGS2 lecture in Metal Gear Solid 4, 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.
"We've gotta shake off that MGS! We've got an MGS on our asses!"
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.
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 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.
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!"
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.
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.
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 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.
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?
GLaDOS: And we're out of beta. We're releasing on time.
In the sequel, a few of Wheatley's lines.
Wheatley: We can go anywhere! No rail to tell us where we can go! Now where do we go? ...Actually, just follow the rail.
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, your big Luma friend 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 him humming the theme tune in Super Mario 3D Land.
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 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.
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."
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 patientwill agree?"
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 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.
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.
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.
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!
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 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. Kulkumatzalso asks "What was that sound?" when he joins.
Ember does this in the Spyro the Dragon game, 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 seem him again, and that she disappears from the game after you cross the bridge.
The Disgaea series does this fairly regularly. For example, an optional conversation from the first game:
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.
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?
Hell, it's about time.
In Heart of the Swarm, when breaking into a lab, Kerrigan notes how heavily fortified it is and comments, "Just getting inside will be an achievement." Sure enough, the achievement for completing the ensuing mission is named, "Just Getting Inside".
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 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.
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.
In the third Splinter Cell game, Lambert warns sam that the ship he's sneaking aboard has an alarm system:
Sam: So three alarms and the mission is over?
Lambert: Of course not, this isn't a video game, Fisher.
This is a reference to the previous two Splinter Cell games, in which triggering three alarms in one mission would indeed cause you to fail that mission.
Criminal: Arkham City's worse than the old one. I should get a refund.
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 1: So what happens now?
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.
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:
"Bats! You don't seem to be coming to the theater, and I would hate for you to go onto the internet and look for spoilers!"
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.
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 COM Ps 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..."
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 Exposition Dump) are discussed rather extensively.
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.
Tarquin: It's weird no matter how many people he kills, the audience still thinks he's lovable.
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 thisDinosaur 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.
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.
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:
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.
In an El Goonish Shivestrip, 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.
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.
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.
Near the end of Season 5 of Red vs. Blue, Church expresses irritation at the fact that "something dramatic happens exactly every five minutes" (which is the length of a typical episode).
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.
The Justice League 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.
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 232th 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.
"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 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.
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):
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.
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 new 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!
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?
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. In the first 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 the same episode, Grampa Simpsons described comas as such: "It's like one of those TV shows where they show a bunch of clips from old episodes."
And when they think the family is cured of its dysfunction, Lisa muses "Could this be an end to our series ... of events?"
When the family watches the "Mr. Plow commercial" on a bad channel in the graveyard time slot.
Homer: It may be on a lousy network, but The Simpsons are on the air!
In one episode, they teased at showing a clip show when Homer briefly reminisces about jumping Springfield Gorge, 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. 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:
Jay: And if you ever want to visit my show — Bart: Nah, we're not going to be doing that.
In The 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!
Part 1 of Who Shot Mister Burns? ends with the following:
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: "I guess I'll give it a shot. I mean, it's my job, right?"
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.
And in "Not Normal", when Spongebob visits Squidward's house, he tells Squidward that he doesn't wear pants.
In one episode, Spongebob hums a snatch of one of the show's stock background tunes.
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.
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.
An episode of the 1990's Spider-Man cartoon had him 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:
"Take Over the World, Kingpin? Now you're starting to sound like a Saturday-Morning cartoon villain!"
Over in The Spectacular Spider-Man, Doc Ock has tired of the You Fight Like a Cow quips and asks Spider-Man why he won't just shut up already. Spidey smartasses back that his fans "expect a certain amount of quippage every battle."
In the eleventh episode of 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.
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 attatched 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.
The Gravity Falls episode "Little Dipper" during the Cold Open. 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.
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.
The Simpsons/Family Guy Crossoverclip from Comic-Con 2014 is full of these.