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.
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).
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.
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.
Of course you don't - when it was re-created, we all got false memories covering the missing time. You didn't think anybody really voted for Bush, Clinton, or W, did you?
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.
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. You are one of his fans.
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.
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 narYou guys never learn, do you?
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."
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.
Imperfect Metamorphosis is an Alternate UniverseTouhouFan 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.
And there's also the entire category of fan fiction called "Revenge Fic", where the characters find out about the existence of the author and decide to make his/her life miserable because they weren't happy about some loser playing God over their lives.
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.
Film - Animation
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 scaryFreeze-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
The ending of The Woman in Black, where Jennett looks directly at the camera, implying that your children will die next.
In screenings of House on Haunted Hill he arranged for skeletons to drop from the ceilings of certain theaters and float towards the audience.
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.
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 a 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, 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.
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 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 Amicus portmanteau films. 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..."
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 ShowStab, a woman was stabbed by the man sitting next to her, just as in the 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 first movie ever shown publicly did this. The Lumiere Brothers' first film began with a train heading straight for the camera; people dove out of their seats during the screening.
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 investigatng and arresting the entire cast at the end of the movie.
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 futily tries to call out to her, but Aunt Em's image is replaced by the Wicked Witch who mocks Dorothy and then turns to cackle directly at the audience as if to say "I'm coming for you next!"
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.
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 if the Minotaur doesn't rip your throat out first 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.
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 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).
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.
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.
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.
'Angel of Ruin' by Kim Wilkins has a character called 'The Wanderer.' Based on the myth of the Wandering Jew, this character is cursed to wander the Earth alone forever until they can find someone to tell their story to. Once the story is told the curse will pass to the listener. Most of the book is the story itself, with a framing device of the Wanderer telling their story to a skeptical young journalist. At the end of the book it's revealed that the journalist passed on the curse by publishing a book - the very book you just finished reading
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 Pelevin has an unrelated mystical short story Tambourine of the Overworld, featuring both Underworld and Overworld tambourines. Thus Tambourine of the Underworld sounds like a sequel., 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...
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...but can move once the viewer can't see them.
Although it might have been more effective if they showed only stone statues. Over half of the statues in that segment were bronze and so could not be angels.
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 defence to defeat them ourselves, some may have escaped. And now you will always be looking around you.
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 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 West looks at him and says, "Rod, you shouldn't!" Then West promptly takes out another envelope out of the safe, and the envelope contains the film Rod was described on, and West says that "[Rod] shouldn't say such things as 'nonsense' and 'ridiculous'!" Then promptly tosses it into the fire. Then 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 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?: 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.
Heroic example in Power Rangers Samurai's "Trickster Treat". Trickster has trapped the rangers in a Dream Within a DreamTV 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 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...
Played for laughs in Weird Al's song "I'll Sue Ya", where he points at the screen at one point and shouts "I might even sue YOU!"
Also in "Don't Download This Song", which is The Long List of Very Bad Things that will happen to you if you pirated the song off the Internet. Of course, part of the joke was that this was a preview track for the album it was on that was available as a free download.
"Future Shock", from Stratovarius' 1989 independent debut Fright Nightnote and in re-recorded form as a b-side to their 1996 single "Father Time", 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
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.
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.
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.
Played with in some performances of The Phantom of the Opera during a sequence where the Phantom projects his voice into the theater the audience is sitting in. ("I'm here, the Phantom of the Opera!")
At the one in the West End in London, 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.
The "Don't Feed The Plants" ending of Little Shop of Horrors. 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.
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.
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.
Disney World's 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 MovieShort FilmHoney, 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.
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 SofterRetoolStitch'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.
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.
At an Alien vs. Predator performance in Universal Studios the Predator actor would routinely walk among the audience and scare them.
Inverted in Kirby: Canvas Curse: instead of throwing Kirby at the final boss, you can personally attack her by tapping her with the stylus. Kirby still has to deal the finishing blow, though.
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...
It's actually more a case of Fourth Wall Psych. She's actually talking to Thomas Zane, who is interfering in her plans.
In Twin Snakes, 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. But merely breaking the fourth wall isn't enough. After explaining which buttons to mash and which to just submit, he turns to the player and states "Don't even think about using Auto-Fire or I'll know". While pointing menacingly at them.
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 Manualbackstory 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 main enemies in La Tale, the Agasura, are said to be after the game's Game Masters for their omnipotent power of 'hack'.
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.
In the Bad Ending of Nanashi no Game, the cursed RPG is passed onto your DS.
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, the boss seems to be defeated, but then gets up and eats the audience, recovering half her 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.
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.
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 controllerpersonallyfinish 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...
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...
Metroid: Fusion is such a great game... Nothing to molest your mind until... SA-X appears! And, no, it is not the camera that it is looking at, but rather at YOU!!! It is aware of your very moves and seems to be perfectly aware of what you will do, as this is made clear when it counters your Screw Attack with its own, damaging you both. And Adam reminds you of who SA-X is as soon as he finds out who was the saboteur.
Super Metroid has Phantoon. what is wrong? Oh, nothing... Nothing until he opens his eyes... Looking straight to the player! His eyes could follow Samus' moves easily, but he seems more interested in US because we are controlling her.
Doom 3 has the habit of playing with our minds, by flashing images while walking through supposedly safe hallways, hauntings, cutscenes... Considering the game is a First Person Shooter, this should mean the character is seeing this all, but just how the camera is toyed with at times makes us question whether or not it is trying to toy with our SANITY. If you play long enough, you might end up seeing satanic pentagrams everywhere, as they flash out rather often.
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◊
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.
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.
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."
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) Slenderman 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.
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.
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".
Dragon Ball 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 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.
"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.
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 ended with everyone back to normal... except Bubbles and the Narrator somehow ended up switched.
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..."
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.
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 physically interact with the physical 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 kidnap 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 promped Dave and the crew to find another narrator that would help them defeat Chuckles.
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 steadly 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"!
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:
Bullwinkle: (to narrator) Come on! It's the end of the episode!
Rocky: Oh, brother...
Bullwinkle: The next episode is "The Flaming Arrow..."
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.
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...!
A rather unintentional example in Danny Phantom in which a villain named EmberMcClain utilizes an electric guitar to hypnotizeaudiences. If you go on ANY Youtube video of her song You Will Remember (My Name), you'll inevitably find very tiny intervals between comments of any user. She's that popular.
S. William Hinzman, the Cemetery Zombie from Night of the Living Dead, 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, no, he didn't actually punch real people, but the radio program contained advice on how to help catch them.) And he won. Exposing the Klan 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: not as many people wanted to be associated with such a group of clowns.