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Intrepid Fictioneer

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Intrepid Fictioneers, beware meddling, or could end up trapped in Moby Duck, Frankenstein's Monster Truck, Tarzan of the Drapes, The Three Mousketeers, or Jason and the Pussycats.

When characters breach internal fourth walls to go on adventures in books, films, and so on. Generally they travel into one or more books or films to become part of the plot, or, at least, to observe the plot firsthand. This often forms part of an allegory or metaphor for escapism, the idea that the imagination allows a reader to 'enter' a work and subconsciously cast themselves as an observer or a main character. This is one reason why the lead characters of books are often very vaguely or loosely described, allowing the reader to assume the hero's identity as a form of role-play.

Compare and contrast Trapped in TV Land. See also "Reading Is Cool" Aesop and Portal Book. Not to be confused with From Beyond the Fourth Wall, when the fourth wall is the one between us and them.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Dr. Senbei from Doctor Slump invents a machine that allows someone to be transported into any book, also anything scribbled onto a book will manifest inside it's world. In one episode robot girl Arale transports herself into the legend of Momotaro and destroys the story completely, much to Momotaro's chagrin.
  • The core premise of Juuni Senshi Bakuretsu Eto Ranger, where the heroes travel in the worlds of various stories to stop monsters from disrupting their plots.
  • In Monster Rancher, Genki travels to the monster world by being sucked into his PlayStation. He spends several months inside but finds only an hour or so passed in his world upon returning at the end of season 2. In Season 3, he travels back again via a new game in the series.

    Comic Books 
  • The Deadpool Killogy has Wade Wilson attempt to murder the Marvel universe, then the works of classic literature that inspired it, then alternate versions of himself all in an attempt to conclusively and permanently die.
  • Fantastic Four: True Story by Paul Cornell. The FF travel through various well-known works of literature because Nightmare is attempting to conquer the Land of Fiction.
  • In Grant Morrison's The Filth, The Hand uses Intrepid Fictioneer tactics to mine cheesy golden-age comics like Secret Original for Weird Science gadgetry.
  • Justice League of America villain the Queen of Fables. She is eventually defeated and trapped when the heroes trick her into entering a copy of the US Tax Code: a work that contains no imagination and so one from which she shouldn't be able to escape... except for how often people lie on their taxes.
  • Loki: Agent of Asgard has Loki actually walk off-panel and into the myths of the original Norse deity, subtly changing details that wind up affecting reality.
  • This is how Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Comic is executed, mixing the show's trademark riffing with character interactions and gratuitous Product Placement from Totino's Pizza Rolls!
  • Planetary introduces a "fictional man" who turns against his creators and abandons the story for other comics. It's implied he's Grant Morrison.

    Fan Works 
  • In Danger Than Fiction, the five protagonists accidentally trigger a bookwalking spell while they're drunk, and go on a romp through various (ponified) works of literature. The exact rules of the spell vary from author to author so sometimes the characters show up as outsiders interrupting the book's plot, and other times they take over the roles of characters from the original.

    Film — Animation 
  • In The Pagemaster Richard travels through a mash-up storybook world based around tightly and neatly divided Adventure, Fantasy, and Horror genres and is, essentially, traveling from one book to another trying to find his way out.

    Film — Live-Action 
  • Last Action Hero, starring Arnold Schwarzenegger. A young boy gets sucked into the latest installment of a fictional action movie franchise using a magic ticket and tries to stop the villain of the movie from using the ticket to wreak havoc in the real world.
  • In Looney Tunes: Back in Action, Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, and Elmer Fudd partake in a chase in and out of various paintings hanging in the Louvre. One of the songs they play is "Hut on Fowl's Legs", one of Modest Mussorgsky's Pictures at an Exhibition pieces.
  • The NeverEnding Story and its two sequels where a boy travels to the world of Fantasia by reading the book of The NeverEnding Story and having to save the world inside the book from the various evils that wish to destroy it.
  • For the most part, Stay Tuned is Trapped in TV Land. However, as the plot progress, both Roy and Helen start to use the internal logic of the stories they are stuck in and Roy eventually starts channel-hopping to escape from, gear up, and find a favorable spot for a showdown with the Big Bad.

  • Cassandra's Affect has a main character, Cassandra Matthews, who is not only aware she's a character in a book but also travels through several books during her adventures.
  • Harold Shea, back in the 1940s, invented the "syllogism-mobile", which allowed him to visit worlds of fiction. Unfortunately, it didn't always work quite like he planned, and he didn't end up in quite the works he was aiming for.
  • The Inkworld Trilogy has select few characters who are able to send people and objects into and out of stories when they read out loud.
  • The NeverEnding Story, where a boy travels to the world of Fantasia by reading the book of The NeverEnding Story and having to save the world inside the book from the various evils that wish to destroy it.
  • Only You Can Save Mankind, Johnny and other characters travel into the titular computer game and rebuild large parts of it with their imaginations. Their actions alter the game in real time and actually affect sales.
  • Jasper Fforde's Thursday Next books are the trope namer and codifier here. Thursday finds out that fiction has a 'behind the scenes' and that all books are intrinsically linked, with characters as actors in the work. Thursday goes on to travel from book world to book world. Incidentally, fictioneer is a derogatory term meaning a writer of large amounts of tatty pulp fiction.

    Live-Action TV 
  • The 10th Kingdom subverts this in that it is revealed that most fairy tales were written by people who wandered into an actual fairy world.
  • Heroes Reborn (2015): Miko can use Hiro's sword to jump into the game Evernow, where her father is somehow trapped.
  • Legends of Tomorrow: In the Season 5 episode "The One Where We're Trapped on TV", the Legends are trapped in various TV shows, with their memories altered to fit their newfound characters. Fortunately, Zari's pre-Cosmic Retcon self takes control of their body (long story), and with her unaltered memories is able to figure out what's happening and how to move between shows in order to gather everyone and restore their memories. They then manage to escape by deliberately breaking from the shows' scripts, causing them to be canceled and depositing them back in the real world.
  • Lost in Austen: Amanda, a woman from modern London, goes through a portal and enters the plot of Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice.
  • MythQuest: Alex and Cleo travel into myths, mostly to search for their father, but on at least one occasion it was because they liked the idea of living a particular myth.
  • Świat według Kiepskich: An attempt to fix an old GDR TV set ends up giving Ferdek and Paździoch the ability to travel into TV programs. It breaks at the worst possible moment and Paździoch dies mauled by a lion.



    Video Games 
  • Comic Jumper: The Adventures of Captain Smiley has the character, a comic book superhero, cross into other titles to revive his own series (there is no fourth wall in this series). From his perspective, it involves walking through a big glowing portal.
  • In Myst, this was the premise. Certain people had the power to create worlds by writing about them in books (or something like that). They could travel into them — and, if the book, which then served as a gateway between worlds, was damaged, they could be trapped.
  • The Sonic Storybook Series features Sonic the Hedgehog going into various in-universe literature books that he reads at home. He enters the world of the novel he is reading to fight alternate variants of his friends and other mythologies.
  • The general plot of Wario: Master of Disguise has Wario enter a TV program about a master thief out of both jealousy and wanting the money in the series locations for himself. He sadly realizes at the end that the Telmet (a device used to warp into the TV) cannot transfer the money out as well as him.

    Web Original 
  • SCP Foundation:
    • SCP-423, also known as "Fred", is a roving character who can hop between books for fun.
    • SCP-826 is a pair of bookends that allows one to enter any work of fiction placed between them.
    • The mysterious entity known as The Kind Man is also implied to be one, as he is described as having the ability to walk between stories.

    Western Animation 
  • In Blue's Clues, Blue and her human companions can "skidoo" into books to find clues. The story itself seems to take place inside a book.
  • The Fairly OddParents!:
    • In Channel Chasers, Timmy wishes for a magical universal remote that among other features, allows him to enter television programs.
    • The episode Shelf Life has Timmy chasing Tom Sawyer through different books after he stole Cosmo's wand. In the process, both of them end up changing the names of the stories they're in, resulting in drastically different elements for each story they altered. Timmy ends up exploiting this to his advantage after he manages to recapture Tom Sawyer, by keeping the altered stories to keep the frowning duel between Tom and the Rat in Spats as a legitimate story for his book report, thus earning him an A. Though it also results in every other kid in his class failing due to their reports being based on the actual stories before the alterations.
  • In the Futurama episode "The Day the Earth Stood Stupid", the Big Brain brings Fry and Leela into books with them assuming the roles of characters. Fry proceeds to exploit this trope by hastily writing a book where the Brainspawn decide to leave Earth "for no raisin".
  • Gumby's theme song points out that "he can walk into any book", and he does so frequently.
  • The Owl House: Inverted in “Lost in Language”, in which a passing “Wailing Star” causes characters and items from books to be released into the real world, as long as the book is open.
  • The Teen Titans animated series episode "Episode 257–494" AKA "Don't Touch that Dial," has them chasing Control Freak through a bunch of different TV shows.
  • The Super Readers of Super Why! enter fairy tales to help advance a story that has become stuck.