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."
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)
In one episode of Pokémon, 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:
James: Why didn't we just do this in the first place?
Jessie: We have to fill a half hour!
Another ep ended with them remarking "We wasted this whole episode cheering for the good guys"
One episode had a tie-in to the videogames. Meowth said he couldn't learn Pay Day because he used up all his move slots.
Team Rocket pretty much did this every episode early in the series.
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!
Note - These lines are from the Hindi version
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?".
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 has 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 was no heroic music for one of her arrivals.
In a manga episode of Ichigo Mashimaro, 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".
Also, on the first page of episode 3, before even the episode'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...
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.
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!, such as when Misora tried to wave away a caption that introduced her as Misora to the readers after she had just denied that she was Misora to Asuna.
When the GA-1 students were talking about typography, one strips actually have 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.
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. Mahiro himself exhibits it in another episode, where he can apparently see the little numbering bubbles used to count up the guests for his mother's hot springs trip.
As well, Nyarko's introduction includes a parody of the opening to Bewitched, with herself as Samantha and Mahiro as Darrin; we later see it's just a video she's having made. Mahiro interrupts, but he doesn't remark on the credits for "Eri Kitamura" and "Kana Asumi" that appear alongside his and Nyarko's names.
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 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?
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!"
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 characters listen or respond to what he says, because he is known to be completely insane.
This gag has extended to video games including Deadpool: in Marvel vs. Capcom 3, he can beat his opponent around the head with his own life bar, and his movie actor Ryan Reynolds is looking forward to the day he gets to do this in a Deadpool movie. 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.
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.
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 DC ComicsThe 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.
That would certainly explain Richard from Looking for Group; he seems to be the only one of them aware that he's playing a video game.
In the movie, he talked to himself a few times, serving the same narrative purpose, but preserving the seriousness.
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."
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.
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.
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.
A rare in-universe in-universe example: the French absurdist comicbook series Philďż˝mon 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 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 worlds 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 League of Extraordinary Gentlemn: 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.
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 ATLAfanfic 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.
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.
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...
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.
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.
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."
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.
Possibly the funniest one of all is 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.
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!"
A difficult to interpret line from the end of the sequence. "LEAVE US ALONE, MEL BROOKS!"
From the same film, the characters consult the script to confirm that Robin does, in fact, get another shot.
Robin: I lost! I lost? Wait a second, I'm not supposed to lose... Let me see the script."
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...
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.)
Additionally the characters in Spamalot seem to be well aware that they are in a musical, most notably when the Lady of the Lake proceeds to bitch about her lack of involvement in Act 2rawr citation needed in the song 'The Diva's Lament'
The awareness varies by the character according to what's funny. At one point the knights are tasked with putting on a musical, and the Lady finally reveals to Arthur that they're in one. He finally notices the audience, which becomes key to the plot's resolution.
The whole number 'You Can't Succeed On Broadway (If You Don't Have Any Jews)'. Especially the intro section, which is the characters discussing the extraordinary talent of Broadway actors.
Back in the film, Patsy is well aware that Camelot 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!
The Star Wars parody Thumb Wars featured a Rebel starship crashing into the opening expository text: "Watch out for that word! AAAUUUGGGHHH!!!". (At least on the DVD version - the TV version doesn't even have an opening word crawl, just a pretext and the title fading into the distance.)
The movie 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.
And 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.
Then there are the splices of Tyler himself throughout the movie whenever the narrator has insomnia.
And there's 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".
In the scene here Wayne is speaking with Casandra in Cantonese, Wayne appears to be reading the subtitles while speaking, until he stops talking and the subtitles continue the dialogue.
The entire movie of Last Action Hero is essentially this to a T. The main character (and sidekick of Arnold) continually points out that himself 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.
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.
Tim Curry as Mr Jigsaw. When Whoopi feigns ignorance of the microfiche he 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.
Funny Games has this. It's how the villain kills that last pesky survivor with the shotgun.
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.
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!"
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 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 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 and 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:
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.
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.
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.
In "Abed's Uncontrollable Christmas" Abed realizes the characters are stop motion animated. The mere fact that said episode is in stop-motion is central to episode's plot.
He once refused to let Troy move in with him saying it would Jump The Shark.
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.
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.
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.
One episode of Growing Pains used a similar joke. Mike was explaining something through Flashbacks. When he doesn't immediately continue his story at one point, Maggie asks him what's wrong, and he replies, "I'm waiting for the ripple!"
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."
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 It's also an in-joke about the set: those stairs don't actually lead anywhere..
(Exterior shot: a door opens and Sir William appears out of it into the fresh air. He suddenly halts.) 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!
Done with a number of other sketches, such as the Argument Clinic (which ends with a policeman trying to arrest everyone for ending the sketch without a proper punchline).
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 3=third policeman by the shoulder.)
When a chemist (Michael Palin) goes off-screen, his customer (Eric Idle) fills the space with:
"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!" (The chemist is shown standing on the edge of the set, sees the camera, and rushes to get back into the sketch.)
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.
"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.
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)
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 Full House Music (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".
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.
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."
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.
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!
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.
'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:
Wash: Psychic, though? That sounds like something out of science fiction.
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.
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.
This was the entire premise behind It's Garry Shandling's Show (hence the name of the show). Garry constantly spoke directly to the audience, Lampshaded common Sitcom tropes, and traveled between scenes by stepping off the set, getting in a gold cart, and driving it to the next set. One episode featured Gilda Radner (one of her last roles before her untimely death), and Garry chastised her for looking into the camera. Only he was allowed to Break The Fourth Wall.
Alex from Wizards of Waverly Place 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.
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."
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 "Bet you didn't know you were in this song."
Played straight for one character and subverted for another in an early Bloom Countystrip, 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 installment of Little Nemo in Slumberland, 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.
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.
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."
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.
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.
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.
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.
Stand Up Comedy
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"
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!!!!!"
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..."
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-duhduh-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!
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.
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."
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.)
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.
From one of the Spyro games, 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.
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.
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.
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.
When Bowser explains the rules in one of the GameCubeMario 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.
Shadow Of Destiny and Time Hollow, both by the same director, have a MindScrewyNew 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.
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 Nonstandard 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, who flies around trying to become the main character of NI games. You fight her in Soul Nomad and the World Eaters.
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.
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."
Yukari from Shikigami No Shiro 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.
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!
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....
Conker's Bad Fur Day did this at quite a few points, particularly at the end when the game freezes, saving Conker from certain death, and he begins interacting with the video game designers. The Xbox remake continues this tradition, wherein Conker and other characters make snide comments about the changes in the remake, with one early character mentioning that they changed the early levels significantly to fool players into thinking the rest of the game would also be different.
In Pokémon Red and Blue, the PC can go into a building in one of the cities with programmers inside, one of which tells you that he drew you. Interacting with computers results in the PC 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.
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".
In zOMG!, Old Man Logan points out the Bass'ken Windmill to the player, only to be told 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.
Azuregos, a lone wandering dragon and a Cloud Cuckoolander, 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.
The Bard's Tale: Half the fun comes from the Bard and the Narrator arguing.
In the Discworld videogames, 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 × 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 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!"
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."
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.
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 otherother webcomic named Roomies)
Of course, David Willis' Roomies briefly toyed with genre awareness as well, mostly for laughs.
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!
Just to made it more confusing, they're also aware that they're in a comic strip. 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.
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 later collection, 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 Zykon's 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.
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?
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.
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 subcomic, "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".
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.
The webcomic 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.
It's a bit Epileptic Trees, but there's a theory that Torg from Sluggy Freelance 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.
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.
1/0never 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.
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.
A one-shot guest strip for Sluggy Freelance 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.
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.
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.
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 Super64. 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.
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.
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 SC Ps therein.
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 Cliff Hanger.
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 Aesopspeech about the dangers of mutating your DNA while the other characters gather behind him, confusedly wonder who he's talking to.
Squidward in Spongebob Squarepants makes frequent references to things lasting eleven minutes, the approximate length of a short.
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!"
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.
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 Word World 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.
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:
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?
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.
In "Voyage to the Bottom of Buford", the eponymous characters have already got a submarine built and ready to use, prompting this conversation:
Phineas: I can't believe how quickly we put this sub together!
Ferb: Yes, it usually takes us at least a montage.
"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 rift of background music plays whenever Candace puts on the supposedly-cursed Tiki necklace, which she repeatedly is shown to hear.
"Hmm, comes with its own theme music!"
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 Flash Back... but before anything happens, we return to the present, where Doofenshmirtz has gained the upper hand.
Doofenshmirtz: Ha ha, I grabbed you while you were flashing back to your escape!
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?
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.
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."
Now that the Cartoon Network logo has changed, its very noticeable during reruns.
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).
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.
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 Beebop and Rocksteady.
In another episode, April is being arrested by a robot who confers massivepunishments forminor 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.
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.
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 "What a difficult 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 "but what of our many fans?" only for there to be a lot of actual fans behind her.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Archer: In "Sea Tunt, Part 1", Cheryl can hear the background music, which her brother uses to support his theory that she's crazy.
Western Animation/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.