"Give me a Black and White and water," he heard the waitress say, and Wayne should have pricked up his ears at that. That particular drink wasn't for any ordinary person. That drink was for the person who had created all Wayne's misery to date, who could kill him or make him a millionaire or send him back to prison or do whatever he damn well pleased with Wayne. That drink was for me.
The Narrator in the Gag DubAxis Powers Hetalia is most definitely this. She has a sweet, kindergarten-teacher-voice that drops a Cluster F-Bomb at some point, and at another actually drops the narrative to tell a joke about talking muffins.
Narrator:(Referring to the historical notes that pop up on the screen) By the way, you'll probably wanna pause the video if you actually wanna read all of this.
When relating the story of the Anglo-Japanese Alliance, she narrated in a Valley Girl manner in a Lampshade Hanging of how much the Hetalia interpretation came off as a schoolyard spat.
Narrator: Is this the third grade or geopolitical allegory, for reals y'all!
Baka to Test to Shoukanjuu has a bizarre sarcastic narrator already, but what makes it stand out is that partway through, Class F's teacher becomes the narrator, and the old narrator becomes their teacher. This is explicitly pointed out, and remains as such for the rest of the show.
Bobobo-bo Bo-bobo's narrator constantly breaks the fourth wall and interacts with the characters. In the final episode, he complains about how he never got a chance to be on the screen. He also apparently lives with his grandmother.
Keaton Yamada, the narrator of Chibi Maruko-chan. He frequently expresses his opinions about the characters' actions and goes on diversions about stuff. He especially targets Maruko and her doting grandfather for his asides, criticizing them for foolish behavior and thoughts. He makes a cameo in one episode in the original anime series where he actually speaks to the characters face to face, keeping up with his comments; the main characters also fire back.
The narrator of Desert Punk sometimes lapses into an fairly acerbic form of this, usually in response to the underwhelming behavior of the characters in the show.
The FUNimation dub cranks this up to eleven with a narrator who actively hates the show and only does this to cover his gambling debts, and throws in Lemony subtitles, the writer of which is apparently a separate character from the narrator.
In one episode the narrator quits and is replaced by a British woman who doesn't know what's going on and spends most of the unusually dramatic episode complaining about how she was told this was a madcap comedy. She then quits, and the old guy comes back out of guilt.
The narrator in One Piece normally remains pretty objective, but when Luffy, Zoro, Chopper, and Robin all head off in different directions, and only Robin going in the right one, despite having clear directions to go in a straight line, even he gives up on them.
Ookami-san's narrator amuses herself by insulting the characters — especially Ryoko and Ringo, the two she mocks most frequently for being flat-chested — though the others ignore her. In episode 4, she even cuts off the opening narration with a comment that she's not going to bother telling us the exposition again.
The official English translation notes to Pani Poni Dash! are very lemony. At one point when two of the characters are about to disarm a bomb and spout out its censored components, the translation team pops in a note to explain that while they could tell us the full name of the components, quote, "no way are we going to teach a bunch of otaku how to make bombs" and further suggest that the viewer will "have to learn this stuff on the internet, like everybody else".
The translation notes for Excel♥Saga were licensed by the same people as that of Pani Poni Dash, and it's narrated similarly.
Pokémon: Not during the main anime so much, but he does during Pokémon Chronicles and such.
Drosselmeyer from Princess Tutu is an unusual case since he is an actual character in the show whose special ability to bring stories to life means in addition to being the narrator of the story he is also able to manipulate events in it.
The narrator of Samurai Pizza Cats definitely belongs here. He kicks off every episode with a fourth-wall break, has been the victim of a kidnap-the-narrator's-family plot by the Big Bad, the works.
The temperature had dropped dramatically. It was as if Japan had decided to skip the season of fall, and was making up for lost time. Hey, Siberian Cold Front! I know you have an annual route to keep, but couldn't you miss us just this once?
The narrator of Space Dandy does this in pretty much all of his appearances. He mocks the characters of the show ("Drowning in the introspection he couldn't even spell..."), refers to his own position as narrator, and has his own personality, preferring to narrate about things like "breastaurants" rather than the actual plot.
Many of the things that happen to Dandy and crew usually end up happening to the narrator as well, such as having to deal with alternate-universe versions of himself or becoming a zombie.
Senran Kagura's anime adaptation didn't play this trope in it's Japanese dub for it's narrator, but the english dub does this trope.
Jhonen Vasquez is a notable one. He interrupted his comics frequently (and at very inappropriate times) to make little 'commentaries' on what was happening.
"In case you haven't noticed already, I'm just drawing clouds as a background. It's so easy! And fast! I'm so freaking lazy! You know, I think all of my backgrounds will be clouds now!! No matter what! If I'm drawing an underground cave, there'll just be clouds! Bi-monthly here I come!!! :-D"
Nextwave. It even crops up when the team make a blatant cameo appearance in other series, with the accompanying caption done in the series' style.
Not only is the narrator a character in the story in her own right, it can be argued that she is the only character. As the fic is actually supposed to be an in-universe academic essay, other than the glimpses of history that can be gleamed from quotes and sources she cites, Equestria's history is mostly seen through her eyes. It's through her tremendous leaps in logic and her conspiracy addled mind that the story turns a supposedly dry essay into a thrillride of laughter and ridiculousness.
In Total Drama Island, by Gilbert and Sullivan, the "just the facts" character of the episode summaries doesn't preclude drollery. For example, a certain summary doesn't just say, "Bridgette alarms a family of skunks and gets sprayed." Instead, it says, "Bridgette alarms a family of skunks and pays the customary penalty."
The fanfic Those Lacking Spines has fun with this. A good example would be the second time we meet Mansex, and the narrator gets so tired of saying "dark" and "black" that he substitutes every such instance with some other colorful description.
...he thought pinkly.
The narrator in Marie D Suesse And The Mystery New Pirate Age!, so very much. He even starts off with a Snicket Warning Label, and follows up saying that a normal narrator would have started this story by launching into a detailed description of the main character before noting that they really can't be bothered with descriptions at that stage because it was not important and how they would rather provide a picture of the OC if it was. The end of the story strongly implies that the narrator is The Disinfector, also known as Trafalgar Law, or at least the part of Law's consciousness that remembers Mar and everything that happened.
Flynn/Eugene: But I know what the big question is? Did Rapunzel and I ever get married? Well I am happy to say after years and years of asking, I finally said yes. Rapunzel: Eugene! Flynn/Eugene: Okay, okay. I asked her.
Kuzco[voiceover]: So this is where you came in. See, just like I said, I'm the victim here! I didn't do anything, and they ruined my life and took everything I had.
Kuzco: Hey, give it a rest up there, will ya?
Kuzco[voiceover]: What? I'm just telling them what happened.
Kuzco: Who are you kidding, pal? They saw the whole thing. They know what happened.
Kuzco[voiceover]: Well, yeah, but... but...
Kuzco: Just leave me alone.
Films — Live-Action
In the silent film era in Japan, there was less use of in-theater music and interstitial text frames to make up for the lack of dialogue as compared to the films being produced at the same time in the West. Instead, in-theater narrators, called benshi, would fill in the dialogue and would also comment on the action—and they could get as lemony about it as they pleased. Exceptionally skilled and popular benshi were as famous as the actors in the films they narrated. As a result, silent films in Japan remained popular for a surprisingly long time. The rise of the military junta, and the corresponding rise in censorship, lead to talkies being officially favored over benshi, as the government feared the propagandist potential of lemony benshi.
The cowboy narrating The Big Lebowski, who never seems to understand that this is not a western movie.
The narrator of Kung Pow! - whom we later find out is a character in the movie.
Narrator: <freeze frame of an extreme close up of a claw> "Okay. Here I had two options. A: Turn sideways, dodge the claw, and hit him with a spinning back kick, or B: Get hit by the claw, roll on the ground, and die."
<Narrator gets hit by the claw>
Narrator: "Hmmm. Should have gone with A."
Harry Lockheart, narrator and protagonist of Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, frequently breaks the fourth wall and pokes fun at the plot and his own narration style:
Anyway, by now you may wonder how I wound up here. Or, maybe not. Maybe you wonder how silly putty picks shit up from comic books. The point is, I don't see another goddamn narrator, so pipe down.
I tell him about destiny; he's shaking his head. About dreamgirls; he doesn't care. I mention the underwear thing? He has a *fucking conniption*. And you? How 'bout it, filmgoer? Have you solved the case of the - the dead people in L.A.? Times Square audiences, please don't shout at the screen, and stop picking at that, it'll just get worse.
Narrator: When they arrived at Ape Mountain, they reacted with awe!
Narrator: No, I said awe. A-W-E.
Narrator: That's better.
Later on, one of the villains has to tell his sidekick not to bicker with the narrator. They fight anyway, and the narrator wins by fast-forwarding past his rant and mocking him.
The narrator continues in the same way in the sequel, but reaches a whole new level when in retaliation for Lyle calling him "annoying", the narrator reaches down with a huge animated hand (ala Monty Python) and carries him off into the sky. He then asks the rest of the cast if they have complaints. They all quickly say no.
Moonrise Kingdom has a non-sarcastic example in the "Narrator." He narrates certain portions of the film, usually giving critical information, and usually isn't seen with other characters (except for one plot-crucial scene where he gives information to the other characters on how to find the protagonists of the film, two runaway kids). All his dialogue is ambiguous: he appears to be on the setting's island to shoot a weather report for a news station, but he might as well be directly talking to the audience with exposition and looking right into the camera.
All About Eve is partially narrated by Addison DeWitt, a Deadpan Snarker who has a rather low opinion of the other principal characters, and of humanity in general.
The Rocky Horror Picture Show has the Criminologist, who even explains the dance steps for "The Time Warp". "It's just a jump to the left—" The viewer could easily get the feeling the Criminologist wishes he were physically present for the insanity he's narrating.
Santa Claus, where the narrator actively involves himself in the plot.
Stranger Than Fiction features an in-universe example of the Lemony Narrator in the form of author Karen Eiffel, who is the author (and, therefore, narrator) of the book starring Harold Crick. Unusually for this trope, it's a female instead of a male, although the British accent is still there.
How the Grinch Stole Christmas! (the live-action version) features Anthony Hopkins as the narrator, and he usually remains objective. A notable exception is when the Grinch tells him to be quiet during a "sneaking" scene, and he responds by whispering the narration.
The grandfather in The Princess Bride. Even though he's only reading a book to his grandson, he does provide commentary, clarifications, and lampshades on occasion.
The Butcher Boy does this. The narrator is the title character as an adult, and while telling the story he often converses with the protagonist either for fun or to help him come to an important conclusion. At other times, the narrator seems as surprised at the development of the plot as if he were seeing it for the first time.
"And, the Francie Brady Not A Bad Bastard Award goes to... by God, I think it's Francie Brady!"
Ricky Jay in Magnolia. Notably, he mostly only narrates the opening sequence (made up of seemingly-unrelated stories about coincidence that actually set up the movie's theme) and the trailer.
Every Werner Herzog documentary features him philosophizing or sharing his thoughts and judgments about the subject in question, whether lamenting the naive idealism of Tim Treadwell in Grizzly Man or giving an impromptu art review of the prehistoric cave paintings in Cave Of Forgotten Dreams. This narration becomes even more exaggerated when he goes Adam Westing for roles such as his part in the third season premier of The Boondocks.
The opening narration of Ted starts out like a typical family feel-good movie but goes off the rails rather spectacularly within minutes. During the ending narration, the narrator pauses to mockSuperman Returns.
Narrator: Now if there's one thing you can be sure of, it's that nothing is more powerful than a young boy's wish. (beat) Except an Apache Helicopter. An Apache Helicopter has machine guns and missiles. It is an unbelievably impressive compliment of weaponry. An absolute death machine.
Joe Gillis from Sunset Boulevard is a particularly cynical example, probably because he's dead. As an early example, his voiceover when the homicide squad find his corpse floating in a pool goes like so:
The poor dope - he always wanted a pool. Well, in the end, he got himself a pool.
Douglas Adams' narration of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. Notably, the style used by the narrator, with frequent asides about something only vaguely relevant on a planet that never gets mentioned again, is identical to the idiosyncratic style of the fictional guidebook itself, which is understandable, since in the radio series the Guide was the narrator.
Sometimes the guide seems like it's trying to be unbiased (if a little eccentric), until there's an entry like the one on the Sirius Cybernetics Marketing Division describing them as:
"a bunch of mindless jerks who will be the first against the wall when the revolution comes"
And other times, the tone almost seems professional until you come across an entry along the lines of:
"Space is big. You just won't believe how vastly, mind-bogglingly huge it is. I mean, you may think it's a long way down the road to the chemist, but that's just peanuts to space. Listen - " (Apparently it goes on like that for a while.)
Adams uses narration style similar to that of Hitchhiker's Guide when narrating Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency, frequently making odd references to things that seem either irrelevant or that don't even exist in our world. In a brilliant subversion, every single little idiosyncrasy turns out to be central to the main plot. Only Adams never makes this explicit and leaves it to the reader to figure it out.
L. M. Montgomery, particularly in the Anne of Green Gables series. Her narration provides as much of the story's humor as the characters and events, particularly her descriptions of various people and/or their inner thoughts. For example, just from the first chapter:
Mrs. Rachel felt that she had received a severe mental jolt. She thought in exclamation points. A boy! Marilla and Matthew Cuthbert of all people adopting a boy! From an orphan asylum! Well, the world was certainly turning upside down! She would be surprised at nothing after this! Nothing!
Well, we're not getting a girl," said Marilla, as if poisoning wells were a purely feminine accomplishment and not to be dreaded in the case of a boy.
Charles Dickens is a strong example, with his wry descriptions of events and Author Filibusters on whatever topic he's targeted for his commentary. The reader never forgets exactly who is telling this story.
C. S. Lewis narrates in a half-goofy first-person manner in most of The Chronicles of Narnia books, contributing to the Literary Agent Hypothesis. He often turns aside from the story to opinionate, explain context, or say something directly to the reader. In one passage of The Voyage of the Dawn Treader he mentions that he has left out all the sailors' swearing.
The Lord of the Rings and retroactively The Hobbit are said to be translations from the (in-universe) Red Book. And notably, the first edition to LOTR had a preface (later removed) according to which Tolkien "adhered more closely to the actual words and narrative" of the original than in The Hobbit. So the lemony wasn't in Bilbo's account, but in Tolkien's translation!note Though the preface also states that Bilbo's own narration had its own share of problems and was a lemony of a different kind: he "was not assiduous, nor an orderly narrator, and his account is involved and discursive, and sometimes confused".
Susannah Clarke, in Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, is not afraid to interject, true to the 19th-century style, with commentary on the characters and their actions.
"It is true that his hair had a reddish tinge, and as we all know, a man with red hair cannot truly be said to be handsome."
Kurt Vonnegut did this in many books, including Slaughterhouse-Five and Breakfast of Champions. He sometimes outright states that he — Kurt Vonnegut, the author — is the narrator. In the case of Slaughterhouse-Five this is justified by its having been partly based (time travel and aliens aside) on his own World War II experiences.
Jane Austen does this from time to time. It's particularly marked in Northanger Abbey where she starts by cheerfully pointing out all the ways Catherine Morland doesn't match the stereotype of "a heroine." There is also the part later in the first volume where upon mentioning that Catherine and Isabella Thorpe enjoyed novels, she embarks upon a tangent about how novelists are oh-so-oppressed by both critics and audiences who refuse to recognize them as serious literature.
The segments narrated by the title character in The Bartimaeus Trilogy trilogy are strewn with his (sarcastic) opinions on the matters at hand, as well as many other subjects. These often lead to several footnotes to make sure Bartimaeus doesn't get too off-topic, as well as explaining some of the story's world.
This is explained by Bartimaeus, because as a spirit, his intelligence is advanced enough to carry on several trains of thought. So he's leaving footnotes in his own thoughts for the reader's convenience. Understandably, this causes some issues when he and Nathaniel share Nathaniel's body in the last book. When a chapter is written in Nathaniel's point-of-view during the end of the book and Bartimaeus tries to do Lemony Narrating, Nathaniel cuts him off. He still does in in his own chapters, though.
Marcus Zusak's The Book Thief is narrated by Death. This provides a nice little prologue and frame for the story, as he opens it by mentioning every instance when he was with the Book Thief - every time that she was near a dying person, which, as this is World War II Germany, happens often. It's also a good way to provide a lot of cushioning foreshadowing.
Neil Gaiman seems to play around with this occasionally, depending on the book. Anansi Boys, for example, specifically in the tangentially related tales. Also has a bit of fun with it in Stardust. Possibly picked it up from Terry Pratchett.
Neal Stephenson essentially made his writing career from this trope. Cryptonomicon even came complete with graphs and diagrams to illustrate some of the narrator's points. Case in point. Stick around till after the first graph, then it starts getting particularly amusing. Warning: adult content.
This is Tom Robbins' default mode of writing, with all his novels stuffed with hilarious, often pointless asides. Even Cowgirls Get The Blues, for instance, interrupts the narration mid sentence for a meditation on the nature of reality, culminating in a list of the properties of sentences. "This sentence is made of wood. This sentence is made of yak wool. This sentence suffered a split infinite... and survived. This sentence may be pregnant, it missed it's period" and so on.
There is a vanity published book called Samantha Stone and the Mermaid's Quest. It's actually a pretty good book, but wow, does its narrator want to comment on the action. Lots of similies made comparing characters and situations to seemingly random things - quite a few having to do with the culture of the American South - and lots of asides like "he didn't want to leave Sam with him, for reasons you'll find out later", "Sam wondered where she heard that word before, but you, you clever young reader, probably remember", and references to "things you're too young to know about." You know how books often foreshadow which characters will be important later by giving them names and describing them in more detail than others? This book outright lampshades it, with the narrator naming three of the villains and specifically referring to them as "three that you'll meet later" beforehand.
Milan Kundera's books tend to be like this, and he will often discuss the characters as characters and give as much conscious attention to the concepts he's playing with.
In Hans Brinker, or The Silver Skates, most of the book was written with standard narration. In a few places it lapsed into Lemony Narration, such as when the narrator pondered why Santa didn't visit the destitute Brinker household on Christmas. Most jarringly, however, was at the end with the narrator telling you that you didn't care whether Hans or Peter won the race.
In the children's book The Anybodies by N. E. Bode, the narrator narrates in a conversational tone and provides us with anecdotes about his/her awful car, how the first time s/he heard the Beatles s/he thought "They'll never last", and how dull Fern's parents are.
An example: The narrator introduces a very minor character to demonstrate how Prince Roger has the ability to make people laugh when he's nearby. The narrator then tries to tell the minor character that his purpose has been fulfilled and that he can leave; however, the character is laughing too hard to respond so the narrator decides to leave him. When this minor character shows up again, the narrator decides that he needs a name and says he'll be called John. This leads to this:
"Call me Jack," said the peasant, who won't do a thing I tell him.
Later, the narrator sets up chapter five ("The Night of the Frogs") just to confuse Jack and spends the entire time complaining to the readers about how Jack won't listen.
In some versions of this book, the peasant's name turns out to be Tom, and the name that the author wants to give him is Jack.
Subverted in Jonathan Barnes' novel The Somnambulist, in which the narrator appears to be utilized in the story as an homage to this trope in Victorian literature. However, it's later revealed that the narrator is actually the main villain.
Among the narrators of The Moonstone is the house-steward, Gabriel Betteredge. Miss Clack, who succeeds him as narrator, is fairly lemony too: a sharp, shrill, judgemental sort of lemony.
Interestingly, the nonfiction story Three Men in a Boat (To Say Nothing of the Dog) features one in the form of the hugely digressive author, Jerome K. Jerome.
"If on a winter's night a traveler," by Italo Calvino, is narrated by the author writing about you, the reader, who is reading about what the author, the narrator, is writing about you. With much, often hilarious, commentary.
John Fowles does this marvelously in The French Lieutenant's Woman, where he goes off to write near-essays about the Victorian era, comments on how characters get away from him, inserts himself in a scene and writes two endings for the book (well, maybe three. Depending on how you look at it.)
Lord Byron's "Don Juan" is made up of almost nothing but this trope. If you take a college course examining the poem, your professor is likely to point out that it's not about Don Juan so much as it is a seventeen-canto conversation the narrator is having with himself and the audience — but mostly himself.
Battle Royale isn't as frequently lemony as most of these entries, but tends to lapse into this when someone is about to die or has just died. For instance, immediately after informing the reader that a character was dead before she hit the ground, the narrator remarks that precisely how much earlier depends on whether one means physically or emotionally. This may or may not be Koushun Takami's Signature Style, since as of this writing he's only written one book.
The narrator of The Name Of This Book Is Secret,Pseudonymous Bosch, takes quite a bit of inspiration from Handler's work, several times warning the reader that of the danger of secrets, and warning the reader not to continue reading. The entire first chapter switches all of the letters with X's, just to illustrate the point of how different and secretive the story is, saying that normally the first chapter of a book reveals the protagonists and their Back Stories, but he wasn't going to do that, instead giving the characters pseudonyms as opposed to their real names, and outright telling the reader he is going to replace everything that might help you identify the protagonists or their home 'if you were to come across it one day.'
However, his quirky personality leads to more than a couple of slip-ups, and he often tells you right when he is about to do this. He doesn't put in a thirteenth chapter, and is known to give to tips on how to make the reading experience more exciting. The most apparent occurrence of this is when halfway through the book, you stumble upon a chapter entitled "I've Changed My Mind." He explains that he is going to stop writing the book while the protagonists are still safe. The narrator starts to rant on about how angry the audience must be, and how they might try to bribe him, He lets it slip that he is extremely susceptible to bribes, especially if given a certain kind of chocolate ... which he realizes he has with him ... He bribes himself.
Older Than Radio: Laurence Sterne's 18th century novel Tristram Shandy is regularly regarded as an ur-postmodernist novel. The narrator tells the reader to skip or reread passages, plays blank page gimmicks, lampshades various devices and generally discusses the process of writing the novel as the story is being told.
"It is a strong temptation to the weary historian to close the present tale with an earthquake which should engulf Plumfield and its environs so deeply in the bowels of the earth that no youthful Schliemann could ever find a vestige of it. But as that somewhat melodramatic conclusion might shock my gentle readers, I will refrain."
Denis Diderot's novel Jacques The Fatalist is a humorous post-modern novel predating modernism. Frequently, the narrator will talk about all these things that could have happened if he was writing a typical novel, and he likes teasing the reader about it. It's clearly inspired by Tristram Shandy (and in fact plagiarizes some passages from it).
Cintra Wilson's Colors Insulting To Nature is a strong example of this trope in which the third-person narrator often breaks the fourth wall to address "The Dear Reader" in the manner of books like Jane Eyre. The narrator does tend to go off on tangents about the stupidity of pop culture, although they are somewhat relevant to the story as the whole book is about people who are misguided in their overwhelming desire to be famous celebrities.
J.M. Barrie narrates Peter Pan in a very odd style, mostly disaffected and dismissive of the amazing events he describes. At one point he can't decide between which of two stories to relate, and flips a coin on them. He is annoyed at the outcome, but holds to it anyway. At another point, he chooses which of Hook's pirates will die to demonstrate their boss's ruthlessness.
"Let us now kill a pirate, to show Hook's method. Skylights will do. "
Barrie also really dislikes most of the characters, particularly Tinker Bell and the Darlings. When he narrated the story of their mother staying up late waiting for them to return, he gets particularly vicious to the whole family.
"One thing I should like to do immensely, and that is to tell her, in the way authors have, that the children are coming back, that indeed they will be here on Thursday week. This would spoil so completely the surprise to which Wendy and John and Michael are looking forward."
"We are beginning to know Mrs. Darling by this time, and may be sure that she would upbraid us for depriving the children of their little pleasure... The woman had no proper spirit. I had meant to say extraordinarily nice things about her; but I despise her, and not one of them will I say now. "
"Thus Wendy and John and Michael found the window open for them after all, which of course was more than they deserved."
This may stem from the book's origins as a stage play in which the narrator was a character who actually appeared onstage.
The narrator of Angela Thirkell's Barsetshire novels is lemony enough to describe bit parts as "nice, boring people who might just as well be anyone else," Dumb Blonde Rose Birkett as an "exquisite nit-wit," and a 13-year-old's chatter to his mother as "his valueless opinions."
The narrator of A.A. Milne's Once On A Time frequently interjects his opinions and anecdotes from his own life, mostly having to do with his friendship/rivalry with Roger Scurvilegs, who has apparently written a historical account of the same events the narrator is now relating.
The narrator of Zuleika Dobson appears to be a hold-over from the Victorian use of this trope (i.e. an opinionated narrator whose in-universe/out-of-universe status is nebulous). Then he's revealed halfway through the book to be a historian whom the Greek muse of history has granted the ability to be invisibly, intangibly present for the events of the story so that he can write a history book that's more like a novel (and therefore less boring).
Gadsby's narrator, who occasionally complains about circumlocutions mandatory for his lipogrammatic story.
Mark Twain is probably as responsible for the American Lemony Narrators who came after him as Wodehouse and Dickens were for their English successors.
Tara Duncan: Sophie Audouin-Mamikonian mocks her characters in footnotes, does comparisons of their gestures with famous movies, and in later books, gave the chapters long, overly descriptive titles.
William Makepeace Thackeray has a bizarre narrating style in "Vanity Fair", as he makes asides to his (often assumed to be female) audience about what's going on, often referencing events which happened at the time, as well as replying to a letter he received from a disgruntled fan part-way through. (The novel was originally serialised in a magazine.)
The narrator of Frederik Pohl's short story, "Day Million", has a general dislike of 20-21st century humans. He obviously thinks the readers are homophobic luddites and frequently accuses them of thinking he's lying.
Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace has a third-person narrator who drops phrases like "batsoid," "the howling fantods," and "tear-assing" amid conventional narration, as well as frequently using the word "like" as filler.
The narrator of Felix J. Palma's The Map of Time frequently rolls his eyes at the characters' behavior, complains about how inane the dialogue is, and spends a lot of time Painting the Medium.
David Weber is not above this, at least in his Honor Harrington novels. Though less overt than most examples, the narration can take on a distinctly snarky twist about whatever is currently going on plot-wise.
"The Princess and the Queen", a novella connected with the A Song of Ice and Fire series, is framed as a work of in-universe history, written by a Maester with a dry tone. For instance, the author talks about how the dynastic struggle he's describing is popularly known as "The Dance With Dragons", which he describes as exactly the kind of stupid name for a bloody civil war that a minstrel would think up (this is a Take That Me since that conflicted is referenced in the title of the novel A Dance with Dragons).
Stephen King, in his later novels, has taken to occasionally peppering passages of scene-establishing description with a lot of second-person "See this, dear reader. See it very well. If we were to continue along this path, it would not take us long before we would encounter etc. etc. etc." stuff.
Nathaniel Hawthorne was an autobiographical Lemony Narrator. This appeared in some of his short stories but is probably most prominent in The Scarlet Letter in which the first chapter is the narrator discussing his experiences working as a customs officer before getting to the actual story, which he says was written from documents archived in the Customs House. The narrator doesn't make too many comments during the actual story, but he does wrap it up at the end.
William T. Vollmann uses the bardlike Author Avatar William the Blind in his Seven Dreams series to intersperse wry jokes and anachronistic references into his historical fiction. He also alternates novel chapters with firsthand reportage.
Live Action TV
Rod Roddy in Soap frequently made fun of the show's absurdly melodramatic plotlines in the Previously On and On the Next segments of the show.
Desperate Housewives, where the narrator, Mary Alice Young (played by Brenda Strong), is actually a character who died in the first episode of the series, so the narration is occasionally colored by her own opinions of the other characters. Although that's really just for the first 2 seasons. After that point, all the plot threads involving Mary Alice were put to bed, and she became much more of a standard omniscient narrator apart from a couple verbal idiosyncrasies ("Yes...").
John Blackman, announcer for old Australian Variety ShowHey Hey It's Saturday, always inserted Deadpan Snarkery into the show inbetween announcing prizes for games and such ordinary announcer duties. From one of the reunion specials:
Darryl Somers: We're being broadcast all around the world: America, Canada, Pakistan -
He's exceptionally Lemony-ish in "Dowiseptrepla", an episode revolving around Future!Ted lampshading every single easily avoidable, utterly moronic decision that led to Marshall and Lily buying their apartment (which Marshall always remembered as one of his three biggest mistakes ever) by showing the characters saying something smart, commenting "that's what we should have said," and showing the stupid thing they actually said.
Come, gentle viewer, and hear the tale of Buffy, Slayer of, the Vampyre.
An episode of Wolf Lake was told from the point of view of one of its characters giving a statement to investigators. The character took on a distinctly more Cloud Cuckoolander persona for the episode, and invented details and situations as he pleased, usually according to Rule of Funny or Rule 34. And the narration took place over the course of a bowling match.
[as Bill is blending up a hot dog with a whole bottle of mustard to simulate spider digestion] "Oh no... Bill, don't do this...."
Augustus Hill in Oz. He gets even more lemony after his death at the end of season 5.
Monty Python takes this concept and runs with it in Neurotic Announcers where a BBC spot exists just to give an announcer work and the announcer ends up needing the emotional support of other announcers to get through the spot.
The Book Of Pooh's narrator often talked regularly with the characters, even to the point of having his own story in the series.
After a actress-turned-craft-maven had a video displaying her mutilating one of his books for a craft project, Slate reached out to the author of A Series of Unfortunate Events for his reaction.
"It has always been my belief that people who spend too much time with my work end up as lost souls, drained of reason, who lead lives of raving emptiness and occasional lunatic violence. What a relief it is to see this documented."
Wallace Greenslade on The Goon Show, often professing himself as baffled as the listeners as to what is going on.
Although not technically a narrator, the text of the Monsters And Other Childish Things sourcebook Dreadful Secrets of Candlewick Manor is written with this sort of style very much in mind. For example:
"Candlewick Vale is something like the maps you get in those real-time strategy video games. You have your little base, and a tiny island of revealed geography surrounded by darkness. You send out scouts to explore and find resources, and they push back the darkness, revealing more of the map. This brings you into conflict with the enemy, and before you know it they have a giant floating jellyfishdropping monsters onto your gas factory. Candlewick has many danger-fraught places waiting to be explored (many with resident monsters, so you better not have a gas factory anywhere)."
The writer of GURPS: Dungeon Fantasy (a D&D style world) takes occasional lighthearted shots at the players.
The number of leprechauns slain annually by adventures looking for pots of gold is truly horrific. The world probably has a lot to answer for.
The board game Battle of the Halji: The game instructions start out: "So! You dare to break the seal. I see you have taken no precautions. The wrapping is on the floor. I feel your naked finger upon my page. YOU ARE A FOOL. If this were Thross I would devour you." It goes on in that vein throughout.
The Dresden Files roleplaying game is written as if the author was actually a character from The Dresden Files, and other characters have added comments in the margins. Sometimes it's informal clarifications of the rules, but other times it's jokes, pop culture references, or amusing comments about the beings and events that supposedly inspired the rules.
Nobilis 3e and supplement A Diary of Deceivers are narrated by Jenna Moran's Author Avatar, a resident of Nobilis Earth who's involved with the Powers and Excrucians, often to amusing effect.
The Volo's Guide series of sourcebooks for the Forgotten Realms has a lemony editor. Volothamp himself isn't usually that lemony in his descriptions, and neither is the editors that must have gone through the books after they were passed on to our world via Ed Greenwood, but before that was done, Elminster went through the books, correcting errors (and sometimes not correcting errors, to keep people on their toes) and adding comments. As one might guess by the fact that he leaves his comments in (and by the 'keeping people on their toes' part), Elminster has a rather idiosyncratic approach to editing... at least when it comes to Volo's books.
Thornton Wilder's The Skin Of Our Teeth introduces itself with a great deal of fourth-wall-breaking snark from the character Sabina, which might qualify as Lemony narration.
The Stage Manager in Wilder's Our Town is one too, despite his low-key manner. His exchange with Professor Willard is very much outside conventional dramatic exposition. Since he steps in to act as reverend and soda jerk at certain points, he's also an Interactive Narrator.
The musical Pippin, in which the narrator of the play is a character known as the Leading Player who often drags along the action by force and yells at the characters when they forget their lines or entrances. And when a character makes a decision that, according to the Leading Player, wasn't supposed to happen, well...
Urinetown has Officer Lockstock, one of the show's villains, as the main narrator. There's also Little Sally, a narrator-in-training.
Sondheim revisits this trope in his play with John Weidman, Assassins, a musical comedy pastiche about people who have killed or tried to kill American presidents. In this one, the narrator safely reassures the audience about what bad people the assassins are and how their actions have nothing to do with any flaws in our own society...until they get sick of his cheery platitudes about hard work and the American Dream and run him off the stage. The recent revival puts a twist on it and has the narrator transform into Lee Harvey Oswald.
Tom in The Glass Menagerie introduces himself at the start of the play as both its narrator and a character in it. Thereafter he steps outside the Fourth Wall whenever he needs to narrate.
"Room in the down-stairs of a summer cottage. High around the wall runs an art frieze of a fisherman with a pile of nets at his feet and a ship on a crimson ocean, a fisherman with a pile of nets at his feet and a ship on a crimson ocean, a fisherman with a pile of nets at his feet and so on. In one place on the frieze there is an overlapping—here we have half a fisherman with half a pile of nets at his foot, crowded damply against half a ship on half a crimson ocean. The frieze is not in the plot, but frankly it fascinates me."
In The Somewhat True Tale Of Robin Hood, the narrator is also a member of the cast (Town's Guy), who assists the characters by having the "scene change guy" move them to the right places, bring aide, and invoke flashbacks.
Prokofiev's opera The Love For Three Oranges has four or five competing lemony narrators: various groups of "audience members" (actually members of the chorus) who continuously interrupt the action to argue about what kind of story they want to see. As the opera goes on, they begin to influence the action directly, providing the heroes with advice and crucial props. Eventually they rush the stage and abduct the main antagonist. It's pretty weird.
The stage production of Shockheaded Peter has/had two very strange narrators — one who announces himself as "the greatest actor who has ever existed" and Martyn Jacques of the Tiger Lillies, who sung most of the songs and whose stage persona is intentional nightmare fuel. At the end of one song he would appear to have some kind of breakdown and shrieking "DEAD! DEAD!! DEAD!! DEAD!!" over and over again before being forced temporarily offstage.
Knickerbocker Holiday begins with Washington Irving sitting down to write a history of old New Amsterdam. He wants his book to sell, so he'll make it amusing and romantic and avoid unsavory political details that might offend aristocratic descendants. He has to intervene in the action a couple of times to keep it that way.
Some of the Stephen Briggs adaptations of Discworld novels represent the Lemony Narrator as a charcacter called the Footnote. The nested footnotes sometimes get represented with another Footnote character, who doesn't get on with the first one.
Peter Shaffer's Amadeus is narrated by a very old and somewhat mentally disturbed Salieri.
For those curious, it involved being deliberately ambiguous about killing a dragon. When the player types "KILL DRAGON", the narrator responds "With what, your bare hands?" In order to kill the dragon, the player responds "YES"
Ambrosia mainly narrates in the opening parts of either the main game or the Playable Epilogue, and seems to care even less about the main story the second time, preferring to instead talk about her marriage and subsequent child.
The Penny Arcade videogame On the Rain-Slick Precipice of Darkness
Episode 1 starts off with a narrator who talks directly to the player character and warns you not to dwell on his mysterious identity... You're dwelling on it, aren't you? Stop that. It's implied that he will be a proper character in later episodes.
Wizardry VII: Crusaders of the Dark Savant featured a narrator who described the game world for the party, but also delivered deadpan cynical commentary on what the party finds. "You wonder if perhaps mankind has a destiny, a role in the universe. Do mere mortals have a role to play... and then again, perhaps not."
While not a third-person narrator, the Prince in the Prince of Persia: Sands of Time series has a tendency to go off on descriptive tangents when entering new areas. In Prince of Persia: The Two Thrones, it reaches the point where his alter-ego the Dark Prince has to interrupt him to call attention to an important plot event.
Anything and everything by Spiderweb Software (maker of Avernum and Geneforge) qualifies to some degree, particularly in regard to the narrator's being a Deadpan Snarker.
Bruce Campbell, the voice of the tutorial in the Spider-Man games, insults the player and leaves mid-tutorial to get a sandwich. When he comes back, he talks with his mouth full.
The narrator from the King's Quest fangame Silver Lining could turn into this if you perform the wrong actions. Get your hands off that, Graham!
When he is the narrator in Fate Hollow Ataraxia, Avenger definitely has a very unique style. It rapidly shifts between sarcasm, murderous hatred, lust, approval, respect and vague idlings about his own narration.
In Fate Tiger Colosseum Upper for Saber Lion's scenario Kotomine Kirei acts as narrator and while he does give information he never passes up an opportunity to mock the opponents and before the final fight he gets annoyed at how naive Caren's plan was so he KO's Shirou and assists her saying he was tired of being the narrator. After losing and doing the outro he complains the ending is boring.
The Stanley Parable's narrator, who serves as a sort of middle man between Stanley and the game's creators. Even if you end up following the story by the letter, you will only be able to proceed by using information he narrates to you, which will lead the narrator to comment on that. And if you start going Off the Rails, well, things start to get increasingly bizarre. The demo alone serves as a master example of this trope, with the narrator presenting the demo to you, the player.
Owens: Sucking on a bottle of ketchup doesn't seem to satisfy you, no matter what the government says.
Rucks, narrator of Bastion, is not only the narrator but also a character in-story that you interact with multiple times. This means he often doesn't know more about your situation than you do and a lot of his narration gets rather lemony as a result. Since The Kid is also a Heroic Mime Rucks narrates everything The Kid supposedly said.
The narrator of Edna & Harvey: Harvey’s New Eyes likes to follow a format of brief identification-longer declaration-highly unnerving aside. Like so: "A clown! Lilli had never seen a live clown before! Only the dead one who stood outside her window at night."
The Cave from, ugh, The Cave is one. Yes, he's a talking cave, and he wishes you wouldn't laugh - getting a date is hard enough already. He spends the whole game laughing at the characters, giving subtle hints and occasionally spoilers.
BlazBlue example. Haku-men's Arcade Mode ending for Calamity Trigger features Rachel Alucard telling Haku-men's heroic backstory in the means of a bedtime story. You can see it here.
Rachel also provides the narration for the tutorial mode. However, being Rachel, she is prone to stopping and insulting the player, especially early on. She eases up quite a bit (but not entirely) once the player has cruised through the easy stuff.
Professor Gregarious T. Oswald in Puppeteer. When he's not narrating the story, he's prone to rambling about things only slightly related to the action, arguing with the actors on stage, and becoming easily distracted when cool machines and giant robots show up.
Dawn of War: The Narrator of Dark Crusade and Soulstorm is supposedly an Imperial scholar, and also, apparently, a Large Ham who INDEED has a... STRANGE way of intoning HIS MONologue. Watch.
The narrator in An Epic Comic is seen constantly conversing with the characters, stopping what they are doing, and even bringing in other characters. It doesn't get any weirder when it turns out he's the author.
Books Don't Work Here Because there is No Fourth Wall and the main character argues with him so much certainly makes the director a character. He also “pays” a British guy to read his lines while narrating the comic so he definitely qualifies for this trope.
Ctrl+Alt+Del, Ethan hosts a Wintereenmas Games Bowl, which was put to print rather than comic (more here). Being about Ethan, any narrative account is likely to be this.
In Schlock Mercenary, the Narrator is JUST the narrator, and not the storyteller. This has led to a few points where the narrator wandered off to ask the author what was going on,
In the first Order of the Stick book, Dungeon Crawlin' Fools, Rich Burlew adds before the first strips some introductory strips which add a narrator. As the characters continually fail to remain stealthy in their efforts to reach the dungeon they're approaching, they comment on how difficult it is to sneak when there's a voice booming across the countryside announcing what you're up to. So they find the narrator and throw him to the monster guarding the dungeon. He still can't stop narrating what's happening.
If Calliope's scrapbook is any indication, then she may serve as an lemony narrator ŕ la Stranger Than Fiction, whilst also existing within the narration itself.
Also, the semi-popular (at least on the official forums) Let's Read Homestuck series has SuperBlueBadger doing the voiceover. As the series would be awkwardly worded if he constantly said things like 'forward arrow', he sometimes rewords the commands to be sillier in a way.
The Sun God and the Moon Goddess from Our Little Adventure sometimes narrate and put their two cents into what's happening.
One of the main ideas of the serial story Memetic Narration (found here) is that the third-person omniscient narrator can be heard by the protagonist, and since he can read the protagonists thoughts, has indirect conversations with him often amounting to passive aggressive insults. He also focuses heavily on the "assets" of female characters, to the protagonist's embarrassment.
Brad Neely's Wizard People, Dear Reader, in which he narrates the first Harry Potter film in an excessively dramatic, increasingly inaccurate and often insane way, most notably a scene late in the film where the narrator entirely ignores the action sequence taking place on screen to discuss Harry's desire to move to pre-Columbian America. For several minutes.
Tom Bombadil: Bilbo found this really neat sword that glowed blue whenever goblins were near! You keep that in mind, now. It's going to be important, later on!
Let's be honest with ourselves here: A lot of pages on TV Tropes fit this trope.
The Narrator, a mysterious and genderless being, is considered the most sinister villain in Pokébattles, and spends much of his time tormenting and humiliating the main cast. He can't be escaped—every time a fight breaks out, he can be heard narrating it.
The unnamed subtitle writer is also quite opinionated, often using the subtitles to agree with the ponies or mock Ultra Fast Pony's shortcomings. In one episode, he sides with the ponies against Phil the narrator, and in another he gets into an argument with Scootaloo.
This Kingdom Heartsanimation features Sora dealing with one during the tutorial, who insults him throughout it, makes him select the sword weapon rather than the shield or wand, and attempts to be as much of a ham as possible with Sora repeatedly calling him out the whole time.
Harry Plinkett's movie reviews on Red Letter Media definitely qualify. One minute he's discussing the characterization tropes used in Citizen Kane and in the next, he's molesting his cat and offering to mail his fans Pizza Rolls.
The narrator for the Goofy "How to" cartoons, who often corrects him and slows down the proceedings with verbose digressions.
On one cartoon he freezes Goofy in the middle of a pole vault jump to discuss the proper vaulting form, and it turns into a recitation of Tennyson's "Crossing the Bar", all while poor Goofy is trying to maintain his balance.
In How to Hook Up Your Home Theater, he even goes as far as to yell at Goofy to find the remote control because the Big Game is about to start.
Narrator: And, so the day is saved, thanks to... (Mojo Jojo, Him, and Fuzzy Lumpkins appear on screen) Mojo Jojo... Fuzzy Lumpkins... and Him?
The Storyteller in Dave the Barbarian. In one story he was magically enslaved by the Dark Lord Chuckles the Silly Piggy and forced to read out Chuckles' new narration. The heroes are saved when the Storyteller develops laryngitis and they are able to employ a temporary narrator (albeit one who turns the show into a space opera) long enough to capture Chuckles and free the Storyteller.
Danger Mouse's narrator often adds random information and after the more normal cliffhanger questions adds questions like "will Penfold get over his fear of coathangers", or "Will please someone return my washing machine?" He is such a part of the series that he is even given a name in canon — Isombard.
After Danger Mouse has to ride a bike since the car broke:
"Has Danger Mouse turned to handlebars because he must dash? ...must dash...mustache...get it? ...Ahem."
Sheep in the Big City had a narrator who was often shown on screen speaking into a microphone in a sound booth, and would make quips and talk to the characters. Occasionally, he was drawn into the main storyline as well.
Joe Leahy, the narrator in Freakazoid!, does such things as argue with the network censor and give away plot points, earning the ire of the villains. He also argues with Freakazoid on occasion, and becomes a character in his own right by the end of season 2.
Wacky Races: Sometimes Dick Dastardly would engage in conversation with the narrator, where he would explain his evil plan to dispose of the other racers when questioned about it. The practice was carried over to spinoff series The Perils of Penelope Pitstop, where it was picked up by Hooded Claw (and sometimes Penelope herself too, while trying to escape a trap).
In Earthworm Jim, Psycrow forces the narrator to read the lines he's written for him, thus making the events actually happen. He threatens the narrator with larynx-eating insects if he does not comply.
The narrator of Disney's Hercules frequently argues with the Muses. Unlike the Bobobo and Rocky and Bullwinkle examples above, the Storyteller isn't strictly necessary for the plot to progress (in one episode, it's his day off) and he does appear onscreen (same episode, just after someone remarks on his absence and is informed that he doesn't have to come in to work today, he wanders by with his family — they're disembodied voices, but we can still see where they are because they're wearing party hats). Also, he was referred to as "Bob." (The voice was provided by Robert Stack.)
On Family Guy, Peter once went through a period where he narrated his life. Lois was not well-pleased.
During the Word Crawl opening of each installment of the Laugh It Up, Fuzzball trilogy (Family Guy's Star Wars spoof), the words go off on strange tangents, including one that openly mocks the Fox executives about not retaining merchandising rights to the Star Wars franchise, using an animated blue elephant for no reason other than the waste $52,000.
In American Dad!, Klaus once began to narrate things though it were the DVD commentary. Being a goldfish hasn't been good for his sanity.
"You watched it, you can't unwatch it. Stay tuned for more Tales of Interest!"
Inexplicably, but hilariously, Dr. Zoidberg pops up as a Lemony Narrator at the conclusion of "Love and Rockets":
Zoidberg: As the candy hearts poured into the fiery quasar, a wondrous thing happened, why not? They vaporised into a mystical love radiation that spread across the universe, destroying many, many planets, including two gangster planets and a cowboy world. But one planet was at exactly the right distance to see the romantic rays, but not be destroyed by them: Earth. So all over the world, couples stood together in joy. And me, Zoidberg! And no one could have been happier unless it would have also been Valentine's Day. What? It was? Hooray!
In The Simpsons, has a Mother's Day episode where Moe narrates the story and gets distracted by Marge in the window.
WordGirl has a narrator who constantly breaks the fourth wall and strikes up conversations with the characters, often pointing out plot holes, obvious flaws in plans, and occasionally reading ahead in the script (and being called out for it as well).
The narrator in The Wuzzles seems to have it out for every character in the show, and the first episode ends with him leaving in disgust while the story is technically still going.