The Fourth Wall Will Not Protect You
"Your fourth wall jokes won't save you!"
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
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
open/close all folders
Anime and 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.
- In the DC Comics series Infinite Crisis and the Marvel Comics series Infinity Crusade, both Big Bads intentionally endanger the reader.
- 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.
- 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.
: "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.
- Paper Mario X 2: The author gets shot by Samus at the end of Chapter 52.
- 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.
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 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 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.
- 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 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'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!"
- The trailer for Day of the Dead 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."
- 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 HP 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.
- The trope is also reversed in this book, as the fourth wall does not protect Grover from the reader.
Next page, Grover is crushed under the ruins of the brick wall.
Grover: Did you know that you are very strong?
- 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 pas the curse to others. The very book you have just been reading.
- 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 defence 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 that was prevented...
- ...unless you think about how there is supposed to be an infinite number of universes. In that case, assuming chaos theory is true, there is a timeline (or probably several,) where that plan worked flawlessly. Well, we're doomed!
- 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 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 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 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 , 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.
- 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.
- Open Circle's production in Seattle of Pickman's Model (by HP 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, who reveals that he's going to enter their world in the final moments of the show (now that his factory is in Charlie's capable hands) and continue his adventures in creativity in it. Depending on what one thinks of this decidedly anti-heroic Wonka, this is either a marvelous or terrifying prospect.
- 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 end announces "All bugs leave in an orderly fashion first" cue waves of bumps running under your feet.
- 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 "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.
- 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 Assassins 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, the game appears to CRASH at one point to mess with your head, just to get a taste of how Batman must be feeling when he's getting pumped full of Scarecrow toxin.
- Also, if you get killed by Killer Croc one of the game over sequences shows him saying "I will enjoy feasting on your bones" then he lunges forward and devours the camera.
- 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.
- Comix Zone has the artist for his own comic get attacked by one of the villains after a lightning strike.
- 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.
- 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 TTS, 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".
- 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 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.
- 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? Count Bleck plans 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◊
- 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 "I told you I can't pick that up!" Again... "If I could I would, but I can't just leave me alone!" Do it again and he breaks down sobbing. Max says to the player "That's it, you hurt my buddy! If I wasn't a pixelated piece of data I'd jump through that screen and rip your lungs out!" Doing it again, Sam merely whimpers with Max saying to him "Just ignore them, 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.
- 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: Implied in-universe in the entry for SCP-674.
- One of the SCP-001 proposals is a malevolent force that creates the horrors the Foundation has to deal with - it's the 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.
- 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.
- 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:
- There is a Strong Bad Email where Strong Bad gets a computer virus that quickly takes over and messes up the entire website.
- At one point, a bunch of popup windows with Homestar's face in it appear, including one actual popup window! Although, it only works if Pop-Up Blocker is disabled.
- 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".
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 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 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 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 promped 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.
- 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:
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...!
- 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!"
- 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 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: not as many people wanted to be associated with such a group 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?"