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Fourth Wall Psych

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"Hello, everyone. I'm so happy to see all of you, and to welcome you to Season Four. [Beat] …which is, of course, the name of this restaurant, the number one Asian fusion restaurant in New York."
Jack Donaghy, 30 Rock, opening the premiere episode of Season 4

Any time a character appears to be Breaking the Fourth Wall, but a moment later it is revealed that their action has a perfectly legitimate in-universe explanation; the Fourth Wall is in fact intact.

For example, a character may look into the camera and seem to address the audience directly, only for the scene to pull back and reveal they were talking to another character who is "behind" the camera. Or, a character may appear to be making a Screen Tap, but they're actually tapping on a window to get another character's attention from the other side.

Related to Aside Glance and Trick Dialogue. Compare and contrast also Aside Comment, where a character seems to address the audience, but no commitments about whether they really do are made either way. Not to be confused with Leaning on the Fourth Wall, wherein the fact that the characters are in a fictional work is lampshaded in the dialogue.

For cases where a character taps on a literal "fourth wall" between them and the audience, see Screen Tap. See also Unseen Audience, Behind the Black. Can be used in a Shock-and-Switch Ending, to subvert The Fourth Wall Will Not Protect You.


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  • A commercial for the Visa Check Card had a woman telling the camera about the product, explaining its advantages. She concludes by saying "If you had the Visa Check Card..." Cut to the guy she's actually speaking to. "...I could get out of this line already!"
  • A car ad featured two women riding along while a woman's voice described how Sarah, who bought the car being advertised, got a much better deal than Trish, listing various safety features/better prices/what have you. It's revealed that a third woman named Jill is sitting in the back seat and saying all of these things in the universe of the ad.

    Anime and Manga 
  • This happens in the opening credits for the second season of Higurashi: When They Cry. As the main cast is walking away, Rika turns around and seemingly waves to the audience. This seems appropriate after the revelation that Rika is the only one who actually knows what's going on. However, after episode 13, when Hanyuu finally works up the courage to go from secret observer to active participant, she gets an extra scene in the opening, where it's clear that she's the one Rika was waving to.
  • In a Special chapter of No Matter How I Look at It, It's You Guys' Fault I'm Not Popular!, after Tomoko, Yuu, and Kotomi finish watching the Lottes' latest game, Kotomi mentions how the baseball team has recently been doing a collaboration with some manga or anime about a loner protagonist. At first, it sounds like they're referring to their own manga, which was indeed involved in a collaboration with Chiba Lotte Marines at the time, but then they catch a poster advertising the project and it turns out they were referring to My Youth Romantic Comedy Is Wrong, as I Expected.

    Asian Animation 
  • In Season 7 episode 20 of Happy Heroes, Professor Limen gives a Don't Try This at Home message about hitting people in their pressure pointsnote  while facing the audience. But when it cuts to the next shot, Limen is revealed to have been looking at and talking to a camera.
  • The first season of Upin & Ipin at first looked like it was told by Upin to the audience. It's not until the last episode it was revealed that he was narrating his and Ipin's experience to his friends.

    Comic Books 
  • Deadpool does this once with Arcade, though it's unusual, because that series has No Fourth Wall.
  • The Futurama comic did this in issue 46, Follow the Reader; it starts with the Professor talking directly to the reader to explain how the Choose Your Own Adventure format works. It then appears that he was babbling because Bender spiked his drink.
    • Another issue had Bender say there were only three pages left...of the comic he was reading.
  • Marvel Comics' Uatu The Watcher had been apparently talking directly to the readers for years—until it was revealed (in an issue of Quasar) that he was actually addressing a recording device, recording his impressions of events for the people of the universe that will come after this one. So technically, he was just filming his own Vlog.
  • The Simpsons: Utilizing the fact the characters' speech bubbles are written in all-caps, one issue has characters stating they're explaining stuff for the readers... only to pull back to reveal they mean the Readers, a new family in town who keep missing everything.
  • In Young Avengers vol. 2, Kid Loki appears to be delivering an Audience Monologue in an amber void, elaborating on his character. On the next page, he is revealed to be in a field of clouds in the sky at dusk, haranguing the real Loki.

    Comic Strips 
  • Calvin and Hobbes:
    • There is a strip drawn through the eyes of Hobbes. At the start, Calvin looks at the fourth wall and asks "Are you ready?", but is actually talking to Hobbes.
    • There's also the time he talks about a little boy living in an oppressed country who dreams of coming to America and learning about freedom. He says he wants to meet that little boy — and the camera cuts to reveal he's sitting at the dinner table with his family — "and tell him the awful truth about this place!" Dad tells him to pipe down and eat his lima beans.

    Fan Works 

    Films — Animation 
  • Free Birds has Jake appear to talk directly to the audience. Then Reggie asks who he's talking to, and Jake points to his own reflection in a hubcap whom he assumes to be another soldier for the cause.
    Jake: See how he's nodding?
  • In Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, the witch looks directly into the audience as she gleefully explains the dire effects of her poisoned apple, and then cuts to the terrified pet crow she's actually speaking to.
  • In Turning Red, Mei Breaks the Fourth Wall liberally during the intro but the part where she talks about her transit pass validating her adulthood is spoken to a streetcar driver.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Atomic Blonde. After the Berlin Wall falls, MI6 station chief David Percival gives a Was It Really Worth It? speech to the audience. He's actually giving a Motive Rant to Lorraine Broughton just before she kills him.
  • One scene of Brooklyn's Finest has Tango doing this, though it was clearly shown who he was speaking to before this.
  • In Gangs of New York, Bill the Butcher points directly at the camera after assassinating newly elected Sheriff Monk with a meat cleaver. Based on context, we find out he's talking to the (unseen) clients in Monk's barber shop.
    Bill: That, my friends, is the minority vote. Why don'tcha burn 'im, see if his ashes turn green.
  • The Laurel and Hardy short Helpmates opens with Ollie seemingly addressing the audience and scolding them for throwing a wild party the night before. Camera pulls back and we see that he's actually talking to himself in the mirror.
  • Oliver Stone's JFK ends with Jim Garrison making a passionate speech about the importance of truth, however much people in power try to bury it, with the camera angle making it look like he's talking directly to the audience toward the end.
  • Mr. & Mrs. Smith (2005) features a scene where Jane is frisking John for weapons on a dance floor. At one point, the scene is framed so that you only see them from the shoulders up, face to face, when Jane lowers her head below the frame. John turns to the camera and winks, at which point cuts to show that he's winking at an elderly couple, also dancing.
  • Nope: The movie begins with a clothed chimpanzee covered in blood wandering around a film set with what appears to be a body partly obscured by a couch. The chimp takes off its party hat, stares directly at the camera, and then the scene ends. Much later do we find out that the scene was actually being shown from Ricky's perspective, with the scene being depicted again, with more context added.
  • Pirates of Silicon Valley: The movie starts off with Steve Jobs talking about a film. You think he is talking about the movie when he is really talking to the director of the "1984" commercial, Ridley Scott.
  • Since the only camera in Slashers is also the only cameraman in the studio, the entire movie blends this with Leaning on the Fourth Wall. Characters speaking to the camera could be addressing the cameraman, the live studio audience or the movie viewer. Megan invokes Fanservice by taking her top off, to hold the camera's attention for a rant about spectator blood sports and consumers of glamorized violence directed at the viewer. The slashers themselves ham it up for their fans, lampshading the audience's bloodthirst.
  • Thor: Ragnarok opens up with what appears to be Thor narrating to the audience, but then it's revealed that he's only talking to the skeleton that he's sharing a cage with.

  • The Discworld novel Soul Music observes this trope as closely as possible without a screen: it begins with Death witnessing the fatal collision of his apprentice Mort and his wife. After this, he turns around, seemingly to no one, and comments, " Yes. I could have done something." Much later, the scene is shown Once More, with Clarity to reveal that Death was actually talking to his granddaughter Susan, who had used the power of Death's domain to go back in time.

    Live-Action TV 

General Examples:

By Series:

  • In the first episode of the fourth season of 30 Rock, Jack turns to the camera and says "Welcome to Season 4." The camera pans away and it's revealed he's introducing people to a new, swanky restaurant named "Season 4."
  • In the Brooklyn Nine-Nine episode “The Night Shift,” when Jake Peralta tries to commandeer Jess Day’s vehicle, Jess shouts out, “It’s a crossover!” seemingly referencing the fact that it is a crossover with the show New Girl - but it turns out she is actually referencing the type of vehicle she is driving. (This is also an example of a Flashed-Badge Hijack.)
  • At the end of an episode of Brotherly Love, a character looks like she is giving historical information to the audience, but she's just giving it to The Ditz in the cast.
  • In an episode of Burn Notice, Michael Westen described the things he'd discovered over the course of the last half-season while looking right into the camera. Turned out he was talking to The Handler, who had told him to investigate those things.
  • Chef! (1993): In a season one episode, Gareth wigs out on Everton in his signature style. After a minute or two, they pause, and Everton slowly looks at the camera. Then Chef does. This is, of course, the camera placed there earlier by a documentary film crew.
  • Count Arthur Strong: From time to time, Arthur addresses an imaginary audience. He has no idea there really is an audience, he's just acting out a fantasy.
  • Doctor Who:
    • At the beginning of the story "The Face of Evil", the Doctor exits the TARDIS chatting to camera about how lost he is and asks us if there's anything else he's forgotten. In-universe he's actually just talking to himself (a quirk of his that's been established from the very beginning) and doesn't know we're looking at him. Probably.
    • The Twelfth Doctor has several monologue scenes alone in the TARDIS throughout Season 10 where he explains something about the episode to the audience. The penultimate episode "Heaven Sent" reveals that he has a way of mentally slowing down time by "thinking really fast" and that all of these scenes actually take place inside his head, and are him talking to himself in order to solve a problem quickly. This mental world also has a blackboard on which writing appears by itself that acts as a stand-in for the (recently deceased) Clara. He speaks to it, and it gives him nudges in the direction he needs to take.
  • The sixth season of Frasier took over the time slot previously occupied by Seinfeld. The first episode begins with Frasier speaking directly to camera.
    Frasier: Before we begin, I'd like to say how honoured I am to be taking over this slot. Obviously, I have some rather big shoes to fill - my predecessor here was much beloved. But I have never been one to shrink from a challenge and I'm sure we'll enjoy many happy years here together in my new home.
    (camera pulls out to reveal Frasier is auditioning for a television show after being fired from his radio show in the fifth season finale.)
    Frasier: Now, today on "Medical Minute"...
  • Furuhata Ninaburou: just before the final act, Furuhata usually pauses the action to address the home audience directly, but in "Furuhata vs SMAP", he approaches the camera to apparently yell at the fourth wall for interfering in a crime scene—except that turns out to be a SMAP staff member.
  • Happens in an episode of How I Met Your Mother when Barney is addressing what appears to be the audience about Christmas being the time of giving. He then says the greatest gift is the gift of booty and "why not bang someone in need?", with the camera switching to the girl he was talking to.
  • In a Just Shoot Me! where Maya dates a man who thinks he's Woody Allen, she narrates while looking at the screen seemingly in Annie Hall No Fourth Wall style. Only at the end do we learn that she's been talking to the water delivery guy.
  • "Little Brown Noses", an episode of Maid Marian and Her Merry Men: Marian and the gang are holding a charity telethon (despite the fact that it's The Dung Ages and television hasn't been invented yet; it's that kind of series). After a while, the scene cuts away to show what the villains are up to, then cuts back to the telethon, where the MC goes into a back-from-the-commercial-break style "Welcome back" spiel. The camera then turns to the telethon's in-story audience, one of whom wonders out loud who's being welcomed back, since nobody's actually gone anywhere in the meantime.
  • In The Mrs Bradley Mysteries, the title character frequently addresses the camera directly. Sometimes it turns out to be Fourth Wall Psych, other times it's actual Fourth Wallbreaking.
  • Powerless (2017): Chairman West turns to the audience to do a Find Out Next Time bit on two occasions. In the first, the main cast reacts with confusion. In the second, they see he's actually talking to a potted plant, and start to wonder if he's even a legitimate WayneTech employee.
  • The Prisoner (1967) has the episode "A, B, and C" where Number 6's dreams are examined for clues to why he resigned. In the end he figures out what's going on and takes control of the dream, and teases the Village overlords observing the process with the idea that he's about to reveal everything: "We mustn't disappoint the people watching."
  • The Scandal episode "Top of the Hour" ends like this. Jake Ballard appears to smile knowingly at the audience. Jake is actually smiling knowingly at the cameras he planted in Olivia's apartment.
  • Scrubs does this on several occasions when they are not abusing the Fourth Wall outright.
    • Three times in a row on one episode, with JD continually turning and asking, "What do you think?" "But what do you think?" "All that matters is what America thinks," about his new tailored Italian suit. It turns out he's asking 1. His friends 2. His residents 3. His tailor, who protests his name is "Amerigo", and adds of course he likes it, he made it.
    • Happens again in the eighth season when they switched from NBC to ABC. JD points to the bottom corner of the frame (where the ABC logo/watermark resides) and comments "hey, that's new!", at which point the camera cuts to what he was actually pointing at.
  • Sledge Hammer! (in "Vertical") has a brilliant take on the Exploding Calendar trope. No time passes at all, it was caused by a ventilator.
  • Supernatural Castiel looks straight at the camera and says, "Let me tell you my story." Then we find out he's talking to God.
  • In a season 3 episode of WEEDS, Shane addresses the fourth wall and says "Yeah, it's just a bug in the system". In the next episode it is revealed that he was speaking to his late father, Judah.
  • At the end of season 4 of Will & Grace, Jack’s voice is heard saying “What happens? Find out this fall on the next exciting episode of...“ - but then it is revealed that he is auditioning for an announcer role, as mentioned earlier in the episode.

  • In Mean Girls, as the stage begins to move to it's next position, Karen states, "Is the room spinning?", implying that she's noticing the scene change, when in reality, she's just really really drunk.
  • In Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead, at one point Rosencrantz shouts "Fire!"—in a crowded theater, of course—and then seemingly watches the audience with contempt as they stay in their seats, and mutters "They should burn to death in their shoes." But in context, he's just referring to the other characters in the play.

    Video Games 
  • In the final cutscene of Assassin's Creed II, Minerva begins her monologue talking to Ezio, but turns to stare into the camera a few sentences in. When Ezio expresses his profound confusion, she tells him that she's not talking to him and continues to talk to the camera, despite his protests that there's no one else there. It isn't until the end of the cutscene that she confirms she's addressing future Desmond and friends. It should be noted that this is technically still breaking a fourth wall, just not The Fourth Wall.
  • The final event scenario in Dino Crisis has Gail, who is wounded, still trying to apprehend Dr. Kirk, even though the facility is about to blow. Rick reminds him that trying to continue the mission is suicide, but he ignores him and tries to press on anyway. Rick points at the camera and yells "Hey! Do something!" as if he's demanding the player to make a decision right now. Once you make your choice, the camera switches angles to show what Regina (the player) did since it was her that Rick was addressing.
  • Played for scares in Ghost Trick. When someone tries to talk to a ghost and they aren't using the ghost world, their sprite will turn and directly face the viewer as if talking to the player themselves. And when Yomiel does it, catching you in the act of trying to save Cabanela, it's fucking terrifying.
  • This happens once in The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess. While exploring Castle Town, you can run into a guy that appears to be trying to catch the attention of the actual player behind the screen. If you walk down his line of sight in game though, it turns out that he's actually addressing another (very confused) NPC.
  • Lunar: Silver Star Story has an inversion. After capturing the White Dragon, the Magic Emperor states that he will need a queen, just as the camera pans down at Luna's back, and just as she's standing before him. The camera then switch's to Luna's horrified face, complete with an extreme close up. We all know that she's staring at the Magic Emperor, but the fact that it looks as if she's looking directly at us increases the tension, not to mention making that particular scene even more creepy.
  • In Mobius Final Fantasy, when Cloud is about to head to the Promised Land (a Leaning on the Fourth Wall for the upcoming Final Fantasy VII Remake), he looks straight at the camera while saying "come with me", seemingly asking the audience to play his new game, before turning his head to indicate that he meant Wol. (This is something of a callback to an earlier scene where Cloud had told Wol "come with me" while looking at Echo, leading her to think she was asking him on a date and Wol to criticise Cloud for not making it clear who he was talking to.)
  • Done in Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Gates to Infinity by Hydreigon, who shoves his face into the camera, and then seems to give the player a Quizzical Tilt. It's only shown to be the trope later, when he explains to the partner Pokemon that the hero has been watching them from the human world, and proceeds to look to the camera once more before addressing them, after which it's revealed you've been seeing the world through their perspective during their absence.
  • Dante does this in his ending in Marvel vs. Capcom 3. Talking to Ghost Rider.
  • Team Fortress 2: In "Meet the Medic", the Scout is blasted by rockets and appears to crash into the camera, until it's revealed he actually flew against a window.

    Visual Novels 
  • Zigzagged by Monokuma in Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc. With the reveal that the killing game is being broadcast to the whole world, many of the previous fourth wall breaks are explained... except for the Monokuma Theater segments, where he breaks the fourth wall directly.
  • PARANORMASIGHT: The Seven Mysteries of Honjo: The Storyteller, who is presented as a Fourth-Wall Observer, is eventually revealed to have been talking to the spirit of an onmyoji named Seiman throughout the entire game, Seiman having been the Player Character the whole time.
  • Sharin no Kuni, Himawari no Shoujo: The main character, Kenichi, spends the majority of the game addressing the audience directly and making random narrations. The fifth chapter of the game reveals that everything of that sort was actually directed at his sister, Ririko, who has been present for almost the entire game, but was never directly acknowledged because she is under a legal punishment where acknowledging her existence in any way is a capital crime.
  • At the beginning of Steins;Gate, Okabe appears to be addressing the audience through the screen, introducing himself and the other members of Future Gadgets Laboratory. Eventually the camera angle changes and we see that he's actually speaking to an animated character on a screen named Alpaca-Man.
  • Zigzagged by Bernkastel in Umineko: When They Cry; she often addresses 'the audience', but in Ep7 she's speaking specifically to an audience of witches, Featherine among them, giving them rhetorical statements it sounds like she would make to the audience of readers. So which fourth wall is she breaking, the one within the medium or beyond it?
  • Done twice in Zero Time Dilemma:
    • In the Q-end 2, Eric asks Sean who is Zero. If you give the correct answer, Sean will point at the camera and say "Zero is You, Delta!". Turns out Zero is with them pretending to be blind, deaf and in the wheelchair, which is why everyone ignored him. And he's been there the whole time, and everything was shown from his perspective.
    • In the Perceptive end, Sean points their crossbow at the camera, says "I'm really sorry" and shots Zero.

    Web Animation 
  • FTL: Kestrel Adventures: In Episode 15, Jose appears to turn to the audience and tell them to not say anything of Ricardo's plan to jump to Kaban, but the camera switches to reveal that Jose is talking to Cremity.
    Jose: And don't you mention this to anybody!
    Cremity: What? I didn't hear anything!
  • The Most Popular Girls in School: Brittnay and Mackenzie seem to have this going on in episode 10. When Brittnay brings up Taylor McDevitt and the water park incident she walks up to the camera, seemingly telling it to the viewers. Mackenzie does the same when she proclaims that Shay Van Buren will now be known as Gay van Buren. They're both simply telling it to their fellow cheer squad and are only looking away for dramatic effect but it lead them instead to look directly at us.

    Web Comics 
  • Roger did this once in College Roomies from Hell!!!. The "camera" never moves, but the others comment that he's apparently talking to a Simpsons poster (he's high on hallucinogenic mushrooms at the time).
  • In one strip of El Goonish Shive, Tedd appears to be commenting on a stupid mistake that Elliot made despite not being around to witness it. However, he is quickly revealed to instead be commenting on a similar situation in the sitcom that he was watching, meaning that he was merely Leaning on the Fourth Wall rather than breaking it.
  • In a Killroy and Tina strip, The Ditz Brandon says he's saying what Tina already knows for the benefit of those people watching them — and it turns out a couple of nearby kids are eavesdropping on the characters.
  • Sleepless Domain: The comic's interstitial pages between chapters routinely feature an enigmatic Fourth-Wall Observer named Anemone, who speaks directly to the reader to give exposition on the world of the comic or comment on the events of the preceding chapter. The last panels of Interstitial 5, however, reveal that she isn't actually speaking to the reader, but is instead Talking to the Dead to a framed portrait of a mysterious woman in an Ethereal White Dress.
  • Done in Sluggy Freelance once in very random filler, in which Torg is at first clearly addressing the audience and talking about the filler (and about Breaking the Fourth Wall), but then is suddenly shown to be talking to Gwynn, who asks him why he calls her "you guys" and what the Fourth Wall is.
  • In Whomp!, Ronnie apologizes to the viewers for making terrible webcomics. The scene is reversed to show him talking to repair men because he thinks his comics have broken his internet connection.
  • xkcd #475: "Further Boomerang Difficulties". Cueball throws a boomerang and breaks the side of the next panel. Then it turns out what he actually did was smash a hole in the side of a space capsule. Cue Continuous Decompression.

    Web Original 
  • In the Deadpool 2 Pitch Meeting, what appears to be a fourth wall break ends up actually being addressed to the intern, Kevin. In the Rick and Morty Pitch Meeting, an apparent fourth wall break discussing self-aware meta-humor is directed at the audience, but actually directed at the cameraman wearing a "Super Easy Barely An Inconvenience" t-shirt, followed by referencing the Deadpool 2 Honest Trailer referencing the Pitch Meeting catchphrase "Super Easy Barely An Inconvenience."

    Western Animation 
  • American Dad!, in the opening of Whole Slotta Love when Roger thanks Haley for letting him steal her joke, he gives her a piece of advice of how to upgrade her plane seat without paying a dime extra, and then he looks to the camera and winks for a brief pause of the show giving a false fact about airports. But just as the fact ends, Roger comes out of his pose in shock, as he just had a stroke.
  • In the Adventure Time episode "The Eyes", Finn and Jake both look at the camera while Finn says he has the feeling that someone is watching them. The camera cuts away during the last part of the sentence to show that they're actually looking out the window at a horse standing on a nearby hill, watching them.
  • The Amazing World of Gumball:
    • In “The Buddy” When Anais and Jamie are told that Gumball and Darwin have been watching cartoons on pirate websites, Anais chides them for those things "freeze all the ti... time." While the joke initially seemed to be like the show was freezing up, it turns out Anais stopped herself because she felt like she had to sneeze.
  • In the final scene of the second season of Beast Wars, Megatron rants about how he's changed history so that the villains win. At the end of his speech, he points towards the screen and exclaims "And YOU! You no longer EXIST!" In context, he's pointing to the Maximals who were just in the foreground as the shot zoomed in.note 
  • Big City Greens:
    • The episode "Cricket's Place" features in-between narration from Cricket as he is telling what is going on. The ending scene reveals the episode was really a Whole Episode Flashback, and he was telling the events to an old lady at the park.
    • In "Cheap Show" the episode makes a running gag of the trope, as many characters mention about such 4th wall breaking elements, only to explain their realistic meanings, for example the “production costs” Bill discusses are the money the family makes from their farming,Tilly’s “storyboard”, being a literal story on the board, and when Cricket explains how “the people at home deserve entertainment”, he’s actually referring to themselves who are in their home. And to top it all off, when Tilly mentions Cricket "broke the fourth wall" during his tantrum, all the Greens then glance toward the fourth wall (the viewers)...which cuts to the actual fourth wall in the living room which is broken.
  • DuckTales (2017): In "Quack Pack!", Huey becomes convinced they're trapped in a sitcom, and asks his family to take a good look at the fourth wall. Louie, Della, and Scrooge all stare at the camera... and then a Reveal Shot shows they're staring at a camera crew and live studio audience watching them.
    Della: Okay, that is a little weird.
  • This was a Running Gag in The Jimmy Timmy Power Hour. Sheen would ask, seemingly no one in particular, "Do you know what this means?! Do you?" He would then lean directly at the camera, asking "Do yoooouuu?" We then switch angles and zoom out to see that each time, he's asking Libby, who exasperatedly tells him to back off.
  • The Muppet Babies (1984) episode, "Once Upon an Egg Timer" begins with Gonzo wearing 3D glasses and saying, "Hey! I can see you in 3D! Boy, and I thought I had a big schnozola!" as he faces the camera. It is then revealed that he was talking to Piggy. Piggy is not amused.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic:
    • In "Fall Weather Friends", Spike keeps narrating the Iron Pony competition between Rainbow Dash and Applejack. Twilight Sparkle keeps asking, "Who are you talking to?!" and then he'd point to other characters who were off screen until that moment.
    • The episode "Lesson Zero" of 'has Pinkie Pie, the resident fourth-wall master, skip over to a picnic with a basket, and when she uncovers it, a cluster of balloons floats out and carries it away. Pinkie then appears to look at the audience for approval of her gag, and being disappointed when she doesn't see a reaction. This is due to her taking up the entire screen before hand focusing the viewer on the party pony. A second look shows that she's actually looking for a reaction from Fluttershy, whom the viewer likely didn't notice enter the frame via zoom-out.
    • In the same season, in "A Friend In Deed", Pinkie's "morning workout" involves making random silly faces and noises to the camera... until we find out she's actually trying to entertain the baby twins Pound and Pumpkin Cake.
    • "The Big Mac Question" from the final season features a Framing Device with Spike, Discord, and the Cutie Mark Crusaders explaining what was going on which led up to now, appearing confessional-style to the viewer; the ending scene revealed they were really talking to Applejack prior to Big Macintosh and Sugar Belle's wedding.
  • In the middle of one episode of The Replacements, Sheldon essentially summarizes everything that had happened thus far in the episode, after which he looks directly at the fourth wall and says "What do YOOUUU think [will happen]?" Cut to Buzz, who is standing right in front of him.
  • Because The Simpsons tend to embrace This Is Reality despite being a farce, they prefer this trope to more overt Fourth Wall gags... except on Halloween Episodes and other specials where they are allowed to resort to Leaning on the Fourth Wall.
    • In The Da Vinci Code spoof "Gone Maggie Gone", when the river puzzle is revealed, Homer seemingly looks directly at the audience and says “Can somebody help me with this puzzle?” - but then it is revealed that he was actually addressing Professor Frink. Then when the ring puzzle is revealed, after the commercial break, Lisa looks right at the audience and says “Well, did you get it?” - but it turns out she was really talking to Millhouse.
    • Zig zagged in "Who Shot Mr. Burns?". Dr. Hibbert says that he can't solve the case, then points at the audience and asks, "Can you?" In its initial airing, he really was pointing at the audience — this was the season finale and the first part of a two-part episode (the only two-parter in the show' history until "The Great Phatsby"), and in between seasons Fox held a viewer contest where the audience could guess who the shooter was. But in the episode itself — as preserved in syndication — the camera pulls away slightly to reveal that Hibbert was pointing at Chief Wiggum.
      Chief Wiggum: Yeah, I'll give it a shot. I mean, you know, it's my job, right?
    • At the end of the episode "Duffless" when Homer decides he would rather take Marge on a romantic bike ride than have a drink at Moe's, the other barflies leave with him causing Moe to exclaim "You'll be back, and you" than he points to the audience and says "And yoooou". Moe is revealed to be talking to Barney who replies, "Of course I'll be back. If you didn't close I'd never leave." This is a clear reference to the same line in the unintentional classic Reefer Madness.
    • A variation occurs in the episode "Mom and Pop Art", in which Homer is displeased to see artwork from series creator Matt Groening's Life In Hell in an art museum, because "He (Groening) can't draw!" Suddenly, the eraser of a giant pencil descends from above and appears to strike him in retaliation, prompting Homer to scream, "Help! I'm being erased!" In the next shot, it is revealed that the giant pencil is merely an art exhibit being relocated.
    • This was inverted in The Simpsons Movie: while the family is watching the Itchy and Scratchy Movie, Homer expresses incredulity that they're paying to see something they can watch on TV for free, points at the audience of the theater they're in saying that "everyone in this theater is a giant sucker"... and the "camera" swivels so that Homer looks like he's directly pointing at the "real" audience while saying "Especially YOU!"
    • In "Treehouse Of Horror X", after accidentally killing Ned Flanders and getting away with it, the Simpsons come home to find "I Know What You Did" painted on their front door. The camera pans out to potential suspects, ending with Homer pointing at the camera, but it's then revealed he's just pointing at Marge and the other family members.
    • "I Won't Be Home for Christmas" begins with Comic Book Guy looking at the camera and saying, "You're about to see the worst half-hour of television ever." Turns out he's talking to Kumiko about the Cosmic Wars Holiday Special.
  • In one episode of SpongeBob SquarePants, "Survival of the Idiots", there's a scene where SpongeBob and Patrick are attempting to escape Sandy's treedome, during which there's a shot that makes it look as if SpongeBob is trying to open up the TV screen and escape into the viewers' world. A quick cutaway reveals that he's actually trying to open the door to the treedome.
  • Steven Universe: In "Beach Party", Nanefua appears to be addressing the camera when she randomly observes that super-heated sand can turn into glass. Then it turns out she's talking to Steven, who's pleased to learn something new.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Tapping On The Fourth Wall


Free Birds

Jake reveals his plan to go back in time to the first Thanksgiving to get turkeys off the menu to Reggie, and then proceeds to reaffirm it directly to the audience... except not really.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (6 votes)

Example of:

Main / FourthWallPsych

Media sources: