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Fake Interactivity

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Phil: I'll get you out. We could make it a team effort.
Phred: Yep. Since there's a lot I can do behind a wall of extremely dense glass.
Phil: ...Okay, so it'll be more like what children's television shows consider a "team effort".

Sometimes works pretend to be interactive when, by the definition of their medium, they aren't. You know what this means, right?

Beat note 

You're absolutely right, it means that anything the audience does has no effect on the program!

Anyway, this is common in children's programming (e.g. Edutainment) to encourage a form of Audience Participation. Sometimes, instead of a blank pause, the work will have a chorus of voices chime in with the expected answer, in case kids either don't understand, are incapable of answering due to a disability, or are smart enough to know nothing they say or do will affect the episode.

This trope reached its zenith around the Turn of the Millennium thanks to overwhelming success of preschool programming such as Blue's Clues, before becoming quite uncommon by the end of The New '10s. A 2010 survey conducted by Disney prior to their preschool block being rebranded to Disney Junior suggested that this might have occurred due to the rise of simple-to-use smart devices being able to teach concepts to preschoolers through actual interactivity. As such, writers no longer feel a need to do this.

When this trope is used in a Show Within a Show, it could involve The Tape Knew You Would Say That.

Shows with fake interactivity have No Fourth Wall. Characters in shows with fake interactivity have a tendency to assume you're a child.

Compare But Thou Must!, the video game equivalent, where the interactivity allowed by the medium isn't utilized. Not to be confused with the audience shouting at Too Dumb to Live characters.


    open/close all folders 

  • There are some scuzzy online ads that pose as computer dialogue boxes and offer supposed choices such as "Do you want to update your drivers? Yes / No" It doesn't matter which choice you click, if you're stupid enough to click on it. You still get sent to the same page, most likely trying to get spyware of some sort onto your computer.
  • In one online ad for Dory toys at Target Dory hides and you have to find her. Regardless of whether you click or not, or tap or not if you're on your Phone, Dory still acts as if you did.
  • Publisher's Clearing House is fond of sending out emails that say stuff like "accept this prize entry or surrender your chances." Clicking the "accept" button will enter you in the contest or take you a page for entering. The "surrender" button isn't clickable.
  • The infomercial Absolutely Rose Street asks the viewer to call a phone number to decide if the Show Within a Show Game Beat makes it or if it's replaced with Styling With Stella. Of course, since it's an infomercial, it doesn't matter (and a magazine ad even notes this). Game Beat wins automatically in the end.

    Anime and Manga 
  • In a rare example of a show for older kids doing this, the Hailey episodes of Yo-Kai Watch contain a segment called "Yo-Kai Search Quiz", where the viewer has to help Hailey find where that week's Yo-Kai is hiding. Hailey and USApyon usually count down while waiting for the viewer to choose the correct answer, but in one episode, this did not happen.
  • The Hinako Series is (in)famous as an attempt at this targeted towards the older Otaku crowd with the intent for them to act as companionship with stuff like training, sleeping, and bathing in the most Fanservicey possible. It was also one of the best selling OVAs in Japan at the time of release, being sold out rather quickly.
  • Hinako even has somewhat has Spear Counterparts in Makura no Danshi and Room Mate, although in the case of the latter a Reverse Harem with the viewer as the Heroine. Cue flame wars between Otakus of both sexes arguing over which is "creepier" (in this case invoking the Girl-Show Ghetto).
  • The home video release of the fifth Love Live! concert has an animated segment of the main characters doing the calls and responses, with the characters pausing for the viewers to say the chants. They act as if you said the response even if you didn't.
  • Each episode of The Helpful Fox Senko-san has a post-credits scene named "Super Senko-san Time", where Senko interacts with an unvoiced individual, with the audience taking his point of view.
  • The movie PriPara and Kiratto PriChan: Sparkling Memorial Live has a segment where the audience has to cheer on multicolored Takkis during one of three games. Usually, one will fail the task, and Laala will ask the audience to cheer for this particular one, which causes it to win the game.
  • The Pretty Cure films (save for the ones from Max Heart through Splash Star, as well as the Spring Carnival movie and the Healin' Good♡Pretty Cure movie) have objects called Miracle Lights that are used at the climax. Each patron in the theater is given one, and has to use it at the climax while shouting "You can do it, Pretty Cure!" or "Power to the Pretty Cure!". People who don't have the lights are encouraged to support them with all their heart.

    Asian Animation 
  • In Season 1 of Doby & Disy, the title characters frequently ask for the viewers' help on their adventures, having them do things such as find objects they are looking for.

  • Discussed regarding Language Lab cassette tapes in an Eddie Izzard routine, segueing into The Tape Knew You Would Say That:
    Tape: Ou est le plume de ma tante? [pause] Ou est le plume de ma tante?
    Student: La plume de ma tante est pres de la chaise de ma tante. As well you know.
    Tape: Oui, la plume de ma tante est pres de la chaise de ma tante.
    Student: How does this tape know what I'm talking about?
    Tape: Ou est la plume de mon oncle?
    Student: Le plume de mon oncle est bingy-bongy-boogy-bongy.
    Tape: [affronted] Non! Pas de tout! Je ne me connais pas "bingy-bongy-boogy-bongy." Qu'est-ce que vous dites?
  • Mr. Zed, the Robotic Comic tries to work the room in standard cheesy comic fashion, but because A.I. Is a Crapshoot it devolves into this trope.
    Zed: Anyone here on a... first date?
    Audience: ...
    Zed: ...Good! Any... football supporters?
    Audience: [muffled cheering]
    Zed: ...Good! Anyone from... out of town?
    Audience: ...
    Zed: ...Good! Where are you from, sir?
    Audience: [inaudible]
    Zed: ...Good!

    Comic Books 

    Films — Animation 
  • In the climax of Care Bears Movie II: A New Generation, a girl named Christy is mortally wounded by dark magic (note that the Big Bad didn't intend to hurt her), and the Care Bears tell the audience that they have to chant "I care!" along with the other characters in order to save her. Even if you don't play along, or say you don't care or will Christy to die (you monster), she gets better regardless, and the villain pulls a Heel–Face Turn.
  • Miffy The Movie plays this trope straight, with Miffy asking questions to the audience during the treasure hunt she and her friends play at the zoo.
  • Fly Out, PriPara: Aim For It With Everyone! Idol Grand Prix has Meganee tell the viewer to turn their hand as if they were cranking a Gashapon machine to pick the songs, which happens anyway even if the audience isn't doing the action.
  • In the Shima Shima Tora no Shimajirō theatrical movies, the audience is motivated to interact with Shimajiro and company. Just like in the Pretty Cure example above, the theater patrons are given a special cardboard megaphone in order to "respond" to Shimajiro.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In the movie Thomas and the Magic Railroad, the audience is supposedly responsible for putting the cushion out to break Mr. Conductor's fall. This is averted in the two series on which the film was based, however, outside of educational segments made between Seasons 8-12.
  • The Oogieloves in the Big Balloon Adventure tried to do this with instructions at the beginning of the film encouraging the children to do certain things when certain events in the film took place. The few parents who thought this would be a good idea regretted the decision when the kids would run loose all over the movie theater and disrupted everyone else's time there.
  • The Adventures of Elmo in Grouchland begins with Bert and Ernie telling the kids in the audience that they'll need to help participate during the movie and ask them to count down from ten to start the film. Kids' voices responding to Elmo are played during these parts.
  • The Dancing Bear gag of the 1961 horror film Mr. Sardonicus was a simulated "vote" on the final fate of the movie's villain. Just before the closing scene, William Castle (the film's producer and director) appears onscreen and invites the audience to hold up the "thumbs up/down" cards they'd have been issued during the original theatrical release. He goes through the motions of calling on a few audience members to clarify their votes, mimes tallying the results, then calls the verdict and cues up the concluding scene. It's unclear if a "show mercy" option was ever filmed or not (most film historians agree that it wasn't), but the slanted way Castle describes the viewers' choice pretty much guarantees that "no mercy" will win, so only that outcome was ever actually shown. That's why it's Fake Interactivity.
  • In Barney's Great Adventure, this trope is used thrice: when Barney encourages the viewers to sing Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, when Baby Bop asks them if they've seen her blanket and when Barney motivates them to imagine a log can fly in order to get the Egg Macguffin back from a hot air balloon.

  • Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul: Discussed. Greg recalls watching TV shows that pretended to be interactive. He believed that the characters actually listened to what he told them, so his mother had to tell him that they couldn't.
  • Played for drama in Room. As a Child by Rape of a Bunker Woman kept in the titular Tailor-Made Prison, Jack's favorite TV show is Dora the Explorer because of this very trope. Later on (but well before they escape Room), he gets very confused when Ma tells him that while Dora is still fake, the people in the live-action shows are real. note 
    Dora always says she’s going to need my help, like can I find a magic thing, she waits for me to say, “Yeah.” I shout out, “Behind the palm tree,” and the blue arrow clicks right behind the palm tree, she says, “Thank you.” Every TV person else doesn’t listen.
  • Fahrenheit 451 has the protagonist's wife Millie, who is utterly obsessed with her TV Room. Not a room containing a TV, mind you; a room where nearly all the walls are televisions. Her favorite show (and many others, no doubt) has the gimmick of mailing episode's script a few days ahead of time, letting viewers memorize their lines. During the show, a light in the corner of the screen indicates when the viewer is supposed to speak. All Millie thinks about are the characters from the show, and she even demands that her husband replace the final wall of the room with a fourth TV so she can feel more immersed. No Fourth Wall, indeed.
    • The film adaptation simply presents a straightforward example of the trope, in the form of characters having a banal argument, turning to the viewer playing an unseen third character, and asking their opinion. Linda doesn't answer in time, but it continues anyway with a noncommittal reply, apparently shattering her immersion.
  • Mo Willems' Pigeon series of books, beginning with Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus present this in literary format, encouraging the readers to shout out "No!" when the Pigeon begs to do something he's not allowed to do, like driving the bus. Some of these stories were later adapted for DVD by Scholastic and Weston Woods. There are other children's picture books that have adopted this format as well.
  • The children's book Open Very Carefully has a similar concept; it follows the story of a crocodile who invades a book and encourages kids to shake the book, turn it, and other things in an attempt to get the crocodile out.
  • There are a pair of famous Sesame Street books with this effect.
    • The book The Monster at the End of This Book has Grover asking the reader not turn the page, going to greater and greater lengths to 'secure' the next page against turning, and getting increasingly desperate as the reader continues to read the book. (Because there's a monster at the end of the book, you see.) At the end, Grover himself turns out to be the monster, and becomes embarrassed when he realizes this.
    • The book got a sequel called Another Monster At The End Of This Book which had roughly the same formula except now Elmo was also involved in the story this time around and both encouraged the reader to keep going as well as impeding Grover from trying to stop the reader. As you probably guessed, the ending is the same - Grover and Elmo are the monsters in the title.
  • There's a series of three picture books by Jörg Mühle featuring a character called Little Rabbit: Tickle My Ears, Bathtime for Little Rabbit and Poor Little Rabbit! which rely on this premise. In each book, the reader is supposed to be performing a different task: getting Little Rabbit for bed, giving Little Rabbit a bath or providing first-aid to Little Rabbit's scraped elbow. The books, however, actually contain no real elements, leaving everything to the reader's imagination. This is actually opposed to some children's picture books, which actually do contain certain interactive elements, like an actual blanket to tuck the character in, or flaps and pull-tabs.
  • The novelization to the Doctor Who episode The Day Of The Doctor claims to be written on psychic paper so the author can see the readers through space and time as he's writing, occasionally commenting on what we're doing.

    Live-Action TV 
  • The Sci-Fi Channel would run advertisements where they would ask the viewer to please place their hand up to the screen. There was then a sequence where a futuristic laser beam would "scan" an outline of a human hand. The voice would then say "You have been cleared. Thank you."
  • Downplayed in Mister Rogers' Neighborhood. Mister Rogers rarely required the audience to play along, but he did talk to the camera as if it was the viewer. In fact, the well-remembered "Can you say X" example (which Fred Rogers felt would have been condescending) only ever happened once.note 
    • Parodied in Bloom County, as Opus learns English from the show. In the first of those strips, he responds to "Trumpet player" with "Terflump Gerflump"; in the second, he answers "Public servant" with "bozo". In both cases, Rogers just says "Good!"
    • In another strip, Oliver's Banana Jr. computer does the same thing, but responds to the TV by saying "Ted Koppel is a waffle". When Mr. Rogers says "Good!", the computer addresses the house: "MISTER ROGERS HAS GONE BANANAS!"
  • Drake & Josh both try to talk to the people watching the show. In a truly hilarious bit, Drake is warmly received by his audience and given a plate of cookies through the fourth wall, while Josh is both insulted and spit upon.
    • In another episode, Crazy Steve is watching Dora the Explorer, asking Dora why she would need to ask the audience something so simple when she could probably figure it out herself.
  • Subverted in Angel, which had a fairly dark take on this in the "Smile Time" episode. Puppet demons hosted their own show and used it to steal the souls of little kids. In The Teaser, a kid was watching the show and as the mom walked out of the room, the lead puppet watched her walk away and then talked straight to the kid. This looks like normal Fake Interactivity until that particular kid, and no one else so far, loses his soul. It's later revealed that the puppets are using a spell to distract anyone other than the children they're targeting from realizing what they're doing. Fred catches this when she hits the mute button during an episode - the spell is in the song the puppets are singing.
  • Played with in Romper Room: The host could use the Magic Mirror to "see" who was watching, naming children who'd written to the show. Since this was a show franchise produced by local stations, it was likely that a given child watching might be called.
  • Shane and David do this during the beginning of The Upside Down Show.
  • Pee-wee's Playhouse, being a parody of the "kid's show" genre, did this a lot. As an interesting side note, the plastic overlay from Winky Dink inspired Pee-Wee's "Magic Screen" segments.
  • Parodied in a Saturday Night Live spoof of Dora the Explorer called "Maraka", in which the title character asks about the meaning of life, the nature of free will, and the Robert Blake murder trial while acting as though the viewers are giving a specific answer. Maraka also becomes aggravated when the "audience" does not pretend to toboggan down a mountain.
  • In several of David Copperfield's TV specials, he would perform a magic trick with the viewers at home, largely involving a series of cards on the screen and asking the viewers at home to pick a card and then moving around the cards until he figures out which card you are on. He isn't really interacting with the viewers at home; he's using instructions designed to herd the viewers to a specific card.
  • Max Maven did the same thing as David Copperfield above in several magic trick TV specials.
  • Sam on the 1986 VHS Rent-a-Friend would like to be your friend. [1]
  • On the PBS children's math show Odd Squad, each episode includes a short "recruitment video" requesting that young viewers sign up with their math-mystery-solving agency. The recruiter's invitation is always addressed in this fashion, as with: "Hey, you with the hair. And the eyes. Yes, you!" or "Hey, you! With the glasses! Or no glasses!"
  • The home edition of 1961 ABC game show Camouflage had clear sheets of film included for viewers to put over their TV screens and with the crayon included trace the object the contestants on the show were attempting to find and trace.
  • Common in local kids' shows of the 1950's and 1960's, such as Bozo the Clown. The Washington, D.C. version for instance had "Bozo ball", where he would throw a ball at a specific viewer after reading out their name and address.
  • Doctor Who: In an in-universe example, one episode had the Tenth Doctor on a video (filmed several decades prior), apparently interacting in real time with the episode's protagonist (in the modern day). Turns out he was actually just reading off an autocue (complete with pauses of appropriate length)... transcribed during said conversation by the protagonist's own sidekick and given to the Doctor in the future. This being the same episode that gave us 'timey-wimey, wibbly wobbly' is not at all coincidental.
  • Inai Inai Baa!:
    • At one point in time, the show featured an anime segment called Mushimushi-kun, revolving around a caterpillar who often "interacted" with the children watching. For example, in one segment, he offered the viewers a drink by holding his opened can of juice up to the screen for them to drink out of, and in another segment he played catch with the viewers using a balloon.
    • In the first episode of the eighth generation of the show, Poupo asks for the viewer's name, followed by a brief pause and him acting as if you answered correctly.
    • In a segment on the "Tomodachi Hahaha" VHS, after Kuu can't guess what animal Wan Wan drew, Wan Wan shows the viewers the drawing (of a hippo) and asks them what animal it is, followed by a brief pause. However, Wan Wan does not talk after this, with the tape cutting to the next segment.
  • The old format of Playhouse Disney used outside of the United States (including the likes of the UK, France, Spain, Germany, Australia, etc) featured a lot of interactivity between the presenters and the viewers. For example in one UK segment, the presenters Big Dave and Little Alex ask the viewers to march on the floor with them or give them a hug.
  • UK pre-school channel CBeebies also features the same kind of interaction with presenters and viewers and still does today.
  • Brødrene Dal tends to have a lot of fun with this, frequently asking the audience to send in their answers to questions that are then answered immediately afterward. In one particular example, the brothers are considering whether or not to steal food, and ask the audience; Everyone who wants them to steal the food, turn of their television. They then declare that "everyone who's watching now is in favor of us stealing".
    • In another scene, the Narrator asks a question of the audience and asks them to send in their answer. The next episode does actually open on him having asked a police officer to pick a random winner from the pile of correct answers. The police officer hands him an envelope... containing a parking ticket.
  • Several, if not most of, Sprout programming blocks show examples, especially The Good Night Show, in which the "Goodnight Guide," Nina, encouraged the "Sproutlet" viewers (and Star) to join her in saying Spanish and sign language words. Other than these, the hosts talked to the Sproutlets like Mr. Rogers and encouraged them to send in Official Fan-Submitted Content.
  • The PBS Kids Preschool Block is essentially The Good Night Show in a preschool classroom, so, like Nina, Miss Rosa encouraged children to say Spanish words with her.

    Pro Wrestling 
  • Pre-taped interviews ("via satellite") are usually done this way, with the announcers or another wrestler involved with the promo playing along to the video. Usually resorted to when someone like The Rock is off filming a movie.

    Puppet Shows 
  • Ants in Your Pants: Lickety Split would often pause to let the audience speak to him, or would react like they told him something, which is always very specific to the script.
  • After averting it for nearly ten seasons (although it did have Barney Says), Barney & Friends did this when the show switched sets.
  • Bear in the Big Blue House has "What Do You Think?", where Bear asks various kids about the episode's topic.
  • Oobi used this in the game segments, though kids' voices were used to answer the questions.
  • Readalong: Characters in the show would often hold conversations with the audience, even pausing and talking back to them. It being an Edutainment show from The '70s, it was as interactive as one would expect.
  • Sesame Street:
    • Aside from the occasional Fourth Wall break, the show avoided this as well for the most part. And even when the Fourth Wall was broken, the characters were usually just lecturing the audience on various topics, with the audience merely spectators witnessing as the lessons descend into anarchy. Then along came "Elmo's World" and "Journey to Ernie."
    • There's also "Abby's Flying Fairy School", but the characters ask each other questions rather than the audience.
    • Elmo's Playdate plays this straight, being done in a similar style to a virtual video chat. Elmo encourages the viewers to do several activities when promoted, the most notable of which being a certain noise causing him to ask the viewers to dance like crazy.
  • In Toby Terrier and His Video Pals, some sections of the show paused in anticipation of the Toby toy responding, but it continued on if he didn't. In the only tape released for the Wonder Bone accessory, the show stopped dead to let you press the buttons on the toy to answer questions. However, since the Toby toy couldn't send signals back to the tape, it didn't matter if you got the right answer or even did nothing, the show would just keep going regardless.
  • Yo Gabba Gabba!: A few Season 1 segments used this trope, such as "Brobee Wants to Color," "Foofa Wants to Play a Game," "Muno Wants to Play Pretend," and "Let's Listen to Sounds with Toodee." Other than these, the series tends to avoid this trope.

  • An early (and iconic in Britain) example comes from Listen with Mother, The BBC's radio program for children in The '50s: "Are you sitting comfortably?" (Pause) "Then I'll begin." When the BBC moved to TV, it became Watch With Mother. Fifty-odd years later, the show inspired the villainous "Wire" in the Doctor Who episode "The Idiot's Lantern".
  • In New Dynamic English, Max would usually ask the listener questions regarding the interview. There's also "A Question for You" where Max asks a question with an answer that is up to the listener.
    • Elizabeth also does this to the listeners in Functioning in Business.

  • Most versions of Peter Pan ask the audience to "clap if you believe in fairies" to restore Tinkerbell back to life.
  • Doctor Who Live: The Monsters Are Coming! used mostly live actors, but featured the Doctor in the form of pre-recorded footage of Matt Smith on a screen. Several times, the Doctor asks the audience to help him break the Miniscopes by chanting "Geronimo!" as loud as they can. Of course, the footage just continues regardless of what the audience is doing.
  • Zig-zagged in The Trail to Oregon!. The audience really does get to name the five main characters by shouting out suggestions, and vote on which of the characters dies at the end. However, the part where the audience is allowed to choose how the character will meet their demise is only there on the assumption that the audience will always choose dysentery, a safe bet due to the disease's memetic nature in the game on which the musical is based.
  • In The Marvellous Wonderettes, the audience votes to choose one of the actresses as Prom Queen. But the votes are ignored and Suzy is always chosen.
  • Some stage adaptations of children's programs such as Dragon Tales Live or Bear in the Big Blue House Live will use a form of this in drawing an audience response, similar to the way a children's show that uses this will do. Even so, the show must go on even if the audience response isn't particularly energetic that day, or even if some of the audience decide to be contrary.

    Video Games 
  • Parodied in Amanda the Adventurer: The player is watching episodes of a strange Show Within a Show that parodies Dora the Explorer, including segments where the title character will stop and talk to the audience, prompting the player to type in a response or click on the screen. However, if you accidentally (or deliberately) get the answers wrong, Amanda will repeat herself, getting increasingly annoyed, until she forces you to pick the right answer. In the third and final tape from Pilot Episode, she sounds downright threatening if you get the wrong answers.
  • Sent up in Wonder Project J2. A selling point at the time was that Josette, the Robot Girl whom you have been tasked with raising, would respond in full voice to player input, which generally came in the form of simple "praise/scold" prompts. In one of them, if you praised her dancing ability, she would modestly deny her talent, insisting that since you'd taught her everything she knows, you must be a much better dancer, and asks for a demonstration. After staring out of the screen for a few seconds, she claps her hands and laughs happily, admitting that she can't actually see you, but she's certain you were fantastic!
  • Used somewhat bizarrely in Barney's Hide and Seek. If the player starts the game and then goes long enough without providing input, Barney will simply start walking toward the end of the level all by himself. He won't complete the actual objective of finding hidden kids or presents, but he will walk all the way from the beginning of the game to the end after only a single button press on the controller.
  • Steamshovel Harry is purportedly a game about jump physics where you have to save the earth from an asteroid that will strike in ten minutes. Unfortunately, the mandatory tutorial video takes ten minutes and you die immediately afterwards.
  • Hate Plus has a sequence where *Hyun-ae tells you to make a cake before you can progress. This is a real-world cake. The game suggests recipes for you and checks to see if the amount of time each recipe takes to complete has passed, but if you wait the correct time, *Hyun-ae has no way of knowing if you've actually made a cake or not (unless you tell her). There is an achievement for sending the developer a photo of you eating the cake with her, though.
  • In Batman: Arkham Asylum, the player is told to either press the middle stick on their controller or tilt their mouse to dodge a gun when affected by the Scarecrow's gas, you obviously fail and get a game over screen no matter what you do with the "quit" and "try again" buttons allowing you to continue past the fake interactivity.
  • This is actually a plot point in Act 2 of the Agent plotline in Star Wars: The Old Republic. What you tell your character to say and what he/she actually says are often two different things, because your character was brainwashed into following the orders of the group you were infiltrating.
  • This is used in a bonus scene in Odin Sphere you can get if you wait a few seconds after receiving the "Fin" screen in the ending. The merchant speaks to directly the player and waits for the response. The scene ends with the merchant asking, "Ah, you are a writer?" and then begging the player to tell him the title of the book they're writing, which then appears on a black screen in white letters: ODIN SPHERE.
  • Used fairly cleverly in The House in Fata Morgana. Every so often, the Maid will ask Your (yes, capitalized) thoughts on what happened or a character's actions. There is no minimum waiting time, and you can immediately go to the next text box, but it encourages you to think about the plot and potentially catch foreshadowing.
  • Used in HuniePop during the introductory and closing conversations. Most notably Momo who will still be your "kitty" no matter how much you try to get her away.
    Kyu: Good call! That's kinda who I was thinking too. But I'd say that no matter who you picked.
  • Both Shenzhen IO and EXAPUNKS have the tools to create basic games using their respective fictional programming languages and simulated hardware. Each game assigns you to create a game using these tools when you unlock them, but since there's no way for the game to tell you've done this, these assignments boil down to holding down a button to say you did it. Each game lampshades how its essentially working on the honor system as you do it.

    Web Animation 
  • Bee and Puppycat sees this trope in the Show Within a Show Pretty Patrick. His Pretty Patrick Lunchtime series consists of him "eating" with the viewer and sharing his lunch of the day with them, but mostly talking to the camera as if the viewer was there with him.
  • Parodied in the Homestar Runner Strong Bad Email "for kids". Strong Bad demonstrates how bad of a kids' show host he would be with an Imagine Spot. He asks the kids to say "The Cheat", which they do (though one says "Christopher Columbus") and Strong Bad gives them an F-- regardless. Then when they fail to find The Cheat hiding behind a box (they say he is "right there" but do not specify), he flips out and threatens to kill their dogs.
  • Parodied in Plancy's World, which is a Take That! towards Dora the Explorer. The webtoon's main character, Plancy, constantly talks to the viewers as if she were actually in a show made for preschoolers. The living flower in the pot on her head calls her out on this constantly.

    Web Comics 
  • Played with in this Ozy and Millie strip.
  • Inverted in one Homestuck panel. Homestuck actually is frequently interactive, with Flash animations and game segments, but once trolled the readers by displaying a loading screen, followed by: "You spend no less than 90 seconds staring at this fucking GIF image before you realize the actual Flash animation is on the next page."

    Web Video 
  • In ASMR videos, it's standard for the "performer" to ask questions to the viewer as part of a roleplay. Of course the "performer" never can hear any answers the viewer would give, but it gives the viewer the feeling they are communicating with the "performer".
  • Parodied in the epilogue of Dragon Ball Z Abridged, where Imperfect Cell stops and asks the audience what he should to do defeat Trunks. He is apparently told to use the Kamehameha, but Trunks kills him before he can.
  • Parodied in the SMOSH video If Kids Shows Were Real.... After Anthony is shot, he tells Ian to ask the audience for advice on how to save him, as they just finished watching Dora the Explorer.
    Ian: [turns to camera] What do you think I should do? [Beat] Great idea!
    (He grabs a nearby baseball bat and hits himself in the head repeatedly, eventually falling down dead)
    Anthony: [turns to camera] Wow; thanks a lot, a**holes.
  • Also parodied in the SuperMarioLogan video "Jeffy Breaks His Helmet!"
    Mario: Kids, can you help Jeffy find out how many pieces he broke his helmet into?
    Offscreen viewer: Boo! This sucks! Where's Mr. Pig?
    Mario: He's dead!
  • TV Tropes: Hell, this very site has a tendency to do this by using video examples from video games.
  • Any walkthrough on YouTube.

    Western Animation 
  • Aqua Teen Hunger Force: Parodied on one of the Show Within a Show programs that Meatwad watches. A puppet sings and flail about, occasionally directly addressing the in-universe audience in a demonic tone. None of the characters seem to notice this at all.
    This is your left, and that's your left!
    This is your left, that's your left!
    This is your right, and that's your right!
    This is your right-You're gonna die!
  • Blaze and the Monster Machines has Blaze and AJ asking the audience to do various things, such as placing objects and finding which choice will work.
  • Blue's Clues used this technique so heavily as to call attention to itself. Usually, pre-recorded children's voices would answer the question. Host Steve or Joe (Kevin in the U.K.) would keep up a running dialogue with the viewer, who was supposed to help figure out the clues to the game of Blue's Clues. A typical line of dialogue...
    Steve: This sounds like it'll be tough, so I'm really going to need your help today. Will you help? ... You will? Great!
  • Happens on Bo on the Go!, a Canadian CGI series that could best be described as Dora with the Serial Numbers Filed Off.
  • Animated TV series Boo also plays this trope straight, requiring the viewer to point out where Boo's hiding. As the show's Title Theme Tune explains "Can you find Boo? It's all you have to do!"
  • Can You Teach My Alligator Manners? has Mikey ask the viewers to choose which thing Al should do in a scenario given.
  • The Cat in the Hat Knows a Lot About That!: Fish does this in short segments called "Fish Facts." Played for Laughs, as the answer is always demonstrated in the background by the actual animal while Fish is asking the question. By the third season, however, the animals appear in bubbles surrounding the Cat to try to make things a bit more challenging.
    Fish: You're right! Next time, I'll stump you for sure.
  • Creative Galaxy, being by many of the creators of Blue's Clues, naturally uses this with show star Arty sometimes asking the viewers for help and regularly speaking with them.
  • Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood has the titular character occasionally talk to the viewers and ask them to do certain tasks (like imagining with him).
  • French animated TV series Didou (known as Louie in the UK and Australia) plays this trope straight.
  • Doc McStuffins: In the first season, this happens during the next episode/end credit segments. It was then dropped like a hot potato afterwards. The show's creator actually created the show with a purposeful intention of not doing this in the first place.
  • Dora the Explorer is without question the Trope Codifier for preschool edutainment, with the viewer answering questions, giving suggestions, shouting "Swiper, No Swiping!", and telling Dora their favourite part of that day's adventure (she also liked that part, by the way). The show actually does have an in-universe justification for this, with the idea that the characters actually exist within a children's computer game (hence the computer arrow). Later seasons even change some visual elements to give the impression that the viewer is now "playing" on a tablet rather than a desktop. Other than that, Dora shares similarities with Mr. Rogers.
    • It does this in the PS2 games based on the franchise too, despite now being actual interactive media.
    • It also happens in Dora and Friends: Into the City!, but less frequently. The most egregious example would be at the beginning of each episode, in which Dora and one of her friends encourage the viewer to clap their hands... for no reason whatsoever.
    • Averted with the "Dora Appisodes" app, which actually uses the microphone and touchscreen to answer Dora's questions.
  • Engie Benjy added this in beginning series 3, complete with kids' voices answering the characters.
  • Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends: In the episode "One False Movie", Eduardo watches a Dora parody called "Lauren is Explorin'" (named for series co-creator Lauren Faust; the director is even a caricature/voiced by her husband Craig McCracken).
  • Garfield and Friends: Parodied in "The Multiple Choice Cartoon". Garfield gets the viewers to decide where the episode takes place, who's in it, and what the plot is. As a Running Gag, the choice the audience votes for is always "C".
    Garfield: You want me to throw the stick so you can fetch it?
    Odie: [enthusiastic barking]
    Garfield: Okay, folks, time for you to vote again. Should I...
    "A", throw the stick so he can fetch it.
    "B", interrupt my nap to frolic with the pooch here.
    Or "C," slingshot the mutt into the next area code?
  • Handy Manny: Ever since the start of season 3. They couldn't re-do the classic animation with the tools dancing on a stage. Instead, they had a mash-up of different scenes from episodes with Kelly asking trivia questions to the viewers.
  • Jake And The Neverland Pirates is pretty much Dora with pirates and better animation. Features Peter Pan in the pilot and Captain Hook as a running villain.
  • JoJo's Circus had the main character and her "pet lion" Goliath, mainly to encourage exercise by asking the viewers to get up and exercise or dance with them.
  • Parodied on Kaeloo: Episode 69 parodies Dora the Explorer. Kaeloo says random sentences in different languages and tells the audience to repeat, and she pauses and stares at the audience. Stumpy walks in front of her and waves his hand in her face, trying to see why she's frozen.
  • Laff-A-Lympics: An episode featured an applause meter device for home audiences to gauge which team they wanted to win a specific event via their applause. Mildew Wolf (one of the show's commentators) held his mic up to the camera for the presumed home viewer applause.
  • The Lingo Show: Not only does it have prerecorded children's voices answering the questions the insect characters ask, but the characters also encourage viewers to "wave their hands above their heads like antennae".
  • Little Einsteins stars four child prodigies who, by the age of six, have mastered various musical instruments and forms of interpretive dance, but are still worse at problem-solving than your four-year-old is, and constantly needs their help. Er... sometimes, anyway. Can be Fridge Brilliance, since prodigies or not, they're still just children.
  • Maryoku Yummy: The Wishing Ways segments do this.
  • Mickey Mouse Clubhouse features the cast asking the audience for help.
  • A mainstay of the modern Playhouse Disney/Disney Junior programs My Friends Tigger & Pooh and Special Agent Oso.
  • A mainstay of Ni Hao, Kai-Lan, especially when the episode gets to the point of resolving the Character Development issue of the day.
  • Phineas and Ferb parodied this with "Ducky Momo", a Show Within a Show which is a strange hybrid of Hello Kitty and Dora the Explorer. Here's a sample of what an episode entailed:
    Narrator: Ducky Momo needs to get to the other side of the Bumbleberry river. Can you help him find the bridge?
    Kid 1: It's right there! Behind you!
    Kid 2: To your left! Your other left.
    Kid 3: No! No, not that way.... that's a candy wrapper.
    Kid 1: Now where is he going?
    Kid 3: How has he survived this long?
  • Pinky Dinky Doo has a segment of this nature at the end of each story, which takes the form of a quiz section.
  • Also a staple of the Nick Jr. channel's "Puzzle Time" interstitials with Moose A. Moose.
  • An early example appears in one of the old "Popeye" shorts. Popeye asks the audience for some spinach when he's in a struggle, and soon afterwards a can of spinach flies to him as if thrown from beyond the screen.
  • The Simpsons: Played with very briefly in the episode "Who Shot Mr. Burns?":
    Dr. Hibbert: Well, I couldn't possibly solve this mystery... can YOU? (points at the screen)
    (POV changes, revealing Hibbert is pointing at Chief Wiggum)
    Wiggum: Yeah, I'll give it a shot... I mean it's my job, right?
    • This was connected to a contest the show was running in which viewers could figure out the assailant to win a prize.
  • Used in Stanley, mainly by the goldfish Dennis to quiz the viewers.
  • Super Why! has this, calling the viewer "Super You". With the Power to Help!
  • Played straight in Team Umizoomi. The team addresses the viewer as their "UmiFriend".
  • Teen Titans Go!:
    • This trope was spoofed in "Toddler Titans...Yay!", where the Titans get put into a show that spoofs shows with this feature (mainly Dora the Explorer), and disembodied kids' voices.
    • In "The Viewers Decide", the main Titans compete against Titans East over which team gets to keep Bumblebee, who is more interested in going solo. At various points, the main Titans ask the viewers to call (with a 555 number, of course) and vote which team Bumblebee belongs in. Of course, the main Titans rig the vote against Titans East in the end, but Bumblebee leaves regardless.
  • While the VeggieTales series averts this, the trope is played straight with the rare video VeggieTown: Greetings from Bob and Larry.
    • Parodied in "God Wants Me To Forgive Them" when Larry asks the audience if they're interested in hearing about their adventures while stranded on an island, followed by the obligatory Beat. When Bob asks Larry about what we said, Larry admits he doesn't know and just assumes we said yes.
  • On Wallykazam!, Wally will quiz viewers on things such as what word starts with a particular sound. Overall this is done far smoother and less often than in Dora, making it more enjoyable to watch.
  • The Where's Wally/Waldo TV series does this somewhat during breaks, showing a static picture and encouraging the viewer to locate Wally/Waldo before time runs out.
  • The Ur-Example, Winky Dink marketed a plastic overlay and crayons, which were to be used to draw props on-screen (for instance, a ladder to help the title character out of a pit.) A number of children simply drew on the screen.
  • The animated series Wonkidoos uses this. Similar to Blue's Clues, children's voices are used to answer the question. Unlike most of these examples, they don't even give you time to answer the question yourself!
  • Zig-zagging on Word Party: Watching the show on supported devices will actually see an icon pop up at set intervals, which when tapped will suspend the show and launch a flash-card like minigame. In other parts of the show, and/or if you watch the show from a device which does not support the interactive segments, the trope is played straight (the babies and narrator addresses you as the big kid).

  • Par for the course in exercise videos, in which the trainer will invariably go right on counting off reps and voicing encouraging phrases like "Good job!" or "Keep it up, now!", even though the viewer has fallen out of step, quit from exhaustion, or popped out to the kitchen for a snack.
  • The Jolly Roger Telephone Company is a company that provides bots which handle telemarketer calls, such as "Whitey Whitebeard" or "Salty Sally." The bots are designed to trick the caller into thinking there's a person on the line, when actually the bot is just responding with pre-written routines such as "There's a bee on my arm. You keep talking, but I'm just going to stay quiet because of this bee" and "I can't concentrate because of this weather. How's your weather, by the way?" However, they can never actually directly respond to what the telemarketer or whoever's calling says and will fill spaces in-between with phrases like "Yes, yes" and "Uh-huh" to make the caller think that they're responding. Later iterations of the programming have gotten more advanced, such as being able to detect certain scams and engage custom routines ("Oh, my back's really hurting me, do you have medication for that?") as well as pass the call off to another bot once one runs out of material, but the same basic idea still applies.
    • Before Jolly Roger, there was a bot called "Lenny," designed to sound like a Scatterbrained Senior, for the same purpose. Unlike the Jolly Roger bots, though, Lenny didn't have AI capabilities to customize his routines, had a fairly limited repertoire, and there was only one "Lenny" bot (so no passing off the call to another bot when he ran out of material.) Not that this hasn't prevented scammers from getting bogged down by "him" for as long as an hour at a time.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Fake Interactive Childrens Show, Faux Interactivity, Non Interactivity


Jelly Jamm

While Jelly Jamm isn't typically interactive, Goomo deploys this to find a missing key (that was right in front of him).

How well does it match the trope?

5 (4 votes)

Example of:

Main / FakeInteractivity

Media sources: