Amy Rose: "Imagine if you were an outside observer watching pieces of the conversation."(No, this isn't about when a character realizes they've met an oracle, or pays the usual amount of attention.) Audiences are good at figuring out which elements of a work are on which side of the Fourth Wall. No explanation is necessary for why our hero can hear a ringing telephone but not the movie's soundtrack, or why the space ship is menaced by the Negative Space Wedgie, but not by the opening credits drifting by outside the ship: it's something we accept as part of our Willing Suspension of Disbelief. It's also a wonderful thing to play with, and that is what Medium Awareness does; the characters acknowledge and interact with elements and conventions of the medium that shouldn't technically "exist" in-universe. Suddenly the characters can hear the ominous background music or the disembodied narration, they can read the subtitles at the bottom of your screen, and they can tell when it's almost time for a commercial break. Generally, this awareness is brief; it's used for a joke or two and then never mentioned again. Used this way, it's Lampshade Hanging as applied to Paratext. A subtrope of Breaking the Fourth Wall. Compare with other metafictional devices, particularly Painting the Medium, which uses Paratext and artifacts to tell the story, and Reading Ahead in the Script which is exactly what it sounds like. Left the Background Music On is a specific inversion. Fourth-Wall Observer is what happens when a particular character has this on full-time and the rest do not. See also Genre Savvy (which doesn't involve the Fourth Wall) and No Fourth Wall. See also End-of-Series Awareness and Screen Tap; specific subtropes.
Sticks the Badger: "You see them too?!" (glares at the camera)
Sticks the Badger: "You see them too?!" (glares at the camera)
— Sonic Boom, Sticks and Amy's Excellent Staycation
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- In a GEICO advertisement, Mrs. Butterworth is aware that her face is being obscured by the GEICO logo.
- A promo for Law & Order: Criminal Intent on the USA Network featured the lead detectives puzzling over the network logo they just now noticed in the corner of the screen.
- Likewise, in a USA Network promo for Psych, Shawn and Gus notice small versions of themselves at the bottom of the screen advertising the upcoming episode. Shawn laments that "mini-us" sold out and Gus walks off at the end to call an exterminator for their "rat problem."
- Sheldon and Leonard are also puzzled about the TBS logo.
Anime & Manga
- Fushigi Yuugi is about a girl and her best friend reading a book who get teleported into the world of the book.
- In the Naruto spin-off Rock Lee and His Ninja Pals, the characters constantly interact with the narrator and he appears to be a non-canon character made specifically for the show. In one episode the plot revolves around the narrator being ill and finding a suitable interim replacement (Rock Lee, with poor results)
James: Why didn't we just do this in the first place?
- One of Team Rocket's elaborate plans to capture Pokémon is foiled early, so they instead wrap the target Pokémon with some whips and begin easily tugging them away from their owners. Cut to this brilliant piece of dialog:
Jessie: We have to fill a half hour!
- Another episode ends with them remarking "We wasted this whole episode cheering for the good guys."
- One episode has a tie-in to the video games. Meowth says he can't learn Pay Day because he used up all his move slots. It's later established that the only attack Meowth can use is Scratch or Fury Swipes, because he used the rest of his move slots to speak human language.
- Team Rocket pretty much does this Once per Episode early in the series.
- In Tsurupika Hagemaru-kun, Hagemaru suffers from this and Genre Savviness.note
Hagemaru: Hey, Kaka, don't sneeze like this while you're naked or the censor guys will cut the scene!
Hagemaru: I can do anything, I'm the hero of this series!
- The Gestalt OVA depends on this trope for half of the episode in which Ohri is under a spell of silence. She communicates using video game style text boxes. Her master Olivier even asks "what is that thing?".
- Hayate the Combat Butler has the characters being aware of commercial breaks, the Narrator, and so forth. At one point Tama is able to figure out 8's identity by remembering the show's Title Sequence. Medium Awareness is constant in the manga, as well.
- In the first season of Slayers, Lina grows so angry with Gourry that she grabs a hold of her own Sweat Drop and hits him over the head with it.
- One Piece:
- The commentator during the Davy Back games announce that the main event will commence after these commercial messages.
- The Strawhat crew yell at Crocus to stop doing his "good running gag".
- The manga of Dragon Half does this. For example, one character is explicitly describing objects with their colors, only for another to point out that the previous page was the last one to be in color.
- In the rather naughty Kekko Kamen anime, the bad guys are caught by surprise because there is no heroic music for one of her arrivals. Granted, in the original manga her appearances are also preceded by a soundtrack, so the music seems to be on their side of the fourth wall.
- Strawberry Marshmallow:
- In one manga chapter, Miu counters Matsuri's assertion that her pet ferret, John, is a good boy by reminding her that she said he was wiggling around "three panels ago".
- On the first page of Chapter 3, before even the chapter's title page:
Chika: Miu... and Matsuri... don't get along.
[Nobue looks at Chika as if to say, "Um... who are you talking to?"]
Nobue: And nobody cares.
[The words "The End" appear]
Chika: No! Not "THE END!"
- This happens constantly in several of Ai Yazawa's works, such as Gokinjo Monogatari and Paradise Kiss (manga-version only). Characters complain about lack of lines or comment on other characters' thought bubbles. She has also used it in Kagen no Tsuki and Tenshi Nanka Ja Nai, albeit in a less over-the-top way.
George: Oooh, Isabella! Your first full-color shot was really impressive! It's a pity it will be b&w in the tankobon edition...
- Excel Saga does this.
Paramedic: [looks over his shoulder at a montage playing in the background] Oh my, her life's flashing by. That's no good.
- A lot.
Pedro: Yes. Please take a look at the flashback. [background turns into a flashback scene, a construction worker falling off by its sudden appearance]
- A lot.
- Coming off an anime filler arc, the writers used half of the first non-filler episode for Inoue to explain to Ichigo where they'd left off in the main story, using slides with pages of the actual manga to bring him back up to speed.
- During Uryuu's fight against Szayel-Aporro, the batty Pesche reaches into his loincloth for something to help and Uryuu informs the audience it's a little too risque to air. Later, Mayuri decides to fix Nemu up and Uryuu says that was DEFINITELY too kinky for television.
- Also in anime-only filler episode (ep. 214), Karukura-Raizer Erotic "in Hyper Erotic Mode, gains several techniques that can't be shown on TV."
- In the first episode of Ouran High School Host Club, Tamaki can be seen leaning on a notice which pops up on the screen explaining the real meaning of Kyoya's words.
- In the Dragon Ball manga, Goku's first fight with Yamcha had him getting kicked into - and bouncing off of - the panels of the page by Goku.
- Gags like this were also used in Akira Toriyama's earlier series Dr. Slump.
- Used many times in Mahou Sensei Negima!.
- Misora tries to wave away a caption that introduces her as Misora to the readers after she just denied that she was Misora to Asuna.
- Konoka pulls out the Relax-o-Vision picture from somewhere in an attempt to censor a scene of Jack Rakan licking their enemies' panties. "There are children reading this!"
- When characters have Imagine Spots, they're displayed in the background; the people around them sometimes turn to watch and comment.
- Jack Rakan once watches another character's flashback.
- In the Tenchi Muyo! manga, someone comments that Mihoshi resembles some other characters, to which Mihoshi replies that she's shaded with a different screentone than they are.
- Washuu turns off the narrator while pushing a button. She also makes a pun with the title. Tenchi Muyo essentially means 'right side up', like seen on boxes. She says that despite the title, things can flip around.
- One chapter starts with an intense fight between Aeka and Ryoko. The page that follows the title page has Washuu with a Ryohoki robot bonking the two and commenting that she's 'too late to appear in the first pages'.
- Aeka tells Kiyone that she won't appear anymore if she doesn't cooperate, to which she answers that she'd like to keep her limited role as much as possible.
- Sasami and Tenchi's grandfather also have a moment that when a hard question is asked, they are looking for 'the expert' to appear and explain it. Sasami looks under a rock saying "Where are you?"
- There's frequent mentions of 'Tenchi being the main character', sometimes himself lamenting his current role (where he's cleaning by lack of having anything to do in that chapter).
- Mentions of the anime are semi-frequent. One example is in the Jurai tree arc, where Washuu starts talking about her rival Yume. Mihoshi mentions the Doctor seen in the anime, as if it didn't make sense anymore. Washuu answers to 'forget about him' instead of trying to conciliate the two storylines.
- Azaka and Kamidake also have a bit where they appeared some 6 volumes later. Washuu has a 'long time no see' moment, and they precisely say the volume and page of their last appearance (and even longer time since they had spoken lines).
- The Princess Princess characters regularly comment on backgrounds and other elements. Late in the manga, they even complain when Ensemble Dark Horse Arisada receives a very large close-up.
- In Haruhi Suzumiya, Kyon's narration is sometimes overheard by the characters, leading to the idea that Kyon just mumbles narration to himself everywhere he goes.
- In the Fullmetal Alchemist manga, Edward lets Winry know how something happened by flashbacking to it and pointing towards that panel.
- In one instance, when someone mentions his actual height, he covers up the number in that person's speech bubble.
- Bakemonogatari does this quite straight. Senjougahara compliments her own seiyuu.
- The line also appears in the original light novel, making this further confusing.
- Every time a character in Ranma ½ is aware of someone else's daydream, they look up at the panel containing said daydream. And comment on it.
- Honey Honey no Suteki na Bouken was already entirely silly, with copious lampshade hangings. More than once characters address the commercial break or writers, depending on the dub.
- Panty & Stocking with Garterbelt makes copious use of Written Sound Effects, and at one point, an annoyed Stocking grabs a bunch of the sound effects, wads them up in a ball, and shoves them into Chuck's mouth.
- When the GA Geijutsuka Art Design Class students are talking about typography, one strip actually has the characters discuss the sound effect typeface on that strip.
- In Bobobo-bo Bo-bobo, the characters show a certain amount of medium awareness when not directly parodying anything, such as one note in the English version of the anime where Bobobo has to have a pause between words while talking about traveling in order to accommodate for the translation, and he says after "I hope I can talk normally when we get there", actively acknowledging that the dub had just had to mess up. They also show that they are aware that a narrator is explaining things and will sometimes even talk directly to him. The end of the anime also has all characters bemoaning the fact that it's finally the end, and one even notes that it cuts off in the middle of an arc.
- In Mon Colle Knights, Rokuna at one point dumps the visualized letters of her scream at an attacking group of enemies, Beginner once pushed aside a scene with a resistant Count Collection on it and from time to time the characters will interact with the narrator. At the end of the show, Count Collection talks directly to the audience about his Status Quo.
- In Saiyuki the characters occasionally comment during some of the comic relief on things like Sanzo's fan coming out of nowhere, the fact that they can't prove to the reader that Kanzeon is really a hermaphrodite as the rating isn't that high and Gojyo wonders why Hakkai has launched into the recap of what the sutras are and their significance is while they are surrounded by murderous yokai.
- The characters of Seitokai no Ichizon begin the first episode arguing how being an anime will affect their story which is being adapted from a series of Light Novels.
- In episode 4 of Dai Mahou Touge, after Punie's mascot Paya-tan is squished and Punie defeats the badguy, Anego tells Paya-tan "Your status on this show is getting closer and closer to mine." That's not a good thing around Punie.
- The stinger of the first episode of Kotoura-san has Haruka do a Dirty Mind-Reading... on the "tons of people on the other side of the TV." This show is aired during Otaku O'Clock, so viewer sexualization of Haruka is clearly unavoidable. Manabe is jealous.
- Haiyore! Nyarko-san has several characters exhibit Medium Awareness as dictated by Rule of Funny; for example, the first episode of the second season practically has Nyarko recap the entire premise of the series and introduce the entire cast...while Mahiro wonders what the hell she's doing. Before that, the episode starts with a parody of the opening to Bewitched, with Nyarko as Samantha and Mahiro as Darrin; we later see it's just a video she's having made. Interestingly, the opening includes credits for their actual voice actresses (Kana Asumi and Eri Kitamura respectively), a fact that not even Mahiro seems to notice.
- In that same episode, Nyarko and the other aliens use Kamen Rider Wizard's Transformation Sequence to change from their pajamas to their school uniforms; afterwards, Cuko comments that the "magic circle effect" is pretty expensive so they decided to use it early on while there's still plenty of money in the show's budget.
- Mahiro himself exhibits it in an earlier episode, where he can apparently see the little numbering bubbles used to count up the guests for his mother's hot springs trip (since he remarks on the fact that Nyarko's pet Shanta-kun is counted as a guest despite being, well, a pet).
- In the very first episode, Nyarko is rambling endlessly until a frustrated Mahiro grabs a nearby fork and plunges it into the table next to her hand. After the title card, a frightened Nyarko asks "What are you trying to do, get us cancelled?!"
- In the manga of K-On!, Mio seems to have this in a couple of instances:
- When she and Azusa are beside each other in the bath, Yamanake remarks that she can't tell them apart without her glasses (even though Azusa has acquired a significant tan and Mio has not). Mio wonders if it's a criticism if the manga artist.
- In college, something happens to Yui at some point, making her punctual, not snackish, focused, and uncomfortable with being clung to. Ritsu feels for lumps, thinking maybe she hit her head, since that's what would happen if it were a manga. Mio says is is a manga.
- In the Lupin III franchise, there exists a Semipermeable Fourth Wall nature. It is usually Lupin interacting with whatever element of the work is on our side of the Fourth Wall, but any of the cast can do it for a Rule of Funny. (Monkey Punch has even turned part of a panel over to show how upset he was when Zenigata had a Leaning on the Fourth Wall line, claiming the current case was as simple as a comic book)
- A Lupin III (Green Jacket) episode has Lupin stepping off of a plane and calling, "Title!" to summon the episode's name.
- The manga stories use many more Fourth Wall jokes than the anime stories do. In "Impression Impossible", Lupin has paid someone to roll a panel aside and declare that Lupin III is handsome.
- Characters in Sonic X frequently make reference to being in an anime (though only in the original Japanese version) - usually Sonic, but Dr. Eggman occasionally does it too. In one memorable episode, Eggman actually took over the show, changing the name of it to "Eggman X" (complete with new title card). Sonic eventually defeated Eggman by sending him down a maze where the right path was marked by the correct answer to a Yes/No question. The last question was "Who's the main character of this show?" with one path marked with a picture of Sonic and the other with a picture of Eggman. Eggman, naturally, went down the "Eggman" path (even though his robots actually admitted the right answer was Sonic), which naturally led to a trap. (The 4Kids Entertainment dub changed the last question to "Who's the coolest guy around?".) In another episode, Team Chaotix learned what had happened while they were away by watching Sonic X on DVD, even arguing about whether to skip the opening song or not.
- The cast of Sgt. Frog displays this a number of times: in chapter 69, the threat of a lecture from Keroro leads to the following exchange:
Fuyuki: We've just been made into an anime, and we're already going to lose fans.
Keroro: Shut up! I shall only lecture you for about two of your Pokopenian pages!
- Nui's introduction in Kill la Kill has her leaning against her introductory subtitle, and then stroking Satsuki's hair (who's very far away from her) through a split-screen divider.
- She also hijacked the ending theme before the final episode, just so she could show off Ragyo's Shinra Koketsu.
- Practically everyone has demonstrated some degree of this in Gintama. Among other things, they know they're in an anime/manga, and are able to notice the censorship of their dialogue and the scenery at times.
- One story arc has the Yorozuya gang trying resolve a time stop that's affected everyone but them. The only reason they're even able to make any progress is due to the fact that they're able to read the speech bubbles of the frozen characters, though Gintoki later tries abuse this by editing what some of them are saying using a marker. They can even see the sound effects, and Gintoki ends up saving Otae's life by editing the sound of her being hit with a rocket punch into a stick figure saving her from the rocket punch...which she ends up marrying.
- One Franken Fran chapter has a doctor refuse Fran's services, because he is all too aware of the Body Horror she inflicts on her patients in the name of saving their lives. How does he know all this? He holds up Franken Fran Volume 1.
- Detective Conan generally leaves the Fourth Wall alone, but occasionally Mouri Kogoro will demonstrate knowledge that he couldn't have in-story, such as mentioning the occupation of someone he's just met when they haven't told him. Normally, one would assume this was the result of a Sherlock Scan, but seeing as he's a Clueless Detective, that seems unlikely. The only OTHER possible explanation, however, is that he can read the Character Subtitles that anyone involved in a murder mystery will always be introduced with...
- For a blatant example of this, check Episode 221: The Mysterious Retro Room Case, right near the beginning when the 3 women are introduced... and promptly are referred to by their jobs by Mouri, who's only just met them..
- In The Circumstances Leading To Waltraute's Marriage, several characters do this. Some of Waltraute's sisters complain that it's not fair they have less screen time than her. Freyja at one point boasts that she's so sexy she has to be censored.
- Chapter 8 of The Familiar of Zero has several girls look up at the Imagine Spot depicting Saito's sexy dream of Louise, and in the next panel Louise is waving her arms through it to dissipate it.
- In Chapter 162 of Kenichi: The Mightiest Disciple, Apachai grabs and peeks out from behind a speech bubble like someone peering around a doorframe, acting confused about its presence.
- In one chapter of Cyborg 009, 009 and 007 are chasing several shady men. As they set off, 007 (who, for maximum funny, has shapeshifted into a dog), notices a taxi.
007: Well, whaddaya know, a taxi! I love living in a comic!
- The Further Adventures of Nick Danger is full of this. Nick is aware of his own narration, and asks "how do I make my voice do this?", and when the characters get stuck in a flashback, the butler explains that to escape, he just has to fade his voice out and cue the organist. There are also references to foley effects, like the cellophane used to create the sound of a crackling fire:
Catherwood: Why don't you pick up your cues?
Nick: Are those my cues?
Catherwood: Yes, and they must be dry by now. Why don't you pull them up out of the cellophane before they scorch?
- Jeff Dunham's character Peanut knows he's a puppet. For example, in one of his specials Guitar Guy looked at Peanut, prompting him to say "You know how I know you do drugs? You're looking me in the eye and you think I'm actually looking back"
Jeff: What're you doing?Peanut: A-speaking in Jose's tongue!Jeff: Well, don't do that.Peanut: Why not?Jeff: It makes me feel left out.Peanut: [looks at Jeff] Huh?Jeff Dunham: I don't speak Spanish![Peanut and Jose look at him. Jose turns from Jeff, imitating the theme music from The Twilight Zone.]Peanut: "Picture, if you will..."
- also "If you're not on drugs how did you come up with Meeee!!!"
- "What are you thinking?!?!? We can't talk at the same time!!!!!"
- All of Dunham's puppets are aware that they're puppets.
- Eddie Izzard plays on this all the time, a good example being his Dracula bit - "Let's all go to Transylvania, and increase the plot of this movie!"; "Ooh, I wouldn't go up to the castle if I were you - you get filmed if you go up there!", and another gag about a horror movie character navigating a dark forest by avoiding the paths that go "Duh-duh duh-duh duh-duh..." and taking the one that goes "La lala lala!"
- One of Andy Kaufman's stand-up bits involved his writer and friend Bob Zmuda sitting in the audience and heckling him by (among other things) saying the punchlines to his jokes before he does. Then they get into an argument, and Zmuda's character calls Kaufman out on the fact that he's a plant and the whole thing is scripted.
- Jim Gaffigan regularly has an 'internal audience.' A good portion of his jokes are commenting on what the audience must think of his jokes, in a high-pitched whisper.
- In Lano and Woodley's The Island the characters frequently talk to the audience, reference the theatre and city they're in, and discuss which props on stage are part of the island reality and which are not. It's arguably a show about two comedians doing a show about being on an island.
- Colin: Ladies and Gentlemen I'm sorry if you had somewhere to be later on tonight but we have to do this show properly and the only way we're going to do the show properly, is to START THE SHOW AGAIN!
- As the above image shows, Deadpool, of the Marvel Universe, can see the yellow text boxes that indicate scene transitions ("Meanwhile, in Manhattan...") or that act as substitute thought bubbles. This is connected to the fact that for Deadpool, there is No Fourth Wall. Indeed, the Deadpool comics became so famous for this that the dual sublines for the comic were "The Merc with a Mouth" and "Breaking down the fourth wall one brick at a time!"
- Earlier Deadpool books toyed with this; he didn't actually have any proof that he was in a comic book (because, let's face it, he can't perceive the reader no matter how much he tries to look outside the page) but kept up the act anyway because he believed it was true (and it was funny). This detail has since been dropped for simplicity.
- At one point, numerous characters tell him he is saying aloud everything that was in the yellow boxes, which leads him to suspect his "internal monologue" is broken. No one listens or responds to what he says, because he is known to be completely insane.
- This gag has extended to other media including Deadpool: in Marvel vs. Capcom 3, he can beat his opponent around the head with his own life bar, and his movie has his actor Ryan Reynolds doing plenty of fourth wall breaking.
- The Unbelievable Gwenpool, originally coming from the "real" world, is aware she's in a comic book, and follows writing conventions. Even when she returns to the "real" world, she can still tell she's in a comic book because she can see subtitles, her own internal monologue boxes, and even interact with the panels. She ultimately breaks through the panels to return to the main Marvel universe.
- The Marvel series The Sensational She-Hulk is famous for its characters' acknowledgement of the comic medium, including climbing across panel borders, referencing captions, and other related awareness.
- When she gained her sidekick Weezi, Shulkie asked how Weezi was able to walk between comic panels, only to be told that it's similar to the way She-Hulk is able to talk to the reader.
- It's also because Weezi is an ex-comic heroine herself (from Marvel's predecessor in the 1940s), who used the same schtick in her series. Weezi is so Genre Savvy that she was aware that she and her (late) husband began aging in "real time" because they were no longer appearing regularly in published stories, and thus deliberately insinuated herself into Shulkie's life (and then-new series).
- In one issue, the book's editor, Renee, kidnapped John Byrne and locked him Bound and Gagged in a closet so she and She-Hulk could find a new writer for the book. The issue ended with She-Hulk accidentally killing Byrne.
- Parodied in an issue of Damage Control, which made She-Hulk look like a lunatic who thinks she's a comic book character. Then again, she directly responded to the text captions pointing this out, so... Does that make it a subverted parody?
- And in Marvel's short-lived Heroes for Hire series, Shulkie regularly got into arguments with the third-person narrator... until she fired him.
- In Marvel vs. Capcom 3, She-Hulk has special dialogue with Deadpool where she mentions how popular she was in the early 90's, as well as her own habit of breaking the fourth wall. In another quote, she threatens to kick Deadpool's butt should there ever be a Marvel Vs. Capcom 4.
- When she gained her sidekick Weezi, Shulkie asked how Weezi was able to walk between comic panels, only to be told that it's similar to the way She-Hulk is able to talk to the reader.
- In DC Comics The Joker from Batman can interact with speech and thought bubbles, grabbing hold of or leaning on them. This is most likely part of the idea - also used to partially explain Deadpool - that Joker is so insane that he has become aware of things other characters have not.
- There is a theory floating around that the Joker has become so aware of his role in a comic book that the reason he has yet to kill Batman is because he knows that, if the hero of the book dies, the story and everything in it - villain most definitely included - stops existing. Similarly, some have speculated that the reason he can be so casual about the gruesome crimes he commits is because he realizes the people he's hurting aren't real.
- So did Harley, once. Though she was (mostly) sane at the time...
- In the movie, he talked to himself a few times, serving the same narrative purpose, but preserving the seriousness. On the other hand, he sometimes did so while looking straight-ahead, 'coincidentally' right at the camera, sooo...
- In The Dark Knight Saga, thanks to a single point-of-view shot, the Joker is the only one in the films to look right into the camera.
- In an episode of Young Justice, Joker briefly grinned into the camera and said "Admit it, you can't look away."
- While all of the Game Over screens in the Arkham series are variations of the relevant villain taunting you, Origins features one where the Joker asks if he killed your friend. And then apologizes.
- There is a theory floating around that the Joker has become so aware of his role in a comic book that the reason he has yet to kill Batman is because he knows that, if the hero of the book dies, the story and everything in it - villain most definitely included - stops existing. Similarly, some have speculated that the reason he can be so casual about the gruesome crimes he commits is because he realizes the people he's hurting aren't real.
- A throw-away villain in a Spider-Man story arc during the Brand New Day storyline (Amazing 557) featured a rather bizarre manifestation of this trope, including the ability to attack our hero through between panels, declaring itself to be 'beyond time.' Holding his scythe to one side would rip through the panel and jab at Spidey's head on the previous page.
- Ambush Bug can interact with his writers and editors, walk between pages and panels of his book, and comment on the lives of other characters from an "out of universe" perspective. One time Zatanna tries to cast a spell on him, and he asks why the words in her speech balloons are backwards. She bursts into tears.
- While playing Sidekick to Captain Marvel, who possessed "Cosmic Awareness," Rick Jones came to develop "Comics Awareness," in addition to his usual Genre Savvy.
- Gorsky and Butch, a Salt and Pepper pair of policemen looking for the sense of their comic, often use this trope. On one occasion they found the plot of the comic scribbled on the wall of the authors' flat. Later, when asked why he hadn't simply read the ending to solve the case, Gorsky responded that he couldn't see it because his speech bubble was in the way.
- Like everything regarding her, Squirrel Girl is a goofy example of this trope. While she never breaks the fourth wall during the issues themselves, she does it during the first pages of every issue she's starred in. Now that isn't that unique since lots of characters break the fourth wall during the recap pages, but she justifies it by stating that she is only allowed to break the fourth wall during the recap pages. Some of her first pages breaking the fourth wall issues has direct importance towards the plot of said issue. And to make all this even more confusing, her pets Monkey Joe and Tippy-Toe don't know the meaning of The Fourth Wall.
- At times, especially during the Silver Age, even Superman has appeared to be aware of the Fourth Wall; his trademark wink was always directed at the reader/audience. It was used for the last time (in the comics), and most depressingly, in Whatever Happened to The Man of Tomorrow??
- Actually, it was used at least once more. In Superman #714, the last issue before the 2011 relaunch, the final panel gives a nod to Whatever Happened to The Man of Tomorrow??.
- Animal Man becomes aware of his status as a comic book character and discusses this in a conversation with his writer towards the end of Grant Morrison's run on the series.
- Sam & Max: Freelance Police, in every medium they've been in; comics, cartoons, and video games.
- A rare in-universe in-universe example: the French absurdist comicbook series Philï¿½mon is centered around the idea that labels on maps are actual geographical features, strange lands filled with absurd illogic. The letters that spell out "ATLANTIC OCEAN" are recurring locations in that series, where they're actual islands located in the Atlantic.
- In the Fables spinoff, Jack Of Fables, the title character Jack has been shown to be aware of the audience, both in recaps, and normal panels. This is because he is half-Literal; Literals, are, in essence, "authors" of reality.
- DC Comics Earth-2 Lex Luthor and Superboy have both become aware of the real world, threatening 'us' on seperate occasions.
- Superboy-Prime is from our real world, and has gone so far as to blame DC for ruining his life, because they wrote the comic books where he's such a villain—and his friends and family read them. That's trippy.
- The Crime Syndicate of America aren't aware of the fact that they live in a comic book, but do realize that some unseen entity is constantly preventing them from triumphing over the Justice League.
- The Marvel Comics villainess called The Goddess once gained cosmic power in The Infinity Crusade. One of the realities she planned to destroy was the real world, presented as a person reading one of the 'Crusade' issues. Later, the 'real' world is seen bursting into flames but it proves only to be a telepathic illusion.
- Katy Keene covers would do this. One had Sis even trying to draw the rest of Katy's dress.
- In the 100th issue of Marvel Comics What If?? (subtitled "Greatest Secret Of The Marvel Universe Revealed"),the first story titled Paper Skin shows that realities Gambit is tasked by Mr.Sinister to recover artifacts that will grant Sinister significant power. Rogue ends up discovering what Gambit and Mr.Sinister have been hiding, and in the end is shown sitting in a pile of X-Men comic books, which Mr.Sinister had been collecting to gain outside knowledge of the events within the X-characters world and lives.
- In the second story if the issue as well titled "There's No Place Where You Sleep And Keep All Of Your Stuff aka Earth-Fantastic Voyage", though not quite as straight to the throat as the previous, we find Sue Storm in a parody world of both the F4 comic itself and The Wizard of Oz, and as this world's variant of the Watcher is instructing Sue to follow the "yellowish" road, he insists she hurry as the story is only ten pages long.
- Delirium of the Endless from The Sandman seems to be vaguely aware that she is in some kind of story. In chapter five of "Brief Lives" she tells Dream "I did that. What you just did. In the beginning" after Dream makes a strip club bouncer believe something just by telling him. This is a call back to chapter one when she pulled the same trick on a different bouncer. But why would she, a non-ending being who's existed since the dawn of the universe refer to something so recent as "the beginning"? She's talking about the beginning of the story arc.
- The Purple Man is a dark example of this in Alias, a psychopath with mind-control powers who is fully aware that he's in a comic book.
- Like Deadpool, nobody takes these statements seriously due to his insanity. Jessica Jones is simply shown to be baffled when he tries to explain to her that she lives in a comic book.
- In The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy story "Future Tense," Grim says he can use his scythe to decipher what Nostradamus is talking about, which Mandy considers too convenient.
Mandy: Doesn't this comic have any standards?
- In League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: Century, psychogeographer Andrew Norton seems to not only be aware he's in a comic (telling a baffled League that he enjoyed the second volume) but that he's in a comic that mashes up characters from literature, calling Orlando "the new Vita" (Vita Sackville-West was the inspiration for Virginia Woolf's Orlando) and referring sarcastically to Harry Potter fans.
- Loki knows he is (in) a story, he repeatedly told this to people. The only reason he doesn't break the fourth wall more often seems to be because that's not the kind of story he is. When he wants he can pull stunts like reaching out and giving the reader a flyer (Young Avengers introductory one-shot, it's a teammates and readers wanted ad).
- In Ultra Comics #1, Ultra Comics sees his thought balloons and thinks they make him look dated, so he switches to first person captions.
- This sequence happens at the end of My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic (IDW) #25 (started by Pinkie Pie, of course):
López: Weird things are starting to happen! It's evident that another Jan comic begins!
- Some characters drop quotes of this kind every now and then:
- In the 25th anniversary special, it is implied that ALL characters know they're in a comic book, as nobody bats an eye when Chico comments "Well, Jan's already been drawing us for 25 years..."
- Played straight for one character and subverted for another in an early Bloom County strip, Opus runs into Pac-Man in a bar, who is complaining about the pointlessness of all this eatin' and runnin' while being chased by one's ghosts in this crazy maze-like world. At the end, he violently shakes Opus, asking for him to put it in context as a metaphor; when Opus says, "A video game?", Pac-Man stops, thinks about it, then says, "Naw, it's not that."
- In one example◊ of Doonesbury an extra demonstrates awareness of the swear word censorship by hearing "obscene gerund" instead of the actual swear then wondering exactly what an obscene gerund is.
- Little Nemo in Slumberland:
- In one installment, Nemo, Flip and Imp are so hungry that they begin tearing off lines from their comic panels and knocking down letters from the Little Nemo In Slumberland logo, eating them. Nemo worries that this will upset the artist but Flip maintains that it will teach the person who draws them a lesson. When Flip asks what's in the letters they're eating nemo replies that it's printer's ink as far as he knows.
- A later strip involves all the scenery and objects in the comic suddenly and gradually disappearing including the floor. Nemo is left struggling to keep his footing on the panel borders before getting tangled up in them.
Nemo: (as panel 17 collapses on top of him) Oh Mama! Look what the artist has done to me! Oh!
- The characters in Pearls Before Swine frequently make reference to the fact that they're in a comic strip, often interacting with creator Stephen Pastis's cartoon self, and other "visiting" comic strip characters.
- At one point, Rat even preemptively attacks the cartoonist when he sees one of the cartoon's signature terrible puns coming on.
- Garfield is fond of this as well. In one early strip, he is hit by a shoe which makes the Written Sound Effect "SPLUT!" over his head. He then looks off-panel and says, "Wait a minute! Shoes don't go 'splut'!"
- Another time, he had a cold and pointed to his speech bubble, saying "Loog, eben my thoughts are stuffed ub."
- His creator Jim Davis has used this trope in his other work: Orson told Sheldon their days were "not only numbered, but signed and dated" and he lived each moment as if it was his last panel.
- Swedish cartoonist Jan Romare is very fond of this trope, using it often in Pyton (Python) and Himlens änglar (The Angels of Heaven) with the most common form being characters interacting with the panel borders (hiding outside them, running into them, getting things stuck in them, eating them...)
- This sequence of Tank McNamara sees a pitcher becoming aware of a batter's thought bubbles in the middle of a baseball game.
- Schroeder considers putting in a transfer to a new comic strip in a Peanuts strip from 1952, after Charlie Brown thinks he's talking about baseball when he comments that he has perfect pitch.
- In Krazy Kat, Ignatz and Krazy are both aware that they're drawings who exist in a newspaper, though Krazy sometimes needs to be reminded. Ignatz even takes advantage of his position by asking the "boss" for extra ink when he needs it.
- Beetle Bailey has all kinds of weird gags involving the characters interacting with comic strips elements that are supposed to be only symbolic — such as Sarge eating a "Z" produced by a sleeping Beetle in an effort to get to sleep himself, or characters managing to produce empty speech bubbles.
- Hsu and Chan show medium awareness in both the Slave Labor Graphics comics and the old strips that were featured in EGM. At one point Hsu prepared for a disaster because "that little text-box guy is acting all smug again." Another issue opened with the brothers trying to find a way to get the episode's title out of their house, before finally deciding to leave it there as a table or coat rack.
- In Mass Effect The Equestrian Equation, this occurs in-universe, with Pinkie Pie being the only pony aware that Equestria is a simulation.
- Calvin and Hobbes: The Series - Yes, this fanfic has its own page now.
- The aptly named Code: Omake to Aeon Natum Engel has Rei having this. It gets messy when in the Nobody Dies crossover she meets Terrifying!Rei while footmarking.
- There is a brilliant ATLA fanfic in which the (original) Gaang, after seeing the live-action adaptation, travel to the movie world and fix all the problems.
Cartoon!Sokka: Clearly we are all stuck in some fanfic parody with no real logical basis to it at all.
- And later:
Cartoon!Mai: Try to be careful about breaking the fourth wall around Zuko, okay? He doesn't know, and it tends to freak him out a little.
- And later:
- Used at one point in Mass Vexations as a gag on plot-induced stupidity.
— But that works for my advantage. So I'll chalk it up to happening because the plot says so.
- Link can apparently hear the narrator in Super Paper Mario X, as when he was insulted by said narrator, he claimed that he could hear the narration.
- Pinkie Pie of My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic often takes this role in fanfiction. Antics include but are not limited to directly referencing previous (or future!) chapters, taking shots at slow update schedules, responding directly to the omniscient narration, knowledge of scenes she wasn't present for, and every once in a whiHEY EVERYPONY! Oh wow, this wiki is so much more fun than that last one I went to! They were all grumpy-pants "rawr citation needed >=[" and it was like wow you guys need to have a good party because parties always make people not robots unless they're actually robots which would be AWESOME except for all the clanking but I bet we could make some dance music out of that...
- *ahem* The strange part is that this is a deviation from the canon. Pinkie does have the ability to abuse cartoon physics to her advantage (such as messing with an Iris Out for a punchline), but she is explicitly shown at least once to not possess Medium Awarenessnote . That role falls to Spike instead.
- The Pony POV Series explains that Pinkie has this because she is G3 Pinkie Pie and the Sole Survivor of an apocalypse that universe, during which she became this trope. After a Split-Personality Merge, she becomes somewhat more sane and is capable of weaponizing this trope.
- In The Elements of Friendship, Pinkie Pie seems at least mildly aware that she is in a novel. As does Discord when he appears, even helping the reader with the cipher code for the cryptogram at the end of his debut chapter.
- The fanfiction Human is essentially built on this trope - the titular character claims to be an Elder God in possession of eldritch knowledge (which turns out to be that Equestria is fictional).
- This seems to be the hallmark of Swing 123 - aside from the above page, his other fics use it as well.
- The characters of You Got HaruhiRolled! are well aware that they are in a fanfic, and often measure time in terms of chapters or paragraphs. The best example is during the court case arc, where Kyon lampshades the fic's lack of continuity between arcs, by expressing surprise that Yuki was able to pull off a Chekhov's Gun from an earlier chapter.
- Played with in Akatsuki Kitten: Phoenix Corporation Overhaul, where literally every major character is aware that they are in a fanfiction, though only two of the canon characters can actually hear through the fourth wall. Of the thirteen OCs introduced so far, eleven work directly for the author, and one showed up for only a single chapter. The last is the girl that should be the main character, and is functionally the Only Sane Man for the entire story.
- Cosmic Horror Touhou AU Imperfect Metamorphosis has a scene in which Yuuka smiles serenely at the reader and asks if they're enjoying the story.
- Monokuma in Despair's Last Resort is aware that he's in a fanfiction and comments on how they need to keep the story rated T.
- Tamaki, in The Bank Called Your Reality Check Bounced, subverts the trope by being perfectly well convinced that they are in an anime; he addresses the audience directly (leading other characters to wonder who he's talking to) and mentions having enough time in "this episode" for something. Kyoya, however, eventually explains that they are actually in a fan fiction, and he's apparently been aware of it the entire time.
- In the Contractually Obligated Chaos series, Prince Vince is not only aware that they're all in a bunch of stories, he's following the author on Tumblr and reads each chapter as it's released. It's actually a plot point - he keeps tabs on the heroes by monitoring the story and sends help when he can.
Films — Animation
- An in-universe/possibly deconstructive take on this occurs in Scooby-Doo and the Cyber Chase. In it, the gang is beamed into a video game based on their adventures and run into the player character versions of themselves. Their digital doubles are not only aware of their lives as game characters, but also aware of the repetitious nature of their existence. They know it'll all start over again once the game is beaten. As such, when they got to the last level - a reconstruction of their hometown of Coolsville - they found where the monsters lived, where the goal was and stayed away to build a life for themselves there. This may be why the game's creator stated he was unable to finish the game. The virtual characters may have sabotaged him to keep the game from starting over. Ultimately, they do end up helping the originals finish the game in order to get out.
- Disney's direct-to-DVD film Mickey, Donald, Goofy: The Three Musketeers does this when Captain Pete finishes his Villain Song - as he sings the final triumphant note, the orchestral accompaniment disappears. He looks around bewildered and asks, "Why'd the music stop?"
- Also, whenever he mentions the Opera where he plans to kidnap Princess Minnie and arrange for an impostor to abdicate the throne to him, an operatic fanfare is heard as the camera cuts to a poster of the opera. Pete seems to be aware of the fanfare, and says the third time, "That little ditty's starting to grow on me."
- Over the Hedge ends with Hammy running smack into the camera.
- At the end of Shrek, the heroic ogre palms the camera's lens for privacy before kissing ogre-Fiona.
- In the Rankin/Bass Productions feature film Mad Monster Party, after Francesca has an Inner Monologue about her plan to use Dracula to steal Baron von Frankenstein's secrets, the Monster's Mate suddenly comes to the conclusion that Francesca is scheming with Dracula, and resolves to keep a close eye on her. She then remarks that it's Francesca's own fault for "thinking out loud."
- Aladdin begins with a narrator telling the viewer to come closer, prompting the camera to come in and hit him in the nose. "Too close, a little too close!"
Films — Live-Action
- The Muppets:
- In The Muppet Movie, Kermit would explain his situation to other characters he had just met by giving them a copy of the script.
- The Great Muppet Caper also has many Medium Awareness moments, beginning with the main characters watching and commenting on the opening credits, and continuing with numerous self-aware comments:
Peter Ustinov: What are you doing here?
Oscar the Grouch: A very brief cameo.
Peter Ustinov: Me too.
- Muppet Treasure Island also uses this to amusing effect. At one point the rats—who have been treating the boat as a cruise ship—are touring the titular island. The tour guide comments that this is setting of the film "Muppet Treasure Island."
- There are also several moments where the cast does acknowledge that they're singing, especially during "Professional Pirate" when Long John Silver mentions that it's his only number and tells the pirates to show that they've been practicing.
- Also when Billy Bones dies Rizzo says "He died?! But this is supposed to be a kids' movie!"
- The Swedish Chef's intro in the movie - as the cook for the island's natives. The cast justifies this by saying "Well, how else do you think we were gonna get him in this movie?" Makes sense when one considers that the obvious job for him - chef on the ship - was filled by Long John Silver.
- This was played with after the song "Cabin Fever". Clueless Morgan asks "What was that song that just happened?" The other prisoners think he's lost it.
- Mel Brooks has a lot of fun with this trope:
- Spaceballs: When Lone Starr talks about how they won't get too far with the blazing sun of the desert planet overhead, the screen dissolves into the fading sun...and Barf says, "Nice dissolve." Also, when searching for Lone Starr, the villains watch a video tape of the movie itself to find him. Even though (as Dark Helmet points out) the movie isn't finished yet. The entire movie has meta-references to itself being a commercial property, with the Spaceball store, the Spaceball Lunchbox, and the Spaceball Flame Thrower. And..."You've captured their stunt doubles!!!" Or Dark Helmet banging his head against a camera... Or killing a cameraman with his Schwartz in the final fight.
- Robin Hood: Men in Tights has many examples of this trope, including the opening scene. A village is attacked with flaming arrows, and the flames on the buildings form the names of the actors, producers, etc. At the end of the scene, however, the irate villagers curse Mel Brooks (the director of the film) for including this scene. "Every time they make a Robin Hood movie they burn our village down!"
Robin: I lost! I lost? Wait a second, I'm not supposed to lose... Let me see the script."
- A line from the end of that sequence: "LEAVE US ALONE, MEL BROOKS!"
- In another scene, a camera slowly zooms in to a closed window of the castle where Marion is bathing. In the next scene, Marion is in the bath, when the camera comes crashing through the window.
- From the same film, the characters consult the script to confirm that Robin does, in fact, get another shot.
- And in Blazing Saddles, Hedley goes to the opening of Blazing Saddles and finds out Bart and Jim have tracked him down when the movie screen shows them outside the theater... and they then go into the theatre to find out how things end...
- A scene in Austin Powers in Goldmember featured Austin talking to a Japanese executive, with his speech subtitled. However, portions of the text blended in against parts of the scene that were the same color as the subtitles, causing the sentence to be altered to inappropriate comments (e.g., Please eat some shitake mushrooms), and Austin would look outraged until Foxy moved the objects causing the disturbance. Eventually the executive says, "Why don't I just speak in English?" Austin replies, "Yeah, you should! Then I wouldn't have to read the subtitles and it wouldn't look like you were saying things that are dirty!" followed by smiling at the viewer.
- At the end of Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Movie, Mike and the 'bots riff on their own credits. "Puppet wranglers? There weren't any puppets in this movie."
- In Monty Python and the Holy Grail, the prince of Swamp Castle is about to start a musical number, and the background music begins playing, but he is immediately interrupted by his father, who demands that there shall be no singing. This gag is repeated several times, until the king is unable to interrupt and the singing number actually begins, complete with spontaneously forming supporting chorus. (As you can imagine, the prince's father has even more trouble stopping the singing in Spamalot, the musical based on the movie.)
- "It's the old man from Scene 24!"
- When they reach Camelot, Patsy is well aware that the castle itself is "only a model".
- The entire "Get On With It" bit during the Castle Anthrax scene. In the middle of repeating what a terrible person Zoot is, Dingo suddenly stops, faces the camera, and asks if this scene should have been cut. Two characters from previous scenes insist that theirs were better before characters from previous and later scenes demand that they GET ON WITH IT!
- In Monty Python's Life of Brian, a subtler example (which could reasonably be a well-crafted Leaning on the Fourth Wall — it's left ambiguous) has Eric Idle's character saying "You'll see it's all a show… Keep 'em laughing as you go!" in the last musical number Always look at the bright side of life (sung by Idle, Brian and all the other characters who have been sentenced to death).
- Leap Year: The first title card says "The opening scene of the trouble is a shot of Piper Hall, with a doctor approaching the house." Then the film actually does start with such a shot. Other scene transitions are similarly announced. At the end the characters are self aware as well. After Phyllis accepts Fatty's proposal of marriage, he shakes her hand and says "Thanks! Let's have a fade out without the usual clinch!" And that's what happens as the movie ends.
- The Gamers (the 2002 Dead Gentlemen video, not the 2006 film) ends with the player characters killing their own players, thinking that they're evil wizards, then commenting on/editing their own character sheets.
- The movie The Truman Show is all about this trope. In a more realistic way than most other examples; Truman's world really is a stage that he's being filmed on.
- In Stranger Than Fiction, Will Ferrell is a fictional character who becomes aware that he's in a novel when he hears a female voice narrating his life. As such, he gets a nasty shock when he hears her narrate about his "imminent death".
- At the beginning of the movie Johnny Dangerously, the year 1935 is laid over a busy street scene to set the flashback. Within a few seconds, a car crashes into the number.
- At one point in The Imposters, a character is eavesdropping on someone talking in a (gibberish) foreign language, which is captioned for the viewers. He eventually realizes that the captions are reflected in the mirror he is facing, and works out what is being said by reading them.
- Fight Club. Durden points out the "cigarette burn" marks indicating when film reels should be changed in a movie. There also his interesting... habit of splicing single frames of pornography into family-friendly films (and the film itself). In the original theater release reels that particular reel was actually cut about 5 minutes short so the mark he pointed out (which was actually extended by a few frames for effect) was actually marking a real reel change.
- There are the splices of Tyler himself throughout the movie whenever the narrator has insomnia.
- The Brick Joke exchange at the end of the movie, which repeats the scene from the opening (Tyler: "Do you want to say something?"; Narrator: "I can't think of anything") but changes a line - "I still can't think of anything." "Ah, Flashback humor."
- In both Wayne's World movies, Wayne is constantly talking to and interacting with the camera. Even Ed O'Neil did for a moment, before being reminded by Wayne that "only me and Garth get to talk to the camera".
Very well. If that is your custom, prepare to die.
- In the scene where Wayne is speaking with Cassandra in Cantonese, Wayne appears to be reading the subtitles while speaking, until he stops talking and the subtitles continue the dialogue.
- In another he speaks to her father in (subtitled) Cantonese and is challenged to a fight. He accepts, but asks that the fight be dubbed rather than subtitled.
- The gas station scene from the sequel. When the station attendant proves to be a horrible actor, he is replaced on screen by Charlton Heston. For added bonus, the crew member doing the switch is the actual director.
- The entire movie of Last Action Hero is essentially this to a T. The main character (and sidekick of Arnold) continually points out that he and Arnold's character of Jack Slater are in a movie. Perhaps ironically, the trope is also subverted and applied at the same time when Jack Slater finds himself in a real world and keeps acting like he's in a movie — making references and so forth without being in a movie... making the trope's execution decidedly meta at that point. The whole thing is one big Lampshade Hanging of the concept of an action movie.
- And then we have the ending of the film, where Jack Slater returns to the movie world with full knowledge of being a movie character and begins to refer to everything around him much like the main once did.
- The German 2004 comedy Der Wixxer and its 2007 sequel:
- It parodies a number of popular (also German) crime movies from the 1950s and -60s based on novels by Edgar Wallace. In recognition of the age of the source material, one prominent location is Blackwhite Castle, "one of the last black and white castles in the United Kingdom", where the action is filmed almost completely in black and white with the characters commenting on the palette change. (It's only 'almost' because one renovated wing of the castle is in fact in color, to the visitors' initial surprise.) In the 2007 sequel, they even used a black-white to color switch to defuse a bomb.
- While the detective inspects a crime scene ominous music plays. When he turns and exasperatedly says, "Oh cut it out boys!" the camera moves to some police men with music instruments who now stop playing and apologetically scamper off.
- In the second movie, a fake commercial break is inserted into the movie which at first looks perfectly real until it turns out the commercials (for dating hotlines and handy downloads) are parodies, too.
- National Lampoon's action film parody Loaded Weapon 1 features a scene where the protagonist hurts his leg on the subtitles and kicks them away. Another scene has Whoopi Goldberg's character aware of the clock subtitle when she leaves her message on her cop friend's answering machine. She even updates the time she mentions when she notices the clock change by 1 minute. When Whoopi feigns ignorance of the microfiche Mr. Jigsaw questions her about, he replies "Don't be coy with me, Ms York. This is too important...and it's also the plot."
- Bugsy Malone: Fat Sam says something in Italian. But his henchman, Knuckles, is Jewish and doesn't understand Italian. He is told to read the translation as the subtitle appears onscreen.
- Ridiculous spoof comedy Fatal Instinct has several such moments, including this interaction: "You speak Yiddish?" "No, but I can read the subtitles." - at which point, the two characters discussing the murder/insurance fraud plot look down at their subtitles and Face Palm.
- Who Framed Roger Rabbit is all about this trope, with the Toons knowing that they're cartoons made of ink and paint. Then again though they don't know they're in a movie about Toons that know they're cartoons, so it may not count.
- At least until the very end.
- The Man with Two Brains had an incident where Steve Martin's character, while driving in Europe, is stopped by a policeman who speaks to him in French with subtitles. When the policeman realizes that Martin's character can speak English, he has the subtitles turned off, happily remarking "Now we have much more room down there!"
- In George of the Jungle characters interact with the narrator more than once. For example:
Max: Thor! Were you arguing with the narrator?Thor: Well he started it.Narrator: Did not.
Narrator: Wait a minute, you're not George!George 2: Me new George! Studio too cheap to pay Brendan Fraser.
- The sequel played with it as well.
- Return of the Killer Tomatoes has lines like "Excuse me, miss, has there been a Car Chase in this movie yet?" and "Notice how everything we set up in the first reel pays off in the last? Pretty slick, huh?" When a character needs something to write on, he uses a copy of the movie's own script. However, the crowning point is when the movie runs out of budget halfway through and restarts loaded with incredibly blatant (and acknowledged) Product Placement.
- Julie from Scott Pilgrim vs. The World has a black censor bar flash over her mouth whenever she swears. Scott blatantly asks her "How are you doing that with your mouth?"
- Farce of the Penguins implies that all of the characters are aware that they're in a documentary, featuring scenes such as Marcus telling the sound track director to change from stock music to hip-hop because if he's gonna be walking 70 miles, "the track best be bumpin'," and a few characters talking to or full-blown arguing with Samuel L. Jackson, the narrator.
- Several of the porn parodies of Star Trek poke fun at Star Trek and porn movies by doing this.
"Should we go after them?" "No, they'll be gone for about twelve and a half minutes, the average length of time of an adult movie sex scene.""As you can see, there are many corridors on the ship, not just one shot from different camera angles.""We'll find you some clothing out of the ship's stores, something trashy with strappy high heels. You know, like a female porn star wears."
- One skit in The Kentucky Fried Movie has a reporter interviewing a band of terrorists. The leader starts explaining why they hate America, then stops and starts yelling in outrage because he noticed that, despite his perfect English, he's being subtitled. The skit devolves into him proving how good his English is by yelling out tongue twisters, and complaining that his compatriots are not being subtitled.
- The Stinger of X-Men Origins: Wolverine hinted at this, with Deadpool's body crawling toward his head, which looks up at the audience and shushes them, so that they won't spill the secret that decapitation didn't kill him.
- Funny Games. The entire film is a direct attack on the audience, solidified by the fact that a character talks to the camera, addressing the audience and even so much as changing the entire outcome of the film by literally grabbing a remote control and rewinding a particular scene in order to avoid it.
- Quarantine features an infected individual being beaten to death with the camera. The cameraman then spends the next minute or so wiping the lens clean of blood.
- An early scene in Equilibrium is shot from overhead and has a (vertically ejected) shell casing bounce off the camera lens. The filmmakers deemed it important enough to modify the pistol at significant expense, then have it animated in when they couldn't get the trick to work right mechanically.
- The lettering of the Zombieland opening credits is sent flying when hit by debris, people fleeing zombies or swinging weapons and so on. "The Rules" appear hanging from ceilings, painted on the ground, getting splattered with blood and so on, but aren't "really" there.
- In New Moon, early on when Jacob is fighting another werewolf over Bella, they tumble into the nearby woods, where they crash into the camera tripod and knock it over, screwing up the focus and filming everything sideways for a moment.
- Tropic Thunder opens with commercials and movie trailers starring the main characters of the film within the film.
- Monty Python and the Holy Grail ends with cops arresting everyone, and one of them covers the camera with his hand.
- Spaceballs, the Movie.
Prepare to Fast Forward!
- The Thursday Next books have the books footnotes heard by characters, and used as a contact network. The characters from the BookWorld are very impressed by Thursday's ability to know who's talking even when there's no character tags. This is merely the tip of a iceberg of metatextual fun.
- The Terry Pratchett book Only You Can Save Mankind has aliens in a computer game who seek safety from ruthless humans (the players, blasting them away with careless abandon) beyond "the barrier". The barrier turns out to be an enormous "Game Over" sign. Their environment itself was effected by how aware of the genre trappings the person was. Johnny, whose imagination tends to towards friendly aliens sees them and their ships as non-hostile. Kirsty, who's seen movies and "knows how these things should go" sees the ship's corridors as slime-covered dungeons and the aliens as slavering, razor-toothed monsters. When they hear an alien coming and discover that instead of an armed guard, it's a small and friendly tea-lady, Kirsty complains that Johnny's doing it wrong.
- Shows up a number of times in The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales. For starters, Chicken Licken finds out that it's not the sky that's falling, it's the table of contents. (Rule of Funny since none of the book's pages are even numbered.)
- Sometimes, the characters of Robert Rankin's Armageddon The Musical series realize that they are in a film. Even though it's a series of books. (The final one even had film credits!)
- Other times, they know that they are in a book. After a major sex scene, the characters involved are annoyed that the entire scene was simply whited out. Some of the characters taunt each other by saying that, if they make fun of the plot, they'll just simply be removed. Characters complaining about a Running Gag has even become a Running Gag ("I hope that's not going to be a running gag. It's crap.") And let's not get start about how one character was able to find where Elvis and his time-traveling sprout went by looking at the previous book.
- At various points in Spike Milligan's novel Puckoon, the character Dan Milligan objects to The Author's treatment of him, resulting in a series of very funny Medium Awareness gags.
- In John Barnes's One for the Morning Glory, the characters are aware that they are in a Fairy Tale. They are also aware that they do not know what their role in said fairy tale is, which inspires due caution.
"This is not how these tales end," Calliope said firmly.
"This is not the way that things end when they get to be tales," Amatus said, "but since ours is not told yet, we cannot count on it. There were a hundred dead princes on the thorns outside Sleeping Beauty's castle, and I'm sure many of them were splendid fellows."
- Jackson in Butterfly's Effect not only shows Medium Awareness, he is also Genre Savvy to the point of being dangerous. When discussing his brother and sister's situation
"Imagine we're in a book. You two WILL fall in love but separate because society will never accept you, your baby will turn out fine thanks to the fact fiction is, well, fiction and you two will go on to live your own happy lives while carrying a torch for each other 'til the day you both die. END OF STORY!"
- And at the end, we get him shrieking to nobody in particular, "I TOLD YOU SO!"
- In one illustrated Winnie-the-Pooh book, when the title character finds himself stranded on a branch too high to safely jump off, he climbs down the block of text on the page. This idea is also used in the animated adaptation...in which the characters are also in a book.
- One of Dave Barry's many books contains a bit in which he includes an incredibly short (four pages) novel which is very, very obviously being written with the hope that it will be made into a movie. At the end of the book, two of the characters are standing around when the movie end credits begin scrolling up from the bottom of the screen. "Hey," one of them says, "these names are backwards."
- Also playing on the Book-into-Movie medium is the initial description of the hero:
- The Divine Comedy. Didn't expect that, did you? Dante addresses the reader (he specifically uses "reader") more than thrice in Purgatorio alone.
- In Sophie's World, an introduction to philosophy textbook thinly disguised as a novel, has the main characters realising they're in a book and plotting to escape. At one point Sophie is instructed to do very interesting things for a while so that the narrative will focus on her, letting the other character make plans in secrecy.
- The Lord of the Rings parody Bored of the Rings has several instances of this, one of the most notable being when one of the party members asks how much further to their destination and another "looks across the vast expanse of pages to the right" and replies they have a long way to go yet.
- In The White Chess Queen, a never-completed sequel the Strugatsky brothers intended for their science-fiction classic The Inhabited Island, Maxim would have encountered some wise man who was in charge of all the trouble around. As the hero tells that man about a better way of living on the Communist Utopia Earth, he's told that the whole thing is impossible and if Maxim was raised in such a society, he's probably a character in the book. Guess why this sequel have never seen the light.
- A rare serious example appears in some of Robert A. Heinlein's later works, most notably The Number of the Beast and The Cat Who Walks Through Walls. In them, he developed his "World as Fiction" concept, where every fictional world ever created exists as an alternate reality. Eventually the characters come to realize that every universe, including their own, exist as fiction somewhere else.
- Gene Wolfe's "The Last Thrilling Wonder Story": the hero knows he's in a story and has conversations with the author. And then there's this gem:
Sir! Mr. Wolfe, sir!For Pete's sake, Brick. You'll wake everyone up.They can't hear me. They're on another part of the page.
- In Sonic The Hedgehog And The Silicon Warriors Sonic mentions the reader and the fact he's in the book several times, with the added bonus that he knows he's normally a videogame character too, commenting that the Mystic Cave Zone had great background music.
'But aren't we videogame characters anyway?' asked Tails, who had joined them by the ailing rabbit.
- Later when the inhabitants of Green Hill Zone are infected by a virus we get this gem:
'Well normally, yes' Sonic agreed, 'but at the moment we're characters in a book. Look, this talk is all getting very complicated, and we've got a real problem to deal with here.'
- In the third novel of Noob, which is set in a Fictional Video Game, the protagonists have to sneak into the enemy capital for the purpose of an investigation. Mission Control gives them a serum that will make them blend into the capital's population. The only thing the serum does is change the cursor over their heads that marks them as Empire players in the game's interface and has their Online Alias written on it: the color changes from the Empire's yellow to the Coalition red and gives them a Sdrawkcab Alias.
- In Redshirts, one character realizes that the starship Intrepid is part of a mediocre sci-fi show, which kills off ensigns regularly to heighten the drama. The only way to survive is to "avoid the Narrative". At the end of the novel, Dahl realizes that he's the hero of this very book.
- Journey to Chaos: Tasio the Trickster is aware that he is a character in a fantasy novel. He can even get his hands on a copy of Looming Shadow (it was full of blank pages, but otherwise correct).
- The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air: Will Smith's character describes another character to Carlton as "The dude who be spinning me over his head in the opening credits"
- The episode above ended with Will deciding to stay in Philadelphia. The following episode started with him being kidnapped. Will seems to know the men and asks why they're kidnapping him. The kidnappers respond by saying the show couldn't be called "The Fresh Prince of Philadelphia." He is then shoved into an NBC van.
- Another episode's Cold Open involved Uncle Phil lecturing his children on how they didn't have to worry about money. As they leave the room, Smith says to the audience, "We so rich, why we can't afford no ceiling?" The camera pans up to reveal the ceiling-less top of the set they're filming in.
- When Baby Nicky undergoes Soap Opera Rapid Aging Syndrome, Jazz asks Will about it, who mumbles confusedly.
- Even more amusing, Jazz first asked "Who's playing the mom this year?" (lampshading the previous change in actresses.) Post-SORAS Nicky comes out and answers "It's the same mom!" which prompts Jazz's confusion.
- The season prior, after the actress switch, Jazz told Vivian that she looked different ever since she had the baby. Will responds with an Aside Glance.
- In yet another episode, Will convinces Carlton that one of his pranks has resulted in Will killing a woman, which results in Carlton hysterically running through every set of the episode and finally into the studio audience.
- Abed, from Community. In the show, it's played off as him being unable to tell life and TV apart (and being a general oddball). However, his comments seem to be just too spot-on sometimes.
- In one episode, Jeff asks him to stop continually referencing how things they do adhere to TV tropes. Abed's response? "That's sort of my gimmick, but we did lean on that pretty hard last week. I can lay low for an episode." And he plays no further part in that episode's story.
- Played for Drama in "Abed's Uncontrollable Christmas". To us, Abed is seeing what we're seeing: the episode is in stop-motion. To his friends, Abed is having a mental breakdown.
- In the season 1 finale, Abed refuses to let Troy move in with him because it will make them Jump The Shark. Troy is offended, since he thought that was Happy Days' best episode.
- In the series 2 finale he pointed out that the show was heading into a Star Wars motif, saying he's disappointed it took so long.
- A rare non-Abed example, at the end of the series 2 Dungeons And dragons episode the narrator was revealed to be the college cleaning lady, who addresses the camera and says goodnight to the audience.
- This is Abed's role in the S5 episode "G.I. Jeff" where it's even lampshaded by his GI Joe Expy being called Fourth Wall.
- And then there's S5's episode "Basic Story" where Abed's Medium Awareness nearly causes him to go insane as he tries to keep the story - and thus the show - from ending. In the second half, "Basic Sandwich" there's even a Leaning on the Fourth Wall moment when he does an Aside Glance to the viewer, causing Annie to wonder who he was looking at.
- Green Acres liked this trope:
- In at least one episode the opening credits were painted on the furniture in the main characters' farmhouse.
- In another, while both lying in bed, Lisa asks Oliver, "Who are [names of two people featured in the opening credits]? I just had a dream where their names were floating above us."
- In another episode, Mr. Ziffel waits at Mr Douglas' house while the credits appear behind him, only for them to disappear when he turns around. When Mr. Ziffel manages to turn around on time, he says, "Gotcha!" Mr. Douglas appears and asks, "Got what?" Ziffel says, "The names!"
- Every time Oliver makes some long-winded, heartfelt speech about life in the country, patriotic fife-and-drum music starts playing, prompting everybody to wonder where it comes from. In one episode, Oliver listened to a recording of himself and murmured in astonishment, "Is that a fife?"
- Arnie Becker, finding himself in a thorny situation in The Teaser in one episode of L.A. Law, shouts, "Close the trunk!" This leads to the opening credits, which always began with a shot of a car's trunk being closed.
- An episode of The Facts of Life featured Tootie trying to sneak up on a Serial Killer, only to complain that the loud ominous music was spoiling her stealth. It was All Just a Dream.
- In the all puppet version of the Muppet show Dog City, Ace finds a note from his father that contains a strange postscript, "Dum-Dum-De-Dum." When his girlfriend wonders what that is supposed to mean, they both suddenly hear the equivalent notes played out of nowhere and she realizes that it's a music cue. They suddenly realize the big reveal of the plot and suddenly, and without irony, sing along with the replayed cue, "Dum-Dum-De-Dum!"
- In an early episode of Roseanne dramatic music plays each time the word "audit" is used. The characters begin waiting for it it to happen and are freaked out by it.
- In Mystery Science Theater 3000, the Satellite of Love had "Commercial Sign", a light that indicated it was time to begin the commercial break. (The break itself wouldn't start until a character triggered it by touching the light.) For further redundancy, the Magic Voice would count down until the start of each episode's first Commercial Sign. This was dropped in later seasons.
- It was later revealed by Joel Hodgson that the Mads were taping the events of the series and selling them to Comedy Central. Thus, it is entirely possible that the series events are broadcast live in-universe, and Commercial Sign is simply the necessary extension of this.
- In the Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode "Once More With Feeling", after learning that Dawn has been captured, Buffy remarks "....Must be Tuesday". Tuesday is when Buffy aired on UPN.
- In the same episode Anya comments on their number in the apartment, saying "It was 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."
- Similarly to Buffy's Tuesday line, in the Season Finale of season 3 of Arrow, Laurel bursts into her father's office and says the entire city is under threat. Quentin responds "Really? It must be May!" - a reference to the fact the two previous seasons also ended in May with a finale of the entire city being under threat.
- In the Doctor Who episode "Forest Of The Dead", when Donna is trapped in a computer simulation of ordinary life, she experiences the usual TV-style jump-cuts between scenes as gaps in her memory. At first she's confused and her therapist Dr. Moon has to tell her what happened during the parts we didn't see. Later on she starts filling in the gaps herself: "You said you were tired, so we put the kids to bed and watched TV for a bit, and then we came up to bed." It's clear to the audience that the computer is using this device as a way to fast-forward Donna through several years of virtual life in a few minutes.
- Though, to be honest, the series has had several bizarre affairs with this trope. A perfect example comes up in The Caves of Androzani, where the Doctor dies of an exotic poison and regenerates into his sixth incarnation (played by Colin Baker), and then proceeds to explain what happened by turning to the camera with a bizarre smirk on his face and explaining "Change... And by the looks of it, not a moment too soon." Of course, later episodes showed that this Doctor may well be borderline insane anyhow, so it could well be explained like that.
- In the episode "Blink", the behavior of the angels — who can move with blinding speed but are "quantum locked" in stone when anybody looks at them — only makes sense when you realize that the camera counts as an observer. When the audience sees them, they're frozen, even if nobody else is looking at them.
- Until season five, when in the episode "Flesh and Stone" the camera shows the angels slowly realizing that a blindfolded character can't actually see them. The resulting scene of the supposedly solid statues turning their heads to look at Amy definitely qualifies as terrifying.
- Don't forget, those Angels moved very slowly...and there's a shutter passing behind the lens of the camera 24 times a second...
- As with the Buffy example above, the Doctor asks a passing milkman in "The Stolen Earth" what day it is. The Doctor responds with "Saturday. Good. Good, I like Saturdays," which is a nod to the show's main broadcast night on BBC One.
- Similarly, there is one at the end of the interactive game "Attack of the Graske" that gives a nod to ITV.
- The Eleventh Doctor is also a big fan of Saturdays, calling them "Big temporal tipping points where anything could happen!". This fits in with the more timey-wimey nature of new showrunner Steven Moffat's stories.
- Boston Legal plays with this trope at least once or twice per episode. An interesting thought experiment is to watch the fourth wall breaks and try to work out whether anyone other than Denny can actually see the credits/hear the theme music/etc, or if they're just humoring him. Jerry certainly can. He's sung the theme song twice, after all.
- The characters of The Basil Brush Show seem to be well aware that they are in a television programme and often reference this.
- The Monkees did this frequently. Many episodes contain references to the fact that they are characters in a TV show.
- In the season 2 finale of House, House goes from a hallway shot directly to a stairwell shot, and then stops, looks at the stairwell, and mentions that he has no idea how he appeared in the stairwell. To viewers, it's a scene jump. To poor House, who's leaning against the Fourth Wall it's vanished timenote .
- Monty Python's Flying Circus loves this trope, as well as Breaking the Fourth Wall in general.
(Exterior shot: a door opens and Sir William appears out of it into the fresh air. He suddenly halts.)
- In the "Society for Putting Things on top of Other Things" sketch, the characters are aware when the recording medium changes from video (inside the building) to film (any shots taken from outside):
Sir William: Good Lord. I'm on film. How did that happen?
(He turns round and disappears into the building again. He reappears through door, crosses set and goes out through another door. Exterior: he appears from the door into the fresh air and then stops.)
Sir William: It's film again. What's going on?
(He turns and disappears through the door again. Cut to him inside the building. He crosses to a window and looks out, then turns and says...)
Sir William: Gentlemen! I have bad news. This room is surrounded by film.
Members: What! What!
(Several members run to window and look out. Cut to film of them looking out of a window. Cut to studio: the members run to a door and open it. Cut to film: of them appearing at the door hesitating and then closing door. Cut to studio: with increasing panic they run to the second door. Cut to film: they appear, hesitate, and go back inside. Cut to studio: they run to Sir William in the centre of the room.)
A Member: We're trapped!
Second Policeman: Namely, simply ending every bleeding sketch by having a policeman come in and.. wait a moment.Third Policeman: Hold it!Second Policeman: It's a fair cop!(The hand of a fourth policeman then enters frame to seize the third policeman by the shoulder.)
- The Argument Clinic ends with a policeman trying to arrest everyone for ending the sketch without a proper punchline.
Customer: Sorry about this. Normally we try and avoid these little pauses. Longeurs. Only dramatically he's gone down to the basement, you see. 'Course, there isn't really a basement, but he just goes off and we pretend. Actually what happens is he just goes off there, off-camera, and just waits there so it looks as though he's gone down to the basement. Actually, I think he's rather overdoing it. Ah!"
- When a chemist (Michael Palin) goes off-screen, his customer (Eric Idle) fills the space with:
(The chemist is shown standing on the edge of the set, sees the camera, and rushes to get back into the sketch.)Chemist (out of breath): Sorry, Sir. Lot of steps.Customer: (Winks at camera)
- During one of the laboratory scenes for the Science-Fiction Sketch (Men Turning Into Scotsman/Killer Blancmanges), the scientist's Dumb Blonde companion says something dramatic, and it's followed by a sting of dramatic music. It prompts her to look around and ask if there's someone at the door, thinking it might be the doorbell, and the scientist responds it's just the incidental music for the scene.
- Honey, I Shrunk the Kids: Every time a one-shot villain's name is said, very dramatic music plays. The family wonders where it comes from. They then find a series of trumpet players hiding in odd places on the set and shoo them off.
- In the very weird fourth and last season of ‘Til Death, one of the characters realizes that he is in fact a character on a sitcom. He realizes that he can't swear or have sex, and he notices that four different actresses have played his wife.
- In Sonny with a Chance, Sonny and Tawny are talking when they hear a violin variant of a Scare Chord; Sonny pulls back one of the curtains to reveal that it's Zora's doing. The second time, however...
- Saved by the Bell - the show was so well-known for Zack Morris' talking to the audience - among other things - that 'Time Out!' could be the Trope Namer for this.
- Classic lines from The Young Ones:
- "Oil" - after being spun about in a state-of-the-80s-art screen effect:
Rick: I wish they wouldn't do that!
Neil: It's the passage of time, Rick.
- "Summer Holiday":
Vyv: Oh look, here comes the postman.
Mike: Vyvyan, why do you keep telling us what's just about to happen?
Vyv: We're on a small set, Michael. There isn't any room for a long shot.
Neil's mother: Look how flimsy this chair is! [she grabs a chair that falls apart immediately]
Mike: Actually that's a trick chair that Rick was supposed to get hit in the back with in the next scene.
[shortly after that a policeman bursts into the room and breaks a real chair on Rick's back]
- "Oil" - after being spun about in a state-of-the-80s-art screen effect:
- Episode 3 of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy begins with a potted history of the Galactic Empire, signified by the coat of arms of the Empire floating in space. Then a spaceship containing a Real Man, a Real Woman and a Real Small Furry Creature from Alpha Centauri crashes into it.
- Malcolm in the Middle is all about a dysfunctional teen who tells the viewers about his difficulties - at one point, he's called out on "talking to himself", but every other time, people ignore him. This isn't limited to realtime, and he'll often announce a fatal error in-progress and slow the show down to yell "Abort!" (with normal speed) (and resumes making the error anyway, still slowed).
- Which all implies that the "face the camera" segments are just internal monologue, rather than any real acknowledgement of the fictional universe.
- One episode of Angel had Lorne speaking directly to what was purportedly a nightclub audience. Then the show cuts to commercials, and when it comes back...
Lorne: Well, those were some exciting products. Am I right? Mmm. Let's all think about buying some of those.
- J.D. in Scrubs has elements of this. Sometimes it's just Leaning on the Fourth Wall (like when it looks like he's noticed the ABC logo), sometimes it isn't. In particular, he's shown awareness of (or at least thinks he's imagining) the drums that lead into the opening titles (in one episode he mimes them as they play), the Sentimental Music Cue (in "My Old Friend's New Friend") and the weird sound effect that plays when characters exit (in "My Happy Place").
- This may not be medium awareness. The show clearly takes place from his perspective, so the music may actually be a part of his imagination. He notes on one occasion that it sounds like that "in his head".
- The plot of Red Dwarf: Back to Earth.
- Lilly in Hannah Montana begins to develop some of this in season 3 to go along with her Genre Savvy when she not only knows that her fantasy sequence is about to appear, but is able to point out to Miley where on screen it will be appearing.
- The episode "Sun Tea" of 30 Rock aired during NBC's 2009 Green Week. Since the show is about the production of a (fictional) show that airs on NBC, naturally the characters are all aware of this fact. At one point it's mentioned that for Green Week the NBC Peacock logo that sits in the corner is turned green, at which point Kenneth looks directly at it in the corner of the screen.
- Stargate SG-1
- In "Small Victories" two red shirts on a Russian submarine are investigating a noise. One says to the other in Russian "maybe it's one of the bugs from the other episode."
- Another Episode has Sam humming the theme song in an elevator. Col. O'Niel questions her about it.
- Yet another has a combo of this and a continuity nod to the movie when the Colonel insists that a reporter get the spelling of his name right, alluding to the fact that the character in the movie and the same character in the TV show spell their names differently
- Phil of the Future sometimes played with this trope. One example had Pym pondering about something her father, Lloyd, had said to her earlier in the episode, with Lloyd appearing in a "thought balloon" and repeating his earlier line. After Pym continues to reflect silently for some length of time, her father impatiently addresses her from within the insert:
Lloyd: Look, are you about done with this flashback? 'Cause I have stuff to do...
- In several episodes of Psych, either Shawn or Gus has observed, "We solve a murder a week. And usually one around Christmas."
- On an episode of Seinfeld George says "All you see on TV these days is four morons sitting in an apartment whining about their dates!"
- Even more so when Jerry was introducing the Clip Shows, he would address the camera, in character.
Jerry: You know it seems like every week a whole new set of problems would spring up over night, except for the summer, where nothing would happen for months at a time.
- Even more so when Jerry was introducing the Clip Shows, he would address the camera, in character.
- In newer episodes, Adam Savage will have one-sided conversations with the MythBusters editors, asking them to replay a clip or put two scenes together in split-screen.
- Even in older episodes, Adam would often predict how the episode would be cut. He did this as early as the first "What Is Bulletproof" episode, where he predicted a cut to Jamie (in season one) saying that their blast screens would "stop a bullet".
- In one Christmas Episode of Married... with Children, Al and Peggy try to watch TV together and both hate anything the other one wants to watch. Halfway through, Al goes to the bathroom, turns to the camera...
Al: And I really hate this commercial![commercial break]
- An extremely subtle one in Firefly, with this exchange:
River: (Jayne)'s scared of us. Scared we'll know.Simon: Since when?River: Since Ariel.
Wash: Psychic, though? That sounds like something out of science fiction.Zoe: We live on a spaceship, dear.
- 'Ariel' being the name of the episode where Jayne betrayed them. Okay, so it could equally be that River means 'Ariel'-the-planet where the action happened, as in 'since we were on Ariel'). But the no-fourth-walliness intention of the phrasing is confirmed by Word Of Joss on the commentary. This is after all the science fiction show with the following exchange:
- In one episode of Boy Meets World, Cory gets caught in a Two-Timer Date scenario and Shawn teaches him to play it out like Fred did in one episode of The Flintstones, leading to this exchange:
Shawn: ...and Fred never spent more than 75 seconds at either location.Shawn: Trust me, it's the same thing.Cory: No it's not. You see a television show can cover many days in only one half-hour program.Shawn: Trust me, it's the same thing.Cory: (shrugging) Okay!
- The characters of How I Met Your Mother occasionally seem to know that they exist only in Future!Ted's memories. Especially obvious in "The Mermaid Theory", where Future!Ted forgets what happened in the middle of a story, and when his narration trails off into "no that's not right...hang on a minute...let me think..." Barney and Lily, who are frozen mid-conversation on the couch glance anxiously into the camera, break character completely and scowl in exasperation, and impatiently check their watches as Future!Ted continues to flounder.
- It's Garry Shandling's Show is arguably the ur-example of all things Breaking the Fourth Wall-related, and the entire premise behind the Lampshade-eriffic show. The theme song was made up entirely of lyrics like "This is the music that you hear/When you watch the credits." Garry would talk to — and with — the crew and audience; move between scenes by walking around the walls of the sets (or driving by golf cart); declare time lapses if he didn't feel like waiting for something (and once missed a visit from a guest because another character did a time lapse without his permission). One episode featured Gilda Radner (her last role before her untimely death), and Garry chastised her for looking into the camera. Only he was allowed to Break The Fourth Wall.
- Wizards of Waverly Place:
- Alex from declares the start and end of her Falling In Love Montage with Mason, and in another episode, stops talking for about a minute to prove that comedies are unfunny without dialog.
- In the episode "Magic Unmasqued", Alex starts to have a flashback and tells it to go away.
- Thank God You're Here does this sometimes, particularly when Shaun Micaleff is on. In one sketch he enters a scene looks at the fourth wall and audience and says to another character, "I love what you've done with the place, you've had this wall taken out and all these people put in."
- During the Saturday Night Live B-movie spoof "Attack Of The Terrible Snapping Creatures", the unfortunate women (Gail Matthius and Jamie Lee Curtis) realize they're facing imminent danger, because there's suddenly scary music playing in their apartment.
- A sketch later in that season involves Bill Murray trying to write a romance novel, as its characters act out the novel-in-progress behind him.... which becomes more and more difficult when he hits writer's block (and they're left standing around impatiently waiting for a cue); and at one point quickly rereads everything he just wrote, forcing the characters to reenact the entire scene at breakneck speed.
- In Farscape, after John Crichton finally reached the absolute nadir of his progressing insanity, he would occasionally hum along with the show's score.
- The Jack Benny Show had similiar interaction, since Jack would start out on the stage and walk into the set after speaking with the audience. Including walking through the missing literal fourth wall so he could hand something to someone who walked out the front door.
- The Burns and Allen Show started the same year (1950) and George Burns especially would talk to the camera and announcer. Also the commercials were built into the show itself and George would sometimes watch what Gracie was doing on their TV set.
- In the first episode of Kröd Mändoon and the Flaming Sword of Fire, Dongalor and Barnabas are having a conversation when the Narrator interrupts, then continue as though they had heard the Narrator, then become confused about just who had been talking.
- The Norwegian Brødrene Dal used it shamelessly. Hence, this snippet from the third series:
- But how do we fit in the (big) picture?I will tell you. If the camera moves backwards, you will fit in the picture.(All three brothers look behind them and straight at the camera, which pans backwards).
- A Real Life example happened in Mexican show Otro Rollo with Will Smith. He was being interviewed and out of nowhere he started minding the translator for the audience.
- In Xena: Warrior Princess, Xena whistles the show's theme song while fishing (and ignoring Gabrielle's cries for help) in the episode "Fins, Femmes, and Gems."
- Sesame Street: At the beginning of the special The Street We Live On, Grover bumps into the executive producer credit ("Oh, pardon me, I did not see you there!").
- The central character of Fleabag breaks the fourth wall constantly, until eventually it becomes apparent that the reason for this is that she's using the viewer as a Living Emotional Crutch. After five and a half episodes of constant aside glances and comments, she finally retreats behind the fourth wall after a scene in the final episode where she turns away from us, only to find that we're watching her from the reverse angle as well. It's this realization that she cannot escape from us, as much as anything happening in-universe, which prompts her breakdown.
- Briefly invoked on Late Night with Conan O'Brien; during a sketch where Conan and his sidekicks were making on-air confessions (deeming it safe to do so since everyone else was watching the Winter Olympics on CBS), Conan confessed that he didn't like the NBC logo in the corner of the screen, so he killed it with bug spray.
- In Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah," the chord progression follows the lyric "it goes like this, the fourth, the fifth, the minor fall, and the major lift": C, F, G, A minor, F.
- The News Boys song "Your Love Is Better Than Life" has this line near the end: "I don't know how I can wrap it in a four-minute song."
- The Relient K song "The Scene and Herd" has the line: "And I'm sorrowed that you probably magically got this song for free."
- Steely Dan's "Deacon Blues" is notable for its nearly indecipherable lyrics, but half way through the fifth verse, Donald Fagen says [to the listener]: "I cried when I wrote this song/Sue me if I play too long..."
- In David Bowie's "Five Years," has the line "Don't think you knew you were in this song."
- The infamous chorus of "You're So Vain" by Carly Simon:
"You're so vain, you probably think this song is about you""You're so vain, I'll bet you think this song is about you, don't you?"
- The Lady Of Shalott is this on Emilie Autumn's "Shalott", which combines it with Self-Deprecation and Leaning on the Fourth Wall. The lines are "I should've guessed it all along 'cause now some drama queen is gonna write a song for me".
- Aly And AJ: "This is our Potential Breakup Song, our album needs just one..."
- In "My Girl" by Chilliwack: "I hope she's doing alright/I got no way to know/Unless she gets to hear this song/Hear it on the radio"
- Neil Pye from The Young Ones once committed his hippie musings to record with Neil's Heavy Concept Album. The final track of side A is "Cosmic Jam" in which Neil is aware he's on a vinyl LP - including pointing out the upcoming blob of peanut butter someone dropped on the record (at which point the song becomes incredibly muffled), and that he's about to get dragged away by "the skatey bit" at the end of the side. That is, except, on the cassette version of the album, where "Cosmic Jam" plays out at usual... but is immediately followed by Neil pointing out that NONE of the jokes in the song would apply to cassette users. He attempts to rectify this by rewording the jokes for the format, but gives up and leaves the studio, opting instead to join some sidewalk musicians in a rendition of "Brown Sugar" — which he doesn't recognize and is immediately offended by.
- The second side of Something/Anything? by Todd Rundgren opens with a spoken word piece in which Rundgren invites the listeners to search the record for mastering gaffes — bad editing, popping P's, hiss, hum. Whoever finds the most, wins!
- In the original double-sided record version of Ray Charles' "What'd I Say", voices came on protesting at the end of the first side, and on the beginning of the second side Ray calls out "All right!" before launching into the second half of the song.
- The Firesign Theatre's How Can You Be In Two Places At Once When You're Not Anywhere At All? has Nick Danger listen to the other side of the record (which turns out to be a snippet of the other side, played backwards) to figure out where he is.
- Sparks' song "My Other Voice" is about the vocoder being used in the song.
- Metallica have a song titled after H.P. Lovecraft's most famous short story, "The Call of Cthulhu", but it's spelt "The Call of Ktulu". However, the misspelling is intentional. Lovecraft wrote that saying, or even spelling out, Cthulhu's name would draw his attention. Since Cthulhu is the Trope Codifier for Eldritch Abomination, this is not something you want to happen. Doubles as The Fourth Wall Will Not Protect You.
- The Who:
I write the same old song with a few new lines
- Gettin' in Tune begins with "I'm singing this note 'cause it fits in well/With the chords I'm playing"
- New Song is essentially this trope from start to finish:
And everybody wants to cheer it
I write the same old song you heard a good few times
Admit you really want to hear it
- This occurs to some degree in almost all modern pinballs. Characters in the game will directly address the player about key targets or opportunities ("Get the extra ball!"), or comment on the player's performance.
J Jonah Jameson: "Eight arms? He should be playing this game!"
- Occurs several times in Williams Electronics' No Good Gofers.
Bud: I can feel the power!Buzz: That's all those wires down there!
- A rather subtle one comes about after completing seven holes:
Bud: Hey, this game is violent enough!
- Another one comes after tilting the table:
- Your opponents in The Champion Pub are aware that the single figure representing them has no legs. Patrotsky sometimes starts a match with "Be thankful this glass separates us."
- If you tilt Fun House, Rudy the Dummy will chime out "Hey! It's only pinball."
- Done quite a bit in The Shadow, thanks to the large amount of custom dialog from the various characters.
The Shadow: "Finally, you've learned to control the pinball!"
- In Cue Ball Wizard, draining the ball down an outlane gets the comment, "I hate these outlanes."
- Played with in Lethal Weapon 3; activating the various Stunts shows a clip of the characters performing a stunt before a film crew, so they're aware they're in a movie... but they remain unaware they're actually in a pinball machine.
- Sarcastically lampshaded in Metallica:
Robert Trujillo: “We’re in a pinball game, maybe we’ll get a record deal now.”
- A the 2009 TNA Victory Road, Kurt Angle promised that the match he and Mick Foley were soon to have would not be pay per view quality, suggesting he was just going to uneventfully squash Foley the way jobbers are on "free" TV.
- When TNA Impact moved to Monday Nights and went live in 2010, Madison Rayne and Velvet Sky's first order of business was attracting enough viewers to make these changes sustainable, settling on their own poker show, noting they had been taking off.
- At SHIMMER's 3/17/2012 show, Cheerleader Melissa assured everyone that Nicole Matthews would not take the singles title from her after only one DVD.
- A Private Eye Monologue in ZBS Foundation's Ruby 1: The Adventures of a Galactic Gumshoe radio series:
Ruby (narrating): ". . . Who really wanted him dead? . . . Yeah, the Author. Authors—they create characters just so they can blow them away. Writing is a dirty business."
- In Riders Radio Theater, all the characters at one point or another seem to be aware of the audience, the narrator, the existence of the show's script, sometimes even interacting with them. Ranger Doug and Slocum both have explicitly taken actions because of something they heard the narrator just say.
- Hamish And Dougal play with this a lot. In one episode, the Laird turns over an explanation of everything strange that's been happening in that episode...in letter form. We hear Hamish and Dougal mutter as they read it, before exclaiming "Well, that all makes perfect sense!" Then there's the Running Gag that pops up whenever they get to a new location...
Dougal: Here we are at the [location]!Hamish: ...why did you say that?Dougal: Well...there might be blind people around here, not knowing where they are.
- Over the Edge involves a metaplot which could result in the PCs becoming aware of what they are.
- The joke Dungeons & Dragons supplement Portable Hole Full of Beer contains a Prestige Class that slowly causes the character to become aware of the fact that they are in a roleplaying game. At the final level the character becomes a real person and moves in with you.
- Foxbat, in the Champions superhero RPG has Wrong Medium Awareness, being firmly convinced he's a comic book villain. He retains this in Champions Online, where he begs for a "GM to port me to a different spawn point"
- Straighter example: A Mutants & Masterminds fansite introduced Foxbat II, who rejected his mentor's ludicrous view of the world, and instead believes himself to be an NPC in a superhero RPG.
- The RPG Tales from the Floating Vagabond has a number of "schticks", powers that can help (and occasionally harm) your character. One of these is the 'Rogers and Hammerstein Schtick', which gives your character his own theme music that he and everyone around him is aware of. This means that if someone is sneaking up on him, the music will shift to sneaky music (makes it really hard for him to sneak up on anyone not deaf, though). Sudden shifts to dramatic battle music can predict an ambush, etc.
- The Star Munchkin RPG based on the Munchkin card game has one class called "Farce K'n'gits". Their power is awareness of the great Farce - that they're in a comedic RPG - and thus gaining the ability to manipulate the game and its players directly, as well as ignore things like those laws of physics and common sense not actually covered by the game's rules. Non-K'n'gits can dabble in Farce powers as well.
- Man, Myth, & Magic from Yaquinto, had a random encounter table that included a gamemaster who had become trapped in the game.
- Late into the first act of Mel Brooks' The Producers, Max and Leo tell their Swedish intern Ulla to tidy up their office. As act 2 begins, Max and Leo return to the office to find everything, from the walls to the furniture, painted white. When asked about when Ulla managed to pull this off, she responds that she did it during the intermission. Later on in the same scene, Ulla will ask Leo why he is moving so far to the right of the stage, replaced with "camera right" in the film version.
- In one scene Leo loses his temper at Max and calls him "FAT!". This insult doesn't work very well when Nathan Lane has been replaced by the much slimmer Tony Danza, causing Tony to look confused and Leo to say "Well, you used to be."
- Also, in the song "Betrayed", late in the second act, Max is recounting the events leading to him ending up in a jail cell. At the point in the recounting where the play had gone from act I to act II, he shouts "Intermission!", the stage lights dim and he sits quietly on the bunk for a few seconds before continuing the song. In some performances after Nathan Lane left the show (having played Max), Max would pull a Playbill out from under the bunk, thumb through it, and then announce "He's good, but he's no Nathan!"
- In another performance Max said "They were saving this cell for Michael Jackson" during the pause.
- In one London production Max had a good old moan about the refreshments on offer in the theatre: "What? THREE POUNDS for icecream?! It's tiny! Where's the proper spoon? What are you supposed to do with this little wooden thing?"
- During 'Untitled Opening Number' in [title of show], the cast calls attention to tropes common in musical theatre as they illustrate them, "We'll softly start the coda from a very tiny point. And then we'll get a little louder to further emphasize the point. And then we'll cross downstage towards you! And now we're yelling fortissimo!"
- All the characters in NF Simpson's play A Resounding Tinkle are quite aware they are in a play. There are frequent conversations about whether or not the audience will understand what's going on, at one point two characters are on stage being silent and then debate as to whether they should entertain the audience or not, at another point one of the characters wanders off the stage to talk to two cleaners in the theatre, all the characters are unceremoniously pushed off-stage in order for a group of critics to come on and debate the play, and the play ends when a member of the audience complains that the audience have had quite enough and demands to speak to the producer; the play concluding with all the characters thanking the audience for putting up with them.
- In the P.D.Q. Bach parodic opera The Abduction of Figaro, Donna Donna tells Donald Giovanni, in recitative, that she's so mad that she's not going to sing her aria. She then stamps offstage in a huff, leaving everyone scratching their heads until the orchestra director gets them back on track.
- The Stoned Guest has the two main female characters briefly discussing their opera careers before getting back into character. Later they start singing ever-higher notes until one of them breaks off and says "I'm only a mezzo, you know."
- At the end of the first act of A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, Miles Gloriosus is threatening to put Pseudolus to death. Pseudolus asks if he can have a word first, and Miles agrees. The word? "Intermission!"
- Spamalot features The Lady of the Lake, who co-sings "The Song That Goes Like This" with Galahad and has "Diva's Lament" as a solo. Her awareness of the fouth wall actually leads to the plot resolution: The Grail is under an audience member's seat. (Sir Robin, on the other hand, is Genre Savvy about musicals, but doesn't realize he's in one.)
- Triple dose of William Shakespeare examples:
- Puck's closing monologue reveals his Medium Awareness to any audience members who haven't picked up on it yet (which, depending on the production, can be quite obvious or completely hidden).
- Feste, on the other hand, has his Medium Awareness vary drastically by production.
- In the epilogue to The Tempest, Prospero asks the audience for applause and cheers to provide the wind that will blow his ship home.
- Whether Galileo is aware of being in a Musical or not during We Will Rock You remains open for debate, that his band knows that they're in a musical is established when they tell the Big Bad that they've in fact been in the wings for the whole show.
- In Les Misérables the characters bring in and sometimes conduct the pit orchestra during "Beggars at the Feast".
- In one production of Oliver! in London, the orchestration uses a violin soloist during "Reviewing the Situation". Since a violin is one of the items that Fagin has in his box of treasures, there were several Played for Laughs moments where Fagin, apparently hearing the violin solo, would stop and stare at the violin, and pick it up to examine it. The same part also featured a long monologue by Fagin where he seemed perfectly aware that he was on stage in a theatre (see the entry in Breaking the Fourth Wall for details).
- Urinetown lives and breathes this trope, especially in the case of Officer Lockstock and Little Sally, who hang lampshades all over the place. Probably the most notable example is the Act One Finale, which Officer Lockstock explicitly refers to as such twice and tells the audience to enjoy intermission.
- The Mystery of Irma Vep has several roles played by two actors. At one point, the maid (played by Actor 1) tells the Stable Boy (played by Actor 2) to go get their Master (played by Actor 1). The Stable Boy explains that he can't, for "obvious reasons." Followed by an Aside Glance by both actors.
- Rock of Ages has several instances of this, including one character asking the on-stage band "Have you been here the whole time?" and the show's narrator handing the hero a program to motivate him.
- In Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (the 2013 musical), this trope applies to Willy Wonka (figures), who is aware of the audience and the theatre itself. Besides serving as the narrator of the "Creation Overture" animated prologue and Breaking the Fourth Wall to address the audience on more than one occasion, at the top of Act Two, he's revealed to be "conducting" the entr'acte and then sits on the lap of someone in the front row for a moment! (Note that the Golden Ticket tour group rushes through the aisles when he calls for them after this, but they do not seem to share his awareness of where they are, so he's also a Fourth-Wall Observer!) At the end of the show, he reveals that he's embarking upon a new adventure — in the audience's world. And during the first curtain call, as Charlie himself takes his bow, Mr. Wonka is revealed to be in one of the theatre's box seats, cheering him on. He was serious!
- A Man For All Seasons features the character The Common Man, who is dressed in a black body stocking and opens the play by ranting about the lousy character he's been given to play. Through various costume changes he then becomes a variety of small parts, allowing the play to avoid needing separate actors for all of them. The last is Thomas More's executioner.
- Picasso at the Lapin Agile opens with Albert Einstein arriving at the eponymous cafe, only to be told he's not supposed to be there yet because the cast has been listed in the program in order of appearance and another character is supposed to arrive before he does. Einstein leaves and later returns, acting as though the previous exchange never occurred.
- Man in Chair, the narrator of The Drowsy Chaperone, lives and breathes this trope. He frequently pauses the Show Within a Show (which he is playing on a record) to give (fake) behind-the-scenes facts and remark on the action. He is also fully aware that he is in a theater addressing an audience, and spends all of what should be the intermission chatting and eating a Powerbar. This mostly only applies to him, but at the very end, the show's characters console him after a blackout and an appearance by his building's superintendent ruins the finale and bring him onto Trix's plane.
- Love Without Stockings a parody play by Norwegian author Johan Hermann Wessel, has the characters constantly discussing the premises of the play they are in. At the end of the play, Mercury (being the psychopomp from Classic Mythology), wakes up all the dead characters, and is immidiately called out on his presence in a Christian society. "Why, that his how a Tragedy works", he explains, and all the other characters end up in a fit of laughter.
- In one production, an aria was sung by the main character, while he became more and more impatient with the orchestra and frequently signalled for a cue to leave the stage.
- In some productions of The Lion King, Zazu not only breaks the fourth wall, but occasionally expresses awareness that his character is a puppet.
- During a sung debate in Theatre/Hamilton, Alexander Hamilton tells his faltering opponent "Don't modulate the key, then not debate with me!"
- From Spyro: A Hero's Tail, when Spyro has been captured and Sparx and Hunter go to rescue him:
Sparx: But what if it's already too late?Hunter: Don't worry, little buddy, Spyro's still alive. I know, because if he weren't, we'd be going back to a previous save! Heh, I rock.
- In the scene just before Spyro gets captured, he mocks the standard boss pattern of the game by saying that all he has to do is run around until he finds the boss's weakness, then hit it three times. At which point he promptly gets stomped on.
- From the same game, when Sparx finds a Dragon Egg at the end of one of his segments, he remarks that he has no idea how he carried it back out, lampshading the "warp" back to the main game after collecting the egg.
- In another instance, after Hunter gets a Dragon Egg, he turns to the camera and says "I'll give it to Spyro", referencing how all the items other characters obtain still count towards Spyro's inventory.
- During the scene before the second boss battle, the camera zooms in on the boss's very obvious weak point, and Spyro gives an Aside Glance to lampshade said obviousness.
- Bromantic Foil Sumiyoshi from Snow Sakura seems very aware of his role on the Visual Novel and sometimes talks about raising flags or complains about not having an ending.
- During a dream sequence in Max Payne, the titular hero is momentarily made medium-aware of the game's graphic novel-style cutscenes, and later on in a hidden scene he is made aware of being in a computer game to boot.
Max Payne:I was in a graphic novel/computer game. Funny as hell it was the most horrible thing I could think of.
- Medium Awareness is a running theme in Hideo Kojima's works: For instance, one of funniest moments in his previous game Snatcher occurs when the main character's Robot Buddy hears a faint ticking sound in an empty warehouse, and tells him to turn up the volume on his TV to hear it. Naturally, the sound is coming from a bomb, and the player character dashes out of the building just as the bomb goes off, leaving his ears ringing... obviously, his Robot Buddy quips, because he left the sound turned up on his TV.
- Oh my, Metal Gear Solid... It starts when the Arms-Tech president forgot Meryl's codec frequency, but reminds Snake that there's a screenshot on the back of the game's CD case that shows the correct number. Snake notices that the background music has stopped playing, and shortly after Psycho Mantis talks with you about the savegames on the memory card of your PlayStation. There are many more examples, like in Metal Gear Solid 4 when Snake returns to the location of the first game. Otacon informs him that he has reached the point where he has to change to CD #2, but then remembers that the PS3 uses Blu-Ray and changing the disc is no longer necessary.
- "Snake, use the action button to climb the ladder."
- In Metal Gear Solid 2 Snake states that he had to use "First Person View" to spot an object. Apparently he normally has a third-person view of his surroundings.
- There are several instances of this trope in Metal Gear Solid 2 when you reach the Arsenal Gear. At some point, the colonel says you have been playing the game for too long.
- The plot of The Simpsons Game is launched when Bart finds the manual for the game in the game, making him realize that he's a video game character with appropriate super powers.
- Kirby Super Star features Kirby shooting an Aside Glance at you when the game calls him a "pretty jolly guy" (Spring Breeze tutorial). Its Video Game Remake added an Oh, Crap! look directed towards the bottom screen when, in the Milky Way Wishes tutorial, it informs you that Kirby can't copy abilities.
- In Kirby: Triple Deluxe, the two times you can use the Hypernova ability against bosses doing so will also inhale their health bar.
- Meeting with Ciel during the culture festival in Kagetsu Tohya leads to an odd conversation. For a moment, Shiki can't figure out why the background music suddenly turned so foreboding. Turns out, the play Ciel was supposed to be in was cancelled, mostly because (as she explains with a peculiar expression) it wound up being a lot of work, and she's not one of the more popular heroines, so they didn't bother. Then she pulls out an umbrella, just because she and Kohaku are the only ones with props in their sprites...
- When Bowser explains the rules in one of the Nintendo GameCube Mario Party games, he mentions the A button, whereupon Mini Bowser adds: "A. That's the green one. <G-rated insult>"
- It seems this way for Bowyer, the second Boss in Super Mario RPG, given the odd ability he has. When the Boss Battle starts, three buttons appear in the center of the fighting arena corresponding to the buttons on the player's control pad controlling the characters' abilities to make normal attacks, special attacks, or use items. At random times during the fight, he shoots an arrow and strikes one of the buttons, preventing the player from using that button and thus preventing Mario's party from performing any of the actions controlled by it, until he repeats the ability.
- In Super Paper Mario, at various points characters explain to Mario the controls for a new technique he's acquired, which is par for the course for most video games. Mario, however, responds with confusion, because he has no idea what the "A button" is. The other character will then often refer to a "being from another dimension" that is watching them, and assures Mario that they will know what to do.
- From The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening "Hey, man! When you want to save just push all the Buttons at once! Uhh... Don't ask me what that means, I'm just a kid!"
- In The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker one of the tips on Sturgeon's wall advises the player not stay up all night playing the game. Also, if you hit Orca 999 times in the sword training minigame, he will ask if your left index finger is numb (from L-targeting him).
- Shadow of Destiny and Time Hollow, both by the same director, have a Mind Screwy New Game+ where the character can confront the main antagonist with all the details of the game at the beginning... because they've already played through the game before, so they know the plot. Ow, my brain.
- There's also a lady in the City Hall: when she gives you the old map of the town, she says that you should use the map button to view it.
- The Time Hollow example is justified, because Hollow Pen users retaining their memories even if the past is changed drives the entire plot of the game.
- This can be seen in Breath of Death VII when the hero, Dem, complains about the shortness of the game, and is reprimanded by the rest of the party in a Take That! against people demanding too much from inexpensive indie games.
- Star Ocean: Till the End of Time, in one of the post-game dungeons, the main party come up against bosses they have previously faced. After defeating a certain someone, the party comments on the fact that they would never have been able to beat him if he was that strong in the main game.
- Also, in a strange twist, near the end of the game the main characters move into "4D Space" - which is actually the real world. They quickly realize that they're all characters in a hugely popular game called Eternal Sphere. Very deserving game-within-a-game Inception references.
- EarthBound and MOTHER 3 have you enter your real name partway through the game, for reasons that become clear and brilliantly pulled-off near the end.
- Another instance in EarthBound involves gameplay tutorial. When characters take damage in combat, their HP gauge counts down to the appropriate number one point at a time, rather than subtracting it all at once. One result is that, if a character receives mortal damage he/she won't die until it counts down to 0, so if they're healed during that time, they'll be ok. When a character explains this to you, he calls it your HP meter at first and then back-pedals, saying "uh..I mean your life force."
- Some characters from the Disgaea series exhibit this. Mao's quest in the third game begins when he steals Almaz's Hero title from him when he's not looking.
- Disgaea takes a sledgehammer to the Fourth Wall in general. In Disgaea 2:
- Laharl declares that the reason he lost to the player characters is because he's not the main character, and then tries to beat them again, so he can take over the story.
- One of the motions you can vote on in the Dark Assembly has one of the guest characters wanting to be the main character. If it passes, it's a Non Standard Game Over.
- At one point of the story Etna complains that she checked her status screen and noticed that her level was reduced.
- There's also the NI character Asagi, whose shtick is this. After losing her original game due to being a Bonus Boss in Makai Kingdom, she now goes around the NI multiverse trying to pull a Hostile Show Takeover on all the games she feature in. This is usually heavily confusing to the games' actual protagonists, who don't understand what she's on about.
- Disgaea takes a sledgehammer to the Fourth Wall in general. In Disgaea 2:
- The Lord of Games, an omnipotent figure in Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts who claims to have a part in the development of every single game ever, adores this trope. The characters were very aware of things even before his arrival, as demonstrated in this conversation from Banjo-Tooie:
Banjo: "Huh, looks like there's no one here."
Kazooie: "Oh, yes there is, Banjo. The music's changed again. Every time that happens, some big enemy drops out of nowhere to fight us."
[Klungo drops out of nowhere to fight them.]
- In Flower, Sun and Rain, Sumio interrupts his mission in order to chase a kid who is engaging in massive fourth wall breaking. At the end of the chapter, he gets fed up with the kid and orders the chapter to end.
- In Tales of Symphonia, one skit called "For Lazy People" has Lloyd complaining about having to walk through one of the dungeons again. Specifically, he asks "Couldn't they at least give us a Quick Jump option?" This confuses the other characters, who have no idea what he's talking about - he's referring to a few dungeons that can be skipped after you've beaten them once. It's done again by Tenebrae in another skit for the sequel.
- This happens in other Tales of... games as well; these comments usually come from the main character, who often represents the player and asks questions about his world that should be common knowledge.
- In what might be the ur-example in this medium, Mr. Do! featured an "EXTRA" at the top of the screen whose letters representing the five steps needed to gain an extra life. The steps in question were to kill the letters one by one after they climbed down into the gameplay area. And yes, like all killable entities in the game, they could kill you too. Also, the pre-shoveled-out areas of the levels formed the level numbers.
- Eat Lead: The Return of Matt Hazard is all over this trope.
- In the point and click adventure The Secret of Monkey Island, Guybrush has to find a ship and crew, but as soon as they set sail the crew decides to mutiny and just laze about sun-bathing instead of doing their duties on ship. If you use the parser to perform the action "USE PIRATES" on the crew, Guybrush responds that "they're not the only ones being used around here."
- In Monkey Island 2: LeChuck's Revenge, LeChuck captures Guybrush and chains him up into an Acid Pool Death Trap. Guybrush can ask LeChuck why he didn't just shoot him when he came in. His answer? "Because we had an extra disk."
- NPCs in Thousand Arms are well aware that they're video game NPCs. They often complain about their limited roles and lack of voice overs.
- The Typing of the Dead's Final Boss, in its final phase, asks you a series of questions. One of these questions asks what you love to hate, and one of the possible answers is "The Emperor Boss in this game."
- Yukari from Castle of Shikigami laments the fact that she has to be the first boss of the third game, when she was originally boss #4 of the second game. If you defeat her while playing in Dramatic Mode, she'll chastise you for "cheating" because you were using "two players".
- This awareness is briefly shared by other characters during that boss fight in the third game, and only during that boss fight.
- A lot of the characters in My World, My Way, but especially the princess, use RPG terms frequently. Some of the characters direct her to other areas in search of "more experience points", an offer which the Heroic Wannabe princess is all too happy to oblige.
- The Touhou series has some examples:
- In Embodiment of Scarlet Devil, Sakuya appears as the final stage's midboss, saying that she's got to at least make the heroine waste a bomb on her before her mistress gets angry at her.
- In the same game, the Extra Stage boss Flandre Scarlet asks Marisa Kirisame to play with her. Players can't continue in Extra Stages, nor change its difficulty and initial amount of lives and bombs.
Flandre: Will you play with me?Marisa: How much?Flandre: One coin.Marisa: One coin? You can't buy a life with that.Flandre: No, it means that you can't continue!
- In Perfect Cherry Blossom, the game's second stage boss (Chen) reappears in the Extra Stage as a midboss. After Reimu defeats her and reaches the Extra Stage boss (Ran Yakumo), Ran learns of Chen's second defeat, as Reimu refers to her as being still a Stage 2 Boss afterall.
- In Subterranean Animism, Marisa and Alice constantly reference video game tropes as they proceed ("Look, it's the Extra dungeon for after you beat the game! Good luck!"). However, they seem to think they're in an RPG, not a shooter.
- In Undefined Fantastic Object, after Sanae defeats Ichirin:
Sanae: Secret treasure ... ? Are you talking about those charms with "P" and "point" written on them?
- Kogasa shows up as the EX-Midboss with a huge "SURPRISE!" because she's surprising us this time!
- This trope's use in Touhou dates all the way back to Lotus Land Story, where Reimu chases and attacks a random unnamed youkai (the programming data calls her "Orange") only because there's supposed to be a boss at the end of every stage.
- In Senran Kagura: Estival Versus, Asuka says to watch the OAV for more information about Ryōna.
- Simon the Sorcerer has an early scene where Simon has to get past a group of wizards' attempted denials of their being wizards. The correct dialogue option is to mention that the word 'Wizards' pops up when the mouse cursor is pointing at them.
- ALL of Artix Entertainment's games show notice that they're aware that they're in a video game. One particular example is the player character in AdventureQuest stating "I have the gift of fourth wall sight...I can see what's just off-screen!"
- Also Ninja Ninja, from Afro Samurai: "Afro, you button-mashing motherfucker!"
- In Shadow Hearts: Covenant, an NPC tasked with handing out items to the main character points out, in a fit of self-doubt, that "it's not like you can't finish the game without me!"
- The narrator and protagonist of The Company of Myself seems to be aware that he lives in a puzzle platformer, and talks about his experiences therein in a near-omniscient manner. Even the preloader and volume control have relatively purple eloquence compared to nearly all other games. It's all in his head....
- The opening cinematic of Hotel Mario infamously had Mario informing the player "If you need instructions on how to get through the hotel, check out the enclosed instruction book."
- At the start of a tutorial in Final Fantasy VII a giant finger pops up to direct you around the screen: Cloud responds "Huh? Finger?! What the hell?!"
- In World of Final Fantasy, when Lann, Reynn and Serafie are having a conversation regarding Sephiroth, Serafie states "Maybe you'll bump into him someday in some DL- ... oops, forget I said that." Sephiroth is a downloadable Champion.
- Star Ocean: Second Evolution: When recruiting Welch, she gives you three options: "Please, join us", "Okay, fine, you can join us", and "Something's not right". The third will lead to Claude complaining that the selection menu doesn't have an option that lets him say no!
- In Pokémon Red and Blue, the player character can go into a building in one of the cities with programmers inside, one of whom tells you that he drew you. Interacting with computers results in your character stopping you because he doesn't want to see the end of the script, or saying that he doesn't want to bug out the game by messing with the code. Several other games in the series have similar areas, up through Pokémon Black and White.
- In World of Goo, the Sign Painter remarks that one of the goo balls said that life was a lot like a physics simulation, but it didn't matter as he fell off the cliff to his death.
- Zepar and Furfur seem wholly aware that they are in an anime-like Visual Novel.
- In Half-Life 2, Vortigaunts have a linenote that imply they know about the player's control over Gordon.
- In The Sims, sims seem to be aware of the green plumbob that marks the player-controlled sim. They will occasionally discuss it, and it appears on their national flag.
- They also show themselves to be aware of being controlled when any needs are low - turning to the 'camera' to wave and call out for attention.
- The fourth wall only appears when convenient in No More Heroes. Travis is willing to do some pretty stupid stuff only during cutscenes, and the characters actively work to stop the game from getting an AO rating and becoming No More Heroes Forever.
- In zOMG!, Old Man Logan points out the Bass'ken Windmill to the player, only for the player to reply that they can only see one screen's worth of scenery at a time.
- An April Fool's joke also included the player trying to explain to an NPC that the game crashed when trying to travel to the "secret area".
- A prisoner on The Secret Island of Dr. Quandary begs the player to help him escape the Num Lock imprisoning him. The player character asks in all seriousness if they should use the Num Lock key. Both characters then give an Aside Glance, as the prisoner replies "Not in this program! You have to guess the number combination."
- In Duke Nukem Forever, Duke seems to be aware that he's in a video game, and as such, lampshades and jokes about everything.
- World of Warcraft:
- Azuregos, a lone wandering dragon and a Cloudcuckoolander, seems aware that he was a raid boss who could be killed and looted by players.
- In the dungeon Zul'Gurub, Bloodlord Mandokir is not only aware of the process of leveling, he exploits it by leveling up mid-battle after finishing off a player.
Bloodlord Mandokir: Ding!Jin'do the Godbreaker: Hey! Grats, mon!
- There are two quests that send the player to the Bronze Dragonshrine, where time is warped. In both, the player is assisted by an NPC duplicating their own character, representing themself from the other quest. The latter quest has this, as the past version comments on the player's lack of gear and not raiding.
- In Team Fortress 2 the Sniper is aware of respawning, and the Scout knows about ragequits.
- Everyone knows they're in a video game in Kid Icarus: Uprising.
- Prevalent in the Neptunia, which makes sense as all of the major characters are personifications of game consoles and companies.
- The Bard's Tale: Half the fun comes from the Bard and the Narrator arguing.
- In the Discworld games, Rincewind can be seen making such comments as (in response to the player's unexecutable "pick up" command) "I can't just pick up a bunch of pixels, can I? Anyway, at this resolution, they're far too heavy."
- In Hector: Badge of Carnage, the main character finds out that the tourist guide Barnes Nobles was also the terrorist that have kept Clapper's Wreake under siege throughout the series, he has this to say:
"I had you pegged as a baddie from the first time I met you in Episode 1."
- League of Legends is an interesting example. Every champion is well aware they're being controlled by someone, because it's how the League works according to lore. They even talk to you, and one of them, Sona can talk ONLY with you. There's also couple of fourth-wall-breaking jokes, like Akali's complaining about the matchmaking system.
- Project X Zone has several characters occasionally make offhand comments that suggest they understand the laws of their native universes on more than a strictly In-Universe level. Reiji, Xiaomu, Kogoro, and Mii all have this fairly persistently, being Original Generation characters. The characters it's most prevalent with are Haken and Kaguya, who seem to be fully aware of the mechanics of the battle system (it probably helps that it's derived from the one in their home series).
- Saints Row IV features a bit of this. Near the end of the mission "Emergency Situation", the boss winds up fighting the default player character from Saints Row 1, all of their voices regard him as a Worthy Opponent in an unsurprised deadpan, and when two of them show up at once, the Boss asks why and Kinzie says that it's the multiplayer character. At the very end, the Boss wants to stay in the simulation to fight a Warden because "I still have an empty slot in my power menu, I wanna fill it with something!"
- Davesprite from Namco High is fully aware that he's in a Dating Sim, which offers him plenty of opportunities to crack wise about the genre and unfortunately means that he's fully aware that if Cousin tries to romance him, s/he'll just forget all about him once the New Game+ starts.
- There are also multiple references to characters doing cheat codes, especially on Lolo's route, which requires Cousin to talk her out of it.
- Star Control 2 has some examples of this. For example, when one talks to the Talking Pet after getting it with the Taalo shield, of course, he complains about music loops playing endlessly on the ship's cargo bay -even if he mentions the music played is Mozart or Iggy Pop-.
- In Super Smash Bros. and its sequels, characters knocked off the top of the screen can fall forward and bounce off the camera as an alternative to becoming a Twinkle In The Sky.
- The eponymous protagonist of the Danish-made Hugo TV game had a habit of knocking on the screen to get the viewer's attention.
- The fighting game based on JoJo's Bizarre Adventure features the character Hol Horse, whose partner has a Stand named The Hanged Man that can only materialize through reflections. In one of his super moves, Hol Horse shoots the screen so The Hanged Man can attack his opponent through the broken glass.
- Conker's Bad Fur Day, which ends with the main character winning solely because the game crashes and Conker gets a programmer to come over and help him. Conker also talks directly to the player, Birdy sells the game's manual, and Conker and Franky comment on the background music. The giant buttons on the ground are visible to the characters, and so is the Idea Bulb that appears over Conker's head when he stands on one. In general, the game doesn't have much of a fourth wall.
- In Live & Reloaded, during the war chapter, the bullets litteraly break the fourth wall - they make the screen look as if it was shot.
- A puzzle in The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass involves producing a stream of air to set windmills spinning. Blowing into the DS' microphone does the job.
- The Mojo stage of the Sega Genesis X-Men (1993) game gives the player a time limit to reach the end of the stage. Once there, the player receives a message that he needs to reset the computer core to escape the level. This puzzle is solved by hitting the Reset button on the Genesis.
- There was a pornographic demo, Dutch Breeze, on the Commodore 64 that required the user to wet a finger and rub it into the joystick port...
- In Star Hawk (a 1980's coin-op space combat game), an X-Wing style spacecraft would occasionally rise from behind the horizon and shoot at the on-screen representation of your score; if you didn't shoot it in time, you lost points.
- At the end of Aces Of The Galaxy, you can shoot at the text of the credits, while one of the bosses that you fought makes quips about destroying the Puny Humans before they can make a sequel.
- Furcadia advertisement: "This advertisement is in Finnish when you're not looking."
- Spooky's Jump Scare Mansion has a series of Apocalyptic Logs left by a Hero of Another Story; leaving notes behind in vain hope that he is the protagonist of the video game and not a doomed-side-character-leaving-notes-for-the-player-to-find-for-exposition. He has an Oh, Crap! moment when he finds out that he is one of those.
- The Stitch summon in Kingdom Hearts II sticks and crawls on the surface of your TV screen... even when you're looking in first-person. And during his Limit Break, he stands on the command menu and licks it to restore your MP.
- In Suikoden II, Shin and Genshu's unite caused them to to swing their swords and cut every single enemy, plus the screen, in half.
- Everyone always seems to forget this one. In Donkey Kong Country, after beating King K. Rool once, a set of fake credits scroll down the screen. And then he gets up and starts attacking again. First time around, most players might lose a life to this trick.
- Though more directly, DK himself will break the screen open at the end of the game.
- Kagetsu Tohya has numerous outright breaks in the fourth wall, often with Ciel complaining about her low popularity. In this case, however, during the school festival Ciel and Shiki are talking about the play when Ciel gets momentarily irritated then shrugs it off, saying it's nothing. 'If it's nothing, then why was the background music so threatening?!' They also continue to note how even if she isn't popular, at least Ciel gets some props in her sprite, right?
- One stage in God Hand requires Gene to deflect cannonballs back at the ship firing them. How do you do that? Well, you have to hit the right button according to the four cannons that can fire... and incidentally the PS2 face buttons are painted onto the side of the ship, laid out just as on the controller, with each button corresponding to the cannon next to it.
- The Paper Mario series in general gleefully demolishes the fourth wall at every opportunity, but there's one notable part in The Thousand-Year Door where a doppelganger steals your identity and voice, and you have to guess his name in order to get it back. If you already know his name Doopliss, you would think that you could just enter it into the name-entry screen and sequence break the chapter, but the doppelganger has removed one of the letters needed to spell his name in the screen and hidden it and you need to find the letter in a chest first before you can give the correct answer.
- Bad Machine is an Interactive Fiction game that initially lies in its descriptions of rooms' exits - info that's assumed to be objective, out-of-character knowledge in most games. This ends once the player repairs a particular problem with the main character.
- Dust: An Elysian Tail has the characters openly talking about gameplay mechanics as gameplay mechanics in the tutorial section at the beginning. Only Fidget continues to do that afterwards, but nobody else ever questions what she's talking about.
- In Batman: Arkham Asylum, after two failed attempts at fear gassing Batman into submission, Scarecrow decides to fear gas you instead, resulting in the game appearing to glitch up, crash, and restart from the beginning... except Batman and the Joker have switched places, with you controlling Joker as he leads an insane, raving Batman through the asylum strapped to a gurney. The camera then switches to Batman's POV as Joker shoots him (and by extension, you) in the face, resulting in a Fission Mailed screen advising you to either "use the middle stick" or "tilt the mouse" to dodge the bullet depending on whether you are playing on console or PC. Then the usual Giant Scarecrow Parkour stage starts up properly.
- In Tales from the Borderlands, Handsome Jack's AI calls attention to the "Character will remember this" dialogue often used in Telltale games.
- Bubsy will eventually knock on the screen and call out to the player or mess with their TV settings if left standing still long enough.
- A few examples from Undertale:
- The first example is when you fight Asgore. For a game that emphasizes pacifism and nonlethal resolution, Asgore smashing the MERCY button at the start of his fight makes it clear you have to take him down the hard way.
- The second one is when you fight Flowey in the Neutral route. Flowey knows about SAVEing and LOADing, but his fight takes it one step further: Not only does he destroy your SAVE file, he actually uses SAVE STATEs during his boss fight.
- The biggest one though, is Sans the skeleton whom you only fight at the end of the Genocide route. He never actually says it outright, but the way he acts makes it clear he knows how RPG-verse game mechanics work. He starts his fight with a Battle Intro as is traditional with any Boss fight... and takes the first turn, the only enemy to do so, straight into an Alpha Strike that can kill you in seconds. Then you re-fight him, and he interrupts his own Battle Intro to suckerpunch you with his Alpha Strike. His attacks may only deal 1 damage and he may only have 1 DEF and 1 HP, but 1-damage attacks don't trigger Mercy Invincibility, and every hit leaves you with the Karmic Retribution status effect on top of that. There are no evasion or accuracy stats in the game, which means that there's nothing that says he cannot just sidestep your attacks to make your recently acquired Infinity +1 Sword useless, every single time you use it. Then he starts screwing with his own attacks, interrupting and switching attack patterns with a Smash Cut after Smash Cut. Then he starts attacking you in your menu, during your turn, in a turn-based RPG combat. And for his final trick, he does absolutely nothing, so his turn will never end and deny you from ever getting your turn. All combined, they make him the hardest boss in the game by a large margin.
- It should be noted that Sans the Skeleton is also a massive deconstruction of this trope: The awareness of the fact that he lives in a video game that can be SAVEd, LOADed and RESET at any moment, and the knowledge that the lives of everyone he knows and loves are at the mercy of an unknowable anomaly whose only motivation to interact with his world is to relive its own boredom has left him nihilistically apathetic to the world at large. After all, even if the anomaly ended up helping him and his loved ones escape the Underground, they'd all be right back down there again the moment the anomaly decided that it wanted to play with them again... The fact that Sans has noticed the timeline that ends in everything being erased and has realized that the odds of the anomaly walking down that path will logically increase with each time it revisits his world has not improved matters.
- Almost every joke in Sunset Overdrive is the protagonist or other characters pointing out or making practical use of various tropes and cliches of the medium.
- Ace Attorney occasionally hints it's aware of its interactive nature. For once, you may get Trilo to call Phoenix an "8-bit excuse for an attorney".
- When you get to play as Edgeworth in case 3-5 upon presenting Iris with a demon-warding hood she says she gave it to Wright, because she had a premonition something might happen and didn't want Wright to "fall into its grip". Edgeworth notes to himself (in a blue text used for inner monologue) that the guy wound up falling into something much deeper and colder instead, followed by "I probably shouldn't say that out loud though. Thank god for inner monologue."
- Also in Justice for All upon examining some part of the interior in Hotti Clinic Phoenix makes an inner comment about it, in blue text as usual. Surprisingly, that comment gets answered to by Director Hotti. Phoenix is all but pleased with someone interfering with his inner monologue.
- In CROSS†CHANNEL, at one point Taichi flips Touko's skirt up expecting a Megaton Punch. When he doesn't get one, he decides to go one step further by pulling her panties down and quickly requesting that someone throw up a mosaic. And, of course, as per Japanese laws on H-Games, it's already there.
- At one point in A Profile, Masayuki questions his mother's use of a tilde in her sentence.
- Hideo Kojima's Snatcher: At one point, the player is asked to turn up the volume to listen for a faint noise. When a loud explosion occurs shortly therafter, Gillian complains his ears are ringing. "That's because you turned up the volume," Metal cheerfully replies.
- Yo-Jin-Bo likes to go around Breaking the Fourth Wall. The guys like to tease Mon-Mon about "not being one of the characters you can get at the end of the game", and his response is that he has an Image Song and has spent too much time reading his lines to not be a "captureable character".
- At one point in Hatoful Boyfriend, our heroine shows up late to school... only for the teacher to point out the date in the upper-left corner of the screen (it's a vacation day).
- Super Dangan Ronpa 2: When Monokuma arrives and transforms Usami into Monomi, she keeps insisting he stop calling her that, until he forcefully overwrites her name, and she is both shocked and annoyed to notice that the game's text boxes have changed to reflect her new name.
- Homestar Runner: In the Strong Bad Email "flashback", Strong Bad doesn't see Homestar standing about a foot to his right because Homestar is Behind the Black. In "virus", the computer virus-induced breakdown of reality strands Strong Bad in the cold, black space outside the cartoon window, and allows Homestar to notice and mess around with the navigation links below the cartoon. In one of the Halloween cartoons, Homsar walks along the entire perimeter of the cartoon window.
- And this is all on top of the fact that the majority of the site's content is a Fourth-Wall Mail Slot segment, in which most of the characters are aware they're on some kind of show.
- The main characters of The Adventures Of Ledo And Ix can hear it when the other accesses the party inventory, and know to expect monsters in a dangerous location "unless that music is very misleading."
- The Defrosters.
James: I thought for sure that kissing her in one-shot hand-drawn action sequence would work... Time to stop monologuing. The inside set is way prettier, and has nicer music.
- Naruto: The Abridged Comedy Fandub Spoof Series Show: "PILOT NO JUTSU!" gives us this exchange:
Naruto: Hey, Sensei! Why are there sometimes black bars at the top and the bottom of the screen?
Iruka: Oh, they're there to make the show look really cool. Everyone knows that widescreen is better than the original aspect ratio.
Naruto: Oh, I thought that maybe they were there to hide the subtitles.
Naruto: These black bars make our show look really awesome. Believe it!
- Later in the same episode...
- Although Yu-Gi-Oh! The Abridged Series flip-flops over the presence of a fourth wall, Shadi reveals he is tasked with protecting it.
- In fact, the abridged Noah arc is subtitled as 'The Cancelled Series' because the show has been cancelled from within by an organisation claiming to be 4KidsEntertainment, and the protagonists are fighting to bring it back. Yeah.
- The meta joke being that said arc is the one that follows the point where 4Kids ended the American dub of the original show.
- In fact, the abridged Noah arc is subtitled as 'The Cancelled Series' because the show has been cancelled from within by an organisation claiming to be 4KidsEntertainment, and the protagonists are fighting to bring it back. Yeah.
- Ever After High Maddie Hatter is very aware of the narrators of the stories, and is irritated of their constant arguing. Kitty Cheshire is also aware of their existence, in the episode focusing on her, she trolls on them by making them guess weather she is a Royal or Rebel(she is neither, she just likes to sow chaos).
- In the webcomic, Soopah, the character and his opponent encounter a motion line from one of their punches. Confused, Soopah asks what it is, to which the other responds, "I think it's the punchline."
- While characters in A Moment of Peace mostly exist in their own universe, they occasionally acknowledge the fourth wall in a casual way, going so far as to use it as a slide at one point.
- In the OldSkooled strip "Newton vs. Organized Society, Part One", the bartender draws attention to how video games have stopped using wraparound screens.
- In this Cyanide & Happiness strip, the characters are aware of the limited number of panels and necessity of a punchline.
- Roomies also has the narrator directly interact with the cast. The plot device to explain this is he is a disembodied spirit of some kind. (Not to be confused with the other webcomic named Roomies, which evolved into It's Walky!, or the other other webcomic named Roomies)
- In Monster of the Week, after Scully finally accepts that supernatural is real in this 'verse, both she and Mulder become Genre Savvy, recognizing the foreshadowing and commenting on how incredulous/stupid/weird this episode is. Summed up by Mulder once, when Scully started acting as if it was real life:
Mulder: Are you even aware you're in TV show?
- Narbonic did this a few times.
- In this non-canon intermission page of Girl Genius, Othar Tryggvassen, Gentleman Adventurer! reacts to the narrator's foreshadowing.
- The Order of the Stick sometimes refers to lengths of time in "Strips", and the characters sometimes mention that their main purpose in life is to make jokes about the rules of Dungeons & Dragons. In an interesting twist, they also often display an awareness that they're Player Characters in a game of D&D. Which they're not, really, that's just part of the strip. This is your brain on fictional metafiction...
Belkar: Hey! If we don't stop the weepy melodrama I'm going to start dropping pop culture references, and I don't think anyone wants that!
Roy Greenhilt: What about the dozens of civilians you killed to lure them there?Thog: actually, thog hazy on that. did thog kill them off-panel?
- In this strip, they plan to sneak in during the darkness, but have all day to wait. Haley invokes the standard RPG trope by declaring "Later, that evening..." and night falls.
- During a fight, Haley is shot by a spell that blasts out of the comic's box. In the first panel of the next says 'At least I landed back in the panel.'
- A couple times they've done some Lampshade Hanging on this, with characters saying it's okay to use No Fourth Wall terms like "+5 sword" or "red-and-black speech balloon" to newer characters awkwardly trying to avoid breaking the wall.
- In the collected edition, Dungeon Crawlin' Fools, one of the bonus strips has Roy siccing a dangerous monster on the Narrator (a guy with a microphone who'd been standing 'just out of the frame') to get them both out of their way.
- In the volume, War and [XPs], a book-exclusive extra strip shows Julio Scoundrel's daring escape from Cliffport; Elan comments that it was pretty exciting "for a bonus comic!"
- And in this strip, one of the characters realises that they're about to be attacked due to a sudden cutaway panel.
- And then there's the time Haley climbed the sidebar of the strip's Web page so she could make her way to the illustrated cast biography and steal the diamond she she was holding in her profile, which has since been replaced with a note reading "I.O. Me One big-ass diamond".
- In this strip, Sabine needs to explain to Thog how time can pass in comic strip panels.
- And there's also the time when they needed to feed the monster in the darkness, and Belkar complained that he couldn't do it because "I told you that in one of the Dragon comics, so I'm not even sure if that's the same continuity..."
- Don't spell Xykon's name wrong in your speech bubble. He can tell if you do.
- Thog will always treasure thog's adventure with talky-man. it featured non-traditional panel layout.
- And the time that Tarquin realizes that that since he's talking openly about Malack being a vampire, that must mean it was already revealed to the heroes (and thus the readers); otherwise he would've been restricted to vaguely alluding to it even though everyone actually in the scene already knew.
- Schlock Mercenary used to go way over the top with this, to the point of a character pulling aside an orange narration box to get a good look at a grisly wound, or a commander calling out an underling for her use of italics in the previous panel. The use has gradually reduced over time, though the narrator is still occasionally treated as a separate character.
- The cartoonist also likes to show characters holding on to the panel borders when leaning into frame.
- Bob and George
- Megaman feels himself being changed to 8-bit. Protoman deduces it means an origin story.
- The newly created Protoman can't recognize the fridge, because it's just a gray rectangle.
- The "Attack of Bob" arc begins with George noticing the changed background color, realizing that it means the start of a new Story Arc, and panicking.
- Also, it's an explicit law of the comic's universe that neither of the titular characters can die, solely because their names are in the title. So, when the omnipotent Fistandantilus attacks George, he circumvents this rule by changing the title to Bob: The Comic Strip beforehand.
- In the Bob and George hosted Metroid: Third Derivative, Samus comments on the specific background music that accompanies fights with space pirates in all three Metroid Prime games (when you defeat all the pirates in the room, the music changes back to normal). Ie, "Music is fading, I got the last one".
- On this page of Gunnerkrigg Court, Antimony (narrating from some point in the future), tells the readers that the skipped scene would have made a very amusing Makeover Montage.
- Scene changes are commented on in this strip of Dan and Mab's Furry Adventures .
- This strip of Casey and Andy has the titular characters treat the borders of the comic panels as visible edges of the space-time continuum, with disastrous results.
- The narrator starts messing with T-Rex in this strip of Dinosaur Comics.
- Played hilariously in one strip of 8-Bit Theater, where Sarda demonstrates his omnipotent powers by rewriting Black Mage's speech bubbles.
- In an earlier strip, the Light Warriors were trapped in a place where causality and space-time were twisted in on themselves, and could actually see alternate-time versions of themselves above, below, and to either side in other comic panels, and were commenting on each other's comments.
- Warmage has built up a plot point around characters who gain "webcomic awareness". It's played as a serious dramatic point without any exploration of the nature of the medium, or the nature of fiction, not even a light-hearted Lampshade Hanging. The people who realize they're in a webcomic are still Genre Blind fools carrying the Villain Ball.
- Fancomic Pokémon Yellow Comics has the main character pointing out whenever the color changes in different areas.
- Occasionally in Sluggy Freelance
- As one example from the many in the normal strips, in "Sluggy of the Living Freelance", there's a "MOOOO" sound effect after someone saying "What Could Possibly Go Wrong?" The characters wonder what it was and comment that it was probably supposed to be an ominous sound of thunder, and that the comic needs a new sound-guy.
- Sometimes the characters look at a script as if they were the comic version of Animated Actors.
- A one-shot guest strip had Riff discover that time was separated by "panels," and invent a device to travel between them. He accidentally hits Sasha with it and is very worried when she falls through the ground, but everything turns out fine when she falls from the sky thirty seconds later on the next row. Coincidentally, another guest strip on the same page also has the characters talking about and interacting with the panels, this time in terms of using a time machine to make them run backwards.
- Debatably Epileptic Trees, there's a theory that Torg has a mild Medium Awareness - he's always the one to realise it's a guest week or the art style has changed, possibly tying in with the fact that he's stated to be unusually psychically sensitive within the strip's setting.
- Riff also has some Medium Awareness going on in the early strips, like when he comments that "This strip needs women" or complains about the poor choice of sound effects.
- In the Insecticomics, the panel lines seem to be akin to dimensional barriers. Sideways (by virtue of being a sentient chaos virus), can just walk out of the panel onto the rest of the webpage, Kickback fishes for Vok with a fishing line extending past the bottom panel, and Override's cannon is so powerful that it blasts Dreadmoon and Thrust out of the comic entirely.
- On this page of Rice Boy, Golgo's robot eye was able to see the speech bubbles from Rice Boy and T-O-E's conversation. One could interpret this as a way to show that the robot eye made an audio recording, but Word of God confirms the Medium Awareness interpretation.
- 1/0 never really had a fourth wall to begin with (except when certain characters were given a fourth wall), but one moment that stands out as Medium Awareness is when they're messing with the camera angles due to the rule about not showing the jar and Marcus complains that nobody even knows he's there because of how short he is. Ghanny replies that they would if they've memorized the characters' text Fonts by now.
- Dungeons & Denizens did this a fair number of times, but my favorite has got to be this strip, in which Zerelda complains that Seidistika has planned out her Training Montage in advance.
- The first book of Erfworld was built around this trope in a sense. The main character Parson was pulled in from reality and is aware that it's a wargame, though while everyone else is aware of the rules, they don't get the context. If Parson understands that Erfworld has game-like rules, he still hasn't gotten the fact that he's in a webcomic.
- K, the protagonist of Antagonist is Genre Savvy and very medium aware, typically looking straight at the fourth wall and talking to an audience that no one else can see. Another character even references his speech bubbles at one point, though he seems to regard them as a delusion or mental image. K's sarcastic response? "This isn't a comic book."
- Ms. Monster apparently has a rule against students saying her name in Chiller font.
- Ivy Pingo can also hear when her daughter uses an asterik in her speech.*
- There's also a gag involving the script in this guest strip.
- In The Way of the Metagamer, the characters can read each other's speech bubbles.
- The Fey in Keychain of Creation are explicitly aware that they live in a webcomic based around the rules of Exalted. This befuddles most of the other characters, who 'know' that they live directly in Exalted. In this case, it is because the Fey in the aforementioned game have an utterly alien mindset, and this was an easy way to represent that. The Sidereals seem to have a little bit of this too, with moves that rely upon breaking perspective and knocking people through the box boundaries - which is kind of what Sidereal Martial Arts normally do.
- Girls with Slingshots:
- This Subnormality strip somehow manages to go even more meta with this concept than usual.
- At least one XKCD comic references this. One or two of the early ones do it a way that could be seen as terrifying - the comic panels (and thus their whole world) begins to crumble and fall apart.
- Art and Leaf of Apple Valley frequently make references to the fact that they are in a webcomic, something most of the other characters either ignore or don't notice. The author has justified that, since this is their fourth webcomic (following The Apple of Discord and two previous comics) they've more than had enough time to figure out what's going on.
- In Problem Sleuth, Sleuth ends up attacking and destroying DMK's health bars directly, after he starts regenerating any damage taken instantly.
- Also, his health bars are shown as crashing through the ground and eventually reaching hell.
- In The Non-Adventures of Wonderella, God exhibits this.
- The fruit of the Tree of Knowledge briefly gave Slick awareness that he was just a comic strip character. Luckily the River Lethe was nearby to keep him from losing it completely.
- When it went meta, Slick and Monique started asking about the borders, and speech bubbles, and Slick noticed he had no legs.
- Drugs let Squigley see his own thought balloons and his past and future self in the panels next to his.
- Woo apparently knows Sandra and Woo's update schedule.
- In Rusty and Co., Mimic, being a D&D adventurer, knows tetanus is not a danger because it's not in the source books.
- Robin from Shortpacked! has a freak out when she sees the Matrix.
- The Daily Derp: Derpy is confused by being drawn on a whiteboard, and panics as she sees a sponge beginning to erase the comic.
- Jack has two characters who know they're in a comic: the Devil himself and Todd.
- Honestly, it would be quicker to list the characters who aren't medium-aware in Sketch Comedy.
- Ditto for Redd.
- The Buildingverse in general. It's a 'verse of Meta Fics with questionable fourth wall hardness. Main characters begin at the level of Meta Guy and Fourth Wall Observers are not rare either (verse native charcters might go lower, but it's hard to keep insisting on being real after your friends showed you your movie/book/etc.). For direct examples: James knowing the release schedule and page numbers (Roommates), Sarah complainng about the day going on for [P]ages (Girls Next Door) etc..
- In El Goonish Shive, Matt and Rat, a pair of minor characters, were aware they were in a comic for the duration of their few appearances. After that they were subsequently treated for their shared psychosis and became productive members of society according to Word of God.
- Dork Tower: This exchange.
Weather Report: Highs today in the single digits...
Matt: I'VE GOT YOUR SINGLE DIGIT RIGHT HERE, WINTER!
Igor: (covering Matt's hand to prevent him from Flipping the Bird) Kids are reading this kids are reading this.
- This page of A:TLA fan comic "Kyoshi - The Undiscovered Avatar" has troops fleeing the very panel they're in to the one below over the space between them from Kyoshi in the Avatar State.
- Irrelevator has this from comic one◊.
- Jerkcity has Atandt reading Pants's thought balloons while attempting to prove to him that he is in a comic strip.
- Shortpacked! gets a pretty big one when Lucy becomes the new Amazi-Girl.
Schtick-Shift: ...the hell do you think you are?
Lucy: I'm the new Amazi-Girl.
Robin: [from off-panel] psst, say it like it's a logo
Robin: like in comic books. say it like it's a logo
Lucy: Robin, this isn't a comic book. You can tell because I'm a woman with agency.
Robin: doooo eeeet
Lucy: ...I'm the new AMAZI-GIRL?
Robin: muy bueno
Lucy: I said it the same way.
- In this page of Subnormality, a ninja shuriken is essently made into an asterisk, which the characters use to read the note on the end of strip.
- This Diesel Sweeties strip, where one of the characters laments that they're just standing around talking about Star Wars
"My God, we're living in a webcomic.""This is nothing like a comic! You're a girl."
- Charles Bogle loves to do this in Hello Cleveland!. Examples range from Newt resting his hands on the edge of the panel to Newt removing the panel divide.
- In Nobody Scores! Raoul reads and comments on the title of the strip.
- Bob the Angry Flower is rescued from a hopeless situation by a friend who spots a text box narrating how his rescue attempt will fail. He shoots the letters clean off it and they escape.
- Dark Legacy Comics: has the midgets discovering the panels. They then stab, smack, and break the panels in such a way that they affect the past and future.
- A Very Potter Musical uses this quite a bit, ranging from characters talking about things they did while offstage, to Ron accepting a package of Twizzlers from a member of the band, to Voldemort, during the final battle, yelling at the band to change the tone of the background music.
- Similar to the Thumb Wars example above, in A Clone Apart, the following exchange is the first dialogue we hear:
- "Did you see that? It's a bunch of floating text out in the middle of space!"
- "No no no, that was a midichlorian cluster."
- "There aren't any midiclorians in space."
- "Of course there are! How else do we hear sound in space?"
- In Smashtasm, Princess H introduces herself to Super 64. As soon as she does, a caption appears stating her name. She complains to The Narrator that this is redundant, and she and The Narrator start arguing.
- A CollegeHumor parody skit of Sesame Street had the cookie monster replaced by a "pot cookie monster". By the end of the video the drug's effects cause him to realize that he's just a puppet.
- Split panel fun at Cracked.com.
- Also, this Cracked column, in which the characters in a noir-style story realize they're fictional characters. They immediately start asking "Who Writes This Crap?!?!" and arguing with the author. At one point, one character's dialogue links to the author's previous noir columns to prove that he's "already sort of done the whole noir thing. Once or twice." The author is... not pleased.
- Name an Abridged Series. Any Abridged Series.
- In Suburban Knights they can read Nostalgia Chick's subtitles. She instructs them to when they keep commenting on the fact they can't understand her.
- Doctor Horrible's Commentary! The Musical! has several songs about the song. Most notably "Ten dollar solo."
- In the musical episode of The Legend of Neil the fairy, when asked to sing with him by another fairy comments "I don't like online musicals''
- "You see how they condescend to us with their subtitles!"
- The Monkey King has godlike powers in the Whateley Universe, and this is apparently one of them. In the only story in which he narrates, he not only demonstrates medium awareness, he stops and makes comments at a couple regular posters on the website forums.
- Deconstructed in-universe in the SCP Foundation's description of SCP-085, a sapient animated drawing who learned that she is only a drawing and became depressed.
- Furthermore, S Andrew Swann's Proposal for SCP-001 is that higher level staff are becoming aware that their universe is a work of fiction, going by the messed up, often contradictory backstory of the foundation and the SCPs therein.
- References to how this site is a wiki are constantly referenced.
- STO Forum: Versus thread (rp):
locutusofcactus: The Undine captain looks down at the tracks in the sand. "Hmm... it appears that my competition is a good ten pages ahead of me."
- Cro: An episode involving a weird-looking machine invented by some mammoth named "Bucky" is chock-full of No Fourth Wall flirting with lines like "What, another plot complication?", "I thought we were in a flashback already" (the show's main story-lines are told as flashbacks) and "This not a good place to end, how about nice rescue scene?" - at the end of the flashback portion of the ep, three of the show's characters are hanging from Bucky's machine, which has been shoved over a cliff in a literal Cliffhanger.
- Kim Possible plays with this a lot, including things like messing with the credits of the show. Most notably at the end of "Grande Size Me" when Ron gives a fourth wall-breaking Space Whale Aesop speech about the dangers of mutating your DNA while the other characters gather behind him, confusedly wondering who he's talking to.
- Squidward in SpongeBob SquarePants makes frequent references to things lasting eleven minutes, the approximate length of a short.
- As do Timmy, Cosmo and Wanda on The Fairly OddParents!
Timmy: Where were you when I needed you ten and a half minutes ago?!
- Mighty Max: Villain of the Week Dr. Zygote uses a machine to "evolve towards the infinite", complete with Theme Music Power-Up. During the process he drones "Yes...I...can hear...the music!"
- Many of the humor-themed animated series co-created in the 1990s by Warner Bros. Animation and Amblin Entertainment were chock-full of this:
- Tiny Toon Adventures: Naturally, being explicitly about future cartoon stars in training.
- Animaniacs: The Warner siblings, Slappy Squirrel, and her nephew Skippy were devastatingly Medium Aware. The other characters were to varying degrees, often varying from short to short; Pinky and the Brain usually less so than most, especially after becoming the Spin-Off.
- Freakazoid!: To the point that nearly every regular character in the series, with the distinct exception of Dexter Douglas' family, were aware they were in a TV show.
- Johnny Bravo did this in an early episode. Whenever the villain's plot was described, an ominous tune would cause the characters to look around in surprise and confusion until finally, one of them wonders aloud, "Who keeps playing that music?"
- On Yogi's Treasure Hunt, in the episode "Follow the Yellow Brick Gold", Yogi and his friends are caught in a watery Death Trap just before a commercial break. After the break, the treasure hunters have escaped and are sitting on the roof. Huckleberry Hound says to the viewer, "If it hadn't been for that commercial break, you would have seen quite an escape!"
- Another such joke occurred in the episode "The Search for the Moaning Lisa". Right before the commercial break, Dick Dastardly cut the cords on the elevator that the gang was using, causing it to fall. Right at the start of the next act, the elevator's still falling, prompting Huckleberry to remark, "We've been fallin' for the whole commercial break!"
- Yet another has Quick Draw McGraw as El Kabong testifying in court about his excessive use of his guitar (or "ka-bonger"). He turns to the camera as says "Gee, kids, we're only trying to make you laugh. But don't try this at home!"
- Another such joke occurred in the episode "The Search for the Moaning Lisa". Right before the commercial break, Dick Dastardly cut the cords on the elevator that the gang was using, causing it to fall. Right at the start of the next act, the elevator's still falling, prompting Huckleberry to remark, "We've been fallin' for the whole commercial break!"
- Rocky and Bullwinkle did this all the time. In one episode, Boris and Natasha overlook an important visual detail, but hear the Narrator announcing that they missed it. The Narrator won't tell them what it was, so they rewind the tape and watch the scene again.
- Or the episode where Dragnet-like agents are trying to keep Rocky and Bullwinkle from spilling the beans, and so they gag our heroes. Then, when the off-screen narrator starts the episode wrap-up, the agents hear it and gag the narrator too. The rest of the episode has nothing but "mmm mmmp mmmn" sounds from the gagged narrator.
- The Animated Adaptation of Beetlejuice used this trope at least once every other episode. In their The Wizard of Oz homage episode, they replaced the line "There's no place like home" with "Ripple-dissolve to scene 326".
- A vast number of Ed, Edd n Eddy episodes have had the Eds or some other character demonstrate medium awareness:
- In "Key to My Ed", after finding that a napping Johnny is still asleep, Eddy wonders "Does this guy sleep through the whole show?"
- In "Momma's Little Ed", Eddy apologizes to Edd for an earlier outburst, blaming it on Kevin, and Edd replies "But Kevin wasn't in this show, Eddy."
- In "An Ed in the Bush", Ed cues the end of the episode's first act with the line "End of first sequence and fade to black."
- In "For Your Ed Only", Eddy's use of "Hasta la vista" and Edd's use of "C'est la vie" inspires Kevin to remark "This show needs subtitles."
- In "Cry Ed", Edd remarks after chasing Eddy around "I think I've lost about ten pounds this season!"
- At the end of "Here's Mud In Your Ed", Edd remarks "An iris in would be appropriate, don't you think?" As the cartoon ends with an iris to black, Edd can be heard saying "Thank you."
- In "Boom Boom Out Goes the Ed", when Ed thinks that Edd has vanished without a trace, Eddy protests "But it's the end of the show, Ed!"
- "1+1=Ed" takes it to the logical extreme, where the Eds get bitten by the curiosity bug and start physically deconstructing their animated world.
- In "Big Picture Show", there's a glass case in Eddy's brother's room with the words "In case of movie, break glass." At the end of the movie, Johnny tries to get even with the kids for an earlier slight, only to be told by Plank that the movie's over and it's too late for revenge.
- Edd also remarks on the Grand Finale nature of the movie, sarcastically claiming that it only took Eddy six seasons and a movie to finally learn how to apologize.
- The PBS computer animated series WordWorld follows this. All of the characters can not only hear the Narrator, but they even call him Mr. Narrator when they talk to him. None of them seem to be aware that they are characters in a television show though, and to be fair not much else about their world is exactly normal.
- In the 1985 Pound Puppies special, Violet starts telling Cooler what happened to her, only to stop, confused, when the scene starts to dissolve. Cooler blithely tells her that it's just a flashback and she continues her story.
- Subverted in the South Park episode "Starvin' Marvin In Space". Starvin' Marvin finds a flying saucer, and he climbs in, turns it on, and starts flying it, with the theme music from The Greatest American Hero playing in the background. Later in the episode, Cartman gets in the ship, and complains "Where is that awful music coming from?" at which point someone presses a button and the music turns off.
Chef: I know it can be hard, parents, but if you leave it up to the schools to teach sex to kids, you don't know who they're learning it from. It could be from someone who doesn't know, [pans to Mr. Mackey] someone who has a bad opinion of it, [pans to Ms. Choksondik] or even a complete pervert. [pans to Mr. Garrison]Garrison: What— why did you pan to me just now? What the hell is that supposed to mean?
- In another episode the Jackovasaurs get their own sitcom with canned audience laughter, when Cartman goes on the show he says "What was that?, who's laughing at me?"
- In "I'm A Little Bit Country", Cartman makes numerous attempts to initiate a flashback so he can complete his history assignment. One such method includes repeating the last words of a sentence with an echo effect.
- In "It Hits the Fan", the guys in the bar are apparently aware of when their words get bleeped by the censor.
- Garrison also tells them about the N-Word Privileges, saying that only he can say "fag" without being bleeped because he's gay. Then Jimbo says it without being bleeped, and people notice.
- The end of the episode about sex-ed involves Chef explaining why it's a bad idea for parents to dump The Talk on the school:
- Phineas and Ferb is incredibly fond of this. Carl, Dr. Doofenshmirtz, and Major Monogram use it expediently; all three seem to notice they're in a cartoon.
Phineas: I can't believe how quickly we put this sub together!Ferb: Yes, it usually takes us at least a montage.
- In "Voyage to the Bottom of Buford", the eponymous characters have already got a submarine built and ready to use, prompting this conversation:
"Hmm, comes with its own theme music!"
- "Mom! Phineas and Ferb are making a title sequence!"
- "... a Christmas special/a public service announcement/a DVD menu"
- In "Summer Belongs to You", a layover ad taking up half the screen is called out by Phineas for ruining a visual gag. Later, he also mentions there being about eleven minutes until sundown, the approximate remainder of the episode.
- In "Phineas and Ferb's Hawaiian Vacation," a slight riff of background music plays whenever Candace puts on the supposedly-cursed Tiki necklace, which she repeatedly is shown to hear.
Doofenshmirtz: Ha ha, I grabbed you while you were flashing back to your escape!
- In "The Lizard Whisperer," Ferb says that they will not give up their search for Steve after "a mere eleven minutes," which is how long the episode lasts.
- In "The Belly of the Beast", Perry the Platypus ambushes Doofenshmirtz after having been imprisoned and left behind. When Doofenshmirtz asks how he escaped, we flashback... but before anything happens, we return to the present, where Doofenshmirtz has gained the upper hand.
Disembodied Reggae Space Voice: We don't have rocky road. It's not like we don't like it, we left the marshmallows at home. I blame Baljeet.Baljeet: What do you mean you blame Baljeet?DRSV: Well, it was clearly your responsibility to bring them.Baljeet: Where are you getting your information from, Disembodied Reggae Space Voice?DRSV: Hey, I have a name you know!Baljeet: Oh yeah well what is it?DRSV: Well, it's Disembodied Reggae Space Voice, but you didn't know that!Baljeet: Look who is sensitive all of a sudden! Besides, Buford could have brought them!Phineas: Baljeet, would you please stop arguing with the soundtrack?Baljeet: He started it!
- When Phineas and the gang go to the moon to make ice cream, Baljeet has an argument with the soundtrack:
Major Monogram: Oh, wow, what are the odds?Carl: Well, it is a cartoon, sir.Major Monogram: What did I tell you about Breaking the Fourth Wall, Carl?Carl: Sorry sir.
- In "Doof Dynasty", when Perry goes all "ripply", the other characters recognize that he's segueing into a flashback... but they don't actually get to see it.
- At the end of "Agent Doof", after her mom and several of the Fireside Girls get turned into infants by the Babe-inator, Candace quips "This had better wear off before the next episode..."
- In "Phineas' Birthday Clip-o-Rama", Doof's plan is implausible even by his own standards. He acknowledges this to Perry, saying, "What, you think I'm gonna waste my good stuff on a clip show?"
- In "Make Play," Major Monogram comments on Candace's striking resemblance to the princess, only for Carl to hang a lampshade on it:
- In one episode of Family Guy, Peter remarks that everyone is in Hollywood, where "Someone always says something funny just before the commercial break!" He then pauses before looking disappointed. Fade to commercial.
Lois: It's something, but you still got a leftover "r".Peter: This was hard! I did this for you!
- There have been plenty of other indications that the Family Guy cast is completely aware they are on an animated TV show. For instance, Stewie tried to introduce a Cutaway Gag and found out there was no clip, acknowledged it and moved on. Other characters have waited for the fake laugh-track to end before continuing lines. Lois suspected that insulting the network would result in their budget being cut, and the animation becoming choppy. They even know which network they work for.
- Or when Cleveland told Quagmire that he was moving to a spin-off soon. How much more medium aware do you need to be?
- And another episode had a Cutaway Gag that showed Quagmire mistakenly thinking he was the one getting the spin-off, making a So Long, Suckers! speech complete with "Enjoy your chicken fights and your Conway Twitty!"
- And in Family Guy itself:
Peter: Connie's unconscious! I'd better lie on top of her to see if she's breathing! (looks at the viewer) Oh, shut up! IT'S A CARTOON!
- In a "Road to" episode, Brian and Stewie go back in time to the series pilot. There's a point where they watch their former selves setting up a cutaway gag, then just waiting there, motionless, until the gag ends. Then Stewie comments how things evolved, and shows that today they engage in more "idle" activities during the gags, like texting, doing make-up and smoking.
- In one episode, a (fake) network ad pops up while Peter's talking, and he stops and yells at it for interrupting him and distracting from the show.
- At the beginning of "Jesus, Mary and Joseph", while the producers' credits are appearing along the bottom of the screen, Peter takes apart the letters that make up the name "Cherry Chevapravadumrong" and rearranges them into "Chemotherapy vanguard vCr".
Stewie: You're even worse than those people who take dumps in the shower.(cut to Meg taking a shower; she notices the viewer)Meg: What? W-Why are you cutting to me? What did somebody say? Whatever they said I do, I don't do!
- A scene from "Peternormal Activity" has Meg being concerned about being the punchline of a cutaway.
- Chowder has a paper-thin (technically glass) fourth wall, so it runs into this trope at times.
- One example ends with Gazpacho using window cleaner to fix a scribble on the screen. Chowder asks if he can also clean up "that other thing". He pokes the Cartoon Network logo and says "That? That doesn't come off. I've tried." After the Cartoon Network logo changed, it's very noticeable during reruns.
- In another episode, Chowder starts a fire in Mung Daal's kitchen, and Mung complains "Now the animators are gonna have to draw all this fire!"
- There's also the time where they go on a shopping spree and spend all their money. Upon realizing this Mung exclaims that there's no more money for animation, at which point the scene switches to the four main voice actors trying to figure out how to fix this (long story short, they have a car wash).
- To top all that off, Chowder eats enough brain food in one episode to become hyper-intelligent, enough to realize that he's in a cartoon. Most of the characters retain this knowledge after the episode ends (with Chowder literally throwing his brain on the floor. Followed by a giant mallet).
- Dave the Barbarian was very fond of these.
Fang: What makes you think this plan will work!Dave: It's got to, we're at the end of the episode!
- At the end of the first episode of the second season of the Attack of the Killer Tomatoes! cartoon, Dr. Gangrene has achieved his goal of world conquest! Not only does he laugh gleefully over his victory, but he declares, "And this isn't a two part episode, IT'S A ONE-PARTER!" to which the heroes respond "You may have won this episode, but you'll never win the series!"
- One of The Simpsons' couch gags had the Simpsons sit on their couch to watch TV when Homer noticed the TV station logo in the corner of the screen. (This was back when these logos were first starting to appear.) He lunged to his feet, ripped it apart and threw it on the floor where the rest of the family joined him in stomping it.
- Another couch gag had Marge, after sitting down, finding Matt Groening's signature on the floor, to look to the viewer like a signed piece of artwork. Marge cleans it up, whereupon Groening himself appears and resigns the floor.
- Another episode took place around when Joe Millionaire had rather annoying logos going at the bottom of the screen. One goes by and Homer proceeds to eat it commenting "Mmm, promos", and then spitting something out with a "Bleh, Fox!"
- The beginning of one of the "Treehouse of Horror" episodes begins with Marge talking about something while banners for other shows run across the bottom of the screen. Being a Treehouse of Horror, Marge proceeds to kill them.
- In The Simpsons Movie, the FOX banner pops up to advertise shows and says "that's right, we advertise in MOVIES now, too!", making this a very rare case of REVERSE Medium Awareness - the network advert is aware it's in the movie!
- In the episode "Homer Loves Flanders"
Lisa: Don't worry, Bart. It seems like every week something odd happens to the Simpsons. My advice is to ride it out, make an occasional smart-alec quip, and by next week we'll be back to where we started from, ready for another wacky adventure.Bart: Ay, caramba!Lisa: That's the spirit.
- Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1987)
- The plot of one episode dawdles for about 20 minutes without progressing towards any sort of resolution. With a couple minutes left to go in the episode, one of the Turtles (Leonardo?) says to his colleagues, "We'd better come up with something quick, or we're going to have our first two-part episode."
- In "The Great Baldini," a priceless artifact is stolen during a magic show, which the Turtles are watching. The police cordon off the spectators and begin searching everyone. Donatello nervously asks if this is going to be a strip search, and Raphael responds, "I hope not. This is a family show!"
- Raphael does this constantly in the 80's cartoon. And it even carries over to the animated crossover movie, Turtles Forever. In a Running Gag, Hun (from the 2003 series) has no idea who he is talking to when he continuously breaks the fourth wall.
- Shredder gets in on it too, sort of. At the start of one episode, Shredder is apparently explaining his scheme for that episode to Krang, who complains that he already knows what Shredder is planning. Shredder points directly at the viewer, exclaiming, "I was explaining it to them!" However, it turns out he was pointing at Bebop and Rocksteady.
- He gets one for real when another character sets up a very easy wise crack/insult and he turns to the audience to announce to them "I won't say it. It's too easy.'
- In another episode, April is being arrested by a robot who confers massive punishments for minor crimes. As it's about to haul her away, it asks if she has anything she'd like to say. She responds she does, but she can't use such language on television.
- One episode of Disney's The Mighty Ducks had the heroes trapped with a deadline at the end of the first half. When the time got short something on the lines of "I knew we shouldn't have sat around doing nothing during the commercial break" was said. This was somewhat bizarre in the German version - animated series aimed at children are not interrupted by commercial breaks.
- The Cow and Chicken two-part episode "The Ugliest Weenie" was bridged, as normal, by an episode of I Am Weasel. The Red Guy recaps the events of part 1...
Red Guy: "So get ready for Part 3 of The Ugliest Weenie!"Voice: "Hey, what happened to Part 2? Was that Weasel thing Part 2?"Red Guy: "Yes, that was Part 2 of our show! This is Part 3 of the show, which is Part 2 of The Ugliest Weenie!"
- Frequently in Animaniacs - The Warners and Slappy were the most frequent to indulge in this, though it was hardly exclusive to them.
- A particularly notable use of the subtitle variant of this trope is used in The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy during a conversation in the episode "The Prank Call of Cthulhu".
Mandy: Ugh, this isn't working.Grim: He said, 'If you're talking about the new interns, you can find them in the cafeteria.'Mandy: You understood him?Grim: No, but I'm pretty good at reading subtitles backwards.
- In The Angry Beavers episode "Eurobeavers", Norbert proceeds to speak with such a heavy accent that subtitles appear on the bottom of the screen. Daggett can see them, and eventually grabs one to throw it offscreen, where it can be heard shattering.
- The British series Danger Mouse is built on this trope: characters get into arguments with the Narrator, the hero knows what 'C.H.M.F.F.G.' stands for because "I read the script", a villain plans to cripple the heroes by depriving them of their ubiquitous background music, and so on.
- Scary Godmother: The Revenge of Jimmy has the Scary Godmother commenting about dramatic music whenever it comes on.
- In a lot of the old theatrical shorts it wasn't uncommon for the cartoon characters to interact with a silhouetted member of the audience, perhaps to ask them for help or tell them to be quiet. Bugs Bunny once pulled out a gun and shot an audience member who wouldn't stop coughing.
- Naturally this happens all the time to Bugs Bunny and his fellow Looney Tunes characters. Example; in the cartoon Rabbit Punch, a lengthy bout between Bugs and a dimwitted boxer ends with the boxer tying Bugs to a railroad track. We see the train barrelling down on Bugs, then the image flickers, then the film breaks, leaving a white screen. Bugs then walks onto the screen and announces, "Ladies and gentlemen, due to circumstances beyond our control we are unable to finish this picture." Leaning toward the camera and holding up a pair of scissors, he whispers, "And, uh, confidentially, the film didn't exactly break."
- Perhaps the ultimate Looney Tunes example would be the famous short "Duck Amuck" in which Daffy has a continued conversation and interaction with his animator.
- Tex Avery was quite fond of these types of gags. For example there's the old gag where the character will stop everything to pluck a hair that's apparently stuck in the projector. In one of Avery's shorts while the main characters are chasing their victim the screen suddenly goes from color to black and white; when they stop running and walk back they find a border between color and black and white with a sign which says "Technicolor ends here".
- One Roadrunner cartoon ends with Will E. Coyote falling and he holds up a sign that says "How about ending this cartoon before I hit?", as it begins to Iris Out he holds up a sign that says "thank you".
- In an episode of The Ren & Stimpy Show, Ren is president of Stimpy's fan club and answers his fan mail, bitterly telling one child in a letter that Stimpy isn't real and he's just a cartoon.
- KaBlam!'s Henry and June.
- In an episode of Freakazoid!, Cosgrove finds out that Freakazoid was right all along and Cosgrove's girlfriend really is a monster. She plans to drain Freakazoid's essence and use it to maintain her youth and power. When she offers to share it with Cosgrove, a tremulous choir starts up on the soundtrack, singing "What will Cosgrove do? What will Cosgrove do? What will Cosgrove doooo?" He turns, points to the camera, and says in typical deadpan manner, "Cut it out." They do.
- Pretty well everyone in Freakazoid! knows about their cartoon status. One of the pitfalls of living in a '90s Warner Bros. show.
- In The Perils of Penelope Pitstop both the titular heroine and the villain, The Hooded Claw, seem to be aware of the narrator most of the time. Though this begs the question of why the narrator never tells Penelope that The Hooded Claw is really her guardian Sylvester Sneekly.
- In Futurama episode "Fear of a Bot Planet", Leela comments "It's not an easy decision. If only I had two or three minutes to think about it." and then cuts to commercials.
- The first movie parodies this. Such as when Leela states "So what does this mean for us and our many fans?" only for there to be a lot of actual fans behind her.
- In the stop-motion paper figure [adult swim] comedy Mary Shelley's Frankenhole, Jesus calls Dr Victor Frankenstein "Paperface".
- In Rex The Runt, a claymation series, the fact that the characters are made of plasticine is regularly played with. An example is one episode where Rex gets accidentally put through a mincer, but survives the experience and is eventually squashed back together into one piece.
- Several characters in My Gym Partner's a Monkey, most notably Principal Pixiefrog, seem to be aware that they are characters in a cartoon.
- Interesting example in the Christmas Episode of Charlie and Lola, which is animated to match the books; the characters are childish drawings and the backgrounds are collages. Christmas grinds to a halt because Santa's elves have run out of paper to wrap the presents. As Charlie and Lola head home depressed, Lola notices that the starry sky is made of wrapping paper, and they tear it off and give it to the elves, thus Saving Christmas.
- Though it's still Fan Wank at the moment, Pinkie Pie from My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic has shown signs that she is aware of her status as a cartoon character. She is the only pony to utilize Offscreen Teleportation, Behind a Stick, pushing on an Iris Out, and other classic cartoon abilities In a strange case of reversal, in the episode Putting Your Hoof Down, the minotaur Iron Will stares out at the audience at one point, whereas Pinkie and Rarity stare at the audience confusedly, as if they can't see it.
*Pinkie starts a song number out of nowhere*
- The IDW Comic Series, however, has shown moments of her being aware. Such as when Evil!Celestia hits Evil!Luna with a powerful attack, where she screams "You can't do that! This is a kid's comic!"
- Spike takes on this role in the Season 2 episode "Lesson Zero" when he pushes or pops all of Twilight's Imagine Spots away.
- Like Pinkie, a Fan Wank justification for this being one of Spike's in-universe abilities is him being Twilight's magical familiar and therefore able to interact with her subconscious illusionary magic conjurings.
- Also, Spontaneous Choreography and Singing seem to be perfectly normal everyday activities in Equestria, and other characters like to comment on it... a lot.
Twilight: Tell me she's not...
Rarity: She is.*While discussing the musical "Hinny of the Hills"*
Rainbow Dash: Ponies just bursting into song in random places at the drop of a hat? Who does that?
*Rarity starts to sing**Attempting to hide from Applejack as she continued to coddle Applebloom*
Applebloom: I gotta feeling this might just work! "We're gonna make my sister see/I don't need her watchin' over me—"
Scootaloo: Stop! No time for a song! Applejack's coming!*Rainbow Dash references "The Failure Song", which she didn't even witness*
Twilight Sparkle: I do not get "all freaked out" about tests!
Rainbow Dash: Uh, seriously? Your freak outs are so epic, you sing whole freak-out arias about freaking out.
*In fact, none of the mane cast aside from Twilight and Spike were present for "The Failure Song", yet the rest of the Mane Six use exactly the same melody for its Triumphant Reprise as "The Success Song".*
- The DVD Commentary for the series premiere leaves little doubt regarding Pinkie's awareness. One of the producers mentions that Pinkie, as an expy of Surprise from the original series, had wings in Faust's original vision for the series; another says something along the lines of "who needs wings when you can break the fourth wall?"
- The Powerpuff Girls episode "Simian Says" (as well as the comic book story "See You Later, Narrator") has Mojo kidnapping the narrator and replacing his script with one that has the Powerpuff Girls incapable of saving the day.
- When Timmy Turner and Jimmy Neutron end up in each others' universes in the first Jimmy Timmy Power Hour, both are aware of the changes in animation style:
Jimmy: My arms! My legs! My depth!
Timmy: Why is everything so bulgy?
- In The Snorks episode "Snorkerella", Casey's Fairy Snork Mother appears and acknowledges that they're in a cartoon.
- The little Italian mouse in the Tom and Jerry cartoon "Neapolitan Mouse" suddenly recognizes the two after he rescues Tom from being bullied by three dogs ("Tom... Jerry... funny cartoons!")
- In the Total Drama special bridging the first two seasons, birds circle Courtney's head after she slams into a camouflaged wall. She shoos the birds away, prompting one of them to angrily chirp back at her.
- Taz-Mania: Many characters are aware that they are in a cartoon. Taking to its (il)logical extreme in "Retakes Not Included", which consists largely of Bull Gator pointing out the shoddy production values and amateurish direction of this particular episode. And its hilarious.
- Who Killed Who?: The victim is reading a book called "Who Killed Who? (From the cartoon of the same name)". This is also how he learns of his impending murder.
- Archer: In "Sea Tunt, Part 1", Cheryl can hear the background music, which her brother uses to support his theory that she's crazy.
- In "The Papal Chase", the Vatican bishops express surprise at ISIS' plan to switch the Pope with a double. Archer says, "I know, right? Trope alert!"
- X-Men: Evolution: In a fourth-season episode, the semi-villainous Brotherhood members begin causing dangerous situations so they can save people and be celebrated as heroes. Once media interest starts to wane, Toad is panicked that their fifteen minutes of fame are ending: "That didn't feel like fifteen minutes! More like five! Maybe ten." He says this line roughly ten minutes into the episode, not counting main titles and commercials.
- In the Robot Chicken "Smurfatar" sketch, Gargamel sees Smurfette bathing in a lake with her chest pixelated. He turns to the camera to ask why her chest needs to be censored when Smurfs don't have nipples, and the pixel bar goes away to reveal that she indeed does not have nipples.
- An episode of Chowder once had the title character playing around with a marker until he accidentally drew on the screen. Gazpacho then said he needed to clean that up, and kept telling the camera to move around until he could reach it, saying it was "too far" with a wide shot, and cleaned it up when he got a close-up. When Chowder said he missed one (the Cartoon Network screen bug), Gazpacho informed him he'd tried before and it doesn't come off.
- This become especially bizarre with re-runs after the network logo changed, as the old logo suddenly re-appears (along with the new one) when Gazpacho taps it, but disappears right after he said it wouldn't go away.
- Another episode had Mung tired of Chowder singing, so he had Schnitzel skip to the next scene, physically switching the screen out.
- And in the first episode, Schnitzel cleans the kitchen by shaking the film frame clean.
- One of The Simpsons' many couch gags had the family running right off the frame into empty space in their race to the couch. Unfortunately, it was replaced in syndication.
Dr. Hibbert: Well, I can't solve this mystery. [points at the screen] Can you? [the camera changes, revealing that he's pointing at Chief Wiggum]Wiggum: Yeah, I'll give it a shot, I mean, you know, it's my job, right?
- Another episode had Homer grabbing a promo for Joe Millionaire, eating it, and then spitting out the "FOX" in the promo.
- In one episode, Lisa directly looks at the fourth wall and asks if you can help her solve a riddle. It turns out that she actually asked Milhouse, and it was just shown from his perspective. (By the way, said episode seems to be spoofing Dan Brown's novels. It would have been hilarious if Robert Langdon actually did something like this in one of the movie adaptions...)
- This was used earlier in "Who Shot Mr. Burns? (Part I)":
- In The Simpsons Movie: Homer calls everyone watching The Itchy and Scratchy movie a "giant sucker" for "paying to see something they can watch at home for free" and starts pointing at a random theater audience member... only for the camera to swivel around so that Homer's finger is pointed directly at the fourth wall while he says "Especially YOU!"
- The fourth season of Teen Titans opens with Control Freak talking directly to the viewer, or so it seems until the camera zooms out from the screen of the Titans' television.
- The Beatles episode "I Want To Hold Your Hand" has the boys chastising the episode's narrator for giving away their hiding places aboard a cruise ship (they were being chased by excited female fans).
- The characters on Kaeloo are fully aware of the fact that they are on a cartoon, and they reference it from time to time, and in one episode Kaeloo even asks the director to replay a scene backwards.
- It enters Nightmare Fuel territory at the end of Episode 105, where Stumpy takes over the animation studio and announces that he will be writing all the episodes from that point on.