When a character looks at the audience and comments on what is going on in the work they are in, but does not explicitly acknowledge there is an audience.
One of the mildest forms of Breaking the Fourth Wall; often seen in works where the Wall is otherwise quite solid and it would seem odd for the characters really to acknowledge it. It's even possible for an Aside Comment to leave the Fourth Wall entirely intact if characters are interpreted as talking to themselves (see Thinking Out Loud) or to an imaginary audience. This type is sometimes done in a quiet voice (called sotto voce) to indicate that other characters cannot overhear what is said. Usually, the interpretation is left open unless there are other kinds of Breaking the Fourth Wall going on; it would be odd, to say the least, to comment on the matter if the Fourth Wall is solid, after all.
Sometimes used as a form of exposition where the character thinks out loud about what they're doing so that the audience will know, too; this can be done without even looking at the Fourth Wall, however. At other times, just used to deliver a punchline and/or snarky comment.
In a non-visual medium, where the characters obviously can't look at the audience, seeming to address the audience without making it explicit may suffice for this. However, the speaker visibly not looking at the audience disqualifies a piece of dialogue from being an instance of the trope.
Closely related to the Aside Glance, just taking it a step further. Compare and contrast with Fourth Wall Psych, where the idea of Breaking the Fourth Wall by addressing the audience is presented and then disproved. See also Leaning on the Fourth Wall.
- Dragon Ball Z usually keeps its fourth wall unbroken, but late in the series Gohan abruptly looks at the camera and explains why Krillin suddenly has hair.
- Anime episode 298. While Ichigo is being shanghaied into making a movie, he turns to the camera and says "I need an agent."
- Anime episode 346. Riruka Dokugamine says that wearing contact lenses makes her eyes dry out as soon as she puts them in, then turns to face the camera in a close up and says "It's because my eyes are so ginormous." (a reference to the large eyes of anime characters).
- Deadpool is very guilty of this, and in his case there's little doubt as to whether he would really talk to the audience.
- The cover of The Spectacular Spider-Man #246 has 4 bizarre looking villains called the Legion of Losers. It also has Spider-Man turning to look at the reader and saying "You've gotta be kidding!". See it here◊.
- Academy Award-winner Tom Jones does this repeatedly. One time, when Tom is being chased by a jealous husband, he looks into the camera and shouts "Help!". Towards the end of the film, instead of just showing a crucial plot point unfold, one of the supporting characters turns to the camera and narrates the scene.
- Groucho Marx, on occasion.
Groucho: (as Chico begins a piano solo) ''I've got to stay here— but there's no reason why you folks shouldn't go out into the lobby until this thing blows over."
- In another instance he deliberately tells a bad joke and then says to the audience, "Well, all the jokes can't be good! You gotta expect that sometimes. Similarly, after one particularly bad stock joke he says, "That's the first time I've used that joke in 20 years."
- It becomes a Running Gag in At the Circus since Groucho does it numerous times. One of the best is a scene where he is trying to get something Pauline has stuffed down her shirt, and when he realized she's done so he looks at the camera in fear and says, "There has to be someway to get that money while staying out of the Hays Office!"
- The Big Store: "This is a bright red dress, but Technicolor is SOOO expensive!"
- In Go West, after binding and gagging one of the villain's henchmen, Groucho turns toward the audience and remarks, "Did you know this is the best gag in the picture?"
- Undercover Brother.
- While Undercover Brother is talking to Sista Girl in his apartment:
Undercover Brother: Nothing relaxes a brother after a hard day of going undercover like a little piece of the cookie.Sistah Girl: My cookie would break you in half.Undercover Brother: Maybe, but that would be some long division. [looks at the camera] Long.
- While Undercover Brother is at a golf course
Sistah Girl: This is strictly an observational mission. We are not authorized to take action.Undercover Brother: Well, observe this. [looks at the camera] Action is what Undercover Brother's all about.
- After White She Devil's first HeelFace Turn:
White She Devil: Oh, Undercover Brother, you're too much man for me.Undercover Brother: Baby... [looks at the camera] sometimes I'm too much man for my own damn self.
- While Undercover Brother is talking to Sista Girl in his apartment:
- Blazing Saddles. Several examples of Breaking the Fourth Wall don't explicitly acknowledge the audience.
- After Sheriff Bart takes himself hostage, he retreats to his new office and says, "Oh, baby you are so talented...(looks into the camera) and they are so dumb."
- When Bart hears the Waco Kid moaning in his bunk, he turns to the camera and says "The drunk in number two must be awake."
- After boring the Waco Kid to sleep, Sheriff Bart looks at the camera and says, "I like to keep my audience riveted."
- As two thugs assault a little old lady, she turns to the audience and asks, "Have you ever seen such cruelty?"
- Harvey Korman as the villain, is pondering his next move out loud and looks to the camera and says "Why am I asking you?"
- Mel Brooks seems fond of this trope. In "The Producers" accountant Gene Wilder starts having a mental breakdown. Zero Mostel looks to the camera and says "This man should be in a straightjacket."
- The theatrical variety is portrayed in The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford: Robert Ford is the main character and narrator of his story. In the middle of a scene, he'll occasionally look at the audience and stage-whisper exposition. The artificiality of the trope highlights the inaccuracy of the plot.
- Repeatedly done in Ferris Bueller's Day Off, until the end, when he tells the audience to go home, the show's over.
- Last Action Hero has a "dramatic" scene where The Starscream is declaring himself the new villain of the picture and ends with him staring at the camera and saying "If God were a villain, he'd be me."
- Top Secret!. While the protagonists are in the "Der Pizza Haus", Nigel accuses Nick Rivers of being Mel Tormé, and therefore a traitor. To prove he isn't, Nick sings and dances to the tune "Straighten Out the Rug". After he finishes, one of the Resistance members turns to the camera and says "This is not Mel Tormé!"
- Airplane!. Early in the movie after Elaine has rejected Ted, Ted turns to the camera and says "What a pisser."
- On Her Majesty's Secret Service. In the opening scene, after James Bond (George Lazenby) rescues a woman from drowning and fights a group of mooks, the woman drives away. He faces the camera and says "This never happened to the other fella", a reference to the previous James Bond actor, Sean Connery.
- In Let It Ride, Trotter does this once; when Vicki propositions him near the end of the movie, he looks at the camera and asks, "Am I having a good day or what?", before turning back to Vicki and gently turning her down.
- The Empire Strikes Back: When Han and Leia apparently leave C-3PO behind, he turns to the camera and remarks, "How typical."
- Young Frankenstein. When his attempt to re-animate the dead body apparently fails, Dr. Frankenstein makes a speech about how "science...teaches us to accept our failures as well as our successes with quiet dignity and grace." A few moments later he goes into a rage and tries to strangle the dead body. As Inga and Igor restrain him, Igor turns to the camera and sarcastically says "Quiet dignity and grace."
- Parks and Recreation was created by veterans of the American version of The Office, and includes the same "talking head" segments that both the British and American versions of that show used. However, unlike both versions of The Office, there's never any reference to a documentary being filmed (beyond one joke in the first episode where Ron asks how they're funded) and the crew filming the talking heads never impacts the action. In practice the talking heads function very much like Aside Comments.
- The TV version of Lovejoy would have Lovejoy do this in a vaguely Shakespearean way, delivering either his internal snark, or a bit of trivia about the antique, as a way of showing how his thought processes worked.
- Zack in Saved by the Bell would sometimes do this.
- The protagonist does this in both the British and American versions of House of Cards.
- Malcolm in Malcolm in the Middle does this several times an episode, in order to comment on the goings-on around him or explain the background of certain events to the audience.
- Doctor Who:
- The opening of "The Face of Evil" starts with the solo-travelling Fourth Doctor - previously established as being a profuse self-talker - looking straight at the camera while chatting about his situation, in a sequence highlighted enough to edge into Fourth-Wall Observer. It's quite amusing but it does make it clear why they wouldn't let Tom Baker go around without a companion for very long.
- There's also the Fourth Doctor's notorious fourth-wall-breaking "even the Sonic Screwdriver won't get me out of this one" line in "The Invasion of Time".
- Corrupt Corporate Executive Morgus does this several times in "The Caves of Androzani". The first incident happened due to the actor misunderstanding the stage directions, but it was kept and done several more times because it gave the character an air of Shakespearean villainy and fit in with the story's similarity to Jacobean revenge tragedy.
- The Sixth Doctor also does at the very end of "The Caves of Androzani", as delivers the line "Change my dear, and it seems not a moment too soon."
- After finally getting to pull the Bigger on the Inside gag, and not so much Chewing the Scenery as absolutely devouring it, life-long fanboy and Twelfth Doctor actor looks at the camera and remarks, "Sorry. I've always wanted to see that done properly."
- Monty Python's Flying Circus: When Dr Larch says that his identity crisis as a psychiatrist drives him mad, Mr Notlob appears on a separate backdrop and says to us "A mad psychiatrist. That'll be new!"
- Detective Fish on Barney Miller does a lot of these, stopping just short of facing the camera with his sarcastic asides.
- Star Trek: The Original Series: In a singular example in this otherwise-serious series, Doctor McCoy looks directly into the camera at the end of "Journey to Babel" and happily declares, "I finally got the last word.".
- An important part of the Shakespearean RPG Forsooth!, where each character gets one Aside and one Soliloquy.
- This trope was very popular in Elizabethan theater, most notably in the works of William Shakespeare, who used it over and over again. Often it's even written in the stage directions.
- Eugene O'Neill's Strange Interlude is famous for its frequent use of often lengthy asides. It inspired numerous parodies, of which Groucho Marx's in Animal Crackers is merely the most famous.
- Parodied in Molière's play The Miser; the eponymous character's servant makes several aside comments to the audience, complaining about the guy's greed, but the miser hears this and asks him who he is talking to.
- Happens in The Phantom of the Opera during "Poor Fool He Makes Me Laugh". The husband explains to the wife that he is going on a trip and leaving her with the maid, and as an aside "Though I would happily take the maid with me".
- In City of Angels, the first two verses of "Double Talk" are sung respectively by Stone and Alaura to show the thoughts that run through each head while the other goes on talking. Later verses are contributed in a similar manner by Buddy (about Stine and, in a second-act reprise, Del) and Buddy's guests (about Buddy).
- Herman Toothrot does this all the time in The Secret of Monkey Island. Guybrush eventually asks him who he's talking to, and Herman replies "The people watching at home, of course!"
- Done by Sonic in Sonic Colors when he learns his new alien pals are called "wisps".
Sonic: "I'll just stick with "aliens" if that's okay with everybody."
- Joked about with during The Exiled Prince DLC of Dragon Age II
Varric: "Hawke said sarcastically."Hawke: You know, I hate it when you do that.Varric: "Hawke muttered in an angry aside to the dwarf..."
- One of the many popular gags in Looney Tunes. One of the better examples is in "Drip Along Daffy" where Daffy Duck pulls this when confronting Nasty Canasta:
Daffy: "Hankerin' for trouble, eh? Well, I would like...(aside) I would like? I would like a trip to Europe...(back) I would like to introduce myself!"
- Invoked twice in The Dover Boys
Dan Backslide: "Dear, rich Dora Standpipe, HOW I LOVE HER!...father's money."
- First, when Dan Backslide is ranting about the Dover Boys.
- Later, when the Dover Boys arrive to rescue Dora.
- Animaniacs made liberal use of aside comments, being a Spiritual Successor to the Looney Tunes. In fact, one of the show's Running Gags was Yakko Warner lampshading a crude or risque joke by quipping to the audience "Goodnight, everybody!", implying that the joke might get them cancelled.
- My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic:
- In the episode "Bridle Gossip", Spike seems to be looking at the audience directly when commenting he can't come up with a pun from Twilight Sparkle's name.
- In "Sonic Rainboom", both Rainbow Dash and Rarity say out loud to no-one in particular what they're going to do next at some point, but only on one occasion each do they look at the audience while doing so, demonstrating the vague relationship such comments can have to Breaking the Fourth Wall.
- In "A Bird in the Hoof", Fluttershy gives an uncharacteristically cunning look to the audience and says "Always works!" during a Road Runner Shout-Out scene where she tries to feed a bird a pill by hiding it under some seeds.
- In "Keep Calm and Flutter On", after Discord brainwashes a colony of beavers behind everypony's backs, he turns to the camera and whispers, "Oopsie!" Immediately afterwards, when he announces he's moving in with Fluttershy, she looks towards the audience and mutters, "Oh dear."
- In "The Lost Treasure Of Griffonstone", Pinkie manages to convince a grudging Gilda to go help Rainbow Dash who's stuck down a deep canyon — Gilda claims this doesn't make them friends again. Pinkie duly notes it to Gilda, then waits for her to walk by before turning to the audience and gleefully saying, "Except it doooooes!"
- Raphael did this a lot in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1987). This was lampshaded in the crossover special Turtles Forever when Hun called him out on it: "Why do you keep doing that? Who are you talking to?! There's no one there!"
- Heathcliff did this often in Heathcliff and the Catillac Cats.
- Done occasionally on all three animated Super Mario Bros. series.
- Dr. Robotnik sometimes did this in Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog.
- Frosty the Snowman when Frosty, Karen and Hocus are on the train. Karen sneezes and Frosty asks is she's cold, prompting him to turn to the audience and remark, "Now, that's a silly question!"
- Super Friends
Wendy: Marvin, we've got to reach the Super Friends!Marvin: Sure. Any idea how?Wendy: Uh uh. [Looks at the camera and the audience] Do you?
- 1973/74 episode "Dr. Pelagian's War". Dr. Pelagian has captured Wendy and Marvin and is planning his next move.
- 1973/74 episode "The Mysterious Moles". Superman is examining the cooling unit on the roof of the power plant. While talking to himself, Superman faces the camera and says "It's my hunch the thieves will try to lift this with a powerful crane copter."
- Danger Mouse does this in "Penfold B.F." As he's in flight in his Mark III car and talking to Colonel K via his videophone:
DM: Just a second, Colonel, while I put the car into a bank...(veering slightly to the right)Colonel K: Don't try it, DM!DM: Why not?Colonel K: You'll never get it through the doors!DM: (to us, quietly) Good grief , I don't know why I bother.
Dr. Kiroff: He's destroyed my metal men [turns to face the camera] but there's more than one way to catch a bird!
- "The Quake Threat". After Birdman destroys several of Dr. Kiroff's robots:
Doctor Shado: It's Birdman, all right. He's finally arrived. [Turns and looks at the audience] At long last!
- "The Brian Thief". When Doctor Shado sees Birdman approaching his laboratory:
'Reducto: With this Reduction Machine I will soon have this country, [turns to face the camera] perhaps the entire world at my mercy!
- "Meets Reducto". The title villain does this after completing his Reduction Machine Shrink Ray device.
- In The New Scooby-Doo Movies episode "The Ghostly Creep From The Deep" with the Harlem Globetrotters, Meadowlark tricks Curly into volunteering being the first watch while everybody else gets some sleep. As Curly marches, he turns to us and says "Sometimes I wish Meadowlark would learn to keep my big mouth shut!"
- Young Samson & Goliath episode "The Colossal Coral Creature''. After the title monster shoves Samson down a chimney and puts his hands over the top, Samson looks at the audience and says "He's got the chimney blocked!"
- Fantastic Voyage
Erica Lane: [Sees an image of Busby Birdwell, which disappears] It's just another memory. [turns to face the audience] But a recent one! [turns away again] That means I must be nearing the wound!
- "The Mind of the Master". Erica Lane is inside Guru's brain to repair some damage.
Erica Lane: [Turns and looks at the camera]] Lisette may be all washed up, but we're high and dry!
- "Revenge of the Spy". Erica Lane has just arranged for The Mole to be removed by a flood of water, but danger still lurks.
- Space Ghost
Space Ghost: He forgot his own creation, the Cyclo Terror, was in there. Things have a strange way of evening up, [looks at the camera] especially for poor misguided creatures like Cyclo.
- "The Cyclopeds". At the end of the episode Cyclo runs into his own Maze of Terror.
Zorgat: They have seen the empty cruiser. Step two of my plan is working.
- "Space Sargasso". After Blip retrieves Space Ghost's power bands and returns them to him, Jace says (while facing the camera) "Space Ghost has his power bands again!"
- The title character Zorgat does this in "Ruler of the Rock Robots".
- In the Jonny Quest TOS episode "Monster in the Monastery'', Jonny turns and looks right into the camera, then tells the viewers "I hope Hadji and Bandit made it."
- The Flintstones: The animals used as part of the Bamboo Technology are likely to do this, most famously "It's a living."
- In the 3-2-1 Penguins! episode Give and Let Give, Zidgel looks straight at the camera and asks if he mentioned that he was on a peaceful mission.
- In Oh, Mercy!, the Gator King asks the audience if he knows his Bible.