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Fourth Wall Shut-In Story

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Subtrope of Trapped in Another World, but the hero has intimate knowledge of the world he's in... because he's the one that created it, perhaps moreso a variation of Pygmalion Plot. For this to have conflict, however, not everything is as it appears, he no longer has author...ity, or he didn't realize the problems he was creating, and is as bound to the rules of the world as those he created. The author might be seen as a god of his own world, and worshipped for it, or hated for the problems he made.

Related to Trapped in TV Land. Compare Author Powers.


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     Anime & Manga 
  • Lasboss X Hero is about a manga author who tries to end his series by killing off the heroine, only to be trapped in the world he created. While the heroes think he's just another recruit, the Elite Four acknowledges him as the Maou because the author hadn't decided what the Maou should be other than an entity that created the Elite Four and kills the heroine; since he fits both criteria, he's put in that role. He becomes The Mole to the heroes, and pretends that his power is to predict the future through drawings, when he's the one who both designed the monsters and sent them after them. It turns out that he's not as in control as he thinks, because his editor was changing the manga behind his back.

     Comic Books 

    Comic Strips 
  • This was the kickoff for a Wizard of Oz parody in Dilbert once.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • The Adventures of Sharkboy and Lavagirl in 3-D. Max creates Planet Drool and its inhabitants in his imagination and records the information in his dream journal. The villain steals the dream journal, uses it to make the world come into existence and takes control of it. Max has to go to Planet Drool on a quest to stop him.
  • Cool World: Jack Deebs is serving a prison sentence for the murder of a man he had found in bed with his wife. During his sentence, he has visions of the Cool World and the femme fatale Holli Would, who seems to beckon him. Jack spends his sentence creating a series of comics based on his visions. Shortly after his release from prison, Jack is transported into the Cool World and smuggled into a club by Holli.
  • Delirious, a 1991 film: John Candy plays a Soap Opera writer who get trapped in his own series, but he can use his typewriter to edit the events the way he wants.
  • Mirrormask: Helena Campbell, a young circus performer and aspiring artist, is drawn into a mysterious world of masked people and monsters shortly after her mother is hospitalized. It is eventually revealed that the world she entered was created through her own drawings that she hung up on the walls of her room.
  • Monkeybone: Stuart "Stu" Miley is a disillusioned cartoonist whose comic character, a rascal monkey named Monkeybone, is getting a cartoon show. One night, Stu crashes his car after accidentally activating an inflatable Monkeybone raft, causing him to fall into a coma. His spirit ends up in Down Town, a surreal, limbo-like carnival landscape populated by human beings, strange figures, mythical creatures and figments of people's imaginations where nightmares are entertainment.

  • In the web-novel The Administrator, a sick girl spends years in the hospital creating a detailed Fantasy setting in order to stave off boredom - and after she dies, she gets reincarnated in that very setting (with, as the title implies, Admin powers). She resolves to make the best of her new life, though she is less than enthusiastic about the parts of the world that she designed when she was eight years old.
  • Kurt Vonnegut's Breakfast of Champions: The character Kilgore Trout is supposed to be a stand-in for Vonnegut, and toward the end of the story, Trout has conversations with Vonnegut (who is the third-person omniscient narrator). The content of these conversations is Trout (fictional) demanding changes to his world from Vonnegut (real), but the underlying subtext is of Vonnegut (real), in futility, demanding impossible changes to his own life.
  • The early Terry Pratchett short story "Final Reward" has a Barbarian Hero, following his death, arriving in the hall of his "creator"; that is, the fantasy writer who invented him. The writer has increasing trouble dealing with his houseguest, especially when the barbarian quickly adjusts to the real world, and is soon more successful and popular than the writer. At the end of the story, the writer escape by creating a new series set on the same world and writing himself in as the central character. The barbarian discovers the author gone, and on finding the unfinished manuscript realises what has happened. He decides to continue the series and write a good life for his creator.
  • The Inkworld Trilogy: The main characters are simply fans of the story, but the author himself got trapped in his own writing, too. He wasn't doing too badly there... for a time.
  • In Pamela Dean's The Secret Country trilogy, a group of young cousins create a fantasy world together and end up stuck there for real.
  • Typewriter in the Sky has a related problem where an author bases a character in his new novel on a friend, and the friend gets sucked into the novel and forced to play the role of the character.

    Live-Action TV 
  • This is the trap in The Land of Fiction in the Classic Doctor Who serial The Mind Robber. Defeat the (supposed) Big Bad by writing yourself into a story as the hero.
  • In a The Kids in the Hall sketch, a comedy writer is called on the carpet by his boss, who criticizes the hackneyed quality of his work, including the very sketch they're both in. After a few lame jokes, the two fall silent — and they realize that the writer forgot to come up with an ending. In a later scene, we see them, possibly days later, still unable to end the sketch. It's not looking good...

    Music Videos 
  • The music video to the song "Take on Me" by a-ha illustrates this, with a much more carefree attitude than usual. Given its medium 1980s pop music, carefree is to be expected.

  • Destroy the Godmodder: Twinbuilder got summoned into the game. He's still updating, but his power is limited- he's basically (canonically at least) just informing us what happened. He isn't actually powerful enough to take on some of the other entities on the field. This is played for laughs a lot with twinbuilder flipping out whenever someone shoots him. Played for drama in that Twinbuilder has been prophesied by an allegedly omniscient character to die.

    Video Games 
  • Classic old-school platformer Comix Zone (yes, it's from back when Xtreme Kool Letterz was in vogue), about an artist who gets dragged into a comic book he's writing, and has to take the place of the hero in order to stop the villain who dragged him in there, and who hopes to take the artist's place in the real world by killing him.
  • Rayman: The original idea for the premise (based on Word of God) was that Rayman was actually a boy named Jimmy who was sucked into a video game world he had programmed and turned into its main character (Rayman) as a result. The plot idea was scrapped in favor of the one the game has now.
  • The director Captain Blue of Viewtiful Joe fits this trope when he gets trapped in the Movie Land he had filmed. Although he isn't the hero of the actual video game. In fact, he ended up becoming the villain.

    Web Comics 
  • Avallanath is a webcomic about a writer of thick fantasy novels who has long since succumbed to hackdom being summoned (along with several thousand fans) to the fantasy world so the characters can get their hands on him.
  • In As You Wish, Prince, the author gets kidnapped by the villain of her Fantasy story.
  • In his first appearance, the Author in Bob and George is briefly trapped in the world he created after he shows up to fix Mega Man's disappearance (how the strip keeps updating when he's not in the real world is ignored). While in later appearances he's as powerful as the title of Author would imply, he's initially an ordinary person who flinches when thrown into battle, and being the Author doesn't let him predict what happens next because he doesn't have a script. In every other appearance after that one, he pops in and out without trouble, but in this one, he needs a machine to send him back.