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Breaking the Fourth Wall

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"Hey audience, what do you think of my caption?"
"Hey! Yeah, you! I'm down here, busting my ass, while you sit on yours watching me jump around? How is that fair?"

"Hey! How're you doing out there? It sure is nice to be the Breaking The Fourth Wall page on TV Tropes. Sure, I don't get as much attention as some of the other pages, but I try my hardest."

Anyway, the Fourth Wall is the fact that in any work of fiction the characters are unaware of the fact that they are fictional characters in a work, the audience observing them, and whatever medium conventions occur in between the two.

Breaking the fourth wall is when a character acknowledges their fictionality, by either indirectly or directly addressing the audience. Alternatively, they may interact with their creator (the author of the book, the director of the movie, the artist of the comic book, etc.). This is more akin to breaking one of the walls of the set, but the existence of a director implies the existence of an audience, so it's still indirectly Breaking The Fourth Wall. This trope is usually used for comedic purposes.

It should be noted that other sources will refer to any fiction that draws attention to its fictionality as "Breaking the Fourth Wall". Our definition is a bit narrower: Breaking The Fourth Wall only occurs if the characters acknowledge the audience or the author, whether directly or indirectly, got it? It's not enough that I recognize my status as a wiki page, it's the fact that I'm commenting to you about it!

Although Breaking the Fourth Wall are mostly Played for Laughs nowadays, serious fourth wall breaking is not unheard of. Such if the person is suffering from insanity or goes under some kind of existential crisis.

Named for the theatrical convention of building sets with right, left and back walls, while the audience observes the action through an imaginary "fourth"note  wall located at the front of the stage. Breaking the fourth wall would occur when the actors would step through where the virtual fourth wall should be and address the audience directly.

This is a very old trope: William Shakespeare's characters often addressed the audience. They broke it regularly in Ancient Greek theater, too, pretty much as soon as they'd invented the Fourth Wall - or, arguably, before inventing the Fourth Wall. It was an commonly-used technique in the epic theatre movement of the early-to-mid 20th century.

When a series breaks the fourth wall on such a regular basis that there may as well not be one in the first place, then you've gone straight into No Fourth Wall.

Can be expressed using Medium Awareness. When done literally, it's Camera Abuse. See also: Narrator (this trope is their job), Postmodernism (loves this trope), Aside Glance and Aside Comment (particular kinds of this), Animated Actors (an animation-specific subtrope), and Who Would Want to Watch Us? (characters lampooning the premise). He Knows About Timed Hits often involves breaking a videogame's fourth wall through necessity. For a detailed discussion of the line between this and No Fourth Wall, see Sliding Scale of Fourth Wall Hardness. If the creator of a work, the audience, or you, personally, interact with characters in a way that isn't Audience Participation, it may well be From Beyond the Fourth Wall.

Often used for Lampshade Hanging. But if a character lampshades without addressing or acknowledging the audience, it's just Lampshade Hanging. Similarly the fourth wall can be broken with no lampshades in sight.

If somebody is not in the break and doesn't understand who the ones breaking the wall are talking to, see Audience? What Audience?. If the other characters are aware of the wall but are also aware that they're not supposed to show that they're aware, that's Scolding the Fourth-Wall Breaker.

If it's made ambiguous whether or not the fourth wall is being broken, it's Leaning on the Fourth Wall. If something slams into the screen and literally breaks it, it's Camera Abuse or Interface Screw. If the characters are attempting to use, or implied to have used, the fourth wall to escape into the real world, especially with malicious intent, it's The Fourth Wall Will Not Protect You.


The following have their own pages:

Example subpages:

Other examples:

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  • A 2013 commercial for Allstate Insurance featured an ad-friendly couple whispering to each other about the concerns they have about their home and having it be protected. Then Mike Holmes (of "Holmes on Homes" fame) shows up right next to them in bed and whispers to them that they shouldn't be concerned because they're protected by Allstate. One of the couple asks if they're dreaming, then Dennis Haysbert turns on a light in their bedroom and says that no, they're in an Allstate commercial.
  • A commercial for The Big Bang Theory episodes showing on TBS involved Sheldon noticing the TBS logo on their table and having a conversation with Leonard about it. Leonard eventually tells Sheldon that "They aren't supposed to know they're on a TV show."
  • One advertisement for the Portuguese Iris television service involves three Japanese people getting introduced to Iris, while a seller explains to them the benefits of the service. The Japanese people's lines are subtitled in Portuguese, and the seller's lines are subtitled in Japanese. One of the Japanese asks another how the seller is able to understand Japanese. The seller tells him he is reading the subtitles.
  • A commercial for La Quinta Inns has a salesman at a meeting (after being refreshed by staying at the sponsor's facilities). The announcer says, "Here's a clue, he's selling ice, they're Eski..." whereupon an Eskimo in a parka interrupts him and says, "Nobody needs a clue."
  • Magnavox did a series of commercials in The '90s with John Cleese. In at least one of these, he points towards the bottom of the screen during his spiel and enunciates the word "Magnavox!" so the gag only works if you're watching the commercial on a Magnavox set, with its logo displayed right under the screen.
  • A commercial for the Nissan Juke parodying action movies. At one point, the "hero" looks directly at the camera and says, "Professional driver, closed course," right as said disclaimer appears on the bottom of the screen.
  • In every Claude the Cat PSA, Claude speaks directly to the audience, reminding us that humans only have one life.
  • A 2020 Mountain Dew commercial features two cowboys. One of them takes a Mountain Dew out of a drawer in his horse's flank and says, "I love that every time this commercial airs, I get to drink another Mountain Dew."
  • Several Progressive commercials are self-aware. One stops the ad midway through to have a "halftime show" featuring Smash Mouth, confusing the family once they return to the ad. In another ad, a family goes to a restaurant and starts pondering aloud if they're in a Progressive commercial once they realize the waiters look suspiciously like Jamie and Flo.
  • A recent ad for True Classic T-shirts has two guys talking to each other about how comfortable and well-fitting the T-shirts are... before one of the guys points out that they are in a commercial for the product before staring at the viewer...

  • Allegory of the Four Seasons: Summer has her body turned, as if she was just watching the other seasons' antics, to shoot a piercing stare right at the viewer.

    Asian Animation 
  • BoBoiBoy has several fourth wall breaks. The characters occasionally talk about "previous episodes", for starters.
    • In Season 1, Episode 10, Computer and Probe answer fan mail that the latter stole from BoBoiBoy per his boss' instructions.
    • Season 2 has Adu Du and Probe re-use an old plan of theirs, as the latter convinces the former that the audience wouldn't notice.
    • In BoBoiBoy Water and Adu Du's banter in Season 3, the exchange shows that Adu Du actively plays the villain for the show to continue. Water reminds that the show ran just fine during Adu Du's temporary Heel–Face Turn, and that he as the hero is going to win anyway.
      Adu Du: Relax?! I'm the bad guy, you know that? If I relax, how is this BoBoiBoy story meant to keep going?
      BoBoiBoy Water: Last time, you changed into a good person, right? And this story went on just fine. [...] Besides, you know who's going to win, right?
      Adu Du: Huh? Who?
      BoBoiBoy Water: Definitely me! Who else? It couldn't be you, could it?
  • Crazy Candies: In the Season 3 finale, while a yeast monster is wreaking havoc on the town, a candy civilian notices it's flat on one side and wonders why it's like that. Another candy person answers with "It must be a cheap option because the production team didn't have enough funds."
  • Happy Heroes features several jokes that break the fourth wall. For example, there is an episode where Little M. comments that Big M.'s idea for a machine to sabotage a School Play (he intends to make one that scatters banana peels everywhere and make everyone slip) seems rather childish. Big M. says that, since this is a cartoon, of course it's going to seem childish somehow.
  • Pleasant Goat and Big Big Wolf also features several fourth-wall-breaking moments. Among them are:
    • In Joys of Seasons episode 84, after Wolnie accidentally gives away the surprise gift Wilie wants to give him, Wolffy says not to worry since "I'm the best actor in this cartoon!" and he should be able to pretend to be surprised easily.
    • The spin-off series Pleasant Goat Fun Class is designed to be educational, and it often accomplishes this by having the characters directly talk to the audience about various topics.
    • In episode 41 of Rescue Across Time, Wolffy tells Weslie he's known him for 5,000 episodes (an inaccurate number - the series up to that season actually has over 2,000 episodes).

    Audio Plays 

    Comic Books 
  • In the French-Belgian comic Achille Talon, the fourth wall is regularly broken. In the one-page gags it's more a case of No Fourth Wall and Medium Awareness, as the title character gives conferences on how to be a comic book character, but the full book stories tend to break the wall regularly. One example is a story interrupted every 4 pages or so by the chief accountant advertising the other books of the series, and ending up with the whole cast chasing him at the end.
  • Amelia Rules! is narrated by Amelia, who frequently speaks directly to the reader, even when her friends are present:
    Reggie: Who are you talking to?
  • In The Beano and Dandy comics, the characters sometimes talk to the artist, and frequently talk to the readers. Occasionally the artist even shows up in the actual comic strip. Also, the "readers" themselves are given lines of dialogue, marked with a speech bubble coming from off panel labelled "Reader's voice".
  • In Duncan and Mallory: The Bar None Ranch the main characters take turns tearing up the fourth wall.
  • Empowered talks about how annoying it can be in one volume.
  • The Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers had a story where Fat Freddy is alarmed to find themselves in a comic book. Phineas ponders the metaphysical implications - "We could be erased at any moment!". Franklin gets them to change their look so they won't be associated with those losers. Then, after their transformations, they're chagrined to find themselves in a bar holding a Freak Brothers lookalike contest.
  • Internally breaking the fourth wall, and, it could be argued, breaking ours as well in The Filth, where agents of the Hand go down into a comic book in order to mine it for fantastic weapons.
  • In a Futurama promotional comic explaining the in-universe reason why the series was cancelled then returned for the movies (available as a bonus feature with full cast voiceover on the Bender's Big Score DVD) nearly Breaking the Fourth Wall becomes a Running Gag (someone mentions "episodes" only to clarify that by that they mean missions, and so on). Even the reruns are given an in-universe explanation of a time warp.
    • The first episode of the series reboot had Fry mention how he felt like he'd been in limbo for years.
  • In the comic continuation to Gargoyles, a time-travelling Brooklyn addresses the audience in regards to his ignorance about Scottish history:
    Mary: "Don't you know what is going to happen?"
  • Herbie will occasionally address the reader to introduce his latest story.
  • At the end of Lori Lovecraft: Back to the Garden, Allen tells the reader to "amscray" and turns the page so he and Lori can have some privacy. This is the only time in the series when a character acknowledges they are in a comic book.
  • Mortadelo y Filemón:
    • Happens occasionally. The most prominent example is in "Robots bestiajos", where Mortadelo directly addressing the reader to turn the comic sideways so they could easily walk up the side of a building. Another example has a character comment on events he couldn't possibly see by looking in the panel next to his.
    • In some stories, when a particularly violent or bloody scene is supposed to be happening (for instance, the duo being attacked by lions or huge guardian dogs, or receiving a severe beating by a big thug), Ibáñez himself will turn a corner of the panel so the image is hidden and warn: "Don't look, don't look! It's something frightening, believe me!".
  • My Little Pony Micro Series:
    • At the end Issue #3, both Flax Seed and Rarity pull this.
    Flax Seed: Like, the end!
    Rarity: (Appearing from behind a rolled up comic page) Peace out!
    • Unsurprisingly, Pinkie Pie does this fairly regularly in the IDW Pony comics. During the "Reflections" arc, she chastises Twilight Sparkle for trying to make sense of an Alternate Universe by saying that their own reality doesn't make sense and that continuity is overrated. Later, during a battle between two other characters, she admonishes them for doing something not allowed in a children's comic book.
  • The Franco-Belgian Comic Philémon does this regularly. The position of individual panels is frequently abused and manipulated for its surreal effect, such as a character climbing down from one panel to another or liquid pouring out of the frame onto panels below.
    • An extreme example occurs in during Volume 6 when the plot fails to progress forward and the protagonist can't figure out why they keep passing the same tree over and over again. Turns out the panel containing the next sequence has fallen over and needs to be straightened.
  • Done several times in Quantum and Woody, once to explain using the word "noogie" to replace "the N-Word", and a second time at the end of issue #17 when the comic was abruptly canceled.
  • Scott Pilgrim breaks the fourth wall every now and then. Kim Pine, one of Scott's friends, is told several times to "read the book" when she asks about plot points that have happened previously, and when Ramona and Scott are discussing past jobs, Scott says that he'd like to save the story of his last job for a later volume.
    • A major plot point in the final book relies on a Chekhov's Gun that Scott picked up in a previous volume. Just in case readers forgot, Scott's sister Stacy calls their mother, mom then mentions Scott got the item in volume four.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog:
    • Done from time to time in the Sonic the Hedgehog (Archie Comics) comic books back in the 90's, before the onset of the title's Cerebus Syndrome. For example, in Super Sonic Vs. Hyper Knuckles, Tails at some point tells Sally that "Knuckles will punch Sonic on Page 7". Guess what happens...
    • The first Sonic the Comic annual published in the UK in 1993 featured a story where Robotnik adds a turbo booster to his Egg-O-Matic and chases Sonic throughout the Spring Yard Zone. Eventually he cranks the device to full power, and promptly crashes through the edge of the panel and out of the comic itself. Sonic then joins in the fun by talking to the reader directly!
  • Superlópez: Regularly and recurrently, sometimes bordering on No Fourth Wall.
  • At the end of The Secret of the Unicorn, Tintin informs the reader (much to the surprise of Captain Haddock) that the next part of the adventure will be told in Red Rackham's Treasure.
    • A lot of what Snowy says in the series is breaking the fourth wall, or at least purely for the reader's benefit, since it's usually made clear that the other characters can't hear him. At one point, he looks at the reader and says "I could have told them that. But nobody would have listened to me!"
    • A bizarre instance occurs in Cigars of the Pharaoh, when Tintin meets Sheikh Patrash Pasha. The Sheikh knew of Tintin by reading of his adventures, and he actually shows Tintin one of the real-world Tintin albums, complete with cover art. (This actually makes a kind of in-universe sense - Tintin is meant to be a reporter who submits his stories as cartoon strips, supposedly to the newspaper they were originally serialised in.)
  • Some of the characters in Alan Moore's Tomorrow Stories had No Fourth Wall to start with, but despite addressing the reader at the end of the story, Jack B. Quick isn't usually one of them. However, in his last adventure, he makes a pair of time-travelling shoes, heading back though history as he crosses town. But it goes wrong and he passes back before the formation of life, and even the start of time, then back to his first issue until he's left drifting in a blank white void, before the comic started. As there's no panel borders to keep them apart, he can talk to the other Jack B. Quicks on the page.
  • Brainstorm in Transformers: More than Meets the Eye invented a Metafictional Bomb that causes anyone exposed to it to believe that they're just a fictional character, ultimately causing them to lose the will to live. When Swerve was exposed to it, he immediately began breaking the fourth wall (for example, stating that he must have activated the bomb off-panel). This eventually led to him having an existential crisis in the second season, due to being Out of Focus. The other characters were only able to save him by convincing him that he was still one of the main characters.
  • Iznogoud: The characters, Iznogoud and Wa'at Alahf especially, regularly turn to address the reader directly or have conversations with the narration or otherwise acknowledge that they are comic book characters. For example, at the end of "The Caliph's Sceptre", Iznogoud is left trapped in the password-protected chamber containing the title object, unable to remember the correct password. He finally turns to the readers and asks if they remember it - "And no turning back pages!"
  • In Asterix in Belgium, when Chief Vitalstatistix calls a meeting of the village council, Obelix says he thought it was going to be a banquet, and Asterix replies that it can't be, the story's only just started.
  • Rick and Morty (Oni): After an Offscreen Moment of Awesome car chase, the Meeseeks tells the reader they should put it on the wiki.
  • At the beginning of the fifth chapter in Democracy, Athena, Apollo and Dionysus appear wearing modern-day clothes, dancing a traditional Greek dance and making a lecture about history and mortals' fate, specifically intended to the audience.

    Comic Strips 
  • Note that there's a common convention in newspaper comics of having a character seem to turn toward the audience in the final panel when the punchline is delivered, as if to say "Can you believe that?"
  • Pearls Before Swine does this more and more as time goes by. The most common instances consist of the characters discussing a situation that results in an extremely lengthy and groan-worthy pun, followed by Rat scolding Stephen Pastis. There are also entire storylines in which the characters provide meta-commentary on the nature of comic strips.
  • Dilbert often utilizes this in order to respond to reader feedback, including the artist drawing himself into the strip. Examples include putting up a survey as the last panel, encouraging readers to vote on whether Ratbert would get whacked with a newspaper, having Dilbert attend a book signing where a "renowned cartoonist" is asked how he can keep thinking up ideas for a daily strip, and having the artist appear to explain that the "Wizard of Oz Dilbert version" concept is a popular suggestion for a strip arc before trying out that arc for the week.
  • Earl in Pickles during a recent Christmas strip looks directly at the readers and wishes them a Merry Christmas. This causes the following exchange:
    Opal: Who are you talking to?
    Earl: Oh, no one. I just keep having this eerie feeling that we're being watched.
  • This Rhymes With Orange strip.
  • Sherman's Lagoon does this every so often. For example...
    • One strip has Ernest telling Sherman that he wants to go to the North Pole. Sherman protests, as it's A) cold up there and B) a long swim, then says, "Can't we just all wear parkas and SAY we're in the North Pole? This is a comic strip."
    • In another strip, Hawthorne is planning on going on a trip. Sherman wants to tag along, and says that the readers expect it.
    Hawthorne: The READERS? What have they ever done for ME?
    Sherman: Shhhh! They're right there.
    • In one strip, while Sherman and Ernest are in Hawaii, Ernest informs Sherman that nearby there is an abundance of sunken ships. Then we get this exchange:
    Sherman: Really? And you can just swim inside them?
    Ernest: How else are we going to start some silly adventure?
    Sherman: Sometimes I question if your heart is in this strip.
    Ernest: Profit-sharing would help.
    • One storyline begins with Ernest telling Sherman that someone on the internet claims to have spotted Triton. Sherman's response is, "The mythological Greek god? Son of Poseidon and Amphitrite?" When Ernest asks him how he knew that so fast, Sherman replies, "It speeds the story along."
      • And after Sherman and Ernest pay Triton a visit, Sherman tells Fillmore that the Greek gods are real and that he saw one. Fillmore then says, "You did? Right here in this comic strip?", to which Sherman says, "Are you mocking me? Don't mock me."
    • When the characters go to the Gulf of Mexico to help clean up the oil spill, Fillmore informs the others that if you're a cartoon character, you can just click your heels and be there. Then Sherman, Megan and Fillmore notice that they don't have heels. Fillmore says, "Better start swimming."
    • Here, Hawthorne is the captain of the characters' paintball platoon. After giving his teammates a pep-talk, Sherman asks when Hawthorne became the captain. Hawthorne's response is, "Panel One. Pay attention."
    • After Hawthorne is arrested, Fillmore suggests that they break him out. Sherman then says, "But wouldn't they just come here and arrest him again?" Fillmore's response is, "It doesn't work that way." To which Sherman responds, "In general, or just in comics?"
    • This strip has Ernest about to tell Sherman that he thinks they should go to Heracleion. Ernest asks, "Have I become that predictable at such a young age?" Sherman's response is, "No. I get these scripts in advance."
    • One storyline has the lagoon get invited to the Underwater Winter Olympics. Hawthorne explains to Fillmore that they take place on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge - the longest mountain range in the world, and it just happens to be underwater. Then we get this exchange:
    Fillmore: But how can there be snow?
    Hawthorne: You need to believe in the magic of comic strips.
    Fillmore: Is a hermit crab with no shell part of the magic?
    Hawthorne: The BEST part.
    • One strip has Sherman's son Herman asking him for help with a math problem. Sherman agrees, and then we get two Beat panels of Sherman attempting to figure out the problem.
    Herman: Dad, we're running out of panels.
    Sherman: This is going to run into tomorrow's comic strip.
    Fillmore: Cartoonists are, in a sense, powerful.
    Sherman: (not convinced) Yeah, sure.
    Fillmore: If you anger them, they can do things... like turn you into an enormous bratwurst.
    Sherman: (now an enormous bratwurst) Yeah, sure.
    • This strip has Sherman commenting that the cartoonist on the beach that he was criticizing before doesn't take shortcuts, unlike "some cartoonists we know." He doesn't even bother drawing their lower halves, which Sherman reveals.
    • Sherman asks if he can be in Hawthorne's animated movie. Hawthorne replies that it's an ANIMATED movie. To which Sherman responds, "But I'm already a comic strip character."
    • In this strip, Hawthorne claims that Sherman is out of shape. Sherman denies it.
    Hawthorne: You got winded just going from the second panel to the third panel!
    • Here, Fillmore tells Hawthorne that he wants to open a restaurant, then asks how he's going to secure a loan, get permits and all that. Hawthorne's response? "Follow me to the next panel."
    The fourth panel reveals that Hawthorne has opened up a business called "LOANS, PERMITS AND ALL THAT"
    Fillmore: (dryly) Of course.
    Hawthorne: NEXT!
    Ernest: Good point.
    Sherman: (facing the fourth wall) Snot... snot... snot.
    Fillmore: Now you're just being a jerk.
  • Garfield was prone to this, especially early on. One notable time featured panels of nothing but Garfield sleeping, with him waking up in the last panel to say, "Oh no! I slept through today's strip!"
    • Another time involved multiple strips, when Garfield caught Odie eating out of his food dish, he kicked Odie into next week. Jon asked Garfield if he'd seen Odie around, to which Garfield replied that he was probably somewhere over next Tuesday. A full week after the kick, the strip started with Garfield thinking to himself, "I feel as if there's something I should be remembering..." at which point Odie landed on him, causing him to think, "Oh yeah, I kicked Odie into next week last week."
  • In Frank and Ernest, Frank pulls off a card trick by buying the early edition of the paper to see how it was done.
  • In the May 6, 2002, strip of Beetle Bailey, Gen. Halftrack — confused by a high-tech–related communication from the Pentagon — walked into cartoonist Mort Walker's studio and demanded a new character to help him with computers.
  • Dykes to Watch Out For did this occasionally, including a sequence where the characters stop the storyline in order so that they can hold a meeting to plot out the strip's upcoming stories.
  • This strip from Big Nate.
  • B.C. by Johnny Hart had one in which ant character Jake has been less than honest with his wife, Maude. In asking his buddy to back up his alibi, he winks, and the word "wink" appears above his head. Maude not only lampshades it, but it becomes part of the plot. "Don't you lie to me! I saw that word 'wink' above your head!" She storms off. Jake addresses the signature in the last panel as if speaking directly to the cartoonist. "Thanks, Hart!" There is a word balloon above the signature, offering an apologetic, "My fault."
  • A case of What Could Have Been in Calvin and Hobbes. Some of Watterson's early strip submissions had the title characters referring to their being characters in a comic strip; these were all rejected by the syndicate, which Watterson later came to decide was for the better.
  • Done from time to time in Madam & Eve, such as one strip where the characters complain about the bad art because artist Rico Schacherl was on vacation.

    Film — Animation 
  • In Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie, Harold and George occasionally break the fourth wall by talking to the audience and even freeze the movie at certain points to explain what's going on.
  • Dino Time has a strange case of this. The main character breaks the fourth wall in three early scenes, but after about 20 minutes into the film he never does it again.
  • At the end of a particularly downer scene in The Emperor's New Groove, Kuzco literally stops the movie reel and uses a marker to remind the film itself that the movie is supposed to be about him, and not Pacha. Later, after considerable Character Development, in-movie Kuzco gets in an argument with narrator Kuzco, telling him to shut up and stop whining.
  • Free Birds: After Jake tells Reggie his plan to prevent turkeys from becoming the staple dish of Thanksgiving via time travel, he turns to the camera and repeats his line to the audience in order emphasize the ridiculous nature of the film's premise.
  • Kubo and the Two Strings:
    • At the very start of the film, Kubo does his signature "if you must blink" speech, but tacks on a few things to provide some backstory exposition, which makes it seem like he's directing this specific speech at us. It's like he's telling us to pay attention.
    • At the end, Kubo says "The End" in voice over.
  • In Lilo & Stitch:
    • When Lilo gets Stitch to move his hips to the side, he looks at the viewer and oohs in wonder before the duo immediately go into their dance.
    • The titular duo look directly towards the viewer twice during their dance at Mrs. Hasagawa's fruit stand.
    • A more subtle fourth wall-break happens earlier in the film when Stitch is adopted, with a nice little Easter Egg on his adoption paper.
  • The Lion King (1994), in the middle of "Hakuna Matata".
    Pumbaa: And I got downhearted...
    Timon: How did you feel!?
    Pumbaa: Every time that I—
    Timon: (slaps hands over Pumbaa's mouth) PUMBAA! (looks at the fourth wall) Not in front of the kids!
    Pumbaa: (also looks) Oh! Sorry.
    Simba: (stares at the duo, perplexed)
  • In Mulan II, Shang walks away and Yao asks Mulan, "What's his problem?" When Mulan walks away, he asks the screen, "What's her problem?" Then he asks, "Who am I talking to?"
  • Phineas and Ferb The Movie: Candace Against the Universe:
    • The song "We're Back" is already leaning on the fourth wall, with the characters heavily alluding to the fact that this a reunion film being released years after the original series ends, but one lyric has Phineas directly mention that this a movie that's being made for and streamed on Disney+. The version that plays during the credits omits this verse.
    • Baljeet says building a portal will take at least a montage. It ended up only taking a scene flip.
    • When Perry peers from the bushes, he actually shushes his backup singers who do in fact sing it quieter.
    • When Super Super Big Doctor's ship speeds up to Warp 2, reality breaks down to its bare essentials, with the film breaking down to rough animation, an animatic, and then storyboards. As the characters question if it can go any farther, it zooms out to creators Dan and Swampy pitching this scene to the audience, before the show returns to normal. The characters, stunned that the fourth wall broke down to that extent, agree to Let Us Never Speak of This Again.
    • The song "Silhouettes", which plays over the credits, describes the format of the Creative Closing Credits.
    • In the finale song, "Us Against The Universe", Isabella takes a verse to thank all the folks who worked on all the animation.
  • At the beginning of the Pleasant Goat and Big Big Wolf film The Mythical Ark: Adventures in Love & Happiness, Wolffy vows to avenge his "thousand episodes of insult". This wasn't long before the TV series started airing a season called Happy Formula, which had the series' 1,000th episode in it.
  • In Quest for Camelot, Devon does this in a blink and you'll miss it moment:
    "But we can't fly! (to the audience) We explained that before our song."
  • In The Simpsons Movie, when Homer criticizes the Itchy and Scratchy film at the beginning, he complains about paying to see something they can watch on TV for free, then calls everyone in the theater a giant sucker, before looking and pointing at the camera, "Especially YOU!"
  • In The Sponge Bob Movie Sponge Out Of Water, when the background characters refuse to go the surface.
    Random Fish: All secondary characters come with me.
  • In Turning Red, Mei talks to the audience at the start and ending as a narration monologue.
  • Used straight, and topped with a turtle themed green lampshade in Turtles Forever. When 80's version Raphael keeps breaking the fourth wall, other characters pause with confused looks. The third time he does it, The Dragon gets angry and starts shaking him. "Why do you keep doing that? Who are you talking to?! THERE'S NO ONE THERE!"
    • When it comes to it, this is the whole plot of the movie. The 2003 Shredder learns about the fourth wall and decides to destroy it forever.
  • Chuck Jones is infamous for this, but in his movie The White Seal, the fourth wall is broken constantly by characters looking straight into the camera. At certain points, it happens repeatedly with only seconds between them.
  • In Moana, Tamatoa does this in his Villain Song 'Shiny'. After beating Maui, he tells the audience to 'look it up' in regards to crabs being decapods.
  • In Wreck-It Ralph, when Turbo is giving his Motive Rant to Vanellope, he mugs for your attention right the hell out of nowhere in one single frame.

  • The very first novel written in a recognizable format was Don Quixote. Its sequel features Don Quixote, the book, the author, fans of the book and a fake sequel written by a man who was not the original author, leading to the hero having to track down the Don Quixote from the fake sequel to get him to sign away his rights to the name/concept, in order that the real author can write a real sequel. That makes this apparently postmodern trope older than Shakespeare.
  • House of Leaves is unique in the fact that it has two fourth walls. The majority of the story lies in The Navidson Record, telling the story of a house with some interesting features. While reading, it's easy to forget that the house doesn't even exist in the context of the novel. (Narrator/Editor Johnny Truant states this in the foreword, but even he eventually forgets this fact). However, there are several asides in the text of the Record to remind the reader that "none of this ever happened." Early on, a paragraph about the Navidson's famous friends is riddled with blanks, as if Zampano had yet to decide which celebrities to fill in the blanks with. Later, in Will's drunken apology letter to Karen, struck out text reveals a list of characters who do not appear in the novel. Finally, both Will and Johnny find and read books titled House of Leaves, which brings up paradoxes perhaps better left unexplored...
  • The narrator in C.S. Lewis' The Chronicles of Narnia is a sort of self-aware presence, using personal pronouns to refer to the readers and himself.
  • Mo Willems' Elephant & Piggie books usually has at least one moment per book where Piggie looks directly at the reader and snarks a bit, but We Are in a Book!, does away with it entirely.
  • At the end of The Illuminatus! Trilogy, the main character realizes that he is merely a fictional character and that the events of the book are just that: events in a book. He then goes on to analyze some of the more mindscrewy aspects of the novel, and to criticize the author for placing more importance on symbolism than on giving the book a satisfying conclusion.
    • And then there's the Schrodinger's Cat trilogy by one of the same authors (Robert Anton Wilson), in which each novel is a different parallel universe, but features characters who realize they're living in a bad novel and start hopping between the books. The third book is almost entirely novel-hopping.
  • A Perfect Vacuum by Polish author Stanisław Lem is a book full of reviews of nonexistent books. If that weren't enough, the first book review in the book is a review of the book itself and an explanation of why it can't possibly ever be written. (Well then what are we reading if the book can't be written?)
  • Thursday Next features a scene where Thursday is about to get intimate with her husband, then suddenly stops and says she can't do it with so many people watching. After Landen reminds her she's not a character in a book, she apologizes and says she's spent too much time in the BookWorld.
    • And then the book conveniently cuts to a chapter break. These books have so many different meta-levels it can get really confusing. One particularly fine example comes when Emperor Zhark's arrives to talk to Thursday. He makes a grand entrance described in about ninety words, which ends the chapter. The next chapter is titled "Emperor Zhark" and during the conversation, he tells Thursday that he's renegotiated his contract in the BookWorld so that in his series he gets at least one chapter per book with his name in it, two chapters have to end with his arrival, and the first time he appears requires at least eighty words of description. All those conditions have just been fulfilled in the book you're reading, except Zhark's second chapter-ending arrival. He leaves, then pops back in - ending the chapter again - to ask Thursday for a recipe.
  • Stephen King's The Dark Tower novels - it creates a DOOR in the fourth wall. King himself, as author, acts as a character and is able to assist others via Deus ex Machina.
    • Additionally, before the epilogue of the last book King directly addresses the reader, saying that the series ended just fine without an epilogue and that they should put the book down without reading it.
    • In his recent "Under the Dome", on page 802, the narrator (King himself, as usual) is describing the current state of the town, when he mentions that one of the statues at the war memorial is the great grandfather of one of the characters. Immediately after, he notes "I probably don't have to tell you that," not because we know already, but because it's unnecessary and he knows it.
  • In the classic Locked Room Mystery The Hollow Man by John Dickson Carr, one chapter consists of Dr. Gideon Fell giving a lecture on Locked Room Mysteries in fiction. When asked what relevance this has to the situation, he replies "Because we're in a detective story, and we don't fool the reader by pretending we're not."
    • Carr's The Nine Wrong Answers periodically stops to warn the reader that if s/he thinks such-and-such is the case, s/he's wrong.
  • A kidnapped mindwiped character in the Doc Savage series regains his memories after seeing the previous Doc Savage Magazine on a news-stand.
  • Simon Hawke's The Reluctant Sorcerer series of short novels features a villain who not only can hear the narrator and snark back, but ends the series himself by stepping out through the fourth wall, buying the author's publishing company, and forcing him to re-write the story so that he wins.
  • In Spike Milligan's novel Puckoon, Dan Milligan is aware that he's a character in a novel, and frequently talks back to the narration. At one point he wants to know what page of the book the story is up to, so he stops to look down at the bottom of the current page, and then he reports the (correct) page number in the dialogue. If this novel goes into a new edition, the dialogue must be revised to reflect the correct page number.
  • Kayari does this in chapter four of Twilight Dragon. Apparently the novel is the accounts of her adventures.
  • Sophie's World is a book about a book (among other things), and contains an example of in-universe Breaking the Fourth Wall, brilliantly written, as its climax.
  • Anthony Trollope usually wrote in third person omniscient observer voice. However, in one novel, whose title escapes me right now, the narrator entered into the action by commenting on a character directly, 'and I caught him in a fib once'.
    Trollope veers from extreme to the next - at one point in Barchester Towers from The Chronicles of Barsetshire he is describing how he has sat and passed time in the titular cathedral and expressed personal enmity to one of the characters, at another he is telling us he needs to pad out the novel by 12 pages.
  • The picture book Have I Got a Book For You! by Melanie Watts presents a fox salesperson who begs the reader to purchase the book. His sales tactics grow increasingly more desperate. The book ends up with an actual ripped page and the fox says that if you break it, you buy it.
  • Charlotte Brontë's Jane Eyre is subtitled "An Autobiography", and presented as being Jane's autobiography. Chapter 11 of the first volume begins by acknowledging that it is, in fact, the start of a new chapter in a novel, and encouraging the reader to imagine this in the manner of a scene change in a play.
  • The later Myth Adventures novels tend to do this, with narrators addressing the reader as a reader, and/or offering shameless plugs for previous books in the series. (Is there an Advertising On The Fourth Wall trope?)
  • In The Dresden Files, Harry will sometimes directly address the audience, usually while explaining certain principles of magic, or occasionally when he makes an off-color comment.
    Have you ever been approached by a grim-looking man, carrying a naked sword with a blade about ten miles long in his hand, in the middle of the night, beneath the stars on the shores of Lake Michigan? If you have, seek professional help.
    So I, um, jumped out of the moving car. Don't look at me like that, it seemed like a good idea at the time.
    • Possibly justified, as the books can be seen as an ongoing diary or memoir.
  • In L.A. Meyer's series, Bloody Jack Jacky's best friend Amy starts publishing books about Jacky's adventures under the titles of the previous books. This gives Jacky a chance to respond to the more scandalous parts of her life.
  • The short story "The Van on Atlantic Street" by Desmond Warzel pauses briefly to address the reader and reassure him that he has nothing to fear should he encounter the eponymous van.
  • Mohsin Hamid's The Reluctant Fundamentalist begins with the reader filling the role of an American man who bumps into the main character in a shop in Pakistan. The reader only knows what's going on from the dialogue of the other character, as there is no description or dialogue for their character. Most of the novel is flashbacks in the form of the protagonist recounting his life from the age of 18 until now, interspersed with returns to the present in order for the protagonist to comment on the apparently mundane occurrences around you.
  • The authors of Kill time or die trying are also characters in the book, since it is a dramatisation of events they were part of. There is a time period covered by the book in which they had already started writing the book, so the Fourth Wall effectively doesn't exist, since the people involved were all aware that they had become the subject of a book.
    Brad: Who is that?
    James: A girl Douw dated for a while. We can't use her real name, or we'll get sued for what Douw's about to call her.
  • In A Christmas Carol, Charles Dickens breaks the fourth wall briefly at the beginning to speak directly to the reader, impressing upon them that Jacob Marley was Dead to Begin With, and indeed dead as a door-nail. He even comments that he doesn't know what is particularly deadly about a door-nail, proposing a coffin-nail as a better choice of ironmongery before back-pedaling and stating he will not overrule the wisdom of his ancestors.
  • In Fatal Terrain by Dale Brown, one of the characters thinks "This stuff only happens in Dale Brown novels."
  • In Redshirts, the entire premise is that of extras trying to avoid death on starship away missions. It's later revealed that Andrew Dahl realizes he has Plot Armor because he's the main character. To take it further, one of his friends doesn't actually do anything but seems remarkably Genre Savvy and knowledgeable about the universe in general. The author, perhaps?
  • In T.A. Waters' The Probability Pad (the third book of the Greenwich Village trilogy), the protagonists go to Victorian-era Transylvania where they encounter a Sherlock Holmes clone — who uses his deductive genius to work out that he and his companion are characters in a work of fiction.
  • The entire plot of the titular book within The Neverending Story is eventually summarized as Bastion's quest to find the door through the fourth wall.
    • The narration describing the geography of Fantastica is introduced as a pause in the story to talk directly to the audience.
  • The Woman in the Wall does this in the first few pages, with the narrator directly addressing the reader, then reverts to having a fourth wall for most of the rest of the book.
  • The Sister Verse and the Talons of Ruin has the Lord in White, who is an avatar of the book itself, and frequently speaks to the reader in a cryptic and manipulative tone. Some of the other characters eventually catch on, and realize that they're living in a fictional story.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog and the Silicon Warriors does this constantly throughout the book;
    'Oh Great' Sonic grated, ' We've only just started this adventure, I've no idea of what I'm meant to be doing yet and I've got a sidekick who's going to be talking Martian at me for the whole of the rest of the book.'
    'What book?' Tails asked.
    'You're too young to understand,' Sonic smoothed hastily.
  • Zeus Is Dead: A Monstrously Inconvenient Adventure has quotes from fictional in-universe sources at the start of every chapter, but one chapter begins with a quoted conversation between some of the Muses who, mid-conversation, realize the quote is showing up at the start of a chapter, and remark about it as they're being quoted.
  • Lucifer Niggerbastard, in, The Vagina Ass of Lucifer Niggerbastard, impatiently causes Chapter 11 to end.
  • In Spoon River Anthology deceased characters tell their stories to the reader through poetry.
  • In Dom Casmurro the narrator and main character constantly speaks to the reader.
  • Malazan Book of the Fallen:
    • In the last two books there is a storyline which many first-time readers tend to skip/skim, as it is a meandering, long-winded narration about a group of starving children fleeing through a desert, told by a girl obsessed with poetry. However, if one reads closely, one finds the girl acknowledging the presence of readers and even actively calling them cowards for wanting to skip her harrowing tale:
      'Do not flee us. Do not flee this moment, this scene. Do not confuse dislike and abhorrence with angry denial of truths you do not wish to see. I accept your horror and expect no forgiveness. But if you deny, I name you coward.
      'And I have had my fill of cowards.'
    • And at the beginning of the final book, The Crippled God, there are excerpts from an in-world poem titled 'The Malazan Book of the Fallen', which are an essential Take That! to those who thought the author could not pull the series' end off satisfactorily:
      [...] Take what you're given
      And turn away the screwed face.
      I do not deserve it,
      no matter how narrow the strand
      of your private shore.
      If you will do your best
      I'll meet your eye. [...]
  • You (Kepnes) has a meta example for those who read books on their Kindle.
    "And the Kindle, the Kindle takes the integrity out of reading, which is what the Internet did to porn."
  • Terra Ignota: Mycroft often addresses his readers directly, mostly under the assumption that they are from centuries in the future and might need parts of his world explained to them, since he can't be sure what has changed. Conveniently, this also provides explanations for 21st-century readers.
  • Journey to Chaos: Tasio will address the reader from time to time. Sometimes it is to answer questions that he suspects they have and other times to make sure they're paying attention for an important plot point.
  • The Divine Comedy: Author and protagonist Dante, in his role as narrator, addresses the reader directly nineteen times throughout the poem's three canticles, if Vittorio Russo's math can be trusted.
    • Inferno:
      • In Canto Eight, the narrator asks the reader to consider how horrified Dante was as Virgil began to leave him alone in Hell.
      • In Canto Nine, the narrator challenges "ye who have undistempered intellects" to uncover the allegorical meaning of Dante's encounter with Medusa.
      • In Canto Sixteen, the narrator engages in Lampshade Hanging by swearing to his "dear reader" that no matter how unbelievable Geryon seems, he really did go on this adventure.
      • Dante breaks the fourth wall to justify why he wept upon seeing the damned of Canto Twenty, since their "bodies" were such mutilations of the human image.
      • "Thou who readest" art briefly told to expect action before the demon-damned chase in Canto Twenty-Two.
      • Dante explicitly forgives any reader who doesn't believe his account in Canto Twenty-Five is truthful, since he can't believe it.
      • Breaking the fourth wall only for "those of wit," Dante charges the audience to consider if he wasn't alive or dead in Canto Thirty-Four, what was he?
    • Purgatorio:
      • In Canto Eight, Dante pleads with his audience to see the thinly veiled symbolic significance of the souls in Purgatory turning away from the dusk in the west to face the eastern sky and praise Christ.
      • In Canto Nine, Dante asks that no one be surprised if the poem's ever-growing subject matter causes the poem itself to use more "art" than may be expected.
      • In perhaps the most direct and honest address to the readers in the Comedy, the end of Canto Ten includes a disclaimer that one should not dwell on how severe on the punishments of Purgatory, for they are temporary and insignificant in the face of man's debt to God.
      • Canto 17 bluntly begins with the poet asking, "Ever been in a misty mountain?" Loose translation aside, it sets the scene uniquely.
      • In order to finish the canticle with the lines he has left, Dante tells the readers in Canto 29 to check out the Book of Ezekiel's descriptions of angels to learn what he's getting at.
      • The last lines of Purgatorio make up an apology from Dante to his readership, for not conserving enough space to finish the canticle's plot-lines before having to move on to Paradiso.
    • Paradiso:
      • Canto Two includes the Trope Maker for the Snicket Warning Label by directly telling the audience not to continue if they aren't prepared enough to follow.
      • The narration in Canto Five asks the reader to consider how they would feel if the Comedy was Left Hanging just as the saints of Mercury were to speak, in order to convey Dante's heated anticipation.
      • The reader is told twice in Canto Ten to pay attention to the narrator's reflection on how different life would be were the planets and stars aligned slightly differently.
      • Dante's masterfully-crafted comparison between the crossings of the constellations and wheelings of Heaven's spirit-flames is undermined by when he admits to the audience even that image is only a shadow of Paradise.
      • The narration orders the readers to consider how wondrous it must have been to see a griffin who appears to be at once fully an eagle and fully a lion without moving.
      • The last time the author addresses the audience is in Canto Twenty-Two, leaving the reader to direct their attention to the Church and the First Good.
  • Fortune De France: The narrator sometimes addresses his reader, that he guesses to be a female attractive one. He even writes her imaginary lines in a conversation.
  • Public School Superhero: In the illustration of Kenny's grandmother on page 8, after spouting a few stock lectures Kenny's way, she tells the reader to sit up straight.
  • Roys Bedoys: At the end of “That’s Dangerous, Roys Bedoys!”, Roys tells the audience to stay safe.
  • Sam the Cat: Detective: In The Big Catnap, Sam begins chapter ten by noting that he's ten chapters into the story and is (wrongly) confident that he'll be able to close the case in just two more chapters.
  • In Resurrection Life Nathan destroys the fourth wall when he describes his other job as the protector of the narrative flow of reality. This means he often inserts himself into stories and worlds we believe to be fiction, so that he can prevent others from sending them off the rails. He then mentions to Gideon that he is currently in one such story, but not to worry about it, because all this means is that the author is telling a story that has already happened. However, it's good to be seen as a fictional character, because the audience, if they believe the story to be good, will believe in him and gift that belief without realizing it, further empowering him from many realities away without them being any the wiser.
  • Merlin's very first line in Almost A Fantasy is him acknowleding that he is the character of a novel. Justified since Alexander is a writer and an Author Avatar; Merlin can see the future and is referring to the fact that eventually Almost a Fantasy will be written in-universe as well.

    Pro Wrestling 
  • There was this gem from Hulk Hogan on a November 2010 episode of TNA ReAction:
    "Well, brother, we're lightening the load around here. We're trimming the fat. We're thinning the herd. I mean, you know, it's pathetic. It's pathetic, that Dixie would let this company get in the shape it's in. It's her train of thought! Raven? Who hasn't had a damn shower or bath? Y'know, with RVD, and that whole crew out there? They meant to professional wrestling what Hulk Hogan, who sold out Shea Stadium? who put 94,000 people in the Pontiac Silverdome? who slammed a 700-pound giant? They mean to professional wrestling what Hulk Hogan means?
    "No wonder this company was in the shape it's in. It's time to get rid o' the trash, the garbage, the worthless piece of crap out here, and we started with Dixie Carter. Yeah, we're gettin' very real around here. We are so, real, it's unbelievable. Because, if you don't get over like I said, you're fired. If you don't draw number, if you don't entertain, if you don't put asses in seats, if you don't put the coinage in the piggy bank, you're fired. No more games. No more, "Kayfabe." "It's a work." "I've won 34 tag team belts." Who gives a damn how many fake belts you won!? If you don't draw money, you get fired around here. If you don't put asses in seats, you are gone."
  • Professional Wrestling as a whole exists in a weird space where there is no fourth wall...but there is. The universe portrayed in the ring is considered "real", for all intents and purposes. The people who enter the ropes, be they the living undead, obliviously narcissistic, or rich beyond belief; that's who they actually are. The audience has to believe that they exist both on and off the clock just as you see them. Likewise, they are constantly aware they are on television and performing before a live audience, so the concept of a fourth wall in the traditional sense is not there. The actual fourth wall is Kayfabe, which is something you generally do not want to break (as the notion is almost critical to the concept of pro wrestling making sense at all; even admitting its existence, like the above, is a surefire way to throw Willing Suspension of Disbelief out the window and even the audience knows it).
  • CM Punk, through his scathing Worked Shoot promo on 6/27/2011, created an on-screen character for himself where he could fly between the fourth wall and reality. He even lampshaded his own fourth wall-breaking in the promo.
  • The Rock does this a lot. For example, in reference to the brief John Cena / Zack Ryder / Eve Torres love triangle in early 2012, Rock pointed out that Cena is married in real life.
  • Triple H is the patron saint of this, especially when teaming with Shawn Michaels and DX. From addressing his real life romance, marriage, and baby, to the mantra of his heel Authority run being "best for business", to flubbing a line on live TV and addressing it, he does not let up, not even in video game form.
    "Put down the controller, get off the couch, and hit the gym, fatass!"

    Puppet Shows 
  • The Cashore Marionettes do this occasionally; one of the most significant instances is the skit "The Quest", in which a puppet scales his own puppeteer like a mountain, accompanied by triumphant music.
  • It's a Big Big World: Snook talks to the viewers, and is surprised to learn that they don't sleep in trees.
  • The Muppet Show:
    • In the first broadcast episode, Kermit the Frog (a puppet) is shown sipping milk from a glass with a straw; he takes a moment to say to the audience, "Think about this, friends."
    • Also, comes up in one of Statler and Waldorf's closing comments to an episode:
      Waldorf: How do they do it?
      Statler: How do we watch it?
      Waldorf: Why do we watch it?
      Statler: [looking at the camera] Why do you watch it?
  • Pili Fantasy: War of Dragons: The series open with the death of Su Huan-chen, the protagonist, and two comic relief friends of his note that it's unlikely this is really how the story will start.

  • John Finnemore's Souvenir Programme uses this fairly regularly, especially in the latest episodes.
    • Possibly the most explicit example is in Season 5, Episode 4, where one of the sketches is actor Simon Kane getting increasingly annoyed at actor and writer John Finnemore about the fact that he always plays the discontented characters. During the sketch, he frequently points out that John Finnemore has written all of this, and it isn't even his opinions.
    • Series 2, episode 4: Margaret Cabourn-Smith gets grumpy about the fact that her only role in the last sketch is as an owl.
  • In The BBC's remake of Flywheel, Shyster and Flywheel, Michael Roberts, playing Groucho Marx playing Waldorf T. Flywheel, would often ad-lib in character as Groucho, but not necessarily as Flywheel. On at least one occasion he commented on what had been a topical reference in 1932, and its complete failure to get a laugh in 1990.

  • Destroy the Godmodder: Very common. The main idea behind it is that it takes place in a video game (Minecraft specifically, although so heavily modded as to be completely unrecognizable) and many of the characters know that. Even canonically fictional ones. In the second game, the actual Fourth Wall of Minecraftia is broken, causing the Homestuck Invasion
  • The League of Intergalactic Cosmic Champions did this frequently.
  • Bioshock: Above the Sea: Zero does this twice, once, when a roleplayer states her upset at being dumped Zero "kills" her ex in the actual roleplay, and another time when he spends a few seconds speaking with the roleplayer that made him.
  • Many characters in Wanya Kingdom VS Awoofy Unity can communicate directly with the creators (aka the roleplayers).
  • This was a prominent running gag in We Are Our Avatars, where characters like Bass, Deadpool, Bernkastel, "Raven", among others, would refer to the readers and the people reading, but, the gag was done to death and it's since been downplayed. It got to the point where Etheru retconned the ability out of Bass because of annoyance with the gag.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Twilight Sparkle's Secret Shipfic Folder has Cheerilee, who knows she's in a shipping card game and wants no part of it.
  • In the My Little Pony Collectible Card Game, the backs of the 2013 demo cards have Derpy Hooves saying "This is a demo, right?"
  • This is part of Guise's power in Sentinels of the Multiverse. In the video game adaptation, he's shown editing his own character bio, and most of his cards are themed around parodying various comic book trends and genres. His card game version is also somewhat aware he's in a card game; one of his cards has him using the card type bar as a club, and his backdrop image in the video game adaptation has him point out a card for you to play. In a Letters Page Live convention spot, the creators were asked how far Guise's Medium Awareness extended; they immediately pointed to a Guise cosplayer in the crowd and say "well, there he is".

    Theme Parks 
  • In the former Jimmy Neutron's Nicktoon Blast ride at Universal Studios, there was a scene where SpongeBob is flung through Bikini Bottom, saying hello to everyone along the way. When greeting the regular Bikini Bottom citizens, he refers to them as "secondary characters".
  • In the Florida version of Revenge of the Mummy, towards the end ride it appears to have ended, with a worker behind glass saying the ride is over. This worker is then killed by the Mummy and the ride continues. When the ride ends, you see a recording of one of the makers of the ride, wishing you a good day. He is then also killed by the Mummy.
  • At The Simpsons Ride, also at Universal Studios, there is one last bit of motion simulator craziness because, in the words of Krusty the Clown, "Every amusement ride needs to stop by the gift shop." Made even funnier by the fact that it has no gift shop: the nearest one is over at Men in Black: Alien Attack!
  • In The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, while the ride vehicle travels up and down on the track, Tigger is heard to say "I almost bounced right out of the ride!"
  • Then there's Mickey & Minnie's Runaway Railway. During the Pre-show, where a boiler explosion in the titular engine blows a large hole in the movie screen itself, causing Goofy to invite the guests into the cartoon to experience it from the inside.

    Visual Novels 
  • In Akatsuki no Goei the maid Tsuki tells Kaito that he's Tae's boyfriend, bodyguard, teacher and more and he gets irritated at the long string of uninterrupted kanji. So she replies by saying the same thing, except this time it's all in hiragana, meaning it's nothing more than a long, incomprehensible string of syllables. That's why kanji exist in the first place.
  • Subverted at the end of Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney: We see Phoenix talking to what sounds like the player. He's actually talking to the members of a jury.
  • Aquarium: In "Marine's Route", Aqua barges in (despite not being introduced yetnote ) and says that the game is titled AQUArium, so Marine shouldn't even be a romance option, before the two fight over the protagonist role and Marine hijacks the plot, with the ending being non-canon.
  • In Asagao Academy: Normal Boots Club Mai does this frequently throughout the story with other occasional examples from some of the boys.
  • Danganronpa:
    • In Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc when Monokuma starts expositing on the backstories of the culprit and victim in Chapter 2, he says to hold O (or Ctrl in the PC version) to skip it in case you didn't want to hear all this.
    • Danganronpa V3: Killing Harmony deconstructed, Played for Drama and Horror, by revealing that the various fourth wall breaks of Monokuma are actually because the series have been turned into a reality TV show. When the characters discover this, they are utterly shocked as they realize all of their memories and emotions were fiction. This reveal almost entirely cripples the surviving members, until Shuichi comes to the realization that even if everything is fictional, their experiences and pain are real. The final battle is against the embodiment of the TV audience itself.
  • Monika in Doki Doki Literature Club! breaks the fourth wall a couple of times, such as to advice you about saving the game. The game's download page is also written as if it's her addressing the potential player. It looks like the usual kind of plot-irrelevant joke, but it isn't. She has Medium Awareness all along, she's just reluctant to break the fourth wall at first.
  • In Double Homework, Johanna and Tamara summarize the events of the previous episode (according to the options chosen) to the players the beginning of each new one.
  • Monster Prom: In an event where Liam asks the player if he knows about a crowdfunding site called Startkicker, the Narrator will abruptly snark about whether Liam knows the reason why he exists, since Monster Prom was a game crowdfunded on Kickstarter.
  • Hatoful Boyfriend is pretty aware that it's a dating sim, and a silly one at that. However, the standout moment is the introduction to the sequel Holiday Star, in which Ryouta directly addresses the audience to explain that it takes place on a separate timeline from the original game to prevent continuity errors.
  • Steins;Gate: Near the beginning of the novel, Okabe Rintarou talks to the audience for a good time while he stares very near the camera. He actually is refusing the idea of him being a fictional person and you (the audience) being the real one, while the other two characters on the scene just act as him being delusional (which he actually is, so his actions 'make sense' In-Universe), so it might also qualify as a Leaning on the Fourth Wall.
  • Tyrion Cuthbert: Attorney of the Arcane:
    • If you examine the hallway in the Aurinax inn, Tyrion points out that it's identical to the McCoy tavern's hallway. Initially Celeste tries to rationalize it, but upon further skepticism from Tyrion she outright says that it's expensive to make these backgrounds and that you should pay for another one if you want it so badly, referencing the fact that the game was crowdfunded.
    • If you present wrong evidence when cross-examining Eris, she points out that the music didn't stop, which is a sure sign that the objection is invalid. Tyrion is confused.

    Web Animation 
  • Brawl of the Objects:
    • In the Cold Opening to episode 5, Boat is attempting to speak French with Baguette using the dictionary he purchased in a previous episode. Once Boat asked Baguette to repeat what he had just said, Baguette asked Boat if she couldn't see the subtitles. At which point the subtitles themselves address Boat. After witnessing Baguette getting hugged by the subtitles, Boat proceeds to break a wall labelled 4.
    • Becomes a Brick Joke in The Stinger. When Boom Box mentions how some of the characters there (him, Party Hat and Shieldy) were recommended characters and Party Hat agrees (while looking at the screen to boot), Boat once again breaks the same wall.
  • In an episode of Da Amazin OT Advenchr, Deine called the show itself crap when it started "evolving".
  • Flipnote Warrior:
    • Ugo explains that Transformation Sequence is difficult to animate, so Mome simply gets a different shirt. Mome gets annoyed by the meta as much as not getting to do doing anything cool.
    • The art technique of making characters often look sideways to avoid drawing both eyes is referenced when Anti-Sakuga makes Mome temporarily lose the right half of her face.
  • Taco-Man frequently references his cartoon state.
  • RWBY Chibi:
    • In episode 6, Team RWBY is shocked when Pyrrha, who was killed off in the main series but is alive here, shows up with the rest of Team JNPR. When Ruby goes to mention it, Nora cuts her off with a rant.
      Nora: Nope! Never happened! Everything's FINE! Pyrrha. Is. FINE! And nothing bad. Ever. Happened. (Turns to face the viewer.) EVERRRR...
    • Episode 23 goes completely and utterly nuts with this trope as Nora downs an entire pot of coffee and ends up travelling through various dimensions she ends up in the real world. She's brought back to "relative" normal when her voice actress drinks coffee.
  • EVTV Weather has a few occasional 4th wall breaks. Along with the character of Maggot Man, who serves as a pseudo-narrator.
  • Da Amazin OT Advenchr does this occasionally.
    • In sooper appisote 3, the entire series’ font gets changed midway through the sooper appisote, due to someone pressing a button that said "CHANGE FONT".
    • And in A.18, Liteslayer and Deine indirectly break the fourth wall by acknowledging the live “evolution” happening to them. It starts by a text-to-speech-translator, getting colored, then spelling properly, then so on and so forth until Lite kills himself to stop any more "evolution" from happening.
  • The fourth wall is broken continuously in the Alfred's Playhouse series. Alfred address the audience as "boys and girls" and in the movie, Dictator Pickles personally introduces Alfred to the audience.
  • The eponymous Emperor of If the Emperor Had a Text-to-Speech Device breaks the wall oftentimes, from lamenting that he can't make any more fourth-wall-breaking jokes anymore to commenting on the new opening the series gets in episode 12.
  • Homestar Runner does this, particularly in the "Virus" Strong Bad e-mail where the format of the web page gets tampered with. Also, "My mouth was a broken JPEG!" Happens literally in some of the iTunes openings, where Strong Bad will either press his face against the screen, leaving a print, or literally try to break your screen!
  • At one point in a Happy Tree Friends interactive minigame, a character is killed when they're crushed against the fourth wall.
  • Everything Is Broken:
    • When Flippy plays LG he starts to scream, Flaky hears him from the other room and holds up a sign reading "Should I ask?" to the audience in part 1.
    • The Author Avatar holds up a sign reading "Thought I should break the fourth wall before dying" in part 12.
  • In GEOWeasel, the fourth wall is broken enough that Mitri complains about Nar breaking the fourth wall, and Nar retorts that pointing it out would also be, as he says, self-referencing.
  • DarkMatter2525 is mentioned in his video "If God Answers Prayers", when God complains about atheists on YouTube making videos about his actions, especially "that Dark-Matter, what's-his-face-douchebag".
  • TimberWolf: Main character Thomas T. Wolf constantly talks directly to the viewer.
  • The OMORIBOY Chronicles:
    • The first video is slightly different from the later entries, as RainingKetchup breaks character to get excited at the Early-Installment Weirdness (or Early-Installment Weird Consistency, in one case).
    • In FANTASTIC!!!, when Omori says "The Internet has everything...including the VIDEO YOU'RE WATCHING RIGHT NOW!".
    • MESSENGER!!! is an announcement video, so naturally it addresses the viewer directly.
  • Fazbear and Friends (ZAMination): The series likes to play with the fourth wall, so much so that even the characters talk about being in a cartoon, others who talk about being in a cartoon. It is a program for children and they more or less satirize pop culture when they compare it with that of their universe.

    Web Video 
  • Dora the Explorer and the Destiny Medallion: Dora asks the audience whether they can solve the puzzle, and stands there looking at the camera waiting for them. This makes Diego call her crazy.
  • The opening sketch of Drew Gooden's "Vine: Where Are They Now?" video ends when one of Drew's characters realizes the news anchor is also himself, leading the other character to point out that they're in a sketch he wrote, and that the only reason this is happening is because he couldn't find a good way to end the sketch.
  • Tactical Cupcakes: Meta humor is used often in the series, with almost everyone able to comment on game mechanics or the fact that they're in a Youtube video.
  • Unwanted Houseguest: It isn't clear in-universe how the Houseguest communicates with his audience or produces his music, but he's reliant on a landlines phone for external communication, so it seems unlikely he had internet.
  • KateModern comes dangerously close to breaking the fourth wall on a number of occasions, always with some in-universe justification (however flimsy). They finally break it directly in "The Last Work", when Tez, after talking to an off-screen Meryl, turns to the camera and says, "She should get her own show, that one." This was also a direct Shout-Out to the fanbase, as the concept of a Spin-Off called "MerylModern" was a popular fan in-joke. Of course, KateModern never had a Fourth Wall in the traditional sense, because while the characters aren't aware that they are fictional, they are always aware of the audience and address them frequently. The fictional "fan" Sophie, in particular, broke the fourth wall repeatedly on her Bebo profile.
  • In The Guild, Codex breaks the fourth wall at the start of every episode, talking to the audience about what's bothering her.
  • To Boldly Flee got three instances of this right in the finale, when The Nostalgia Critic comes face to face with his own creator, Doug Walker, when Chester A. Bum points out a inconsistency from the special itself, (It Makes Sense in Context), and when the Nostalgia Critic points out that the audience had figured out that The Angry Video Game Nerd was Gort the whole time.
  • There is a bit of fourth wall breaking in The Cartoon Man saga. While no one ever acknowledges their existence as characters in a movie, Roy looks into the camera numerous times as if acknowledging an audience. It's played as one more aspect of acting like a cartoon character. Roy and Valerie also go through a "montage" in the third movie, and specifically refer to it as such.
  • Resident Evil Abridged: The entire cast is aware of the sort of situation they're in - from Rebecca pointing out why having a medic at all times in a Survival Horror game would be an unfair advantage, to Jill recognizing when she's entered a boss room.
  • The characters in The Sonic Amigos know that they are in a Web Video, and occasionally comment on it.
  • Left POOR Dead: Frequently, examples include Dr. Smedly refering to himself as the antagonist and Tippy knowing Toby's name from seeing it in the opening credits
  • In I'm a Marvel... And I'm a DC almost every character knows that they are comic book characters and they frequently meet at the hero bar "Stan's Place" to talk about the movies and tv shows that are based on them. However, Deadpool still manages to be one step ahead of everyone else by being the only character to know that they are all action figures in a Youtube video series with long waiting periods between videos.
    • Pretty much the only character to not know about his comic origins at first and believe himself to be real is Darkseid. Once he learns the truth from Joker, he admits it was a blow to ego but then he takes the time to study his comic origins and Marvel's, learning about the writers, artists, and continuity, until he uses the concept of reboots for his next Evil Plan. He is thwarted when Deadpool uses his own device against him to transfer his knowledge of their world into Darkseid's head, and Darkseid, has a breakdown, being unable to handle that he is really just a toy.
  • When Samantha clarifies to Darma that she and Jake are neither married nor related despite having the same last names in Roller Samurai Vampire Slayers, she says it is because they are not very creative.
  • Danny Gonzalez:
    • One Vine has him call himself out for using peanut butter instead of a phone, to which he points out the peanut butter is just a prop for the video.
    • "I've got a date with a hot cougar!" "Ah, nice! Oh wait, I know how this Vine going to end..." and cue the Visual Pun of an actual cougar being the date, just as was predicted.
  • Futuro Ex-Porta: Some participants were criticized for attempting to break the fourth wall by facing the judges directly. It's considered a mistake because the performances are supposed to mimic Porta dos Fundos sketches, not stage plays, so technically the judges are not the actual audience.
    • In Episode 2, Catharina and Dan were criticized for addressing the judges directly a few times during their performance, which, according to João Vicente, made the sketch too "theatrical".
    • In Episode 4, Pimenta was praised for facing the camera during the fictional debate, making his performance as a candidate in a televised debate seem much more realistic. Meanwhile, the other participants were criticized for only facing either each other or the judges, even though, in Gregório Duvivier's words, the judges "don't exist" in the scene.
  • In the "Coffee Time" episode of commodoreHUSTLE, Graham drinks a concentrated coffee superbrew developed by Paul. While the first side effect is merely rambling quickly about cephalopods, it quickly escalates to him doing video editing on the same episode he's currently in, despite commodoreHUSTLE not existing in-continuity. Then, the episode "ends" and a different show on the channel begins. However, shortly after starting, the HUSTLE versions of Kathleen and Graham interrupt their real-world counterparts, complaining that the ending of their episode was not narratively satisfying, and that the episode should continue. After the episode finishes, The Stinger shows Graham and Beej from the present interrupting a third separate show from 5 months in the future.

  • SCP Foundation:
    • SCP-674 ("The Exposition Gun"). When SCP-674 is fired at characters in a TV show or movie, the user perceives that the characters respond to the shooting and even talk to the user.
    • There are several other SCPs that break the fourth wall towards the reader, for example, SCP-1893 ("The Minotaur's Tale")
    • Any article with the Pataphysics tag ("Pata" being the step above "Meta") deals with the fictional nature of the Foundation, such as the Foundation realizing it's fictional and trying to influence the writers or readers or even the wiki itself.
  • TV Tropes:
    • An editor of the site will often introduce themselves as "This Troper". This is frowned upon for examples. So are That Troper and The Other Troper.
    • There are a handful of articles that make a point of addressing the reader directly, such as Big Brother Is Watching You.

  • This poem, titled I Love You But You're Real.
  • Certain characters in Star Harbor Nights are "meta-aware", notably the Hex Kittens and the inhabitants of the Sands of Time, the local Inn Between the Worlds. Most often used for Lampshade Hanging.
    • The chapter Super Vision Lampshades this when Johnny Dark cautions Maria not to overthink the nature of the Sands, because it makes the author irritable. Later, Tigerlily Bender seems to fall afoul of this same phenomenon.
  • In the Anti-Cliché and Mary-Sue Elimination Society's base of operations, there is an actual fourth wall that makes a tremor when broken. Also notable is the fact that Tyler will frequently have arguments with the narrator.
  • In the Whateley Universe, the Monkey King is a godlike being who apparently has this as a power. In his own point of view short story, he repeatedly addresses the readers and even makes comments about some of the forum posters.
  • In one of the Soul Pancake video "Unexpected Visitor" the intruder tells the guy, and atheist he is God, the guy says "you just lost me" to which God says "that's okay, we probably just lost about Half our audience." then looks and winks at the camera.
  • This trope's the very first trope discussed on On the Tropes.
  • The Last Generation runs over the fourth wall with a bulldozer and then pees on its remains. After hopping through several worlds across the Multiverse Inna, the main character finally reaches our own, where she meets her creator, who proceeds to explain that she's just a character in a roleplaying forum whose uniqueness is the result of several retcons, and the reason her world is being destroyed is that the forum has closed down due to inactivity.
  • In the Top 10 4th Wall Breaks in TV from the narrator Rebecca refers to the video she is currently narrating and then turns confused to the camera.
  • Cranbersher did an animation of Markiplier that was a sequel to a previous one, and in the introduction, this happens:
    Markiplier puppet: [The first Timore game] also spawned an animation made by Cranbersher—
    Cranbersher puppet: [looks up from animating an even smaller puppet of Mark]
  • Hector's World: The characters often talk to the viewers when delivering morals.
  • Pretending to Be People: Horror Host Wolf the Dog evidently exists in-universe and has his own backstory, but also addresses viewers and provides recaps and announcements.
  • WHAT COLOR ARE YOU?: The quiz's creator quickly tires of asking questions and addresses the viewer directly, asking why they bothered to make a quiz about what color you are, what that even means, and why someone would want to take such a stupid quiz. They then tell you that since you clearly have to time spare since you're taking such an asinine quiz, you probably have enough time to play a game with them, and starts to direct you on a Chose Your Own Adventure-style game.

Alternative Title(s): Break The Fourth Wall, Fourth Wall Breaking, Breaks The Fourth Wall


Yacker's Plea

Tails' translation device has a few bugs, which results in inaccurate translations contrary to what Yacker is saying when asked by Sonic.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (7 votes)

Example of:

Main / EitherWorldDominationOrSomethingAboutBananas

Media sources: