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"What do yooooooou think, fourth wall?"

A form of Breaking the Fourth Wall, an Aside Glance occurs when an actor gives a brief, silent glance to the camera as a way of acknowledging that their current situation, or the person they're speaking to, is awesome, stupid, weird, or otherwise unusual. Alternatively, it is also utilized as a form of Medium Awareness that the characters know they're in a show.

It's generally used as a way to acknowledge the audience's assumed reaction and show that the glancing character is just as smart as them and just as aware of the absurdity of the situation. Importantly, the glancer should never speak to the audience, nor should the other characters (if it is fiction) acknowledge that the person just glanced away.

The glance can be either a normal look or an Eye Take.

The trope has its roots in the "aside", a trope in European dramatic tradition that had characters making one-line comments to one another which are unheard by the other characters. Originally this was used to undercut dramatic tension but was turned around over time to allow for serious usage, in plays such as Hamlet. Characters also began to make remarks to the audience or to themselves rather than to other characters, akin to thought balloons in comics. This was modified into the silent glance, which was used in stage comedy routines and subsequently found its way into the films of Laurel and Hardy and other movie comedians, thus making it Older Than Television at least. The speaking version still exists, too, in various contexts, including comics; see Aside Comment. Compare Batty Lip Burbling, Fourth Wall Psych, and Meaningful Look.

Used a lot in This Is Reality situations. Compare Spiking the Camera when this is done accidentally. Sub-trope of The Take.


Example subpages:

Other examples:

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    Anime & Manga 
  • In Kekkaishi, Tokine is discussing with Tokiko about bridges to dimensions, Tokiko then makes an out of the blue comment that Tokine should not be so hyperactive, when she was acting normally the entire time, Tokine then proceeds to make an Aside Glance to the audience complete with the transitional Face Fault.
  • In Kill la Kill, Ryuko throws an aside glance at the screen after Mako and her brother Matarou make a scene in the first episode.
  • CLANNAD
    • Kyou and Tomoyo both do this after teasing Sunohara into another outburst.
    • Kyou gives Tomoyo one when Tomoyo gives Nagisa her Graceful Loser line, "So you're why he's doing this... I'm so glad it's for someone like you."
    • After telling Sunohara that since Kappei kept talking to him about Ryou, it means he trusts him, right? And therefore he must be interested in him, right? So it's Operation: Jealousy, riiiight? He doesn't actually give an aside glance since he doesn't have a sprite. But he does say briefly '...what?' to the reader before continuing on.
  • In the first episode of Ouran High School Host Club, after Tamaki gets red-faced when he finally realizes Haruhi is a girl, Kyoya (who knew from the beginning) looks at the viewer and says "Now I could be wrong, but I think we may be witnessing the beginnings of love here."
  • The title character of Lupin III does this at least constantly.
  • Kaname throws us one in the second episode of Full Metal Panic!'s anime adaptation after Sōsuke buys into a very obvious con to force him into garbage duty.
  • In the second episode of Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann, Kamina makes an exceptionally boisterous boast, causing Yoko to look at the camera momentarily and wonder aloud where he gets his confidence. This is immediately lampshaded by panning out to show that she was talking to thin air.
  • Lucky Star
    • When Tsukasa found out Konata's dad can tie the sash of a yukata.
    • Konata herself does this frequently, sometimes to take a jab at Kagami.
  • K-On!: "I thought I'd try to do my best in life."
  • One Piece
    • In a relatively early episode, Chopper starts to yell at Nami when she wakes up from her sickness at Dr. Kureha's place, and then he acts awkwardly all of a sudden, prompting Nami to look directly into the camera and ask aloud if he can't hide his feelings.
    • Sanji does this twice at the beginning of the sixth movie when one of the island's champions, Muchigoro, is introduced. The first time, he tells the audience that Muchigoro's definitely an idiot. The second time he does this is after Muchigoro is tricked by Usopp saying, "See? He's an idiot."
    • Usopp does this multiple times after meeting the Barbar sand pirates during the Alabasta arc in a filler episode.
  • In the anime adaptation of Haruhi Suzumiya Kyon does one following one of Haruhi's many, many enthusiastic rants.
  • In an episode of ufotable's adaptation of Fate/stay night [Unlimited Blade Works], Lancer gives a particularly smarmy version of this when Rin tries to claim that there is nothing going on between her and Shirou.
  • In the seventeenth chapter of Asteroid in Love, Mira makes one to the reader as she starts to doubt whether Mai and Sayuri really get along as Mai said.
  • In the anime adaptation of My Hero Academia, it's something of a Running Gag for Aoyama to glance directly at the audience when part of a crowd shot or panning shot (usually in the background). The guy's a massive Attention Whore, so it makes sense he'd mug for the camera whenever possible. Given his insecurities and tragic past however, this is justified.

    Art 
  • The only character in Raphael's The School of Athens who seems to see the viewer is an Italian pretty boy who looks suspiciously like Raphael himself.
  • The man in the bottom right of Freedom from Want (of Four Freedoms) is looking cheekily at the viewer.

    Comic Books 
  • Superman:
    • Through much of the Golden Age and Silver Age, he would end a story by giving the reader a wink, usually when one of his supporting cast made a clueless remark about his Secret Identity.
    • Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow? would be the last time the Pre-Crisis Superman does it.
    • In DC One Million, we discover the ultimate fate of Superman: In the distant future, he spends 100,000 years hibernating in the sun, and emerges in the 853rd century as an unstoppable super-god. After bringing Lois and the entire planet Krypton back to life with a wave of his hand, his final act is to give the reader one last knowing wink.
    • Several Silver Age Supergirl stories ended with the Girl of Steel glancing to the reader and winking.
    • The ending of The Kingdom, where the (supposedly) Golden Age Superman realizes that the sky barrier that's holding him prisoner over a version of Metropolis (possibly hinting at the paradise dimension that he, Lois Lane, and Superboy-Prime ended up in at the end of Crisis on Infinite Earths) is now gone and that he can escape into the mainstream DC Universe again...someday.
    • Parodied in Superman's Pal: Jimmy Olsen (2019), when Perry White demands to know why Clark keeps winking at nobody.
  • Iron Man and Spider-Man gave a prominent Aside Glance prior to the Civil War. In the previous issues, Mary-Jane had suffered a broken arm, then shown up shortly after without a cast or anything. When fans pointed out the mistake, the writers added a discussion between Parker and Stark, revealing that Stark had fixed her up with some kind of injected bone glue. The panel immediately after the explanation shows both characters looking straight at the reader.
  • In an issue of Marvel Knights: Spider-Man, Peter and Liz Allan get talking during a high-school reunion. Liz reflects on how weird their lives have been, from the Living Brain attacking the school to Harry Osborn (and his dad) both being the Green Goblin and concludes that sometimes, it feels like Peter's the only normal person she knows. Peter's reaction is priceless.
  • Deadpool's insanity often has him doing this. After all, he is one of the few Marvel characters who realizes he's fictional, and uses it to his advantage regardless of medium (for example, beating up enemies with his own Hyper Combo gauge or asking the narrator if they can help).
  • The Joker tends to do this, due to him being one of the only DCU characters who is self-aware of his status as a comic book character. Meta-awareness is frequently part of the Joker's toolbox. Near the end of the "Emperor Joker" comic storyline, he actually yells at the comic's artist.
  • Done in the Disney Comics Beagle Boys story "Short Order Crook". After being instructed to by "Cousin Half-Pint" (a short Beagle Boy), the Beagle Boys have torn off their numbers so they can't be identified but then become confused about which of them is which, not even remembering their own numbers and as two of them are discussing it, Cousin Half-Pint looks out of the comic at the reader and scowls while jerking a thumb at the other two, as if to ask "can you believe how stupid they are?"
  • Often frustrated by her apocalypse-survivor-buddy Ace and his foolish beliefs and behavior, Gwen occasionally glances at the reader with a kind of "do you believe this?" stare in Lesbian Zombies from Outer Space.
  • Cerebus the Aardvark has Cerebus doing two prominent ones:
    • The first is in High Society after learning that his would-be kidnappers used their real names (and real signatures) to sign the ransom note.
    • The second is in Reads in the Beat Panel between Astoria telling him he's a hermaphrodite and his reaction.
  • The Dutch comic De Familie Fortuin has this exchange:
    Van Dale: I'd like to buy a cordless phone.
    Fortuin: Sure, that'll be $25.
    Van Dale: This phone doesn't work.
    Fortuin: Of course not, it needs a cord and a plug.
    Van Dale: Excuse me for a moment, I have to give an exasperated look into the camera.
    Fortuin: You go ahead and do that.
    Van Dale: *aside glance*
  • Parodied in The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen when Mr. Apollo winks at the reader but is immediately asked who he's winking at. To which he apologizes saying he has a facial tic that affects a lot of superheroes.
  • Little Mouse Gets Ready: At the end, Little Mouse's mother looks to the reader and says "What a silly little mouse!".
  • In the comic adaptation of Princess Natasha, Natasha winks to us at the end of issue #2's "Good Cheer" when her dad asks how she thwarted Lubek's plan to use cheerleader routines to send messages to his agents via TV. (She introduced a routine saying "Don't watch us!")
  • In Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Saturday Morning Adventures issue #4, Donatello, Raphael and April discuss ways to eliminate the Mousers inside Splinter's body (the former wants to shrink himself and his brothers, the latter two suggest using a laser beam), with Donatello having been inspired by a Termite Man issue he read. April insists that no good ideas are inspired by a superhero from the '60s. Then the three awkwardly stare at the reader.note 

    Comic Strips 
  • Huey Freeman of The Boondocks does this regularly, making just his reactions to the stupidity of those around him just as funny as any of his rants.
  • Garfield does this in many of its strips, usually Jon while Garfield is thinking a snarky comment, despite his seeming inability to hear Garfield.
  • In Bloom County, after Opus's mother has been kidnapped by the Mary Kay Commandos, he vows to track her down. Milo Bloom tells him that it's "all beginning to sound like... like a bad comic strip!" This is predictably followed by a Beat Panel with both of them facing straight forward.
  • Happens often in Blondie in reaction to the punchlines - often from Dagwood or Daisy (who also presents a variation in which she suddenly wakes from her sleep when the gag comes).

    Eastern Animation 
  • The eponymous Heroic Mime of Pucca does this after being told by Ching that she has a beautiful voice.

    Fan Works 
  • Used frequently by the title character in The Joker Blogs, but justified in the fact that there actually is a cameraman for the Joker to Aside Glance at, and that the Joker already has Medium Awareness and regularly breaks the fourth wall in the comics. One of the funnier uses:
    Joker: (to a bum on the street) Do you wanna die?
    Ted the Bum: Uh... Well... Uh... kind of...
    Joker: (incredulous look at camera)
  • Discord manages to pull this off in Diaries of a Madman. Though text.
  • In Evangelion 303 Shinji does this at least twice:
    • In chapter 3: after Asuka says she'll be keeping an eye on him, Shinji throws an aside glance and wonders: "Why can't a normal, well-adjusted girl ever say that to me...?"
    • In chapter 17: during his friend's bachelor party, Shinji does this while he thinks that it's as if Las Vegas exists to piss off certain specific groups of people.
  • After Anne returns to Earth in Meanwhile, Back on Earth, it is shown that the Transmission still follows her even after she goes back home. As a result, every person that goes near her would be paranoid and looks for the 'camera' because they knew the Transmission are probably recording them. The Transmission has a sense of humor and draws attention to this, intentionally having its view on their eyes as a form of meta joke. Anne indulges in this sometimes, glancing in random directions and even making small quips directed to her viewers.
  • In YuyaVision, a commercial for Dimensional Pendulums has Performapal Laugh Maker give a wink to the audience.

    Films — Animation 
  • The most famous Aside Glance in the history of CGI came at the end of Luxo Jr. when Luxo Sr. turns his "face" to the camera and shakes his head. Luxo Jr. has done this in the opening credits of every film Pixar has made since.
  • Disney's Peter Pan. Captain Hook is taking Tiger Lily to be drowned. As the Crocodile follows them, he turns and looks directly at the viewers.
  • Mickey, Donald, Goofy: The Three Musketeers has Pete doing this thanks to the Running Gag of the same music playing every time the opera poster is shown.
  • It's a bit hard to tell in Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, but when the fat, penitent, diaper-clad "Baby" Brent tries to convince Sam and Flint to let him come along on their attempt to stop the food machine, putting his arm on Sam's shoulder for emphasis, she briefly turns and gives an uncomfortable look to either Flint, the camera, or both.
  • In Hoodwinked!, Red Puckett practically is a master of this, as there are at least four or five that she gives during her story.
    • Red throws a magazine from the treehouse — which lands on a passing car's windshield and blinds the driver, who immediately drives into a tree. We cut back to a close-up of Red right before the crash, and when we hear the impact, she silently tenses up and shoots a glance at the camera.
    • When Red is taking the recipe book from behind the Concealing Canvas in Granny's store, the woodpecker she is with asks if the Bandit will get the book. Red turns to the bird and replies, "Not today," with the camera angle positioned such that it looks like she's speaking to the camera.
    • When Red encounters Japeth and he denies having spoken normally instead of singing for a brief second, she pauses to give the camera an exasperated stare.
    • Two others happen with Red during "Be Prepared", the song in Japeth's shack: she does an indirect Aside Glance when she says "Oh, good. More singing," after pleading to Japeth for help causes him to break out in song. Also, when the line "I got horns that open pickle jars.." comes up, Red holds out a pickle jar for Japeth to pop the lid off of, then gives a bemused look at the camera.
    • The Wolf does one himself, after his hyperactive assistant and photographer Twitchy claims he doesn't drink coffee — while talking so fast it's hard to understand what he's saying.
  • In The Man Called Flintstone, Fred looks at the audience during the song "Spy Type Guy".
  • In Alpha and Omega, Eve tries to tell her daughter how to handle her date if he gets out of line. Being Eve, her advice was to "take those beautiful teeth of yours, go for the throat, and don't stop until the body stops shaking". Kate's response was wide-eyed shock, during which she gives an Aside Glance.
  • Esmeralda from The Hunchback of Notre Dame actually winks at the viewers for a few seconds during her dance at the Feast of Fools before pole-dancing with a spear.
  • Ray from The Princess and the Frog does one when Louis has an overblown reaction to being pricked by a thorn.
  • In The Rescuers Down Under, when Joanna tricks McLeach into giving her the box of eggs during the "eggs" scene, he briefly looks straight at the camera with an expression that reeks of "Are you shitting me?!"
  • Seta from Grave of the Fireflies gives a mildly scolding look at the audience near the end of the film, specifically juvenile delinquents of Japan in the 1980s. Takahata specifically made the film for the delinquents to appreciate what they have while understanding what their parents would have suffered from the war.
  • A great moment in Fantasia 2000 where Donald Duck as Noah's assistant sees a pair of realistic ducks boarding the ark and turns to the audience with a baffled expression.
  • Heavy Metal, segment "Den". After Ard gives his ultimatum ("..you die, she dies, everybody dies!"), Den turns to the camera and thinks/narrates "Sounded reasonable to me!"
  • Wreck-It Ralph: King Candy gives a very quick one during his extremely exposition-filled speech before the roster race when he says the phrase, "This event is pay to play; we all know this."

    Game Shows 
  • Alex Horne of Taskmaster makes frequent use of these while overseeing the contestants during their tasks. Whenever they try and justify why what they're doing doesn't break the rules, do something stupid, or say something stupid, it's almost guaranteed the camera will zoom in so Alex can lock eyes with the audience to express his confusion, disgust, or contempt.

    Literature 
  • In the first chapter of Please, Jeeves, Bertie shoots a defiant glance at the reader, asking (via the narration boxes) if we think he's weak for giving in to Jeeves so easily.
  • In the twelfth Captain Underpants book, George and Harold wonder why their future selves don't remember some of their past adventures. They blame bad writing as they shoot a glance at the reader.
  • One Cool Friend: Elliot looks at the reader at the end, as a smirk upon the reveal that the household has a tortoise, a fact that has been hidden until the last page.

    Magazine 
  • Analog: The February 1942 cover has a figure facing the background, but their head is turned around so that they can glare at the audience instead.

    Music Videos 
  • Performed several times by members of the Blue ÷yster Cult in the video for Joan Crawford Has Risen From The Grave. Guitarist Eric Bloom performs the action when he discovers a carelessly discarded pair of panties which appear to have been thrown from an upstairs window; he turns to camera and raises an eyebrow with an expression that says "Well, what do you think is going on here?". A little later, a procession of almost-innocent looking Catholic Schoolgirlsnote  emerge from an upstairs room and trek downstairs past most of the band while they perform. they are followed after a discreet interval by keyboards player Allen Lanier (looking, for the video, like the sort of very seedy individual who would be in an upstairs room with a bunch of schoolgirls), who slinks downstairs trying to look unobtrusive, but registers very obvious alarm on realising the camera is watching him before taking his place, hurriedly, at the keyboards. Lanier's guilty aside glances at the camera recur throughout the video, as do one or two knowing grins from the girls.
  • Devin Townsend does this himself in the video for Juular. Twice. At the same time. A minute into the song, just before the second verse kicks in ("Lady Vagine..!"), both Devin and Juular (played by Devin in heavy make-up) glance out through the window of the train carriage. While Juular simply looks out, then back at his "handler", Devin goes one step further, waving his right hand to conduct the backing chorus of his own song before looking back in Juular's direction, just in time to start singing.
  • In the video for "Without Me" by Eminem, Dr. Dre raises his sunglasses and gives the camera a very confused look in response to Eminem's over-the-top dance moves as Rap Boy (a parody of the 60s Batman's Robin) while the two are riding along in Dre's car.

    Pinball 
  • Done by various characters on the backglass art for Bally's Eight Ball and Eight Ball Champ.
  • Two of the characters in the backglass for Sharkey's Shootout give sidelong glances to the viewer.
  • The human woman on the backglass of Big Bang Bar cocks her head backward to look at the player.

    Professional Wrestling 
  • In a summer 2011 episode of WWE Raw, CM Punk gives the hard camera an unimpressed glance when met with verbal threats—including being called "a skinny-fat ass" from Triple H during a promo. This gave birth to the "CM Punk Is Not Impressed" meme. He would later turn to the camera with the same glance in early 2012 when John Laurinaitis was trying to brag about himself and convince Punk to forgive and forget everything he had done.
  • Gene Okerlund would do this constantly during a particularly odd interview, particularly with Hulk Hogan, Ultimate Warrior, and The Undertaker. The look on his face basically read, "I hope you people understand this because I'm lost."
  • La Rosa Negra did them whenever the Ring Warriors crew seemingly ribbed her by periodically cutting out her themes to unfitting music.

    Puppet Shows 
  • Often done by the Muppet characters on Sesame Street, The Muppet Show, etc. In one scene in The Muppet Movie, after getting thrown about in a bar brawl, Kermit mutters to the audience "I hope you appreciate that I'm doing my own stunts," and the piano player gives the camera a "who are you talking to?" sort of look.
  • Happens in an episode of Mongrels that had numerous jokes surrounding the September 11th attacks. The characters lampshade it by repeatedly saying that the events in the episode had nothing to do with religion, then glance at the camera.
  • In one episode of Candle Cove, Janice asks the Skin Taker why his jaw moves back and forth, he looks at the camera, not her to give his answer "to grind your skin".

    Theatre 
  • In the opening of the first act of Sunday in the Park with George, Georges is painting Dot and is disappointed with her bad concentration. The end of the first act involves all the characters freezing into the positions of the people in the famous painting. When the second act opens, the cast is still stuck in the positions in which they were painted. Jules tells Dot "[she has] excellent concentration." Dot breaks character for a moment and gives the audience an Aside Glance.
  • Alice Ripley, who originated the role of Diana in Next to Normal was known to give the audience a knowing glance anytime something funny happened onstage.
  • Live productions of Avenue Q occasionally have Trekkie Monster give the audience an exasperated aside glance when Kate confidently claims that "Normal people don't sit at home and look at porn on the internet." Much laughter ensues.
  • Sandra of the Mischief Theatre doesn't do this for sarcastic effect, but she frequently throws flirtatious glances at the audience, often timing it to a line that makes whatever character she's playing then seem insincere. For instance, "The Pilot (Not the Pilot)" has her claiming not to care about appearances as she throws the look. Then she throws it again when suggesting a solution to the Nazi's code, making it seem like her character is the spy.

    Web Animation 
  • Brackenwood: In "Littlefoot", the spider gives a sardonic glance at the audience after Bitey freaks out when a leaf falls on him.
  • Neurotically Yours: In "Jiggly Butt", Germaine asserts that she doesn't have to stop shaking her rear because nobody can see her. Foamy glances knowingly at the audience.
  • Zero Punctuation: The characters will stop and look at the fourth wall if Yatzee says something particularly odd. The Guitar Hero review is probably the best example.
  • Since Handy from Happy Tree Friends lacks hands, he does an annoyed glare into the camera whenever he has to do something that requires hands.
  • In RWBY Episode 7, Volume 2, Lie Ren delivers one regarding Nora Valkyrie's comment about Jaune asking Pyrrha to a dance.
  • Hotdiggetydemon tends to do this a lot in his animations. For example, in Fazbear & Friends, Foxy does this twice in the space of a minute.
  • In Daria Cohen's The Vampair Series, Duke regularly gives these. This and other details hint that he has fourth wall awareness. For instance, in Land of the Dead, heís apparently singing directly to the audience the whole time.
  • FreedomToons: At the end of "Leftism: Then vs. Now", after all of Seamus' worries about the left that seemed irrational at first have come true eight years later, Julie asks him to trust her when she assures him that political correctness has nothing at all to do with censoring people whose opinions she doesn't like. Seamus just gives the camera an angry look.
  • Sonic Stopmotion Adventures: Sonic and Shadow do this after Shadow asks Sonic if he thinks they are in a stopmotion video in the remake of the first episode.
  • Inanimate Insanity Invitational: When The Floor asks MePhone if the contestants aren't going to watched over for safety reasons, MePhone assures him that they're always being watched over because they're on a reality show, with MePhone glancing at the camera afterwards.
  • Sonic for Hire: When Tails tells Sonic about the existence of Sonic Mania, Sonic tells him that's a dumb name, and suggests the name Hedgehog Mania. Tails then tells Sonic "Replacing Sonic with Hedgehog? That's a dogshit idea." Sonic and Tails then stare at the camera.note 
  • Helluva Boss: When Loona asks if she can join in on some human killing during "Spring Break", Blitzo refuses — both because of him being an Boyfriend-Blocking Dad and also mentioning the freaks who would oggle over a hot goth girl like her. This is then punctuated with all of IMP glaring at the camera.

    Webcomics 

    Web Original 

    Real Life 

Alternative Title(s): Staring At The Fourth Wall

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Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur

When Casey is worried that Moon Girl can't defeat Aftershock, this prompts the latter to respond, "Then we get canceled after one episode." Which is then followed by an aside glance to the camera.

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