"Gunner... Point the turret up at that camera in the sky!"A monster is on the loose terrorizing a bunch of innocent people. As long as the monster and the victims are characters in a fictional world, one would usually be correct to assume that the boundaries of the Fourth Wall will be respected. But then, Breaking the Fourth Wall, the monster assaults the omniscient narrator, or leaps out at the audience. Definitely Paranoia Fuel. Obviously much easier to pull off with visual media (such as film), but a few literary examples also exist. An easy way to invoke this trope is to describe a Brown Note, and say that a series of horrible events happened to anybody who experienced it before, and specify that the first symptom is a sense of foreboding. Since foreboding is a base response, even rational people who know that they cannot be negatively affected by a work of fiction will feel the visceral reaction thanks to the nocebo effect. Paranoia Fuel can then set in; mission accomplished. See also Rage Against the Author and The Most Dangerous Video Game. May involve Sean Connery Is About to Shoot You or Tome of Eldritch Lore, or may implement Fission Mailed. Playing the Player is a game specific version of this, though it usually involves trickery instead of threats. For an in-universe equivalent, see Deadline News.
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- Pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca ran this series of ads in Japan warning of the dangers of arteriosclerosis. Set up like a comedic variety show, the presenter gives a short talk before saying "There are no outward symptoms, so even if you feel fine..." when someone on the set very non-comedically collapses from a heart attack. In the final version of the ad, it switches to a POV shot of the viewer at home collapsing and their vision dimming.
Anime and Manga
- Bleach gives us Aizen's mass hypnosis ability, which is so strong it affects the reader, only letting us see the illusion. We can't even trust what's coming from an omniscient point of view, or the contents of Aizen's thought balloons. And he uses it to really Kick the Dog. The author once joked that he himself was even being affected by it and Aizen ordered him how to draw one scene.
- The Grand Finale of Digimon Frontier included the Ultimate Evil broadcasting the message "You must choose to follow me or be destroyed" on every TV screen on Earth as the heroes race to stop him/it. The cliffhanger ended with the message appearing on your, the viewer's, screen.
- In HeartCatch Pretty Cure! episode 28, Cobraja hatches a scheme to turn kids who don't want to do their summer homework into Desertorians. Pretty Cure, of course, save the day, but at the end he says there's still a chance for his scheme to succeed, points to the camera, and says "Kids out there who haven't done your homework, I'm coming for you!" Anvilicious much?
- Hideshi Hino's Panorama Of Hell ends with the Mad Artist main character having killed his family and, in his delirious state, expressing his desire to murder everyone on Earth... including the reader. The last image in the book is a splash page of a hatchet coming right for us.
- In the extra sections of Fullmetal Alchemist, Hiromu Arakawa's cow avatar is often threatened by villains (such as Gluttony asking if he can eat her or Wrath ominously asking if she "likes beef bowl" with his swords drawn) and heroes alike (such as being crushed in Armstrong's flex or being punched by Edward Elric for telling people not to spend all their time reading manga).
- Towards the end of Episode 4 of Space Dandy, as the narrator chronicles how un-life for the now completely zombified universe has actually resulted in a lack of disaster and peace for all life, he starts turning into a zombie too.
- The first episode of Monster Rancher does this in-universe; Genki's Monster Rancher 200X game starts out with Holly and Suezo being chased by Black Dinos. Suezo tries to ward them off with a spit attack, and one glob of saliva goes through the screen and hits Genki!
Genki: I could be wrong, but I think I just got spat on!
- In Gintama, Otae jumps out of the panel/screen and goes after the author of manga upon learning that his Author Avatar scored higher then her in a popularity poll. It ends up messing up the art style for a few pages, but things go back to normal once the author is revived as a cyborg in short order.
- Nui Harime of Kill la Kill fame is known for getting pretty touchy-feely with the fourth wall, such as leaning on her own Boss Subtitles. In episode 23, she takes it above and beyond by hijacking the anime's credits to introduce Ragyo's Shinra-Koketsu, and her face deformed by the static is absolutely terrifying. See for yourself...
Nui: Welcome to the runway of death!
- In the Trigun "Remix" re-release, the audio was altered for surround sound. Whenever Legato speaks, his voice randomly switches from speaker to speaker...and if you're using headphones, it literally feels like he's inside your head. That's right - Legato can Mind Rape the viewer.
- In episodes 47 and 48 of the JoJo's Bizarre Adventure Stardust Crusaders anime, we see Big Bad Dio Brando use his Stand, the World, to briefly stop the opening credits for almost exactly eleven seconds.
- This is an in-universe plot point in Phantasy Star Online 2: The Animation. Halfway through the series, it becomes clear that the Darkers, the Eldritch Abomination hellspawn of the universe, can jump through interdimensional links that appear to be a popular video game to attack Earthlings; this takes the form of popping out of their PCs, handheld consoles, etc. Their enemies, the ARKS, can do the same, and one of them is employed to travel to Earth and counteract the threat.
- Crossed with Biting-the-Hand Humor in Kuromukuro when the facility of P.A. Works got destroyed in an Efy Dolgh attack in one episode. Unlike most BTHH examples of this sort, this one ended up crossing into real life, with a maintenance sign outside of their facility and a real-life replica of an invoice for repair costs. Needless to say, this trope was Played for Laughs.
- In DC Comics' Animal Man comics written by Grant Morrison, the evil and crazy Psycho-Pirate has become aware of the comic-book-reader audience and is trying to goad his army of resurrected super-villains into attacking them. (Morrison's entire run is about the growing awareness of the characters that they're in a comic book.)
- The peak of this is probably when the hero has a mind-expanding peyote trip, looks out of the frame at the reader and cries "OH MY GOD! I CAN SEE YOU!"
- When Animal Man meets Morrinson, he flies into a rage and kills him, shocked at his actions, Buddy freaks out, only to see Morrison standing behind him. Morrison tells Buddy that he can't be killed, and those actions and rage Buddy felt, Morrison wrote. Morrison says that he's not there, it's only an Author Avatar, and he can't really interact with Buddy, implying that Psycho Pirate could never leave the comic and get into the real world, all of their actions are driven by the author, even when they think they aren't.
- In the DC Comics series Infinite Crisis and the Marvel Comics series Infinity Crusade, both Big Bads intentionally endanger the reader.
- In the Infinity Crusade storyline the heroes tricked all of reality, including the reader, into thinking they were burning alive, in order to fool the villain. The villain wanted to fry everyone for real. Everyone brushed it off as a moment of realistic daydreaming. Nice going, heroes.
- DC used this on occasion, under the claim that "Earth Prime" was the reader's home dimension, and so any threat to the multiverse was a threat to the reader. This... stopped working. Hey, remember how the universe was destroyed by a wave of antimatter in 1985, and suddenly reappeared in 2006? Me neither.
- A Fridge Logic-y version occasionally happens with The Joker. He never outright states he can see you or interact with you, but he does interact with his own speech balloons and has turned the page for the reader, indicating that he knows you're out there. Now, consider what the Joker tends to do to people...
- At one point in the Joker's Asylum: Two Face special, Joker tells the audience to get a coin and flip it to decide how the story ends. Mr. J is threatening enough towards the reader that most people who read it actually physically flipped a coin and read the ending it indicated.
- Greg Stones' humorous illustrated work Zombies Hate Stuff features a list of things a particular male zombie hates (such as hippies and weddings), doesn't mind (such as mimes and help from the Grim Reaper in snagging victims), and really hate (such as dodgeball, being mocked by the Universal Monsters, and pterodactyl attacks). At the end, the book reveals the one thing that the zombie loves. YOU.
- Deadpool Kills the Marvel Universe ends as he jumps from his world to a Marvel conference room, assuring us that after he's done with his authors, he'll go after us. Acording to one issue of his ongoing series, he's already started and actually kills a person reading the comic... where that person is killed. He states that his plan is to kill all his fans so that he can finally just die. And chances are, if you're reading the comic, you are one of his fans.
- The DC Comics character Superboy Prime is supposed to come from Earth Prime, our world, and has even posted on the real-life DC message board. The trope comes in effect when you remember that Superboy Prime is a Psychopathic Manchild with no compulsions against killing everything and everyone, with the same powers of Superman only much stronger. You can start screaming in horror.
- Alan Moore wasn't safe from one of his creations. John Constantine from Hellblazer visited him... and talked to him... in real life... not once... but TWICE! It scared the hell out of him.
- In issue 10 of the Adventure Time comic, as well as the KaBOOM! Summer Blast Free Comic Book Day Edition reprint, Ice King casts a spell that gives the reader control over Finn and Jake. Depending on the reader's choices, they may end up with one of three ways of getting their free will back, all of which involve messing with the reader: either Finn and Jake team up with Adventure Tim to overwhelm the reader with silly choices, Princess Bubblegum bribes them into relinquishing control with the prospect of seeing a "Royal Toot", or PB casts the same mind-control spell on the reader to force them to give up control of Finn and Jake.
- The Multiversity:
- A lot of the captions in issue #1 are threatening warnings along the lines of "You think this is just a comic, but it's bait. You're bait for THEM." In his human identity Nix Uotan is reading the same comic, including scenes from his own life, and that's how he's pulled into the pan-dimensional crisis.
- Thunderer claims that The Gentry are "pitiless ones from behind the Invisible Rainbow". Given how he uses rainbows to refer to other universes, there's the implication that the fourth wall is incapable of protecting the comic book characters from The Gentry.
- Several pages in Pax Americana #1 seem designed to resemble an eye. The implication is... not promising.
- Ultra Comics #1, the Real World Episode of the series, has its hero warning potential readers that their universe will be endangered if this magazine is read.
- In issue #2, the newly formed Operation Justice Incarnate trace the Gentry's origin to Earth-33, and state they're coming after them. Oh Crap!...
- Iznogoud: The artist himself was killed or petrified several times while drawing the magical effect of that week's Artifact of Doom.
- One Tharg's Future Shocks strip by Alan Moore is about a group of astronauts who are "infected" by an alien idea which turns them into creepy Stepford Smilers, keen to share the idea with others. The narrator tries to explain the idea to the reader, but Tharg steps in and ends the story before he has a chance.
- No, not even fanfic authors are protected by the fourth wall, as proven in episode 13 of Pretty Cure Heavy Metal when Zero escaped from the author's computer and assaulted him after he said Candle Jack's name in the nar You guys never learn, do you?
- Inverted in the fic It's a Small World After All. The characters are scared of what might happen if the fangirls come IN.
- In My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic, the character Pinkie Pie (in the image above with the knife that's about to get you) occasionally appears to acknowledge the audience. One early fanfic depicted her as a serial killer. Episode 25 of the actual show had her temporarily go (more) insane. Given the above points, it was only a matter of time until some fan combined them into this trope, and that they did.
Princess Gaia: "And why would you want to be 'protected' from mama sweetheart? I just want you to be happy and safe. Just listen to mama's singing and you'll understand."
- In Pinkie Pie's Incredible Interplanetary Super Prank, she plays an April Fools' prank on the reader.
- The Pony POV Series chapter "Teacher Teacher" begins with the reader talking to Princess Gaia, who hypnotises them into her Lotus-Eater Machine. She's also replied to quite a few readers comments and tried to do the same...
- Hell, not even the author was protected. By the end of the next chapter Princess Gaia has put him into the Lotus-Eater Machine too. In his absence she took over the author's note that directs people to what music is recommended for listing while reading the chapter as well as the note that promises that the next chapter is one its way.
- In "Applejack vs Nyarlathotrot", Nyarlathotrot turns away from the heroes and suddenly gives a HUGE rant to the reader, claiming it is the readers and writers' faults that all of this is happening because they created him with their desire for Dark Fics. He then threatens and insults the reader for a while as the heroes stare at him confused, since they can't see the fourth wall like he can.
- In the Mario & Luigi crossover "Of Ponies and Plumbers", at the end of chapter 13 Discord tries to brainwash the author into giving up on the story and therefore let him win. As a result, the author marked the story as "cancelled" on Fimfiction.Net for some time, and the author even pretended to be "discorded" in the comments section of the story.
- Someone went and combined this with the movie version of a certain entry from Comics up above...
- Whatever the hell this is. Distorted Applejack leaps a the audience, and the screen goes black.
- In the grimdark fanfic Pages Of Harmony, Twilight expresses her desire to eliminate chaos from everywhere in the multiverse. A comment on the fanfic summed up a Fridge Horror that turns Twilight's ambition to be Paranoia Fuel toward the readers...
- Inverted by Fanfic Is Crapsack, in which Pinkie Pie is traumatized by the horrible fanfiction she was exposed to. Played straight when Pinkamena brutally defeats the Trollfic.
- Paper Mario X 2: The author gets shot by Samus at the end of Chapter 52.
- The Child of Love: In an omake, Asuka kicks the author in the groin after hearing him mutter that she was angry because it was her time of the month.
- Superwomen of Eva 2: Lone Heir of Krypton: In the third chapter's omake Asuka gets mad and fed up with the author's antics and chases him angrily to beat him.
- Imperfect Metamorphosis is an Alternate Universe Touhou Fan Fic. A much-hyped and foreshadowed climatic battle occurred between Yukari Yakumo and Yuuka Kazami. At the end, Yukari merged her soul with Yuuka's, in the attempt to effectively destroy her. It failed, but because Yukari is connected at a deep level with reality's veil, Yuuka saw every single reality that exists or that we created with our imagination for just about everything. She knows about us. She knows about TV Tropes. And she made that fact known.
- The Buffy the Vampire Slayer / Batman crossover ''Lacking and Anchor'' offers an Alternative Character Interpretation for the Joker. The accident that turned him into the Joker let him see past the fourth wall. Realizing that his and his world's existence was reliant on having readers, he devoted himself to keeping Batman's story as interesting as possible.
Joker: “How do you expect to keep your readers if your villains fall flat? With a lack of readers our world fades from existence, I couldn't let that happen – better to die in a blaze of glory than to never have existed at all … so I painted the town red in blood, pain and screams like the labor pains of existence to make our world live!”
- From Princess Tutu Abridged we have Fakir writing to control the narrator of the abridged series into helping save Duck. And then makes the other abridgers sign a contract to only write non-canon endings for minor characters.
- This is more a background threat to the reader than an actual event in Pokeumans: because of a mix of clone replacements, memory erasure and secret bases, there is no way to disprove that the series is actually happening in real life. So anyone could be a Pokeuman - even you.
- This happens to the author, or a version of him in the multiverse, during the events of Bond Breaker.
- An in-universe example occurs in Turn Me Loose: A Harry Potter Adventure. Harry and Fleur use a pensieve to view Harry's memories of him, Bill, and Chen fighting a powerful demon when partway through the demon starts addressing them directly.
- The Revenge Wars—A series of fanfics wherein the Ranma cast discover the existence of Fourth Wall and are extremely unhappy that a bunch of strangers are playing god over their lives.
- The premise of Lies of Our Lives is a fanfiction Xander seeing past the fourth wall and wanting revenge on fanfic writers for the pain they put him and his friends through.
Xander:" You watch us, manipulate us, you change our lives and make us suffer and for what? Petty entertainment? Because you're bored? Because you have nothing better to do with your lives!? You fragment and distort our very beings with every word your type, with every image you make, and I say no more. I've seen you, staring at us like the bunch of perverts that you are, and I will not stand for it any longer. All of this will end! Because I'm going to end this. Because I'm coming for you. All of you."
- While actually an April Fool's gag for Undermon, the part where Chara hijacks the thread, and even proceeds to attack it after Her name was said, giving her control over the Protagonist, it actually hints at what could happen should She actually gain control for real...
- In-universe, Peorth is watching a porn video staring Urd in The Vain Rose's Garden when Urd turns to the camera and says, "Having fun, Peorth?"
Film - Animation
- At the end of Yellow Submarine, The Beatles appear in live-action photography. John Lennon looks through a spyglass pointed outward toward the audience and announces, "Newer and bluer Meanies have been sighted within the vicinity of this theatre." (Fortunately, there's a way to defeat them: by SINGING!)
- In Disney's animated Robin Hood, the rooster narrator is seen in prison. He explains that he's in for tax evasion and that even he isn't above the law.
- In Wreck-It Ralph, when King Candy reveals himself to be Turbo, his appearance flickers between his disguise and his true form. Watch closely as he says " I am Turbo, the greatest racer ever!": as soon as he finishes saying "Turbo", the aforementioned flickering provides a scary Freeze-Frame Bonus, with his thumbs-up pose lifted from his TurboTime sprite rendered in full CGI, Slasher Smile included. He's looking at the audience while doing that.
Film - Live Action
- Fallen starts with a narration from the dying protagonist, before the film tells us How We Got Here. By the end, it is revealed that A: The narrator isn't the protagonist, it's the Big Bad who is possessing the protagonist and thus has his voice. B: That the protagonist's Heroic Sacrifice is for naught, and the Big Bad survives. C: The Big Bad mocking the audience for missing the Chekhov's Gun at the start implying his survival and D: An Implied Death Threat to the audience ("See you around") and Paranoia Fuel footage of streets filled with random people, any one of whom could be possessed by the Big Bad.
- The ending of The Woman in Black, where Jennett looks directly at the camera, implying that your children will die next.
- A splice between this and Leaning on the Fourth Wall is Kevin McCarthy near the end of the original Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956) screaming "You're next!" at the audience.
- William Castle, director of The Tingler and several other films, was famous for using these kinds of audience-threatening gimmicks to draw in audiences.
- Patrons for Macabre got $1000 life insurance policies at the door in case they should "die of fright" during the show.
- In The Screaming Skull, they were guaranteed a free casket.
- Theaters showing The Tingler would even have a device called "Percepto" fitted to the bottom of seats that would vibrate at this point in the film, and actors planted in the audience who would scream and faint, and be carried out of the theater by actors dressed as nurses.
- In screenings of House on Haunted Hill (1959) he arranged for skeletons to drop from the ceilings of certain theaters and float towards the audience. The subsequent shot of Vincent Price reeling his skeleton puppet back in is held for an unusually long time, as it was meant to coincide with the real skeleton in the theater being pulled back into place.
- Patrons for Macabre got $1000 life insurance policies at the door in case they should "die of fright" during the show.
- Wes Craven's New Nightmare involved Freddy escaping into the "real world", so that a new movie had to be made to imprison him again. The earthquake was written into the script before it occurred for real. Robert Englund plays both a fictionalized version of himself and Freddy Krueger, who is listed as "himself" in the end credits.
- The Last Horror Movie is based around this trope. The entire premise is that a real-life serial killer has taped over the slasher movie you rented, and when you finish watching the film, he's going to come and kill you, too. Unfortunately, the effect is spoiled somewhat if you bought the film on DVD.
- Although it might work somewhat if you pirate it off the internet
- In Gremlins 2: The New Batch, the Gremlins break out of the movie and assault the projectionist, forcing them to run other movies. They are eventually stopped by Hulk Hogan and the movie proper resumes. When the movie was released to video, the sequence was changed to the Gremlins breaking into the TV and being defeated by Stock Footage of John Wayne. The theatrical version with Hulk Hogan is restored for the DVD release.
- In the novelization, the Brain Gremlin hijacks the book to talk about the Gremlins' hopes and desires. He is cut off by the novelist, David Bischoff, managing to axe his way through the locked door of the room where he keeps his computer, and Brainy decides to git while the gitting's good.
- On YouTube there is a video of J-Pop group Morning Musume watching The Ring in absolute horror... so when a girl with black hair and a white robe pops out from under the TV and starts lumbering towards them, they FLIP OUT. Funny stuff.
- The American remake plays with this. The movie ends with Rachel guiding her son into making a copy of the tape to save his life. When he asks what will happen to the people who see it, the camera zooms into the video screen and forces the audience to watch the tape again, implying that it's us.
- Even without that implication, one of the reasons this film was an international success is surely that it plays on the fear behind this trope: not only are these "fictional" horrors real, they're coming to get you.
- The DVD version of The Ring has a special feature that lets you watch the video in its entirety. Once started, it cannot be stopped by any means whatsoever, except unplugging your DVD player. After it's finished and you return to the title screen of the DVD, it plays the sound of a phone ringing.
- In Japan, the release of Sadako 3D 2 came with a tie-in smartphone app that allowed Sadako to escape through the phone and attack the audience at various points throughout the movie.
- An in-movie example happens at the beginning of Demoni 2 (Demons 2 in English), when a young girl watches a movie about a Zombie Apocalypse caused by virulent Demonic Possession, a demon inside the TV pushes its way out into the real world and turns her, triggering a new outbreak. It seems just like a gimmick at first, but then you realise YOU'RE watching the same kind of movie she was...
- The Great Train Robbery might be the Ur-Example for film. It doesn't even fit into the plot: just that at the end (or the beginning, depending which cut you're watching), a rough-looking bandit aims and fires his revolver at the audience. Some people fainted when this was first shown.
- The first movie ever shown publicly is also a candidate to Ur-Example, depending on what you may call a "movie". L'Arrivée d'un train en gare de La Ciotat, the Lumiere Brothers' first film, began with a train heading straight for the camera; people dove out of their seats during the screening.
- The original House on Haunted Hill (1959) ends with one of the characters facing the camera and stating that the ghosts will come for "you" next.
- Used in several of the horror Anthology Films made by Amicus Productions. Torture Garden ends with Dr Diabolo, a distinctly playful Satan, saying that it's only sporting to give his clients a chance of escaping his domain; "...but will YOU?" In the 1972 Tales From The Crypt, Ralph Richardson's gloomy Crypt Keeper dispatches all his unwilling guests to a Fire and Brimstone Hell, then turns to camera and says "Now, who's next?...Maybe - you?...". Asylum ends with a triumphant psychopath welcoming a new victim and addressing us with, "Got to keep the draughts out...as - Dr Starr - used to say..."
- John Carpenter's In the Mouth of Madness. The film you just watched is the one which is driving people insane!
- The end of Videodrome. The main character ends up in a room with a television playing a clip of him putting his gun to his head and pulling the trigger. As he does, the screen explodes and intestines pour out. Immediately afterwards, the clip starts playing out around him. He puts the gun to his head. Bang. Try watching this on your own television in the middle of the night. It's fun.
- During one showing of Scream 2, whose opening features a couple stabbed to death during a preview of the Show Within a Show Stab, a woman was stabbed by the man sitting next to her, just as in the movie.
- This trope is the basis of the plot for Stranger Than Fiction.
- This is also the basis of the plot for Midnight Movie.
- The sheer nature of how The Rocky Horror Picture Show has evolved allows for this - while the movie plays on the screen, actors bring the story to life around you... or in the case of the bedroom scenes, on top of you.
- The original ending of Little Shop of Horrors (which can be found on YouTube) where Audrey II crashes through the screen of the film and laughs as the camera (audience) goes closer and closer into its gaping maw.
- The movie The Stuff advertised itself with "public service announcements" warning viewer that the Stuff was real, dangerous, and something to be avoided at all costs.
- Darkly true in-universe in Sinister, where pictures of the baddie are the baddie.
- And it just so happens that right before the credits roll, the baddie notices you. Oh shit..
- In Monty Python and the Holy Grail, "A Famous Historian" who narrates after one scene is slaughtered by Arthur's knights. This leads to the police investigating (and arresting the entire cast at the end of the movie).
- The entire plot of Last Action Hero is this.
- The narrator of George of the Jungle occasionally corrects actions by the characters and even argues with them. In the sequel, one such fight ends with the narrator physically removing Lyle from the story!
- The Wizard of Oz: When Dorothy is trapped in the Witch's castle, she sees an image of Aunt Em looking around for her in the Witch's crystal ball. Dorothy futilely tries to call out to her, but Aunt Em fades away, only to be replaced by the Wicked Witch who mocks Dorothy and then turns to cackle directly at the audience as if to say, "You're next!"
- The trailer for Day of the Dead (1985) took place in a movie theater where an audience is watching said film, this is supposed to be our real world. Yet there is a zombie in the front row, that seemingly looks like Bub, eating popcorn. The audience left the theater. Subverted since the zombie didn't attack them and just went on to eating popcorn.
- Rubber is a Mind Screw of a movie that wreaks havoc with the fourth wall... and ends with all the "spectators" (the movie audience) being killed and the implication that our reality is threatened as well.
- The Neverending Story in-universe, Sebastian thinks he's just reading a book of fiction, but discovers the events in it involve him and his reality.
- Drive-In Massacre. Near the end a fake public address informs that the serial killer of the movie is loose in the viewer's theater and urges the audience to not panick as the police are on their way.
- Trick or Treat. The film's Big Bad is an evil spirit of a rock musician who occasionaly can reach into a TV screen and kill people in the broadcast.
- The last line of the 2013 film Shadow People, about possibly-imaginary dark entities that cause people who hear of their existence to die of fright in their sleep, strongly implies that the film's audience, having now learned about these creatures from the movie, will soon expire in the same way.
- At the end of The Devil and Daniel Webster, Old Scratch is examining his book of sinners looking for a deal, rubs his chin as he ponders — and then looks up, smiles at the viewer, and points his finger in an obvious, "You're next."
- During an interview for the 2016 Deadpool movie, Ryan Reynolds (Deadpool's actor) is talking with the host about whether the movie will be rated PG-13 ("family friendly") or R. The host talks about how great it is that the studio is leaning towards the former and then Deadpool himself walks on camera and punches the host's lights out. Considering what Deadpool is capable of he should have seen that coming. note
- In the 2015 horror Mockumentary The Atticus Institute, one of the Institute personnel tells his interviewers that even they, who are making the movie, as well as anyone who may watch it, are only letting themselves get pulled into the evil force's malign sphere of influence by doing so.
- In Final Destination 4, Janet's death in the second premonition has her watching a 3D movie, only for an explosion in the theater under construction on the other side of the screen to destroy the theater she's in, killing her and several other moviegoers as sharp debris literally comes flying out of the screen. For bonus points, it happens just as an explosion goes off in the movie she's watching. And given that Final Destination 4 is itself a 3-D Movie, it also applies to the audience.
- In an Older Than They Think example, Reefer Madness closes with Dr. Carroll, ostensibly addressing a meeting of concerned citizens, saying:
"We must work untiringly so that our children are obliged to learn the truth. Because it is only through knowledge that we can safely protect them. Failing this, the next tragedy may be that of [looks to his right] your daughter....or [looks to his left] your son....[points right] or yours....[points left] or yours....[points into the camera] or yours!
- House of Leaves begins with repeated warnings from Johnny Truant (the fictional editor of the book) not to read the book because it will scare the pants off of you and prevent you from sleeping ever again and you will find yourself noticing that the walls of your house are maybe just a tiny bit off. As the book continues, Johnny Truant steadily goes insane after reading Zampanò's notes, even though he believes them to be largely fictional...
- ...Becoming unfictional when we consider the number of people who have read this book and found themselves quivering in fear as a result of the House. Just a casual peruse of the reviews on Goodreads.com is enough to attest to its true nature as Paranoia Fuel.
- In fairness, even before the reader gets to Johnny Truant's warnings, they should have been warned off by the book's dedication:
This is not for you.
- A short story from Asimov's Science Fiction in the 1990s was told by a narrator who had encountered some cursed words in a library book that caused the reader to suffer horrible bad luck for the rest of his or her life - whoops, you just read them, too! Fortunately, words that will negate all such curses and give the reader good luck turn up in the same book near story's end.
- A very subtle case of this occurs in H.P. Lovecraft's The Callof Cthulhu, as the narrator, described in the opening as "The late Francis Waylon Thurston, of Boston" (emphasis on late), pleads with his own executors not to publish his manuscript, as everyone who has learned of its contents has died a sudden and mysterious death. Everyone, which now includes you.
- A short story by SF author Fredric Brown, "Don't Look Behind You", was the alleged first-hand account of a supposed real killer who got a hold of one of the copies of the short story collection it was in. He inserted this one and only version of the story under an appropriate-looking title and is lurking around near whoever got the copy of the book with it. The author apparently didn't take into account that some people may have checked the book out of a public library a great many years after it was published.
- A story with the same gimmick by Steve Gerber, titled something like "In The Shadows, In The City", appeared in the black-and-white Marvel magazine Haunt of Horror (not their short-lived prose mag of the same title).
- Anthony Horowitz included a very similar short story in one of his Horrowitz Horror books. The first letters of every paragraph spell out "I am going to murder you soon."
- Shel Silverstein once wrote a poem about the ugliest, scariest, meanest monster in the world. And it's standing right behind you.
- The Thackery T. Lambshead Guide To Discredited Diseases has a number of entries marked with a symbol that means "Can be contracted by reading this entry". One of them, Buscard's Murrain, causes the speaker to continuously repeat a word called "the wormword". The disease is caused by pronouncing the word correctly... and of course they've gone and printed the word in the entry (yGudluh).
- In L. Frank Baum's The Magic of Oz, the story reveals a word that causes magical transformations when uttered. The omniscient narrator says that he would dare not reveal the word to the readers if he thought the readers would be able to use it to transform themselves or others, but since no one (other than Bini Aru or Kiki Aru) had been able to pronounce the word "Pyrzqxgl" correctly, he felt safe in revealing the word to the reader.
- In Zenna Henderson's short story "The Believing Child", first-grader Dismey Coven learns the word from her teacher — and learns its pronunciation from her mother. The story ends with the teacher trying to persuade Dismey that yes, Bannie and Michael were indeed very mean and unkind to her, but they've been rocks all day long and now it's time to turn them back into little boys ...
- Similarly, Jesus may be able to "see" back down the wormcam in The Light of Other Days, although this is only vaguely hinted.
- From The Dark Tower, about Mordred:
Just don't take your eye off what you see, for even in your imagination, here is a creature who can do damage. Remember that it came of two fathers, both of them killers.
- In Clive Barker's book Mister B. Gone, this trope is used horrifyingly well. The demon narrator tells the reader to close the book and burn it, at first asking, then begging, then moving into genuinely terrifying threats. Given what he does for the whole second half of the book, his descriptions of what he will do to torture you and his noting that he could be right behind you, that you could turn around and not have time to scream are not easily shrugged off. No reader, even the firmest of cynics, would want to finish the book.
- In the end he admits it was all a trick. He WANTS you to burn the book, and set him free. He can't really do anything to you after all. He asks if you will give the book to someone you don't like even.
- This is the primary conceit of the literary classic The Monster at the End of This Book; Grover warns the reader not to finish the book, as they will surely be devoured by the monster. In the legendary and chilling denouement, it is revealed that Grover himself is the monster at the end of the book, and the reader is in no real danger.
Grover: (while building brick wall to block the pages) This will stop you from turning pages. A heavy, thick, solid, strong brick wall. I would like to see you TRY to turn this page.Next page, Grover is crushed under the ruins of the brick wall.Grover: Did you know that you are very strong?
- The trope is also reversed in this book, as the fourth wall does not protect Grover from the reader.
- An odd example occurred with Thomas Harris when writing Red Dragon. He planned out the scenes by imagining he was an invisible observer watching the whole thing play out ... except he just couldn't shake the idea that unlike with the other characters, he wasn't 100% invisible to Lecter. Even though this was a fictional character Harris himself was creating, Hannibal Lecter was still watching him.
- Most writers have this particular fear... they just don't talk about it.
- Greg Heffley from Diary of a Wimpy Kid once watched a movie with his friend Rowley, about a muddy hand that goes around killing people. The last person who sees the hand is always the next victim. At the end of the movie, the hand crawls straight towards the screen, implying that Greg and Rowley are the next victims. This kept them nervous and paranoid for the rest of the book.
- Goosebumps: The shape-shifting supervillain, The Masked Mutant, who escaped from the world of his comic-book. It's never explained how he did this, but he claims he was bored with the heroes of his world and thinks his biggest fan, Skipper, is a more suitable opponent. In the PC game, his ambitions grow far more dangerous, planning to turn the entire real world into a comic book that he can conquer.
- In "Spiral" (the sequel to "Ring"), it's mentioned that in addition of the Ring movie created to spread the virus, one of the characters wrote the story in book form. Just try and not drop the book in a moment of self-doubting horror.
- The Animorphs are always quick to remind the reader that absolutely no one is safe from the Yeerks, repeatedly noting that this includes the readers, the readers' friends, the readers' families... This fact is constantly reiterated by the teaser narration on the backs of all the books: "Everyone is in danger. Yeah. Even you."
- Mostly Harmless ends the ever-decreasingly-accurately-named Hitchhiker's Guide trilogy with a bang: a reality-manipulating device (The Guide 2.0) completes the extermination of Earth and the prevention of The Question's revelation, by causing a chain reaction of events that resulted in all humans who had ever left Earth being on Earth when it was destroyed in every possible dimension and timeline. Douglas Adams had been considering a sixth book in the series, which would necessitate bringing back Arthur Dent and thus chunks, but died of a heart-attack before he could write it. Did The Guide 2.0 do it?
- A nice one on the Brazilian series "Dragões do Éter". The author actually uses the reader as a character, making him affect the story, making the characters aware that there are readers, but they actually think the readers are "Demi-gods". In this universe, Demi-gods are the most powerful beings in existence, and whenever The Narrator starts talking to you, awesome happens.
- In the fourth book of The Pendragon Adventure, The Reality Bug, the Reality Bug plagues a virtual reality program that might kill everyone who is plugged into it. At the end of the book, the bug punched a hole in reality, thus escaping and ready to murder people in the real world.
- Thomas Ligotti's short story "Nethescurial". The narrator reads a short story positing that the entire world is god, and God Is Evil; the narrator snarks about the story's flaws but admits it has some interesting ideas. Scenes from the story begin to invade the narrator's dreams; finally, in his waking hours, the narrator sees the evil god at work in every physical object around him.
- The Elric Saga hints that the forthcoming apocalypse will usher in the existence of the real world, i.e. the reader's world. Other Multiverse stories confirm that, yes, Stormbringer still pops up occasionally to steal people's souls.
- Tambourine of the Underworld by Russian Mind Screw writer Victor Pelevin is an essay discussing the possibility of hiding a delayed action Brown Note in a short story. It ends saying that the best name for such a short story would be "Tambourine of the Underworld"note , and if you don't want to die soon, you should send money to the address below and get a cure.
- The Snow Queen has the Magic Mirror, said to have been shattered into a million pieces at the dawn of time. The story relates the removal of two shards from the eye and heart of distressed dude Kai. The rest of the Mirror shards is then still making intended mind screw all over the world...
- The author of A Series of Unfortunate Events makes very clear that your family and friends might be (and probably are) part of a gigantic conspiracy. A lot of them will probably be on the bad side of it, too. Here's how you know: Ask them what that noise was. If they say some variant of "probably nothing", they're members, because a noise is never just nothing. He also remarks on the possibility of the reader bumping into his characters, most of which are quite evil people.
- This happens several times in Pact, an urban fantasy story told in the first person. First, when the protagonist fights a demon that erases those it devours from existence, both he and the reader realize halfway through the fight that the demon has eaten three of his allies-allies that never appeared in the text of the story, leaving the reader to wonder who they were. Next, when fighting a group of chronomancers, they use their time magic to mess with his memory of the past half-hour, which is represented in the numbering of the chapters as having skipped one-going from 6.10 to 6.12, with no 6.11.
- In Wayside School Gets A Little Stranger, after the school was overrun with cows all the students were sent to different schools the chapter states:
- Narrator: Out of all the schools, Todd had been sent to the very worst one, it was awful! The very first thing he had to do every morning was—- Wait a second, I don't have to tell you, you already know. Todd was sent to your school.
- The modern day storyline of the book 'Angel of Ruin' is about a skeptical reporter looking for a story. She becomes involved with a magic group and through them comes in contact with an old woman known as the Wanderer. Based on the legend of the Wandering Jew, the woman has been cursed to wander the Earth till she can find someone to listen to her story. She warns the reporter that if she listens to the tale she will be cursed. Most of the book is the actual story... a tale of 3 sisters who encounter a fallen angel. At the end of the story it's revealed that the reporter published the story in order to pass the curse to others. The very book you have just been reading.
- Roald Dahl's The Witches takes this trope and runs with it:
For all you know, a witch might be living next door to you right now. Or she might be the woman with the bright eyes who sat opposite you on the bus this morning. She might be the lady with the dazzling smile who offered you a sweet from a white paper bag in the street before lunch. She might even — and this will make you jump — she might even be your lovely school-teacher who is reading these words to you at this very moment. Look at that teacher. Perhaps she is smiling at the absurdity of such a suggestion. Don't let that put you off. It could be part of her cleverness. I am not, of course, telling you for one second that your teacher actually is a witch. All I am saying is that she might be one. It is most unlikely. But — and here comes the big "but" — it is not impossible.
- Nightmare Hour:
- In the introduction to "The Most Evil Sorcerer", Stine comments that the evil sorcerer took over his body and finished the story for him.
- "Afraid of Clowns" ends with Christopher, who is now a clown, threatening the reader with death via tickle torture should they reveal their secrets.
- In the Vampire Chronicles, Lestat has been known to out right address the readers. Given that its an autobiography series, that is not surprising. But consdiering hes a blood drinking immortal who can hear the minds and hearts of all mortals around the world, that can be a bit unnerving or inviting when he says he'd love to visit you in your bed room for a snack....and he reads his reviews too.
- Doctor Who
- The episode "Blink" ends with the Weeping Angels having been defeated and everything back to normal... except then there's a creepy montage of angel statues, implying that every single one of them is out to get you. Even more fourth-wall breaking is that the angels which can only move when no humans can see them never move when the viewer can see them, even if no on-screen characters are looking... until one of those characters passes between them and the camera.
- Taken to epically scary levels in the new episode "The Time of Angels" when it's revealed that Angels can project themselves through pictures of themselves.
- Dr Who Live at the Wembley Arena took this trope Up to Eleven by seeming to interrupt the show for a police team "investigating an emergency". That provides the distraction needed for the JumboTron image of an Angel to become, itself, an Angel. Two, actually, which then proceed (with the aid of some well-timed pyrotechnics) do in the cops. Fiction it may be, but it's brilliantly done, and in such a way that it's spectacularly scary.
- In a similar vein, "The Impossible Astronaut" introduces an enemy called The Silence. Every time you lose sight of it, you forget it was ever there. Now whilst the next episode "Day of the Moon" shows the Doctor providing us with a defense to defeat them ourselves, some may have escaped. And now you will always be looking around you. Except you won't, because you won't be aware of their existence.
- In "Journey's End" Davros created the Reality Bomb, which would destroy "every universe" destroying literally every single thing in all of reality, excluding the Daleks. Hey, don't we live within a universe somewhere? Good thing the Doctor got there in time.
- The episode "Sleep No More", done in the style of a found-footage film, somehow manages to top this. The Doctor and his allies spend the entire episode fighting against the Sandmen, monsters created from those exposed to the Morpheus signal. However, the end of the episode has the villain reveal that he encoded the signal into the episode itself, and that by watching it, the viewer is now infected.
- The episode "Blink" ends with the Weeping Angels having been defeated and everything back to normal... except then there's a creepy montage of angel statues, implying that every single one of them is out to get you. Even more fourth-wall breaking is that the angels which can only move when no humans can see them never move when the viewer can see them, even if no on-screen characters are looking... until one of those characters passes between them and the camera.
- Apparently, Rod Serling isn't immune to this trope either. In the end of the episode "A World of His Own" in The Twilight Zone, which featured a writer's dictation machine that would summon whatever had its description recorded and make it disappear when the corresponding tape was destroyed, Rod assured us that the episode was entirely fictional and stuff like that wouldn't happen, but the writer looks at him and says, "Rod, you shouldn't!" Then he takes out another envelope out of the safe, containing the film Rod was described on. Saying that "[Rod] shouldn't say such things as 'nonsense' and 'ridiculous,'" he tosses it into the fire. Rod says, "Well, that's the way it goes," and vanishes.
- On Discovery Kids' Channel, there was a show called Truth Or Scare. One episode was about vampires, and the final few minutes were devoted to the story of Dracula. The host, Michelle Trachtenberg, mentions it's a bit odd that a simple bowie-knife killed Dracula, and perhaps he was meant to come back. She then suddenly stares directly at the camera, leaning forward with a creepy look on her face, and monotones "Harker, You Fool!..."
- In Are You Afraid of the Dark? episode "The Tale of the Midnight Madness", the vampire escapes the movie and haunts the protagonists in the "real" world.
- The BBC production Ghostwatch. The implication is that the program was acting as a national séance and that watching it has let the ghost loose in your home.
- The Weinerizer on Nickelodeon's Weinerville.
- Heroic example in Power Rangers Samurai's "Trickster Treat". Trickster has trapped the rangers in a Dream Within a Dream TV Land and is watching on a movie screen. But in the outer dream the Rangers figure it out, and the Claw Armor Megazord's finisher not only hits the dream projection of Trickster but also comes out of the screen and kills the real one. Hard enough to end both his lives, too.
- The main gimmick of the CW series Cult, about a CW series named Cult which is not quite as fictional as it appears.
- The Masters of Horror episode "Cigarette Burns". When La Fin Absolue du Monde is shown at the end, Kirby's dead girlfriend Annie emerges from the screen covered in blood and hungry for human flesh. Subverted when it turns out to be another hallucination.
- Played for laughs in The Kids in the Hall: a best-selling book's entire text is "There's a spider on your back!".
- The Basil Brush Show featured a narrator known as the Voice Over Man in the first few seasons. He would frequently interact with characters, and annoy them by breaking tension or interrupting conversations. He was also shown to be able to move around in the episode 'Big Bother', in which Stephen's flat becomes the set of reality show-within-a-show Big Bother (a shameless parody of Big Brother). When the show becomes long and boring, the Voice over man is heard narrating a cafe scene, and is asked by the characters why he isn't still in the Big Bother house with Stephen and Basil, who have been there for weeks, to which he responds, "Oh, I left that place ages ago!"
- The X-Files gave first-time viewers of "War of the Coprophages" a unique Real Life Jump Scare: partway through the episode's story about menacing cockroaches, the life-sized image of one such insect moves through the foreground, as if a real roach just skittered across the TV screen.
- The music video for Will Smith's "Men in Black" has him using their neuralizer (which causes people to forget things) on the audience. A commercial for the film also did this:
Announcer: For those who have already seen Men In Black...Will Smith: Sorry! (activates neuralizer)
- Played for laughs in the music video for Weird Al's song "I'll Sue Ya", where he points at the screen at one point and shouts "I might even sue YOU!"
- "Future Shock", from Stratovarius' 1989 independent debut Fright Nightnote , contains such a line at the end of the second verse:
I saw it on the screen
The day that changed our lives and history
There goes our dream
Nuked into the sky don't know why
In the heat of the blast
Watch the beauty of the mushroom cast
It won't take long
You won't live till the end of this song
- At the end of Immortal Technique's "Dance With The Devil", the singer reveals that he was one of the gangsters in the story and says this:
And listen cause the story that I'm telling is true
Cuz I was there with Billy Jacobs and I raped his mom too
And now the Devil follows me everywhere that I go
In fact, I'm sure he's standing among one of you at my shows
- In a Calvin and Hobbes strip, Calvin's Dad does this by his intention to read Calvin a bedtime story about a severed hand that strangles people. Calvin faints around the point Calvin's Dad sticks a hand through the neck hole of his own shirt and grabs his own throat, screaming. This proves to be the most effective way of getting Calvin quiet and into bed.
- Welcome to Night Vale has The Faceless Old Woman Who Secretly Lives In Your Home. While since her initial introduction she has been shown living in several in-universe characters' homes, it's still implied she lives in the listener's home, hiding just out of sight somewhere and occasionally messing with your stuff. Maybe she lives in EVERYONE's home.
- The Message has the titular Message. The creator broadcasts it before anyone finds out that it's a delayed-action Brown Note.
- Kakos Industries has its own listenership be immediately deemed a Shareholder to the company prior to accessing the announcements. You can never not be a Shareholder, no matter how good you think you are. This is taken to be pretty frightening extremes during the sixth episode in which the executive prompts the idea that he is holding a gun to your head and if you think to turn around, he will shoot you.
- In one of Bill Cosby's comedy routines, the "Chicken Heart" story of the radio program Lights Out ends with the eponymous monster paying the audience a visit. "It's in your home state!" *bump-bump* *bump-bump* "It's outside of your door!" *bump-bump* *bump-bump* "And it's going to eat YOU up!" It scares Little Cos badly enough to both smear Jello all over the floor and set the sofa on fire.
- Inverted in the Cartoon Network Crisis Crossover Deck-Building Game: Events and some Attacks involve the player directly. If you succeed, you protect your Character!
Live theatre is especially prone to this trope, due to the audience being physically present in the same place as the actors. Can be combined with Audience Participation.
- Open Circle's production in Seattle of Pickman's Model (by H.P. Lovecraft) abused the fourth wall when one actress screamed at the audience, "This person needs help! This is not part of the performance! Stop sitting there and somebody call for help!" Actually, yes, it was, it was just part of a performance inside a performance. Some audience members seized their cell phones in a moment of panic, while others just watched the performance continue.
- Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street: "Sweeney waits in the parlor hall / Sweeney leans on the office wall / Nowhere to run, nothing can hide you / Isn't that Sweeney there beside you?"
- They then point at the audience and accuse them of being just as depraved. The actor portraying Sweeney Todd may even enter and start singing from behind the audience!
- During "Epiphany" Sweeney starts pointing at the audience and offering to give several members a 'shave'.
- Sondheim likes this trope. Both Into the Woods and Assassins feature the lesser version, with a group of characters turning on the omniscient narrator. Taken Up to Eleven in Into the Woods, when the narrator (who had been narrating the first act and the second act up till now) gets noticed by the characters in the story, and offered up as bait for the giant that wants to kill them all, stating "he's not one of us." This is ultimately how the narrator dies — the giant picks him up then simply drops him. Splat!
- Tanz Der Vampire includes several moments where vampires appear in the auditorium, with the audience. And the closing number is them essentially declaring that you're next, which would be pretty creepy if it weren't actually the upside of a Downer Ending.
- The Fortune Theatre's adaptation of The Woman in Black has a truly haunting example of this, after the audience has been terrified of The Woman for most of the show, The Actor asks who the real Kipp hired to play her, to which he replies "I hired no woman" shocking both in-universe and for the audience as her mere appearance causes tragedy.
- In The Phantom of the Opera before the performance of Don Juan Triumphant, the sounds of doors slamming and firemen shouting "Secure!" can be heard throughout the theater, as well as the Phantom drawling, "I'm here, the Phantom of the Opera. . ."
- As well, the performance starts with the raising of the chandelier into the ceiling right above the audience in the stalls. At the end of the first act, it falls directly downwards towards the audience (though is obviously on a wire so it never hits them).
- At the end of Pippin, the Players try and convince people in the audience to come on stage and light themselves on fire in Pippin's place. In some productions they go into the house, and even succeed in getting people almost to the stage before the Leading Player steps in and stops them. But then again, there isn't much of a Fourth Wall in Pippin anyway.
- Little Shop of Horrors. At the very end, after Audrey is eaten, The Reveal of how Audrey II plans to take over the world by letting people grow more Audrey II's from leaf cuttings, and Seymour getting eaten trying to kill it, warnings are sung directly to the audience, and the plant puppet leans into the audience and the theatre finally goes dark after it opens wider than it ever previously did in the show and vines fall from the ceiling.
Crystal, Chiffon and Ronette: The plants proceeded to grow, and GROW! And began what they came here to do, which was essentially too eat Cleveland, and Des Moines, and Peoria, and New York, AND THIS THEATRE! (alternatively) AND WHERE YOU LIVE! (or) AND YOU!
- At the end of the "Popular" number in Wicked, Glinda throws her wand offstage. On a few occasions, it has landed in the seating and narrowly missed audience members.
- One number in The Pirates of Penzance typically features a bit of ascended improv in which the Pirate King attacks the orchestra conductor, who fends him off.
- Justified in the No Fourth Wall world of Cirque du Soleil's Michael Jackson ONE — the evil Tabloid Junkies harass arriving audience members during the preshow and zombies roam the theater during "Thriller".
- Henrik Ibsen used this trope once, in his play The Pretenders written 1864. The main manipulative bastard of the play returns to tempt the loser antagonist at the end of the play, telling him that he has one last offer for him. He also tells that the devil assigned him to "look after" Norway, and implies that he is still around - and that last one is aimed at the audience. He is there to assure that Norway screws up, it is his job, and he will do it.
- In the Swedish horrorplay "Wärdshuset", the fourth wall does not ''exist"! The audience is lead into a hall and with a clear cue the play starts as if it's a conversation between the employees. As the play goes on and the behaviour of the actors become more and more insettling the actors lead the audience into a smaller room with a square of chairs to sit in. The room is completely dark. The play continues but with no light except a flashlight and a lighter and the room is filled with Silent Hill-esque monsters that touch the audience. When the play "ends" the audience is lead out by the villian into the hall which is dark and filled with the monsters and is simply lead out. The whole play is played as if it was happening and the audience just ended up there by accident.
- A cheeky variation comes in the 2013 West End musical Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, in that the "threat" to the audience is Willy Wonka, Ambiguously Evil Trickster extraordinaire, who reveals himself to also be a Master of Disguise in the final scene and explains to the audience "There comes a time to leave the past behind you/And amongst you is as good a place to hide/So out there in the shadows I remind you/That may be Willy Wonka by your side!"
- At the climax of Matilda, after the students purposely fail the spelling test, the Trunchbull imprisons them in a mass Chokey consisting of a grid of green lasers that extend into the audience.
- In some productions of the Broadway musical for The Wizard of Oz, the Wicked Witch will actually come into a corner of the auditorium near the front, and seems to address nearby seated audience members.
- In the Hardin County Performing Arts Center's rendition of Nineteen Eighty-Four, there were CCTV screens showing surveillance footage of the audience. Also, if audience members were to look behind them, they would see a screen with Big Brother's eyes, watching them.
- Disney Theme Parks
- On Hollywood Studios' The Great Movie Ride: Halfway through your friendly tour guide goes off to investigate something and has the tour get hijacked by a far less benevolent movie character—depending on which ride vehicle you're in, it's either a gangster or a cowboy.
- In the 3-D Movie Short Film Honey, I Shrunk the Audience (multiple parks), mice pouring out of a duplicating machine "jump" into the theater...something ( relax, rat-phobics and animal lovers, it's just puffs of harmless air) brushes past the spectators' legs row by row! And soon afterward...just look at the title. And there's a hungry python on the loose by then...but all ends well for the audience — unless they're not fans of dog sneezes.
- It's Tough to Be a Bug! (American parks) has similar effects built into the seats. They fit the trope especially well, since one can cause actual discomfort - there are rods that poke out of the back of the seat to simulate giant bee stings. Potential Nightmare Fuel for sure. At this particular point, it's common to see most of the audience lean forward for no apparent reason. Woe betide the newcomer who does not follow suit. Also, the announcement at the end "All bugs leave in an orderly fashion first" ...cue waves of bumps running under your feet.
- Ah, but that's another of the attraction's great tricks. It counts on viewers hearing the announcement about the bugs leaving and lifting their feet... which in turn makes them fail to prepare for the simulation of bugs running across the seats themselves.
- Muppet*Vision 3D (American parks) also has its perils. In this case, though, while the fourth wall won't save you, Rule of Funny will; the only thing that happens to the audience is getting squirted by a gag lapel flower, because the rest of the time, the Muppets are too busy inflicting their shenanigans on each other to bother the audience.
- Alien Encounter (Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom) took this one step further. The audience was actually strapped into their seats for the show, which is supposed to be an exhibition of an alien creature. But there's a reason there were harnesses on the seats... They kept you from fleeing in terror as the alien escaped, as well as preventing you from turning around to watch the alien as it circled the perimeter of the now-darkened theater. The harnesses were rigged to puff warm air on the back of your neck as the alien stalks, simulating it moving behind you, and when a technician tried to fix the lights and turn them back on, he was devoured messily by the alien (one couldn't see the struggle but certainly HEARD it, and saw his flashlight wavering) and the audience was sprayed with a liquid in the dark — supposedly the hapless man's blood. The warnings outside of the ride about how it might be frightening for small children were very much there for a reason. Its subsequent Lighter and Softer Retool Stitch's Great Escape! toned this down (though not enough for the warnings to be dropped); the biggest threat here is getting a chili dog belch in one's face.
- One of the oldest examples is the final stretch of "The Haunted Mansion", when the Lemony Narrator warns of the ghosts coming home with you uninvited just before passing mirrors which reflect ghosts sitting in the cars beside passengers. In the newest update to the Florida version of the ride, one of the effects has you look into the mirror to see the "hitchhiking ghost" pull your head off and exchange it for his.
- The Parisian counterpart Phantom Manor has the Phantom turning his attentions to the riders halfway through, digging an open grave for the vehicles to descend into the Underworld. Upon leaving the western ghost town, he gestures to an open grave as if trying to snatch guests away, but the skeletal spectre of the Bride appears to point out an escape route, though the traditional mirror hallway features the Phantom clinging onto the backs of the Doombuggies to try and follow the riders home.
- Tactile effects are popular in 3-D attractions (often labelled "4-D"). Shrek 4-D at Universal Studios and Borg Invasion in the (now closed) Star Trek Experience in Las Vegas are two more examples.
- The ending of the E.T. Adventure ride has E.T. acknowledging each of the riders by name.
- Despicable Me: Minion Mayhem has a scene where Gru scans the audience for germs, only to detect a group that hasn't showered in days. He then shows a clip of a random group of guests on the screen.
- At an Alien vs. Predator performance the Predator actor would routinely walk among the audience and scare them.
- Present all throughout haunt events such as Universal's Halloween Horror Nights, what with its always interactive scare-actors.
- In Alan Wake, after a big plot-revealing moment, the villain Barbara Jagger looks down on the protagonist, and then briefly glimpses at the camera, before suddenly leap/teleporting right into the viewers face, angrily growling "You!" Oh yeah. She knows you're watching...
- In Assassin's Creed II, Desmond is creeped out when Minerva looks at him instead of Ezio and warns about the impending apocalypse. Ezio meanwhile is left in utter confusion as to who Desmond is for the rest of his life. However this isn't stated immediately. A first-time player could be forgiven for thinking Minerva was speaking directly to the player.
- In Batman: Arkham Asylum, Scarecrow's fear toxin messes with the player directly as well as Batman, and the only warning you get before your drug trip hits is a single cough from Batman that you might not even notice. The second fear toxin sequence messes with your UI, making the wrong name appear when entering a room ("Wayne Manor"), and the third sequence makes your game appear to glitch up and crash, and then reboot to the opening cutscene, apparently having wiped your save data (a great fear for any gamer). Then you see that Batman and the Joker have switched places...
- In the E3 trailer for Batman: Arkham Knight, the video starts to glitch out near the end. By the time that the viewer could rule it out as a video streaming problem, Scarecrow is then shown staring at the viewer and taunting them as if they were Batman.
- Bravely Default if you take a picture at the opening scene, you see Agnes talking with your surroundings as background, and she's getting sucked into another dimension. It is also implied that the Celestial Realm is our world and the Big Bad is coming for there next.
- Bravely Second ups the ante. Neither the new Big Bad, nor his loyal servant have any regard for the fourth wall whatsoever. During the final battle, Providence delivers a What the Hell, Hero? speech to the player, and even attempts to delete your save file.
- Comix Zone has an in-universe example that goes both ways: Sketch Turner, a comic book artist, is attacked by his comic's villain, who was brought into the real world by a lightning bolt. The villain sends Sketch into the comic book, and then draws enemies into the comic to attack him.
- Dance Dance Revolution X3 has a boss song, "tohoku Evolved".note If you clear it, then instead of "CLEARED", the game will say "PRAY FOR ALL". It still does that in DDR 2013, DDR 2014, and DDR A.
- Escape From Lavender Town - This game has a high tendency to break the fourth wall◊, please remove all the fragile objects behind you.
- Eternal Darkness - most of the sanity effects affect more the player than the character - the volume-changes, the "erasing your save", the fake demo box, and the slowly tilting screen will play games with you.
- EverQuest II features one dungeon, the Estate of Unrest, where the Big Bad, a malevolent ghost turned Genius Loci and low-level Reality Warper, spends the entire thing regularly taunting and threatening the player characters, but is baffled as to why he can't sense their souls to attack them. When the party enters the caves beneath the mansion where his bones lie, aiming to forcibly reincarnate him to kill them, he roars that he finally found their souls and that they won't be safe "behind that pane of glass." Then the screen is engulfed in static for a moment as a skull appears and tries to lash out at the player.
- In-universe example: In the All There in the Manual backstory for Infocom's Hollywood Hijinx, B-movie king Buddy Burbank was notorious for several uses of this trope. A film of his entitled Meltdown on Elm Street involved an accident at a neighborhood nuclear power plant, resulting in a nuclear meltdown. After the citizens try to resume their normal routines (only without hair), a nuclear power plant worker who survived the accident but became a horrific homicidal monster goes about killing the citizens. The climax of the film took place at the Elm Street Cinema. Burbank arranged that each theater showing the movie have an usher run up and down the aisles wearing a glowing nuclear plant worker's jumpsuit. The result was that several moviegoers died of shock. This bit of backstory was most likely inspired by the real-life "Tingler" example mentioned above.
- The indie horror game Imscared is not only fully aware of being a game, it also threatens the player with the message that the ghost that haunts the game will try to break out and instead haunt the players computer. It leaves notes in the game file, opens the browser and crashes multiple times. It finally ends with the game not starting anymore since the ghost has successfully escaped.
- The main enemies in La Tale, the Agasura, are said to be after the game's Game Masters for their omnipotent power of 'hack'.
- Metal Gear Solid has Psycho Mantis, who displays his psychic abilities by reading your memory card, then forcing your game controller to move on its own (using the vibration function).
- Subverted in Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots, where Psycho Mantis temporarily comes Back from the Dead. He attempts the same trick... On a PS3. In other words, there's no memory card and the original controller didn't vibrate. Naturally, good old PM doesn't take it well note .
- Inverted later on, where after a minigame in which the player has to tap a button as fast as possible, the player is advised to place the controller along any area of their arm that's sore from said minigame, at which point the controller vibrates. The characters then immediately talk about this being a form of Shiatsu massage and go on an extended explanation for how Snake received it through his nanomachines in-universe.
- Metal Gear Solid The Twin Snakes has some fun in this manner with parts of the original game that broke the fourth wall. During the torture scene, Ocelot preps Snake for a few rounds of electric shocks in the form of a minigame. He actually starts explaining exactly how the minigame will work in overtly game mechanic terms. After explaining which buttons to mash and which to just submit, he states "Don't even think about using Auto-Fire, or I'll know"; in The Twin Snakes, this is compounded by him turning towards the camera and pointing menacingly at the player. The scene where Psycho Mantis vibrates the controller also adds a quick shot of Snake nodding to the player as if to say "go ahead and do what he says".
- Metal Gear Solid 2 takes it even further. Late in the game, Mission Control begins sprouting nonsense monologues, and an admonition to "Turn the game console off!"
- In Minecraft, Ghasts shoot fireballs at your character... if you're in first-person mode. In third person, it becomes clear that they're targeting the camera. This was actually a bug, it's been patched out.
- Andres Borghi has made many creepy M.U.G.E.N characters, but Noroko is unique among them for her use of this. Her ultimate, One-Hit Kill special involves her beginning to cry in front of her opponent, who approaches her, and then we're treated to a first-person, cinematic sequence of what said opponent sees: her revealing an eyeless, nose-less, mouth-less face and reaching out towards the screen, or alternatively opening a deformed mouth and screaming at you. After this, the hapless opponent collapses dead, presumably of sheer fright. Even straighter, if she wins the battle, you may occasionally see her hand scratching your screen, leaving trails of blood on it.
- Alleged "dragon-tier" cheapies also count, but in a very serious, literal way. There exists a sort of arms race between MUGEN creators for the most powerful character, and mere One Hit KOs do not even cut it anymore: cheapies oftentimes essentially hack MUGEN or even create their own MUGEN to ensure they beat the opponent. The culmination of the Cheapie War is "dragon-type" characters, said to be potent computer viruses disguised as characters, who will take down the opponent... and your PC alongside it. However, most of these characters (if they exist at all) are prvate. Probably the most well-known supposed Dragon-tier in MUGEN is "Mathrus", and even then exceedingly little is known other than that it supposedly cuts a computer's internet connection. Only one alleged photograph of "Mathrus" exists, according to which it seems appear as a Felhound.
- In the Bad Ending of Nanashi no Game, the cursed RPG is passed onto your DS.
- Taken Up to Eleven in Nanashi no Game Me: the curse gets spread to everyone who owns a DS.
- Early in Omikron: The Nomad Soul, you (the player) are told that it is your own soul which entered Kay'l's body at the beginning of the game and which is now hopping around the inhabitants of Omikron. In other words, your own body is now one of The Soulless until you beat the game.
- A great example is in Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door. In this game, all your fights take place on a theater stage, and you derive power from the in-game audience's reaction. During one boss battle, just when the boss seems to be defeated, it gets up and eats the audience, recovering half its health.
- Happens more than once in the game. Cortez steals the audience's souls, Magnus Von Grapple 2.0 uses audience members as ammunition for a rapid fire machine gun, and the Shadow Queen absorbs the audience to restore health.
- Works in reverse too... the fourth wall doesn't protect Mario, the partners or the enemies either. Cue audience members charging on stage, with Shy Guys knocking over background decorations, Boos making characters immune to damage and everything from items to food to rocks being thrown at Mario (or anyone else) depending on how well you're doing.
- The fourth wall doesn't protect the audience either. Should someone in the audience try to heckle Mario or his partner by throwing garbage at them, Mario or his partner can return the favor by jumping off the stage and attacking the heckler, forcing the person to leave.
- In Super Paper Mario, several characters refer to the player as "a being from another dimension". The Fridge Horror sets in when you consider that Count Bleck's plan is to destroy every dimension.
- Super Smash Bros. Brawl's Gamyga, an enemy resembling a sentient sunflower built "like an avant-garde work of art from some young art-school grad", seems to have a very blank stare and never looks at the attacking character. However, its trophy points out that it is indeed facing its attacker, since it's facing the screen, directly at YOU.
- Tomb Raider II did this at the end when Lara sees the player peeping in on her after a shower. "Don't you think you've seen enough?"
- Ultima VII starts off this way, with a red demon poking his head through your computer monitor, telling you how he's going to take over your earth just as he's taking over the world of Brittania.
- This scene from Pokémon Platinum, when Giratina enters.
- Challenging the machine-possessing Rotom in Platinum involves a brief moment where Rotom's outline appears to be embossed on the screen and causes it to shake before the battle begins, suggesting that Rotom possessed your DS.
- Touhou's Kogasa Tatara is a lowly stage 2 boss with the power to "surprise people". Compared to the rest of the cast, it's pretty much nothing... Up until she shows up as an Extra Stage boss, with all the appropriate power - by surprising the audience.
- She repeats this before the game is even started by appearing on the game disc, and reappears in the next game as a midboss.
- I, Robot has an enemy called the View Killer; a nasty looking spike that is fired at the player's camera rather than Robot. Because you know, giant beach balls of doom weren't bad enough.
- Any Augmented Reality game which treats the player as an in-game character to be targeted and attacked, with examples including Spirit Camera: The Cursed Memoir.
- EarthBound uses this trope to masterful effect by reversing it. Having prayed for help against Giygas from everyone else in the world, Paula reaches out blindly for help... and reaches the player, who deals enough damage to destroy him. That's right: You, the one holding the controller personally finish off the final boss of the game.
- In the When They Cry series, supernatural beings sometimes speak to the players, telling them that they can quit playing anytime, and that usually means the players admit their existence.
- Borderlands has its cutscenes. Most of them are in first person. But one of the most mind blowing is... When Dr. Ned is killed, credits rolls and... Wait, what's that tearing the credits appart? "IT'S NOT OVER YET!" HOLY F***ING SHIT! Yeah, Undead Dr Ned literally tore down the fourth wall!
- The sequel pulls it off again. Well, kind of. The cutscenes are in first person as well... But there's one cutscene that is sure to drain the last of your sanity... And that is... Tiny Tina's intro. No, seriously, she got this crazy stare that makes it seems she is looking not at the character, but rather at YOU!!!
- ClapTrap knows we control the vault hunters... He does...
- Tales from the Borderlands has this when Rhys first meet Shade. Rhys and Vaughn walk down a hallway with a group of corpses of bosses and characters who died in the previous games including Bewm, Shade, Professor Nakayama and Commandant Steele before having to turn back since the door is locked. Those who played the Captain Scarlet DLC of Borderlands 2 will remember that Shade didn't die at the end of the DLC and, unlike the others, wasn't a boss. Sure enough, when you get that far Shade is missing... before he gets into your face. Not Rhys's, your face! The camera doesn't redirect when his Character Intro appears on screen. Luckily, Rhys can slap him for the scare.
- The Claptastic Voyage DLC for the Pre-Sequel features a side mission where you track down and kill an Ear Worm for claptrap. Teh Earworm is almost guaranteed to be stuck in YOUR head by the end of the mission.
- In Quest for Glory II, if you attack the plant woman, she'll deflect the weapon or spell and break your monitor.
- Though there's never a threat of physical harm Spec Ops: The Line does it in a really weird but intelligent and disturbing way. The loading screens talk directly to the player, saying things like "This is all your fault." and "How many Americans have you killed today?", but also "You are still a good person." Given the main character suffers from Sanity Slippage and cognitive dissonance, the game is hurling emotional abuse at you throughout the story to force you to feel some of what the main character is feeling...
- Dead Space has a quite disturbing death scene with Twitcher. After cutting you to pieces it looks directly to the camera before running away. That mutilated face doesn't help, either. See here◊
- Later on in Dead Space 2, one of the characters who has been following Isaac around the Sprawl and ostensibly helping him throughout the game, the clearly mentally disturbed Nolan Stross, has a minor psychotic episode at one point and screams at Isaac to "stop looking at [him]". He says this while looking directly at the player, not Isaac.
- Certain sections of Ghost Trick force you to hide the movements of various objects from the sight of a certain character. If he catches you while you're moving something, he freezes time, turns towards and directly addresses you about how you can't stop him, and then causes a game over right away.
- Some characters in Mortal Kombat 9 break the fourth wall during their victory poses. Some of them are friendly (like Kitana, who blows a kiss to the player) but others, like Mileena, tend to be very threatening.
- Various characters in the arcade fighting game based on JoJo's Bizarre Adventure will lunge at the screen on occasion; for example, Dio and Pet Shop both have Victory Pose shots where they attack the camera. Most notable, however, is Hol Horse and the Hanged Man; Hol Horse shoots out the screen in one of his Super Moves, allowing the Hanged Man to use the broken glass's reflections to strike the enemy. And in their victory pose, the Hanged Man sometimes slides into the player's sight...
- At least a few of the frights in Ib stem from the more fearful entities in the haunted art gallery turning to face the player rather than the player characters.
- In Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon, King Boo does this to you in one of the recon photos you take. He does this by turning around and laughing at you on what's supposed to be a static image, making this a very effective Jump Scare in a generally whimsical game.
- Lamers is a Lemmings parody where a group of Lemming-like humans are running toward a computer (turning and building stairs where necessary), and the player has to kill them with various weapons. On the last level they start shooting the player instead.
- In Deadpool's ending in Marvel vs. Capcom 3, he throws a party to celebrate his victory of Galactus. Unfortunately, the party ends in a massive explosion, with the police threatening to arrest Deadpool and his accomplice: you, the player.
- In The Battle for Middle-Earth I, the opening movie ends with the Eye of Sauron glowing in the middle of the screen, watching the player.
- In Quest Fantasy, the player is regularly addressed and threatened by some characters. In the climax of LPSE, the player is actually converted into RPG Maker data in order to fight S O U L.
- Implied in Skylanders: SWAP Force: The scene that plays before you fight Kaos's Mom has her speaking to the player, rather than the Skylander they control. Given that she's much more experienced than her son, it's likely she actually tries to go after you.
- Kaos ups the ante in Trap Team. Not only does he speak directly to the player, but he will also screw with the portal and even tries to suck things from our world into the Skylander world.
- During Silent Hill 2, whenever Pyramid Head makes one of his harmless appearances, he usually appears to be staring directly at the camera rather than at James.
- In first-person murder mystery RPG Consortium, the story is built around the idea that the player and the character the player is controlling are separate characters. Eventually, certain characters start to figure this out.
- In Sam & Max Hit the Road, there is an Easter Egg where making Sam pick up an item that can't be picked up will make him say "I can't pick that up." Do it again, he'll say "No, really. I can't pick that up." Again... "Are you dense? I can't pick that up." Do it a couple more times and he breaks down sobbing. Max says to the player "Now you've done it. You've broken Sam's spirit with your stupid attempts to pick up that silly object. In fact, if I didn't find his pitiful sobbing so amusing, I'd come out there and rip your limbs off!" Doing it again, Sam merely whimpers with Max saying to him "Just ignore them, Sam. Maybe they'll go away."
- In Die Anstalt, one of the patients, Dr. Wood, is a psychiatrist who is revealed to have narcissistic personality disorder and becomes a cult leader. If you try to use dream analysis therapy on him at this point, Wood steals your pendulum and proceeds to try and hypnotize the player character into joining his "Claw Association".
- In Kimi to Kanojo to Kanojo no Koi, a visual novel by Nitro+, the end of Aoi's route has this apply in full force. You can only play Aoi's route after you finish Miyuki's and then replaying from the beginning. At the end of the route, Miyuki walks in and starts killing everyone, saying that Shinichi "broke their promise of love." Even though that happened in a different game entirely. "I'm talking to YOU, who promised me eternal love in the first route." What's worse, after she finishes killing you, she calls God and asks him for a patch, at which point the game will close and run an autoupdate from DOS. On opening the game, Miyuki will tell you that your ability to save, load, or restart the game are now gone, and closing the game causes your screen to cut to static with demonic laughter in the background.
- The entire premise of Super Hero Squad: Comic Combat. Doctor Doom discovers the fourth wall and threatens to conquer YOUR world.
- In Warframe, the Grustrag Three and the Zanuka Harvester can briefly disable the Close button and the Alt+F4 commands, to keep you from escaping their Non Standard Game Over.
- In Close Your Eyes Redux, when the player is on the route where they choose to leave The Girl, a popup will occasionally appear on the computer saying "Don't leave me." This is a warning that the girl is on that pathway.
- In Oneshot, this is the whole premise of the game. The game is about you, the player, helping the character Niko on their journey. Niko often speaks directly to you within the game itself, but there is also The Entity, a malevolent death-seeking force who often addresses you directly via popups on your computer.
- Weaponized in Undertale, in which a few important characters are aware of the game's SAVE mechanic and the player's ability to reset and replay the story.
- Many players end up killing Toriel in the process of trying to figure out how to get past her when she tries to keep you in the ruins, and a common response is to quit, reload, and try again until they succeed in sparing her. But if you do so, Flowey calls you out on it, saying that while no one else may remember, he knows what you did, and just because you reset the game for a do-over doesn't erase what happened. And later during a standard playthrough, Flowey hijacks the game and saves over your file, messes with the intro and Game Over screens, and even uses quicksaves during his boss battle if it looks like you're getting the upper hand.
- During a "No Mercy" playthrough, Sans identifies not the protagonist but the player as the true source of the "temporal anomaly" he's sensing, and mocks your DETERMINATION to commit genocide on the basis that "just because you can, then you have to." He then brutalizes you as badly as you deserve, turning save states, your menu screen, and even the concept of turn-based combat against you. He knows you, the player, can just reload and retry the boss fight if you lose, so his objective is to be so screamingly difficult that you Rage Quit and walk away, or maybe reset the game and try a non-violent playthrough next time. He'll even taunt you by keeping track of how many times he's killed you or commenting on how pissed-off you look when you reload after losing.
- Complete your "No Mercy" run and you'll meet the First Child, who can "kill" you and force the game to quit as they destroy the world. Boot up the game again and you'll be greeted with an empty void, before the First Child reappears and offers to reset everything to the way it was... if you sell them your soul. Agreeing allows you to play the game again, but results in the First Child taking over the main character's body upon reaching what would usually be the best ending- the implication being that the Child will kill everyone again. Of course, considering what you have to do to complete the No Mercy route, it's hard to say you deserve a happy ending anymore.
- In Persona 4: Arena, one of Shadow Labrys's super attacks has her summon her Persona Asterius, to deliver a killer punch to her opponent. Said punch hooks towards, and cracks, the screen. Her victory pose has her use Asterius to destroy the screen, causing everything to fade into television static.
- Persona Q: Shadow of the Labyrinth uses the 3D effect of the Nintendo 3DS to this effect. Like most games on the platform, it uses pop-in 3D, as if you're looking through the screen into a box. One of the bosses late into the game, one encountered during a Wham Episode, intensifies his whammyness by moving up to the camera, over the interface into pop-out 3D to attack the player, not the party. You probably will freak out the first time it happens.
- The Devil's Corridor in Ys Origin uses wind through its pipes to play a terrible song that is said to drive humans mad. Until you somehow disarm that trap, you will be hearing its song drilling into your head and you will have to come through this damned hallway from bottom to top hearing this song if you are playing as Demon Toal. By the time you are completely done with this place, you will keep hearing it in your head for hours!
- In Yu Gi Oh BAM, when Devack and Roman brainwash your friends that aren't part of the main cast, the game uses your linked friends' Facebook profiles as pictures. (If you don't have any it uses BAM Terminals as pictures instead.)
- In RuneScape's "Branches of Darkmeyer" quest, this is the secret to Vanstrom Klause's "Stare into the darkness!" attack. Not only will the player character take massive damage if facing Vanstrom when the screen goes black, but they will take the exact same damage if the character is facing away from Vanstrom, but the camera is still on him.
- The Russian kidnapper in Welcome To The Game can hear the player through their microphone. Which means that in addition to turning off the lights, you have to be quiet when he is around.
- Pony Island does this repeatedly: at a critical point in the game, in order to take your attention away, you, the player, suddenly start receiving Steam message popups from the game, regardless if you're online or not. Shortly afterwards, the game literally crashes on you, again to distract your attention. And as if that wasn't screwed up enough, after you beat the game, it flat up asks you to uninstall it.
- The short story "Federal Reserve Skateboard" on the XKCD blog includes this line:
"At last, Bernanke got a solid grip on Greenspan's collar and hurled him through the fourth wall, knocking you to the ground."
- A large number of Creepypasta stories depend on this as their angle. A notable example is Wake Up. Wake up. PLEASE WAKE UP.
- Ben Drowned is heading this way with its final stage, by allowing a game with active Interface Screw as part of an Alternate Reality Game.
- In-universe example: Ryukaki. He was just following the game like the rest of us...and somehow ended up with BEN on his case. We later find out why. "Something about a boy dying here some time ago. It's meaningless to me, but peoples' superstitions make for great house prices."
- SCP Foundation:
- Inverted in the entry for SCP-674, which can be used to shoot people appearing on a television screen, with no effect on real life. Later played straight when the article implies that it was somehow used to kill its original owner.
- One of the SCP-001 proposals is a malevolent force that creates the horrors the Foundation has to deal with - it's the authors. Complete with a containment procedure, in case the Godzilla Threshold is crossed. Yup, the SCP Foundation can potentially kill the people that write it.
- In canon, the entire concept of a ZK-scenario is this. Killing off the audience of the site, meaning that it becomes as if the Foundation universe itself never existed.
- SCP-1893 will post threatening messages to your user name if you are logged onto the site.
- The Slender Man Mythos and its followers are fond of this, often showing Slendy attacking the cameras outright.
- In one Marble Hornets entry, the masked man stares right at you. Not the camera, you.
- Some fans take this one step beyond with the Tulpa Theory. Basically some fans hold that the concentrated fear, imagination and fascination of the fandom can will the Slender Man to existence. It also somewhat inverts the process, as the existence of the fourth wall becomes part of the belief-generating process. Meaning: If you watched/read Slender Man related things, that means you are thinking about him, thus helping will him to existence.
- It's implied that this has happened in-universe in Everyman HYBRID. Slendy only started stalking the main characters after they tried to do their own (painfully obvious) Slender series, which seems to have willed him through the fourth wall to show them how it's done. Just think what that means for us, the viewers.
- There is a theory that Slender Man has some control over his victims, and that he's compelling his victims to post videos of him to the internet, to help the spread of knowledge about him, and will him into existence.
- The girls from One Hundred Yard Stare invoked this to get rid off the Slender Man. As they made the series with the explicit intent to spread the word about him and give him someone else to stalk and harass (so not them). To date it didn't work, as they still getting visits from tall, dark and faceless.
- In one Marble Hornets entry, the masked man stares right at you. Not the camera, you.
- The Entity from Atop the Fourth Wall. In August, near-subliminal messages from it started appearing in the credits, and Linkara responded to any questions about this by saying that he didn't see anything, despite his usually posting out of character in the comments.
- The Entity also supposedly posted comments on his videos as well. After the storyline was finished, though, Linkara revealed that it was entirely done by the fans and was not official. However, he did admit that he wished he had thought of that.
- Near the end of the King of Worms storyline, Linkara is mentally tortured and we see flashbacks to all his previous villains. The Entity in the flashback turns and looks at the viewer.
- YouTube promoted this in preparation for the 2011 version of The Thing (2011).
- From the YouTube account 666 video, a Creepypasta, there's a reason you shouldn't watch it in fullscreen, and it isn't a screamer.
- Dragon Ball Z Abridged has a touch of this at the very end of episode 12. They've already established Mr. Popo as the most frightening and creepy thing in existence. Then the end of the episode has KaiserNeko wake up from a nightmare related to the show and declare that he has to stop editing so late at night. Suddenly Mr. Popo takes over his computer and starts talking to him in the real world. Cue horrified scream.
- The NES Godzilla Creepypasta has the player insulting Red / the Hellbeast after escaping from him. He stares back. And it only gets worse after that.
- ZALGO! H͉͙̖͎́ͬ̿͟͠ͅȨ̶͚̺͈̬̏̑͊̄̓ͨͪ̚ ̻̬̂̎͒̂̌̕͟C̦̦͚̱̯͕̾͊̏ͦ͘͜O͕͕̟͇͎̩̞̅ͩ̚M̵̪͔̗̺ͯͭ̀E̢̟̙̗̰̬̲͕̘̍ͪͬ̌̏̑͜͢S̴̤̯̫ͩ̑̄̂̚͘͠.̭̞̠̟̘̪̉͒ͧͯ̾͆
- The Pokémon Creepy Black DS retelling.
- This happens, of course, at the end of The Day Of All The Blood.
THE SCARIEST PART IS THAT THE MAN WAS YOU!!! (OR HE WAS A LADY IF YOU ARE A LADY) AND YOU FORGOT THAT THIS HAPPENED)
- On the Homestar Runner website:
- During The Nostalgia Critic's review of The Wicker Man, the episode ends like normally... until the credits music stops and Tamara peeks in from the right, taking the credits off, continuing the episode!
- Critic does it himself in every reboot episode. Look at the beginning of the credits. He's shooting the forth wall, and looks very angry while doing it.
- Many folks have read (and laughed at!) the story of Old Man Henderson, the player character who 'beat' Call of Cthulhu by actually managing to kill Hastur. One easily-missed point, however, is that the creator burned the manuscript for the character's backstory after the game was finished, because - in his own words - "it was EVIL." Let's put that into context: in order to beat a pissy, railroading GM running a campaign in a Cosmic Horror world, he wrote the Necronomicon. Maybe Jack Chick was right.
- After Creepypasta, Hypnofetish is probably the most frequent exploiter of this trope on the internet. Specific examples tend to be NSFW.
- In The Stinger of 10 Most DISTURBING Children's Toys Ever Made! by Matt Santoro, a puppet version of Matt goes towards the camera and says "I'm coming for you".
- Death Battle: "Goku vs Superman 2" first aired live at a SGC convention. At one point, Goku and Superman crashed into the SGC building. Suddenly, the video stopped, and then two actors dressed as Goku and Superman appeared and started fighting each other in front of the crowd. Eventually, they got knocked out of the building and the video resumed.
- Imaginee is capable of this in The Autistic World of the Autist, as shown in the Halloween Special where he mind raped the audience. Probably one of the only things in the show that make him terrifying.
- Artists At The Ready, an Original Character tournament hosted on DeviantArt, is based around the premise of the artists as themselves being summoned into a dimension called The Real, where they had to call upon their own characters (who can actually exist in this dimension) to protect them and battle for the amusement of the sadistic judges.
- Spooky Hal, the narrator who opens and closes the "Beyond Belief" episodes of The Thrilling Adventure Hour is a Will-o'-the-Wisp, a creature who feeds off human energy. To do this, he lulls them off their guard by telling them stories.
- While the Inanimate Insanity Kickstarter was running; the crew would put up quiz games. However, when the last fact was released; it turned out that Taco was telling the crew what questions to ask the audience, in order to gain information.
- In-universe in Awesome Gaiden. The Ninja Gaiden game is so relentlessly difficult that it manifests in the real world to trash the player's house.
- As seen during docfuture's Let's Play of Sonic the Hedgehog 2: Special Edition, Tails has such advanced AI that he remembers if you mistreat him and will resent you for it. Not Sonic, you, the player. He also banters with docfuture during the game and even has some "protips" that seem aimed at those watching the LP online.
- The Bongcheon-Dong Ghost controls your computer.
- In Homestuck, Lord English not only somehow enters author Andrew Hussie's house but kills him as well.
- Subsequently, a character encounters a tower broadcasting the story and beats it with a time crowbar, breaking the website.
- Said character also interrupts the narrative.
- Not to mention said character is in fact a younger version of the aforementioned Lord English.
- A subtle example in the massive fan project "Let's Read Homestuck": Doc Scratch is aware of the change between comic and video format. This implies that he's aware of the fourth wall. Which in turn implies that he's aware of us. Just a reminder, this guy is a malevolent, omniscient, reality bending Humanoid Abomination.
- Subsequently, a character encounters a tower broadcasting the story and beats it with a time crowbar, breaking the website.
- The Abimor.◊
- We're sorry. We had to list this example. He's coming. RUN.
- But Crowley from Roommates is the most terrifying of them all! He drinks the author's (and readership's) beer!
- Remarkably, Drowtales actually features an inversion of this trope: the fourth wall will not protect the characters. Cloud Cuckoo Lander Kiel's Power Born of Madness makes her aware of the audience, allowing her to address them directly. (To the rest, she's just talking into thin air.) After the Time Skip, she gains the ability to actually summon her fans as Living Shadow minions.
- The main cast of The Dragon Doctors all seem to die, with the leader Mori last, having been sucked into a black void. A demon devours Mori's life story (taking on her appearance in the process) and watches her sink into oblivion. Then it turns to the reader and starts addressing them, saying that by doing this it's attacking everyone who ever had the idea of "Mori" in every universe, including the readers of this very webcomic.
- This trope actually provides the karmic punishment for a denizen of hell in the webcomic Jack. A soldier in life who had been ordered to massacre women and children, the central character of a story arc spent the entire storyline narrating what it was like in hell, as well as repeatedly insisting to other characters that he wasn't responsible, that it was all fate and he couldn't be blamed for his own actions. At the end of the story arc the Devil finally has the damned soul collected from his misadventures and brought in for a personal interview — and to show off the lovely comic the Devil has been drawing. The very last few panels are of the fool asking, "but if this is just a comic, who's been reading...?" And then slowly, with horror suffused features, turning to look over his shoulder...
- Dark Star from L's Empire started to insult the readers in the comment section after becoming an author. Then he got into multiple flame wars with one of the other authors. After being defeated, he would occasionally comment on the stupidity of the story or (rudely) respond to the reader's posts.
- Awful Hospital:
- The X-ray skeleton looks directly at the audience and makes a "sshh" motion before attacking Fern.
- The Double Doors vandalize actual reader comments. a hidden link in the next update reveals that the commenters trolled him right back, successfully enough to release Fern from his influence.
- According to Word of God, the in-universe beings who the readers and commentators represent influence humans in our world, as in us, as well, it's just a lot less noticeable here.
- The narrator in Danger Mouse was sometimes affected by whatever Evil Plan was afoot. When Baron Greenback interfered with the world's transmissions, the narrator kept talking over the end credits, saying he was probably going to be cut off soon. He was.
- In "Play it Again, Wufgang", with all the music of the world destroyed, we're treated to DM, Col. K and Penfold's a cappella rendition of the theme song over the end credits.
- "The Good, The Bad And The Motionless" has DM telling the football supporter (who showed up after DM mentioned it) that whatever he says appears. The supporter knows it, but DM glances to the camera and tells him "but they [the viewers] don't." The supporter suddenly becomes aware.
- Looney Tunes, being Born in the Theatre, occasionally involves gags with the audience. See that trope for details.
- However, they do manage to invert this trope in one of their cartoons: Bugs Bunny, having just been captured by Gossamer, the large red monster with tennis shoes, points out the audience to Gossamer, who shouts "PEOPLE!" and dashes through the walls, leaving imprints of itself behind. So, the fourth wall will not protect the monster from the audience.
- There was another short (The Case of the Stuttering Pig) that has a similar gag. The villain boasts at at least two points that the audience is powerless to stop him from doing away with Porky and his relatives, especially "you in the third row, you big cream puff!" Inverted, however, when "the guy in the third row" saves the pigs at the climax by throwing a chair at the villain.
- In the episode of The Powerpuff Girls where Mojo Jojo turns the world's population into dogs, Mojo turns the effect on the Narrator about halfway through.
- Also, a body-switching episode ended with everyone back to normal… except Bubbles and the Narrator somehow ended up switched.
- In "Insect Inside", when Roach Coach's army of cockroaches infests Townsville, the Narrator squirms as the critters find their way into the recording booth.
- Not to mention the episode where Mojo kidnapped the Narrator, took over, and made the Powerpuffs commit crimes ("Simian Says," also done in the comic book story "See You Later, Narrator").
- And once more in "Tough Love", wherein HIM manages to turn everyone in Townsville, including the Narrator, against the girls.
- In an episode of Earthworm Jim, Psycrow and Professor Monkey for a Head capture Jim by pointing a gun at the narrator and making him read out, "After Psycrow and Professor Monkey for a Head had captured Jim..."
- The Simpsons
- In one episode, a bully who preys on geeks and nerds lunges at the viewer right before the show fades to black.
- Also in the "Treehouse of Horror" segment 'Attack of the 50ft Eyesores,' Kent Brockman is reporting on the advertising menace, and states that the next time you see a commercial, it could kill you and your entire family. Homer then appears and says "we'll be right back." Then there's a commercial break!
- One episode of The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy ends with Nergal, desperate for friends, using his magic powers to turn everybody into nerglings. At the very, very end of the episode, he rises in front of the screen, says "And you... you will be my closest, most bestest friend of all", and transforms the viewer.
- Every episode has this to some degree after the theme song, when Mandy turns to the audience to say something threatening.
- "Wild Cards," an episode of Justice League, is presented (sans opening and ending) as a real-life television program hijacked by The Joker, who has planted a number of bombs on the Las Vegas Strip and will detonate them unless the Justice League can stop him and his Royal Flush Gang henchmen. It's then revealed this is a Batman Gambit designed to trick as many people as possible into watching, because one of the Gang is a telepath whose gaze - even through the screen - can drive people insane. And while the Joker explains all of this to you and his corny TV music ends to be replaced by ominous chords, her eyes are still staring at you from the top of the screen.
- Darkwing Duck:
- One episode had Gosselyn somehow create evil clones of herself with Personality Powers, who are eventually captured and trapped somewhere. The villain, who had helped with the capture, warns the protagonists that the evil clones could come back if they wanted—all they'd need was a particular device. The screen fades to black, and then the clones appear onscreen, the leader saying "Hey, kid...we need you to get something for us." All three of them suddenly lean forward, giggling "Pretty pleeeaaase?" The device in question is a particle accelerator, which becomes doubly funny when you get older and realize that CRTs, found in every television set in the world back then, are particle accelerators.
- NegaDuck once threatens a news reporter by crawling through the TV he's displayed on into the studio.
- Megavolt develops a device that allows him to physically reach out of a TV screen and interact with the environment immediately in front of it. This allows him to steal stuff where people least expect it, such as an electronics store where multiple copies of him reach out of a TV screen each and snatch a TV placed immediately above it.
- Dave the Barbarian has The Dark Lord Chuckles, the Silly Piggy kidnaps the narrator and use him to control the story. It would have worked, too, if the narrator didn't lose his voice near the start of the second act, which prompted Dave and the crew to find another narrator that would help them defeat Chuckles.
- In Transformers Prime, the Chaos Bringer Unicron makes an Early-Bird Cameo. He doesn't do much, but he's staring straight at you. Sweet dreams.
- Just about any time he's not looking at characters in the show, he's staring directly at the audience. Considering that Unicron consumes worlds, it's likely he can see ours.
- An amusing in-universe version occurs in "Patch": While Megatron is judging Starscream from his memories and actions against Megatron, Knock Out is monitoring them on a viewscreen. When Knock Out is brought up as an accessory to Starscream, Megatron delivers a Death Glare at him through the viewscreen.
- In Beast Wars at the end of the second season finale Megatron on the orders from the Original Megatron fires on the Original Optimus Prime at point blank with everything he has. As one of the most overly Hammtastic speeches ever is given, his camera angle and steadily magnifying mugshot make him look like he is also talking to the audience itself, giving the impression that even they are not safe from what he had just done.
Megatron: "The Autobots lose, evil TRIUMPHS, and you...YOU NO LONGER EXIST!"
- It was common in the early days of film projection for hairs to get caught in the projector's shutter and dance annoyingly across the screen until they either worked themselves out or an annoyed projectionist stopped the film and removed them. Tex Avery's "Magical Maestro" played with this, animating a hair onto the picture, annoying the audience until the main character, the opera singer, grabbed the hair and disposed of it.
- The first season finale of Young Justice reveals that the Trigger Phrase to activate the mole is "Broken Arrow", which puts Red Arrow into a trance where his handler can retrieve information and plant subconscious instructions. This phrase also works on the audience: After it was uttered, the show cut to a commercial and returned after the counter-command was given, leaving the audience unaware of what had transpired, and ignorant even of the fact that anything had happened at all.
- Rocky and Bullwinkle was prone to this, notably in the "Banana Formula" story arc, where government agents bound and gag Rocky, Bullwinkle and the narrator. Fearless Leader does the narrator's job at episode's end:
Fearless Leader: Be with us next time for "The Villains' Victory Dance" or "The Jig Is Up"!
Bullwinkle: (to narrator) Come on! It's the end of the episode!Rocky: Oh, brother...Bullwinkle: The next episode is "The Flaming Arrow..."
- The Bungling Brothers story arc had Rocky and Bullwinkle tied to stakes and about to be done in by Indians with bows and arrows. The narrator cracks "don't miss our next arrowing episode", after which he goes into a fit of uncontrollable laughter. Rocky and Bullwinkle are irritated:
Boris: (after gassing the narrator) You were saying?Narrator: Duh, gee whiz! I can't remember! Dehh, be with us next time for...durr, be with us Next Time anyway! Gee...!
- Then we have the Goof Gas Attack arc, where one episode ends with Boris using the titular gas on the narrator to keep him from saying where they were going to use their goof gas next.
- The 2013 Mickey Mouse short Get a Horse! has Mickey literally being knocked out of the movie screen and into the theater by Pete. This cartoon then inverts this trope with Mickey then controlling the screen itself and thus the action onscreen to defeat Pete.
- The Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends episode "The Trouble With Scribbles" has Bloo and the only Scribble left blow raspberries at each other again and again, until Bloo shoves his face directly into the camera facing the viewers and blows a big raspberry.
- The third season of Tales from the Crypt Keeper would often end episodes with the Crypt Keeper warning the audience by threatening "Creep out of trouble, because I'll be watching!"
- My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic: in the episode "One Bad Apple", during a music sequence a gigantic Babs Seed shows up on a movie theater screen, then steps out of the screen to attack Apple Bloom, Sweetie Belle and Scootaloo. Although, being part of a music sequence, it probably doesn't have to be taken too seriously.
- The 1996 television series of "Dennis the Menace and Gnasher" featured an episode including a side-story about a game of tag getting out of hand and affecting adults. The episode ends with Dennis becoming 'It' once again, immediately before tapping the fourth-wall and saying "Tag, you're it! Catch me next time, if you can."
- In the Gravity Falls episode "Little Gift Shop of Horrors", Stan tells the viewer three stories in an attempt to coerce them into buying something from him. After the third story the viewer still won't buy anything so he offers them a potion which puts them to sleep, and the episode ends with him having turned them into an exhibit.
- When Bill is released from his dimension and performs a Hostile Show Takeover, the backwards whisper Couch Gag is him telling the audience "I'm watching you nerds!"
- The "Between the Pines" special has Time Baby imprisoning Alex Hirsch in a room and forcing him to disclose facts about the show.
- The very last shot of the Grand Finale features live-action footage of a statue of Bill in some woods. This ended up being the setup for a real life scavenger hunt for Bill's statue that the show's creator arranged about a half-a-year later.
- SpongeBob's driving is so bad one episode had him run over the narrator.
- Toonami's The Intruder II delves into this as the event continues, with the bumpers slowly going from "Red Alert" flashing and minor video interference as an alarm goes off, to heavily saturated with a red tint with sound distortions to weeks 4 and 5 with nothing but garbled red text after the Intruder rips out SARA's core and the alarm starts to fail (Tellingly, week 4 was a Parasyte marathon). Week 6's bumpers have error messages after the Absolution blows up. The event ends this with new bumpers as TOM uploads SARA onto a new base.
- S. William Hinzman, the Cemetery Zombie from Night of the Living Dead (1968), asked in Real Life that his body be burned after his death (which occurred on February 5, 2012, from cancer) for this reason; he often joked that if he was buried, he'd just, in the words of a newscaster in-universe, "come back to life to seek human victims".
- Superman once fought the Ku Klux Klan. The real Ku Klux Klan. Okay, so he didn't actually punch real people, but the radio program contained advice on how to help catch them in a 1946 serial titled "Clan of the Fiery Cross", provided by an informant named Stetson Kennedy who infiltrated the Klan and leaked this information to the writers of the radio show. And Superman won. Exposing the Klan and its rather silly rituals on the radio program is credited as one of the reasons it didn't experience a renaissance and become as publicly acceptable as it was in the early 20th century, even at the height of the Civil Rights Movement and the ensuing segregationist backlash: few people wanted to be associated with such a bunch of clowns.
- Anthony Hopkins once quietly entered a theater showing Hannibal and, during one intense scene, tapped somebody in the row before him on the shoulder and asked "Are you enjoying the movie?"
- Sometimes, spectators at auto racing events can get a lot closer to the action than they ever anticipated.
- NASCAR has seen this happen on several occasions where cars went airborne and flew into a catchfence that separates the grandstands from the racetrack: Austin Dillon at the 2015 Coke Zero 400 at Daytona, Kyle Larson at Daytona in February 2013, Geoff Bodine at Daytona in 2000's Truck race, Bobby Allison's crash at Talladega in 1987, and more.
- A more tragic and notorious instance of this happened at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1955, before catchfences were standard equipment on racetracks. Eighty-three spectators plus driver Pierre Levegh died, and over 120 more were injured, when Levegh's burning car went flying into the stands after a crash. The disaster led to massive overhauls in spectator safety at race tracks.
- A lesser (for lack of a better term) incident happened at the 1961 Italian Grand Prix, when Wolfgang van Trips' car went flying in an accident that killed fifteen spectators and himself.