When No Fourth Wall
and Show Within a Show
love each other very much...
ahem. Sometimes you have a Show Within a Show
. In those cases you have a fictional universe within a fictional universe. No Inner Fourth Wall
happens when there's no fourth wall between those, but the fourth wall remains between the viewers and the main fictional universe.
Often, these internal breaks will also Lean on the real fourth wall
. For example, the show within the show will have a contrived plot element, and a character in this show will say "Who Writes This Crap?!
", breaking the internal fourth wall. Then, the main show will have a similar contrivance. No need for the characters of the main show to complain; the characters in the show within the show have already done so for them, and the external fourth wall is preserved.
Often used in Rage Against the Author
or Interactive Narrator
scenarios, where the "real world" author is also fictional.
- In Last Action Hero, Jack Slater finds out he's a movie character from his fan, Danny. Danny never finds out that he's a character from Last Action Hero.
- The NeverEnding Story is based around this trope. It is about a boy who reads a novel that he is a character in. There is a point where he is reading about himself reading about himself.
- Jasper Fforde's Thursday Next, with its mind-bending use of metafiction, plays with this. Thursday enters fictional worlds but hasn't yet found a copy of The Eyre Affair - at least until the fifth book, when she does, and this trope is demolished.
- In the sixth book, the protagonist is the fictional Thursday who plays the role in the books published in the "real" Thursday's world. At one point she thinks that even when she's not being read, she can't help feeling that someone is controlling her actions and reading her mind.
- Tenkaichi, Banzo and Fuji from The Conditions of Great Detectives are all aware they're within a fictional series called "The Great Detective Tenkaichi", being forced to play their respective characters: the great detective/amateur sleuth, the useless detective and rookie cop. They aren't aware of the show or book The Conditions of Great Detectives.
- Eat Lead: The Return of Matt Hazard has this, there's no fourth wall between the 'real world' and the video game world, with the video game characters being interviewed for biographical documentaries, but there is a fourth wall between the world QA and Wellesly inhabit and ours.
- In The Empty City, one of the characters experiences all the characters from the television coming out of it into the 'real' world. They go away when he turns it off.
- Star Ocean: Till the End of Time. The characters eventually find out that they're characters in a video game. Then they break out of it. Of course, they break out into ANOTHER world, and are still in our video game... so effectively, the original part was a videogame INSIDE a video game!
- Viewtiful Joe is fully aware of all the toku film tropes he encounters, but never notices any non-overlapping video game cliches.
- In Morrigan's ending in Tatsunoko vs. Capcom: Ultimate All-Stars, she takes advantage of Yami's warping of dimensions to escape the game itself and enter the real world, only to be repeatedly schooled by the kid playing the game. Who is definitely not the person who just got the ending. Curses.
- The Duck Amuck video game for the Nintendo DS also counts, but unlike in the cartoon, the artist is Daffy Duck himself.
- The Homestar Runner universe is full of shows within the show and sub-universes, most of them created by Strong Bad. They all interact with the main universe from time to time, which has No Fourth Wall in the first place.
- 8-Bit Is Enough is perhaps the best example, which finds Strong Bad hopping in and out of a variety of in-universe video games.
- The Church Of Blow's plot follows Cornelius Blow who, towards the end of the story, discovers he is a fictional character and has a conversation with his "actor" who is also fictional. Unlike many examples, this is played for drama as Cornelius comes to terms with his fictionality.
- The characters in Kid Radd are aware they are in a video game, and at one point talk to a 'player', but only very rarely do they show awareness of being in a webcomic.
- The Protagonist of Erfworld is aware he's in some kind of tabletop military gaming simulation-like world, but no one has any idea they're in a Webcomic. Except possibly Charlie.
- Harry Potter Comics includes the same popular fantasy fiction as our world, including Lord of the Rings, which has recently been revealed to be part of the ACTUAL history of the Harry Potter universe.
- Homestuck is this, if you view the bulk of the story as the show within the show of Andrew Hussie writing homestuck.
- Let's explain, shall we: There are a number of fourth walls in the story. The one labeled as the fourth wall exists between the story and Hussie's Study, but the actual fourth wall exists between the audience and Andrew Hussie, And only Andrew Hussie, as he is the only one aware of his status as a character in the story he tells.
- And then there's the "fifth wall," which Hussie defines as the wall separating two omniscient narrators — which he defines right before crossing said wall to go beat up the other narrator that hijacked his story. It's that kind of a comic.
- Duck Amuck, when it turns out the artist is Bugs Bunny.
- One of The Simpsons "Treehouse of Horror" episodes involved a remote control which brought television to life.
- Likewise, one Family Guy Halloween special involved Stewie getting Trapped in TV Land.
- The entire premise of Captain N: The Game Master is that a boy from the "real world" finds himself in "Videoland". However, said "boy" from the "real world" is also fictional from our point of view.
- In The Fairly OddParents, Timmy often wishes himself into fictional worlds, most notably the world of The Crimson Chin. After the first time Timmy enters the Crimson Chin's world, the Chin is fully aware of his status as a comic book character, even saying "Did I say that out loud? That was supposed to be a thought balloon."