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Leaning On The Fourth Wall / Western Animation

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  • Centaurworld: Zulius' "Hot Goss" spell allows him to pause time and tell the viewer side details... with the side effect of making other people in-frame feel like they're burning alive.
  • Justice League:
    • The episode "Wild Cards" ends with Hawkgirl and Green Lantern kissing, resolving the UST that had developed between them since the first season. This is followed by the voiceover of an old woman saying "It's about time!" The camera cuts to show that this is the same old woman who has been playing a slot machine since the beginning of the episode, and she just hit the jackpot. Earlier in the episode, Joker announces that the League is being timed on how quickly they can defuse the bombs. A "digital clock" appears on screen and starts the clock ticking at 22:51, the typical run time of the show straight. He then comments "Oh, what were you expecting from me; a round number?" Later he looks at the clock and comments that there isn't a lot of time. Sure he's breaking the fourth wall on his Show Within a Show, but he's leaning on ours as well.
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    • Green Arrow makes an entrance where he sings along with his own theme song.
  • South Park:
    • The show has a funeral for Chef in-show, where Kyle seems to be discussing the out-of-show reasons why the late Isaac Hayes chose to leave the program. Kyle expresses his fondness for Chef, and it's clear that he's also expressing the writer's fondness for Hayes.
    • The beginning of the 200th episode has Kyle and Cartman exchanging insults. Stan tells them to stop, saying "all you're doing is rehashing a bunch of old stuff!"
    • The 201st episode had the boys saying that it was silly people would care more about knowing who Cartman's father is than showing Muhammad. He is in fact referring to the show's fanbase.
    • The conclusion of the 232nd episode "Raising the Bar" depicts the characters lamenting the low standards they have for entertainment and style of living, while saying so they take full responsibility for Lowering the Bar themselves as a society, as a hand-wave to everyone saying the show has a low quality of humor.
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    • Episode 103, involving Joozian aliens who control all of television.
      "You've made it to a hundred episodes, you should be proud!"
      "Yeah, a show should never go past a hundred episodes, or else it starts to get stale with ridiculously stupid plotlines and settings."
    • In Cartman's anti-Family Guy rant, he explicitly compares himself as a character in a comedy show to the writing of Family Guy, much to Kyle's confusion.
    • In "Naughty Ninjas," it's mentioned that Officer Barbrady has been working as a cop for about twenty years, and "has been here longer than almost anyone." As a matter of fact, he was one of the few characters to appear in the very first episode, nineteen years before.
    • In "Skank Hunt," the girls are discussing being harassed by the titular Internet Troll, and mention that they're sick of "taking the backseat" and being an "afterthought" in town. Over the course of the show, the girls usually range from being Out of Focus (Wendy, Bebe) to Living Props (pretty much everyone else).
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    • In "Members Only," the newly-elected Mr. Garrison mocks PC Principal and calls him the reason he became President, referencing accusations that the annoyances of SJWs and liberal elitism was what made moderates vote Donald Trump into office.
      • Also in "Members Only," there are a few subtle references (such as a scene inside Tom's Rhinoplasty and the return of Sheila's catchphrase) meant to invoke a sense of nostalgia in the show's fans, which is ironic, considering that this season is all about is the dangers of unchecked nostalgia.
    • Season 23 got some flak for how much the first half focused on Randy and his Tegridy Farms plot. The sixth episode, aside from addressing these complaints, also throws in some lines about how "everyone's sick of Tegridy Farms" and Randy bragging that he's "taken over South Park."
    • "The Pandemic Special" continued the "Tegridy Farms is South Park" metaphor as Randy debuts his own "pandemic special," having a sale on weed during the COVID-19 Pandemic. Sharon calls him out for having a special during such horrible times. Randy encounters someone who praises him for putting out the special during such challenging times, but after Randy discovers he was Patient Zero for the pandemic, he feels guilty and starts doubting if the special is really meaningful. He almost abandons Tegridy Farms entirely, but decides to make "a few more specials" after learning that Sharon (who serves as a stand-in for Randy's critics) has been smoking some of his weed after all.
  • In the Ultimate Spider-Man TV show, when Stan Lee's resident Author Avatar for the show hears Spidey's comment on how catchy Amazing Spider-Man (the original title for the comics in their earliest incarnation) sounds, he promptly writes it down, saying that it could be big. Then Spidey says that it would be less than spectacular. Not to mention The Reveal that Stan came up with the name S.H.I.E.L.D.
  • In The Boondocks, Bushido Brown tells Huey, "Man, you come straight out of a comic strip" (a Shout-Out to a line from Enter the Dragon). He literally does.
    • This exchange from one of the final episodes of season 3, which was originally going to be the last season (Note that the use of the word "episode" is not meant in the context of a TV show):
    Ebony: Robert, you'll be fine. Next week you'll have some crazy adventure with another woman. You won't even remember this little episode.
    Robert: I dunno. I'm not too sure I have many episodes left.
  • Futurama pushes this as far as it can go in Bender's Big Score with the, "Box Network". After being told that they have been uncancelled, Leela stands in front of a pile of ventilation machines and asks "but what does this mean for our many fans?" "It means we're back on the air! ... Yes! Flying on the air in our mighty spaceship!"
    • In "Beast with a Billion Backs":
      Amy: (just after the wedding) This is just like a movie with this happening in it.
      Harold Zoid: I got a part in a fancy DVD-movie! It's only one line but I'm gonna ham it up like you wouldn't believe!
    • The first ninety seconds of the Un-Cancelled series are overloaded with this:
      Professor Farnsworth: We plunged into a massive wormhole, never to be seen again!
      (they disappear through the wormhole, the ending of the fourth movie, then suddenly reappear)
      Bender: Yeah, we're back.
      Hermes: Sweet coincidence of Port-Au-Prince! We're back at Earth!
      Professor Farnsworth: Of course! That was the Panama Wormhole, Earth's central channel for shipping!
      Zoidberg: Heh-heh-heh-heh-heh. How humourous.
      Professor Farnsworth: Yes, it's sort of a 'Comedy' central channel. And we're on it now!
      Amy: (gasps) I get it!
    • Leela has a wall-leanin' line at the end of the season six midseason premiere episode Neutopia when Planet Express is narrowly saved from going out of business by putting out a nude calendar of all their female employees.
    • In "Obsoletely Fabulous", after Bender discovers that his upgrade was All Just a Dream:
      Bender: If that stuff wasn't real, how can I be sure anything is real? Is it not possible, nay, probable, that my whole life is just a product of my or someone else's imagination?
    • In "Fear of a Bot Planet", when Bender needs to be rescued but the danger to Leela and Fry is extreme:
      Fry: Well, what are we going to do?
      Leela: I don't know, I don't know. It's not an easy decision. If only I had two or three minutes to think about it.
      (The show then immediately cuts to a commercial break.)
    • In the 100th episode, the crew celebrate their 100th delivery.
      Hermes: That's almost 10 per year!
    • The very last line of "The Devil's Hands Are Idle Playthings" were "I want to hear how it ends."
  • The Simpsons is a good example of a show that does generally keep the fourth wall intact (supposedly under Matt Groening's orders, though it has been broken a handful of times) but still milks this trope for all it's worth.
    • In the first clip show, "So It's Come To This: A Simpsons Clip Show," Bart abruptly sets up a clip of an Itchy and Scratchy episode, which has nothing to do with what is being talked about. After it plays, Marge asks Bart why he brought that up. Bart replies, "It was an amusing episode....of our lives."
    • In "So It's Come To This: A Simpsons Clip Show," Grandpa Simpson described comas as such: "It's like one of those TV shows where they show a bunch of clips from old episodes."
    • In "Brawl in the Family" when they think the family is cured of its dysfunction, Lisa muses "Could this be an end to our series ... of events?"
    • In "Mr. Plow", when the family watches the Mr. Plow commercial on a bad channel in the graveyard time slot.
      Homer: It may be on a lousy network, but The Simpsons are on the air!
    • In "The Blunder Years", they teased at showing a clip show when Homer briefly reminisces about jumping Springfield Gorge in "Bart the Daredevil", only for Lisa to say "No, Dad, everyone's sick of that memory!" and the episode to resume normally.
    • Let's put things into perspective, first: Jay Sherman, a character from The Critic, crosses over with The Simpsons in "A Star is Burns". The Critic has him host a Show Within a Show. Marge knew of Jay because of this show within another show. The result? This exchange at the end, where the family is bidding farewell to Jay:
      Jay: And if you ever want to visit my show —
      Bart: Nah, we're not going to be doing that.
    • In The Simpsons Movie, Homer complains about paying money to see the Itchy and Scratchy movie when they could have seen the same stuff on TV for free, and declares everyone in the theater to be a huge sucker. Especially... *points at the camera* you!
    • "Who Shot Mister Burns? Part I" ends with the following:
      Dr. Hibbert: Well, I couldn't possibly solve this mystery. Can you? (points at camera)
      (*Beat*, then camera pans to show that Hibbert is pointing at Chief Wiggum)
      Wiggum: Well, I'll give it a shot. I mean, it's my job, right?
    • The "Treehouse of Horror X" segment "I Know What You Diddily-Iddily-Did" has a similar joke. After accidentally running over Ned Flanders, the Simpsons find the phrase "I Know What You Did!" written in blood everywhere they go, including on their front door. Lisa asks who saw them, and the camera slowly pans around the village, showing many characters looking suspicious, before finally ending on Homer pointing straight at the camera. Then the view changes to show he's pointing at Marge (who was in the car when Flanders was run over), who angrily tells him to stop it.
    • In "Treehouse of Horror V", one of the tombstones from the opening sequence is for "Amusing Tombstones". This was the writers' way of showing that they were tired of coming up with ideas for humorous tombstone messages. Similar sequences had been used as introductions in all four previous "Treehouse of Horror" episodes, but have not been used since this episode.
    • In "Barting Over", Lisa discovers a videotape showing Bart appearing in an advertisement when he was a baby. Bart says he doesn't remember doing a commercial... then, he takes out a Butterfinger bar and eats it.
    • In "Krusty Gets Busted", when Marge finds Bart, Lisa, and Maggie watching "Itchy and Scratchy":
      Marge: Oh, my. All this senseless violence. I don't understand its appeal.
      Bart: We don't expect you to, Mom.
      Lisa: If cartoons were meant for adults, they'd put them on in prime time.
    • In "Homer and Apu", as the family sit down to watch TV, Homer remarks "Everything wrapped up nicely. (checks his watch) Hmm, much quicker than usual." A subtle reference to the fact that the episode still had ten minutes of running time left.
    • "The Springfield Files" uses the same joke, with a Framing Device featuring Leonard Nimoy As Himself telling the story to the viewers. Just over halfway into the episode, he makes a closing statement and says "Good night", followed by this exchange.
      Squeaky-Voiced Teen: Uh, Mr. Nimoy, we have ten minutes left.
      Nimoy: (awkwardly): I see. Let me... just... go get something out of my car.
      (He leaves, followed by the sounds of rapid footsteps, a car door slamming, and a car driving off. Squeaky-Voiced Teen comes into view.)
      Squeaky-Voiced Teen: I don't think he's coming back.
    • The final scene of "Blood Feud" has the family discussing the moral of the episode, eventually coming to the conclusion that there was no moral.
    • Homer in "Mr. Lisa Goes to Washington":
      Homer: Cartoons don't have any deep meaning. They're just stupid drawings that give you a cheap laugh. (stands up and his pants slip down, revealing his butt)
    • In the episode "The Front", Roger Meyers Jr., talking about ''The Itchy & Scratchy Show'' to Bart and Lisa, says that often, to save time, animators will reuse the same background over and over again. As he says this, the three very obviously walk past the same background again and again. This technique is often used in The Simpsons in general.
    • In "No Good Read Goes Unpunished", Marge rediscovers her favourite childhood book and notices it's full of Values Dissonance, to which Lisa says "Something that started decades ago and was applauded and inoffensive is now politically incorrect. What can you do?", before panning to a picture of Apu. This scene was addressing criticism about whether Apu was or has become an Ethnic Scrappy.
    • In "Boy Scoutz N The Hood", Homer, Bart and Lisa are watching an episode of The Itchy & Scratchy Show - Bart criticizes the way it depicts camping, to which Lisa replies "Oh, Bart. Cartoons don't have to be 100% realistic." Cue a second Homer walking past the window.
    • While basically the entirety of "The Itchy & Scratchy & Poochie Show" is Self-Parody, the most obvious metatextual gag involves Roy.
      Lisa: Adding a new character is often a desperate attempt to boost low ratings.
      Roy: [walks in] Yo, yo! How's it hangin', everybody?
      Marge: Morning, Roy!
      Homer: Yeah, hi, Roy.
  • Happens in My Life as a Teenage Robot, when Tuck, convinced that he's indestructible, decides to drive turbo-charged tricycle down a nearly vertical ramp, over City Hall, and into a pool of sharks. Jenny insists she won't save him this time.
    Jenny: This is your last chance to back down, Tuck.
    Brad: Yeah, once you jump that shark the show's over.
  • Family Guy does this ALL THE TIME, especially in earlier episodes where they would talk about being able to stay on their current network. One notable example occurs in "Seahorse Seashell Party". Meg has had enough of the crap the rest of her family has put her through over the years, and after giving Reason You Suck Speeches to Chris and Lois, she turns her attention to Peter, mentioning at one point that if anybody in the outside world saw how he treats Meg, he would be in jail by now.
  • Ben 10: Alien Force has an example which combines this with Self-Deprecation and Development Gag. note 
    Kevin: This is the stupidest show ever.
    Ben: This isn't a good one to start with. It's not Sumo Slammers Classic; it's Sumo Slammers: Hero Generation. It's a sequel to the original series, but they kinda messed it up. It's set five years in the future and the bad guy is friends with the good guy.
  • Ben 10: Omniverse contains a reference to how Zs'Skayr's name had only been revealed in supplemental materials until that point.
    Zs'Skayr: How foolish you must feel, this whole time manipulated by your greatest enemy, Zs'Skayr!
    Ben: The Scare? Who's The Scare?
    Rook: (sighs) Do you never read the files? Zs'Skayr is Ghostfreak's real name.
    Ben: He has a name? Huh, I always just called him Ghostfreak.
    Zs'Skayr: But I never answered to it!
  • SpongeBob SquarePants
    • Considering the length of the average episode...
      Squidward: Why must every 11 minutes of my life be filled with misery?
    • In one episode, SpongeBob hums a snatch of the show's ending theme, also occasionally used as background music.
    • In the episode "Nature Pants" after SpongeBob leaves to live in nature, Sandy and Squidward make bets on how long he'll last.
      Sandy: I'll give him a week.
      Squidward: I'll give him eleven minutes.
  • In one episode of Teen Titans the titans are Trapped in TV Land. At one point Robin yells at the in-cartoon TV viewers to not watch a show due to a villain modifying it. After a few moments of screaming, Raven says it isn't working, obviously. In the same episode, Cyborg mentions that they are in the first episode of the fourth season of the program they got trapped in. They were indeed on the first episode of the fourth season on their own series.
  • An episode of Jimmy Two-Shoes has Jimmy saying "I'm glad everything worked out, 'cause usually 'bout this point in the story something goes really wrong." No points for guessing what happens next.
  • Spider-Man: The Animated Series
    • One episode had Peter say, "This is starting to sound like a bad comic book plot!" This was in reference to the show's adaptation of the much-reviled Clone Saga from the comics. The title of the episode was "I Really, Really Hate Clones."
    • One of the episodes from the "Six Forgotten Warriors" arc has Spider-Man give us this wonderful line:
      "Take Over the World, Kingpin? Now you're starting to sound like a Saturday-Morning cartoon villain!"
    • Over in The Spectacular Spider-Man, Doc Ock has tired of the You Fight Like a Cow quips and demands that Spider-Man just shut up already. Spidey smartasses back that his fans "expect a certain amount of quippage every battle."
  • Episode 19 of Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated ends with the producer of a reality show wondering if he could make a show about four kids and their talking dog driving around in a van solving mysteries; the gang immediately reject the concept as being unwatchable.
  • Young Justice:
    • In the eleventh episode Conner gets angry at M'Gann, when she's trying to help him with his daddy issues, and states that they "don't live in a fantasy world where all problems are solved in 30 minutes.", unlike her favorite teen sitcom.
    • Another episode has the first meeting of Aqualad, Superboy and Nightwing since Aqualad left the team. Superboy sarcastically calls the situation a "regular reunion special."
  • In the X-Men: Evolution episode "Spyke Cam", Evan is given a video camera to do a class project. When he tapes Kitty and Rogue having an argument, Rogue catches him, and threatens straight into the camera (and speaking directly to the viewer) that if she sees any video of her on the camera "They're gonna be calling you Spike-less."
  • Hawkeye joins the Avengers in The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes! after helping foil the Leader's plan to turn everyone in the world into gamma-irritated monsters. Part of his foiling involved turning four infected Avengers back to their normal selves. The very next episode sees him having to free four Avengers (three of which had previously succumbed to the gamma-powered transformations) from the clutches of the Masters of Evil. Once all the heroes reunite, Hawkeye remarks, "I'm not so sure I wanna be part of a team I have to rescue every week."
  • On more than one occasion in Adventure Time, the Ice King has appeared to have the knowledge that there are people watching him. In "Beyond This Earthly Realm", He asked Finn if they could try to see beyond the TV to the people beyond. The Ice King then says it's just crazy Wizard talk. In "Reign of Gunters", when starting to talk about an Offscreen Battle, he then looks straight at the audience and teasingly says he can't say more.
  • On Phineas and Ferb, Doofenshmirtz engages in Conversational Troping by comparing the misunderstanding between him and his daughter to a crazy sitcom. Then he says, "This isn't a sitcom, this is real life!" He and Perry then glance uncomfortably in the direction of the audience. Doofenshmirtz would continue to engage in conversational troping like this throughout the series.
    • An out-of-context conversation in "Doofapus" refers to a Running Gag seen elsewhere in the show:
      Phineas: I'm just saying, as a Non Sequitur, a talking zebra just seems a little...
      Isabella: Forced?
      Phineas: Yeah, forced!
    • This continues when he gets Transplanted into Milo Murphy's Law, with everyone slowly transitioning from "fourth wall leaners" to full-on fourth wall breakers. One episode even has a running gag in a supporting character complaining that his only role is as a once-per-episode overused plot device.
    • In later episodes, the characters lampshade that their "104 days of summer vacation" feel like much longer than 104 days, alluding to how there were over 104 episodes by the third season. Buford remarks in "Cranius Maximus" when Baljeet says it's been three months of summer that he's counted their inventions and they're "way over 150," while in "Fly on the Wall" Doofenshmirtz remarks that the summer's been going on for so long that it feels like it's been four years.
  • Used once in Recess when Gretchen wins a NASA contest because of her essay, and thinks she's going to be going on the space shuttle. This comes to T.J.'s attention, who's life long dream is to go on one of those, so he puts her through "training". One part has her having to swing from a rope attached to the top of the swing set while a group of other kids throw dodgeballs at her, and she starts fooling around before they do, prompting T.J. to say this:
    T.J.: Gretchen! You're an astronaut, not a cartoon character!
  • The Powerpuff Girls' "Best Rainy Day Adventure Ever" has the girls spending a rainy afternoon in their bedroom playing Powerpuff Girls role-playing, narration and everything. Blossom fills the roles of a monster, Miss Bellum and Mojo Jojo while the Professor is cajoled into playing Bubbles.
  • In the Invader Zim episode 'Hobo 13', while Zim and GIR are traveling to said planet, Zim starts humming a fast-paced version of his own theme song.
  • In Kim Possible one episode involves Kim and Ron on the set of a TV show, with Ron asking why the male and female leads never actually start dating, and Kim replies that they keep it that way to maintain suspense.
    • Another episode had Dr. Drakken watch TV and remark, "Just because she has your brain in your head doesn't mean you can't love her!", referring to a previous episode where Kim and Ron had a "Freaky Friday" Flip.
  • Ninjago: In "The Mask of Deception", the writers acknowledge the ninjas' Season 8 design changes by having Cole and Jay discuss how time travel could alter their appearances.
    Cole: If someone goes back in time and alters the past, our reality as we know it would change. We could look totally different and not even know it. (Takes off mask to reveal new face and hair design)
    Jay: But we don't. (Also takes off mask to reveal new design)
  • Gravity Falls
    • During The Teaser for "Little Dipper", after Gideon's latest rampage, Stan nonchalantly asks the twins if they want to finish the latest episode of Duck-tective. They oblige, and Mabel mentions that her "favorite part is the theme song". Cue actual theme song.
    • At the end of the "Clay Day" segment of "Little Gift Shop of Horrors", Harry Claymore and the gang from the Mystery Shack watch Shimmery Twinkleheart fight off Claymore's monsters just offscreen:
      Grunkle Stan: You were right, Mabel, stop motion is pure evil!
      Soos: And probably really expensive.
      Claymore: Incredibly expensive...
      Soos: This is an impressive fight though, I'm glad we're facing towards it.
    • After the cold open in "The Last Mablecorn", Dipper and Mabel find an old, cursed board game and decide it could take up the next 21 minutes of their time. They are then are called away for a family meeting and the episode's actual plot of Mabel dealing with a frustrating unicorn.
    • "Dungeons, Dungeons and More Dungeons":
      • Duck-tective resurfaces, this time as a way of commenting on Gravity Falls' sizable older fanbase.
        Stan: I'll have you know that Duck-tective has a big mystery element and a lot of humor that goes over kids' heads! (beat)
      • Later, when the characters finally settle down to watch Duck-tective's much-hyped Wham Episode, they're disappointed by its Twist Ending—substantially the same one Gravity Falls itself had used two episodes ago (with a bonus nod to the percentage of the fanbase who saw it coming.)
        Mabel: He had a twin brother all along? That's the big twist we've been waiting for?
        Grenda: What a rip-off!
        Soos: I predicted that, like, a year ago.
  • There are a few examples in Pound Puppies (2010). One statement from "Taboo" involves Lucky's ability to be, well, lucky in placing puppies.
    Cookie: Seriously, Luck, how do you do it? How do you always find the right dog for the right person right at the last minute when it looks like everything is going to fall apart?
  • In Metalocalypse, "Dethmas" ends with Dr. Rockso and the band's collective mothers crashing Murderface's Christmas special and ruining it. Dick Knubbler steps in front of the camera and tells the cameraman that he should probably just go ahead and roll the credits. The Metalocalypse credits start rolling.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic frequently has characters hum a portion of the theme tune or that of an older iteration. Which is to say nothing of Pinkie's behaviour which usually goes beyond this trope.
  • The Simpsons/Family Guy Crossover is full of these.
    [Peter and Homer are flying an old fighter plane, Peter guns down an enemy plane following them, both cheer]
    Bob: [pops up in third seat] Yeah, we did it!
    Homer: [points at Bob] What's he doing here?
    Peter: Oh, we gotta carry him 'cause he can't fly on his own. We let that other guy try, and look what happened.
    [Cuts to Cleveland flying a similar plane with front propeller on fire, plane goes into spinning nosedive]
    Cleveland: Oh no, no, no, no, NO, NOOO! [his plane crashes and burns]
  • Samurai Jack:
    • In one episode, Jack prepared to battle Aku, but the latter merely brushed off the idea of it being the final climatic battle. The clincher being when Jack assumes Aku is trying to play some kind of mind-game and attacks him anyway. The exact same scenario Aku described takes place, including the taunt of "I'll be back, Samurai!", and after a beat, Aku re-appears with a knowing, "You see?"
    Aku: Oh, put that thing away. We all know what's going to happen. You'll swing your sword at me, I'll fly away, and probably say something like, "I'll be back, samurai!" And then I'll flutter away over the horizon, and we won't see each other for about a week. And then, we'll do the same thing all over again.
    • In Season 5, Aku tells his scientists he doesn't hold priorities trying to destroy Jack because "that was the old Aku" and he's a new Aku. Which lampshades that Aku has a different voice actor.
    • The Grand Finale does this to great effect, as the episode begins with almost every major character Jack has met on his travels going to their televisions to see an announcement from Aku, which starts with the opening narration sequence from the original 2001-2004 run.
  • In the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2012) episode "Into Dimension X!", Mikey thought of this when he wonders if someone is watching him and his brothers watch TV from another world.
    Mikey: What if someone somewhere is watching us on TV right now? They'd be watching us watch TV on TV, bro.
  • One episode of Ned's Newt has Newton look at a VCR box for the show and claiming that it would be impossible for Ned to carry out the Zany Scheme Newton was planning on at the time seeing as the episode was only fifteen minutes long.
  • From the Animated Adaptation of Back to the Future:
    Marty McFly: Is there a Tannen in every century?
  • Wander over Yonder
    • In the Christmas Episode "The Gift", Wander and Sylvia deliver presents to "everyone we've met over this past season... of our lives!"
    • The second season finale pulls same joke, with one of the uses being Commander Peepers' reacting to Lord Hater's He's Back moment with "where has this guy been all season... of our lives!"
    • In "The Cartoon", when Lord Hater sees his cartoon self becoming friends with Wander, he hastily tries to come up with a new ending. Then he gives up with a groan of "Animation is so hard! People who do this for a living deserve more credit and respect!" Cue awkward pause as he glares at the audience.
    • At one point in “The Matchmaker”, the average length of an episode is dropped.
      Wander: Excuse me, Mr. So-and-So, normally I would spend at least 11 minutes on this sort of thing, but since love is compelling me toward another quest, I'd just like to ask, is this really what you want to do with your life?
    • In the in-between shorts focused on Hater, Hater mentions he’d been angered by Wander and had been trying to destroy him for “like, a year and a half”, which was the runtime of the first season.
  • Transformers: Rescue Bots takes place in the same universe as Transformers: Prime, and thus Bumblebee is the Intelligible Unintelligible in both series. Until the season 4 episode "Uninvited Guest", in which Bumblebee now speaks with his Transformers: Robots in Disguise voice after having his voice box fixed. Blades struggles to accept the change, just like some of the viewers might.
  • Steven Universe:
    • In "Know Your Fusion", Pearl tells Garnet to ask what Steven and Amethyst are up to, and Garnet says "I can't." This is actually an In-Joke alluding to one of the rules the writers have for themselves: Garnet never asks questions.
    • One short has Steven doing a live reaction to a new episode of "Crying Breakfast Friends". At the end, Steven remarks that he'll see his viewers for the next episode, "Whenever that is, am I right?" before winking repeatedly: a reference to Steven Universe's own sporadic schedule.
    • Steven Universe: The Movie: Peridot is horrified at the idea that Spinel's rejuvenator could've undone her "Character Development".
    • Steven Universe: Future: The episode "Growing Pains" sees Steven discovering that he's been carrying a lot of baggage from everything that happened in his life, with him listing to Dr. Maheswaran many events that may be linked to this. In response to her shock, Steven says that those were "just the early stuff". All of the events he got to list were from Season 1 of the parent show.
  • At the climax of the Cold Slither episode of G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero, the fans at the concert seem upset and rowdy because the band isn't there. (Because the Joes foiled their Evil Plan and drove them away, but the fans don't know that) so the Joes put on their own show, singing the theme song.
  • Sonic Boom is very fond of this. Sometimes it'll even go from leaning on the fourth wall to putting its fist straight through it.
    Amy: You know, Sticks, dirt-slinging isn't really my cup of tea. Luckily, I know something that is my cup of tea...
    [cut to Amy and Sticks sitting inside, drinking tea]
    Amy: A cup of tea!
    Sticks: Why did you just say that?
    Amy: Well, you remember earlier I said, "I know something that is my cup of tea?" I was just finishing that thought.
    Sticks: But you said that, like, an hour ago.
    Amy: I know, but imagine if you were an outside observer who's only seeing pieces of a conversation.
    Sticks: YOU SEE THEM TOO?! (glares straight at the camera in shock, complete with dramatic sting)
    • This exchange is particularily good:
      Tails: Roger!
      Knuckles: Who's Roger?
      Sonic:note  He's talking about me.
  • The trailer and first episode of DuckTales (2017) is full of this, with comments about how Scrooge McDuck "used to be a big deal" spurring Scrooge into leaving retirement and going back into adventuring.
    Scrooge: I'm back!
    • In the episode "Quack Pack", Scrooge and the family are transported to an alternate reality in which they live out their lives exactly like the family of a typical 1990's sitcom show, complete with catchphrases, seemingly episodic storytelling, scene transition bumpers, and even a live studio audience. Huey is the first one to realize that something is wrong, when he actually starts to hear the studio audience. Later, he realizes that they're living a TV show when he sees an in-universe ad on the bottom of the screen, and realizes that his guidebook is just a prop, and that the walls have no piping. When he tries to convince the others of their predicament, the argument he presents is that the room only has three walls. They all laugh it off, saying that of course there is a fourth wall, and Huey tells them to look at it, which they do, and see the studio audience watching them.
  • In the series finale of King of the Hill, "To Sirloin With Love", Bobby Hill finds he has a gift for critiquing steak. This gets the attention of coach of the Heimlich County Junior College meat examination team who asks Bobby to join their team. When Bobby asks Hank if he can, Hank replies "I have been waiting 13 years for you to ask that." This is how long the show ran.
  • At the end of Episode 5 of Generator Rex, Agent Six asks "We have to do this every Friday?" This just so happened to be the day the show aired premieres.
  • Ensign Brad Boimler of Star Trek: Lower Decks briefly hums the theme to Star Trek: The Next Generation in "Temporal Edict".
    • In "Cupid's Errant Arrow", Beckett Mariner notes how almost every week, something happens to the Enterprise.
  • In The Legend of Korra's Clip Show, Varrick spins a ridiculous tale (basically an official Gag Dub) about all the show's main villains forming a Legion of Doom. They specifically try to exclude Unalaq, however, whom Varrick calls "boring and unpopular." Varrick hated Unalaq in-universe, but he's also the least popular antagonist among fans, being an Obviously Evil Generic Doomsday Villain among cool Well Intentioned Extremists.
  • In the Bob's Burgers episode "Carpe Museum", Louise sneaks off on a field trip with her assigned buddy Rudy, and they go into a forbidden area of the museum (with the two quickly followed by Louise's father Bob). When Rudy keeps making noise, Louise tells him how to properly sneak around, opening her speech with "I know you're new here". In-universe, it's a reference to how Rudy has never broken the rules like Louise is experienced in doing. Out-of-universe, it's a reference to how this is Rudy's first appearance in the series, though he would soon become a fairly recurring character.
  • Masters of the Universe: Revelation: Teela tells Andra about a nonsensical, heroic one-liner that He-Man made ("You're all wet!"). Andra lampshades that it's dumb, which Teela says made sense in hindsight since He-Man turned out to be a teenager and had the type of wits at that age, which also retroactively explains some of his behavior in the original series.
  • Jellystone!: Throughout the series, various characters seem to be aware of their pasts as cartoons. For example, in "Jelly Wrestle Rumble," there's this conversation between Snagglepuss and Mildew Wolf:
    Mildew: Very excited to be working with you, Snag. And to be working at all, in fact. It's been a tough couple decades.
    Snagglepuss: Spare me.


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