Follow TV Tropes


Leaning on the Fourth Wall

Go To

"If this were play'd upon a stage now, I would condemn it as improbable fiction."
Fabian, Twelfth Night

Bob: Hey, Alice, have you ever noticed how sometimes a character will talk to another character about something that sounds like it's really about the show they're in, but it makes perfect sense in context?

Alice: Yeah! Usually it sounds strained because it's hard to make this kind of dialogue sound completely natural.

Bob: But if they can pull it off, it's usually good for a bit of comedy.

Alice: This might be related to Lampshade Hanging, This Is the Part Where..., Conversational Troping or any other trope with Fourth Wall in its name.

Bob: You mean like Fourth Wall Psych? What about Aside Glance? The inverse would be This Is Reality. Common subtropes are Theme Tune Cameo and Who Would Want to Watch Us?... wait, why are we talking like this? Who Writes This Crap?!


Example subpages:


    open/close all folders 

  • Thanks to food and drug guidelines, just about every drug commercial on American TV is like this, with characters rattling off side-effects in "casual" conversation, sometimes (but surprisingly rarely) lampshaded when the other character will say "You sound like you're trying to convince me to use it!"
  • A commercial features two people on a couch talking about how great Bamzu is. It finishes with the man saying to the woman, "Hey, maybe we could do a Bamzu commercial!" to which she replies, "You think?"
  • A series of GEICO commercials feature extremely poorly "animated" characters speaking in robotic voices. One of the characters informs the other that the commercial — in which they are currently appearing — took only 15 minutes to produce (which they tie into the amount of time it takes to switch to Geico).
  • One Honda commercial had a man talking about his car and the deal he got from it, while his friend says that he sounds like a car commercial.

    Anime and Manga 
  • In Soul Eater, when the teachers are having their meeting about how to rescue Kid from the Book of Eibon, Maka and Soul are trying to listen in on what's going on. They are hiding behind a wall corner in a very over dramatic spy-esque fashion, and Maka says something along the lines of:
    Maka: The way we're sneaking around like this, it's almost like we're the protagonists of some supernatural crime story!
  • Negima! Magister Negi Magi:
    • Fairly early in the manga, Ako tells an aged-up version of Negi that she envies Negi because she feels like she's just a supporting character and he's the main character. She is, of course, absolutely right. Negi counters that even if she's a minor character in someone else's story, she's still the main character of her own. As she was the main character of that particular mini-arc, he was right, too.
    • In an especially tongue-in-cheek moment, Natsumi refers to herself as a side character right before making a casual observation that turns the chapter (#257) into a Wham Episode.
    • It also has a more Fourth Wall-breaky one when Negi sees what his father was like: he exclaims, "It's like he's a character from a totally different manga!"
    • Asuna says something similar when Kotaro first breaks out his demon form. Also a Lampshade Hanging, as said demon form is an Homage to Inuyasha.
    • Similarly, in chapter 277, minor character Tosaka says to Ako and Akira, "Us side-characters gotta look out for each other."
    • In one of the Negima?! OVAs (legal, US/Canada only) has a line lampshading the use of towels in a Hot Springs Episode noting that it isn't some TV anime ("OVA" being comparable to what is known in the west as "direct to video" but generally of higher quality).
      Haruna: [to Nodoka while she and Negi are together in the hotspring] This isn't some erotic anime, you know! [grabs at Nodoka's towel] You gotta ditch the unmentionables!
  • Naruto:
    • More than once, Naruto is described as being the sort of person who could never be the main character of anything. They are, of course, absolutely wrong.
    • There's one point in the manga where Naruto comes running into a fight late yelling, "The main character of a story usually shows up in these types of situations and instantly kicks the enemy's ass!" Naturally, he then proceeds to be on the receiving end of said ass-kicking.
    • Jiraiya having written a book about a ninja Determinator whose name is Naruto (which the character of the series was named after by his parents after they read the book) is fourth wall-leaning enough, but a couple of pages of Chapter 448 which were only in the volume release has part of Naruto's speech to Pain/Nagato nearly have him talking about himself as if he was fully aware that he was a fictional character, and all of this is done in a completely serious fashion.
    • Acting also as a Take That, Audience! moment, Sakura's infamous fake love confession to Naruto is a verbatim reading of all the arguments Naruto/Sakura shippers used to justify why they should be together (paraphrasing: "I used to love Sasuke, but he's now evil and he's breaking my heart, but you, on the other hand, have always been there for me", and "You used to be a dork but now you're the village's hero, so of course now I love you."). Not only does every single person present have a Disapproving Look on their faces, but Naruto easily sees right through her, calls her out for lying, and rejects her outright by telling her that he hates people who lie to themselves.
    • In Episode 499, the penultimate episode of Shippuden (the arc of the preparations for Naruto and Hinata's wedding), after learning of the rest of cast's mission to get the perfect wedding gift for them, Hinata innocently says "I never thought our wedding would cause so much trouble." Considering the amount of Ship-to-Ship Combat and Die For Our Ship that split the fanbase through the course of the series, despite Naruto/Hinata being one of the biggest Fan Preferred Couples in anime and manga for the last fifteen years with the manga's entire run, this is perfectly fitting.
    • The Sequel Series, Boruto opens with a monologue in which Naruto's son, Boruto, stresses that this will be his story and that his father was only a part of it at one point; this seems dedicated to assure the fanbase that for his parental similarities, Boruto is not like his father.
    • In one episode of the Boruto Anime, a villain rants about how this "New Era" is a pathetic add-on to the glorious previous Shinobi era, naturally he gets both a physical and verbal smackdown by Mirai Sarutobi, one of the new generation characters.
  • When some of the members of Genshiken graduate, they have a discussion about where the story could go now that several of the characters have left — except it turns out they're actually talking about Show Within a Show Kujibiki Unbalance, which is doing a graduation story at the same time.
  • Code Geass:
    • During a Breather Episode, Milly remarks "Sometimes you just get these little filler moments in life... and that's fine." This could also be seen as a Take That! toward the fandom, which had a tendency to gripe whenever School Festival episodes came up.
    • "Look forward to me, Jeremiah Gottwald, with all you've got!" This is supposed to be addressed to V.V. but it's obvious he's talking to the audience.
  • Andy almost does this in Cowboy Bebop, to Spike's confusion. Everytime Andy showed up in the episode, his Leitmotif "Go, Go, Cactus Man" would play - a song that uses heavy whistling. Later on in the episode, Spike hears someone whistling as he walks by, and immediately thinks it might be Andy.
  • During an insult contest between Ed and Pinako in Fullmetal Alchemist, one of Ed's is "You're so short you're two-dimensional!"
  • America has one of these moments in Hetalia: Axis Powers.
    America: I'm not stepping out of the house until spring comes around!
    [the light goes out]
    America: And the light bulb burns out as soon as I say that?! What is this, a comedy movie?!
  • Darker Than Black:
    • Happens in episode 9: the episode begins with Kiko Kayanuma making her first appearance of the season. As she and a friend board a train, they are discussing their apparent disgust at how a certain unnamed director added a pointless "gag character" to an otherwise "Dark and Serious" movie.
    • As an anime fangirl/cosplay enthusiast, she does this a lot. For instance, when she and Gai end up in possession of an (even more) will-less Yin, they try to figure out where to hide her while everyone's out looking for her. Kiko suggests the hot springs, because you have to go at least once; then she looks at the audience and says, "Kiko is doing her best!"
  • Death Note:
    • The last words spoken during the anime version indicate Ryuk is leaning on the fourth wall. They're spoken by Ryuk as he kills Light, but the words of farewell ring on for the series, reminding everyone that all this time, the whole purpose of everything that's gone on from beginning to end was for Ryuk's entertainment.
      Ryuk: It was good while it lasted. We eased each other's boredom for quite a while. Well, Light, it's been interesting.
    • At the start of Matsuda's day in the limelight, we get a montage of the other characters making disparaging comments about him, followed by Matsuda saying, "I want a bigger role in this!" It sounds like he's talking to the writers.
  • The English dub of Haruhi Suzumiya has a very clever one in episode six: While Kyon is narrating, the beginning credits are shown. Just as he asks "Who wrote this scenario, anyway?" the current credit is "Series Composition: Haruhi and her friends".
  • Katanagatari. Togame tends to make comments that'd break the fourth wall if it weren't for the fact that she's writing everything down for publication.
  • The first half of Baccano!'s first episode is what seems like two Meta Guys arguing over when this whole thing is supposed to start, who the "main character" is and whether or not any of it actually had a point. Technically they're an eccentric Knowledge Broker and his assistant trying to sort out the data they have on immortal-related occurrences over the last couple of years, but it sure seems like they're picking apart the show you're just about to watch.
  • In the Bokurano manga, several people compare the plot to that of an in-universe manga which is also about kids piloting a giant robot. At the end of that manga, the kids all die and Earth is destroyed.
  • In the Ah! My Goddess chapter where Belldandy somehow gets drunk on cola, Keiichi chases after her and trips over an empty liquor bottle, saying, "Geez, you'd think this was a stupid comic book or something!"
  • Pokémon:
    • One episode had Misty say that when Jigglypuff drew on her, she looked like a cartoon character. Ash says how ridiculous it would be if they were in a cartoon.
    • An Orange Islands episode has Ash and Pikachu take part in a stage show where the trainers do voice-overs that make the Pokémon look like they can talk. In the dub, Ash comments on how hard it is to match the lip-flaps.
  • In One Piece:
    • On the last page of Chapter 597 Luffy says "The pirate 'Straw Hat Luffy' is going on a holiday for a bit", then at the bottom of the page it is announced that the manga is going on a four week break, its longest so far. We get it, Odacchi.
    • In chapter 627, after a seven-chapter-long flashback (one of the longest flashback arcs seen so far), Jimbei apologizes to everyone that it took so long to tell the story. Almost as if Oda was apologizing to the audience for taking so long by having Jimbei say it.
    • In episode 268 of the dub, Sanji's worried Nami's hurt when the train they were riding on is blown up, with Zoro commenting that she'll be alright since she isn't a background character like Sanji. More likely just part of their rivalry and played for laughs.
  • Happens often in Ouran High School Host Club.
    Tamaki: This anime is obviously a romantic school comedy. Haruhi and I are the main characters, and that means we are love interests.
  • The third season of the Crayon Shin-chan Gag Dub has a voice announcing "[adult swim]" followed by another saying "they always kick us out right when we catch on".
  • Osamu Tezuka is famous for this, at least in his less-serious stories. In the Black Jack story "Baby Blues", a teenaged girl brings Jack an abandoned baby, and he asks, "Whose baby is it? Is it yours?" The girl slaps him — but instead of Jack she's slapping Tezuka himself, with the caption standing in for the slap. Tezuka is of course gone by the next panel and the story continues.
  • One episode of Bastard!! had Gara proclaim that you never defeat a major enemy while off screen.
  • In Murasakiiro no Qualia Hatou's considerations on storytelling count as this.
  • There are two cases in the dub version of Yu-Gi-Oh! 5D's where the theme song for the dub ("Hyperdrive") appears in the story; in one episode, Yusei is listening to it on the radio while fixing his D-Wheel in a garage, and in another, Rex Godwin's henchman Akutsu is humming it to himself while working. (Of course, it is possible that the song simply exists in-universe, as none of its lyrics mention any characters or events important to the plot.)
  • Dirty Pair:
    • In the original TV series, Kei and Yuri occasionally compare their incredible misfortune to the idealized TV world...
      Yuri: If this were a TV show, a charming hunk would appear and say, "Are you in trouble, ladies?"
      Old man: Are you in trouble, ladies?
    • Also, the Crusher Joe movie shows the Dirty Pair as a fictional TV show and vice versa.
  • In Kill la Kill, the appearance of any new character or technique is commemorated with giant red kanji. In later episodes, it appears as if the kanji are actually physical objects, breaking when struck and having a visible reflection. Nui even leans on hers while talking.
  • Puella Magi Madoka Magica:
    • In the pilot, when Madoka mentions how she first saw Homura in a dream the previous night, Sayaka says that "the anime character in [her] is popping out."
    • The music Madoka is listening to in the first episode is the anime's theme tune.
    • In series finale, Madoka's mom also asks if her daughter is an anime character when talking with Homura after she re-writes the laws of the universe and everyone else in the world has forgotten her.
    • In the movie, Mami hums her theme music while brushing her hair.
  • At the end of Princess Tutu, when the characters have defied Drosselmeyer and got their happy endings, Drosselmeyer wonders just how they were able to overcome him as the author of their story. This makes him wonder if he himself is just a character to another author.
  • In Assassination Classroom, the students wear casual street clothes instead of their typical school uniforms on the first day of their vacation. On the following day, they've already gone back to wearing their P.E. jerseys. Two of the students explain that they're both comfortable and that "it would cruel to have to think up clothes for a second day". The context implies that it would be hard for the mangaka to have to think up new clothes to draw for each of them.
  • In one chapter of Ojojojo, Tendou holds up some rectangular narrative speech bubbles on a stick as she recaps the events of the previous chapter. Haru dismisses the act as another one of her friend's silly antics.
  • At the start of the final third of The End of Evangelion, animation ceases and live-footage commences, displaying Tokyo urban life in the early morning. As the VA's for Misato, Asuka, and Rei stand still amidst a bustle of pedestrians, Shinji and Rei discuss via narration why it is that audience members care about the fate of fictional characters so very much. Bach's Jesus Bleibet Meine Freude plays simultaneously. Heck, the sequence even outright bends the wall, as the live action footage has quite a few fictional elements slyly inserted in it. The Tokyo skyline has several buildings from the fictional Tokyo-3 placed among the real ones through effect shots, and the shots of the voice actresses alternates between them as themselves facing the camera and them in cosplay as their characters with their backs to the camera.
  • In the GO Chrono Stone series of Inazuma Eleven, the main characters use their flying time travelling caravan flown by an android bear to create a fictional timeline around a King Arthur story book so they can find King Arthur and transfer his aura into one of their soccer players. When they create the storybook world, they're forcefully thrown into it as the story's characters. This leads to multiple exchanges where the protagonist Tenma is referred to as the main character, and some other characters lamenting how they're a minor character.
  • Though Ryou of Gourmet Girl Graffiti never specifically address viewers, she often holds ingredients or dishes she made towards the camera.
  • In a Fate/kaleid liner PRISMA☆ILLYA OVA involving a dance contest, the stereo plays the opening theme song.
  • In Episode 28 of Jewelpet (2009), a radio plays the theme song.
  • Made in Abyss: In the anime's second episode, Riko declares that her discovery of a mysterious robot from deep beneath the earth must signify the beginning of something important in her life. Right after she rhetorically asks what else could possibly be such an obvious story-starter, the opening theme plays.
  • Space Patrol Luluco has a rather spoilerish example. While in hell, Inferno Cop tells that he was in Space Patrol with Luluco replying that makes Inferno Cop her predecessor. This is true both figuratively and literally as Inferno Cop was the first of Trigger's works and Luluco's show is the one that takes the most after his from the three that came afterward (Kill la Kill, Ninja Slayer, and this show).
  • In the first episode of the Tamagotchi anime, the idol singer Lovelin is providing coverage of a big race that is occurring where each racer must complete events placed along the way to continue. At some point in the episode, she informs the spectators to stay tuned. As if to hint that she may have been talking to the audience watching the anime as well, the episode immediately cuts to a commercial break after she says this.
  • Kaguya-sama: Love Is War:
    • The first "Darkness" chapter has Ishigami read a romcom seinen manga Momo-chan Doesn't Think, and comment that it's an oddball in the magazine because it's completely devoid of Fanservice. Sounds a bit familiar, doesn't it?
    • In the Young Jump 100th chapter, Shirogane and Ishigami celebrate the anime adaptation announcement of Momo-chan, and has the chapter end with Shirogane instructing the Student Council to say "Anime Adaptation banzai!" repeatedly, just to drive the point home. Shortly before this chapter was published, Kaguya-sama announced that it was getting its own animated adaptation.
    • Chapter 140 did the same thing for the announcement of the live-action movie, complete with having the same actor in the lead male role.
  • Cardcaptor Sakura:
    • A lampshading of the many relationships in the series:
      Tomoyo: It seems our relationship chart has gotten rather complicated.
    • In the "Freaky Friday" Flip episode, she notes that the combination of a comical Li and serious Kero provides excellent humour.
      Tomoyo: You have the perfect timing, as if I was watching a wonderful comic combo...
  • In Dramacon, Emily complains that people keep on glomping her because apparently, she looks like some manga character.
  • At the start of the last chapter of Haru and Midori, a flashback shows Tsugumi talking with her classmates about how a drama ended just as it was getting good.
  • Haikyuu!!: A rather sad example. After losing to Karasuno in the Interhigh preliminaries, Ikejiri comments that if they were in a work of fiction, those that won and go on to nationals would be the protagonists, and those who lost and had their season cut short were just the extras.

    Audio Plays 
  • Sonic and Tails R features Ryan Drummond reprising his role as Sonic a full 16 years after his last official game (2004's Sonic Advance 3). Thus, it's only fitting that Sonic's first line in the series (directed at Eggman in-universe) is "Did you miss me?"
  • Big Finish Doctor Who
    • In Omega, the Doctor and a Time Lord historian are discussing how they were both fans of Omega growing up. The historian says he wanted to know everything about Omega, and the Doctor replies that he always thought knowing everything would take the mystery out of it. The historian then says "Nothing annoyed me more than when Omega fans came up with those convoluted theories to explain away discrepancies in the legend." All of which sounds an awful lot like a Doctor Who fan debate.
    • In the Companion Chronicles audio Second Chances, Kym, probing Zoe's hidden memories of another forgotten adventure, suggests that they skip all the capture and escape stuff, calling it Padding.
    • Legend of the Cybermen has the Doctor and his companions Jamie and Zoe trapped in the Land of Fiction, where they are constantly being tricked into narrating their actions, with a segment where Jamie finds himself in a sound-studio, reading his dialogues from a script while a director (voiced by director Nicholas Briggs himself) tells him to emote more. Also from that adventure:
      Zoe: None of this is real. This is all a wonderful children's adventure that adults adore.
      The Doctor: You are watching this from another level of consciousness, aren't you?
    • A Death in the Family pits the Doctor against the Word Lord Nobody No-One, whom he finally traps in "The Hand of All", a universe entirely consisting of narratives, yet it seems just as real as the actual one. Nobody No-One calls the Doctor out:
      Nobody No-One: How do you know if you yourself haven't been travelling through a universe only consisting of written language and sound for decades?
    • Zagreus has the Eighth Doctor see alternate universes and refer to other parts of the Doctor Who Expanded Universe, the Eighth Doctor Adventures, Doctor Who Magazine, and Death Comes to Time.

    Comic Books 
  • Watchmen:
    • "Who watches the Watchm-"
    • Also "I'm not a Republic serial villain..." (which becomes ridiculously meta in the movie: "I'm not a comic book villain")
  • Young Justice loved to play around with this trope.
    • One famous scene in issue #49 featured the Ray, Impulse, and the Post-Crisis Superboy (Kon-El) talking to each other about how their comics — excuse me, their favorite comics — were cancelled for no reason. For added points, all three of them glare at Tim "Robin" Drake when he comes in at the end of the scene. Robin, of course, starred in a solo title that was still going strong at the time and lasted roughly as long as the other three characters' titles combined.
    • In another scene, Wonder Girl and Arrowette are using the Internet, but their connection dies. Arrowette angrily remarks that she hates ISPs. Wonder Girl nervously replies, "No you don't! You LOVE! ISPs! Especially the biggest one!" Arrowette realizes her mistake and says "Umm, I'm going to shut up now," as she and Wonder Girl look in the reader's direction. At the time, Time Warner, the parent company of DC Comics by way of Warner Bros., had just completed a merger with AOL.
    • From the first issue, lampshading a habit of Superboy's:
      Impulse: Man, will you stop blabbering about your stupid power!? You act like you're filling in someone who's just met you! Enough already!
  • Also done in the final part of the Blue Beetle backup in Booster Gold #29, where Paco laments the cancellation of his favorite comic and Brenda attempts to reassure him that the character will still be around.
  • A very similar scene occurs during the last story arc of Neil Gaiman's The Sandman comic: Batman, Superman, and the Martian Manhunter are talking about dreams they'd had. Batman and Superman discuss how they've both had dreams about how they're not themselves, but simply actors playing themselves on television. Martian Manhunter laments that he's never had a dream like that (not having had a live-action actor at that point).
  • Disney Ducks Comic Universe:
  • Y: The Last Man:
    • When Agent 355 asks Yorick why he has "Fuck Communism" engraved on his lighter, he explains it's truly from a comic. "They can say 'fuck' in comic books?"
    • The main character is named Yorick, after the Posthumous Character in Hamlet. In one scene, a playwright makes a derisive comment about subpar works of fiction trying to seem smarter with Shakespeare references.
  • Judd Winick's Green Lantern run had A Day in the Limelight issue focusing on John Stewart. In it, John lamented his reputation as "the black Green Lantern," as well as the way the Guardians of the Universe often viewed him as their third choice behind Hal Jordan and Guy Gardner. This mirrors the way John was underutilized by writers (usually in favor of Hal or Guy) and ignored by fans before the Justice League cartoon gave him a significant popularity boost.
  • There's a truly hilarious scene in Ultimate Spider-Man in which the title character lampshades many of the common trends in his life and how difficult it makes things for him. It fits the character since he just broke up with MJ due to It's Not You, It's My Enemies and recovering from Gwen's death, but it plays very much like he's actually angry at the writer's devotion to making his life a living hell.
    "What else was I supposed to do? She was going to get killed because she's Spider-Man's girlfriend and, frankly, she's too stupid to stay out of trouble when I tell her to. Maybe I- Maybe I should talk to her about this. Maybe in a couple of months she'll figure out how to be smarter about being with me and I won't have to- no. NO! NO! She almost got killed six times out of the last twelve big Spider-Man adventures. There is no way I'm putting her in danger because I don't have anything to do on Friday nights. No. No, leave her alone. [...] So I break up with her, which had to be done, but now I have to sit next to her for... what year is it? What am I? A sophomore? Tenth Grade? Well that means I only have a couple of years left to sit and feel her not look at me as I don't look at her. [...] She'll be making out with Flash Thompson and I'll be NOT making out with anyone ever again because I CAN'T HAVE A GIRLFRIEND BECAUSE I'M SPIDER-MAN AND WITH GREAT POWER MUST COME NOT MAKING OUT WITH MY GIRLFRIEND EVER AGAIN!"
  • In one Lucky Luke album, Rantanplan (after having eaten a piece of soap) wonders whether he's the only one making bubbles.
  • Done in Quantum and Woody when Woody reads the "Dark Kitty" comic book, an Expy of Marvel Comics' Black Panther (also written by Christopher Priest at the time). Woody badmouths the book with criticisms that are entirely applicable to Quantum and Woody...
    "The story is told all out of order — you can't follow the damned thing... God, they just let any idiot write this stuff, don't they..."
  • Christopher Priest's Black Panther run also featured a fair bit of subtext as well. In the very first issue, Ross dismisses the Black Panther as one of the second-string Avengers and questions just how dangerous he can be, which Priest has said was a deliberate reference to the way that prior to the 90s, many fans didn't see the character's worth.
  • Asterix:
    • Asterix and the Roman Agent has a few panels where Impedimenta laments that Asterix received a valuable vase from a Roman for being "the most important man in the village." When Vitalstatisix mutters that he's the most important, she retorts, "If anyone was fool enough to write down the story of our village, they won't be calling it The Adventures of Vitalstatistix the Gaul!"
    • In a similar fashion, in Asterix and the Soothsayer, when the soothsayer offers to "read" the entrails of Dogmatix, Obelix retorts "No one has ever read us, and no one will!"
    • Also, in Asterix and the Cauldron when Asterix and Obelix are trying to make money, Obelix suggests that they could tell tales of their adventures and call them, "The Adventures of Obelix the Gaul." Asterix then replies that nobody would pay to listen to that.
  • A story in Tales from the Crypt called "Concerto for Violin and Werewolf" had the main character figure out the plot twist of the story because it was similar to one he had read in an American comic book called Tales from the Crypt. The story he refers to, called "Midnight Mess", was an actual story that had been published a few issues before.
  • The EC Comics story "...So Shall Ye Reap!" (Shock SuspenStories #10) shows a mother hypocritically scolding her son for reading what she calls a "cheap lurid comic book" full of "nothing but murder and violence" while being interested herself in reading news reports of grisly murders. Hypocritical Humor aside, this was more or less the complaint Moral Guardians were making against EC's publications at the time.
  • An issue of Injustice: Gods Among Us follows James, a young man who used to idolize Superman, but who has become disillusioned by Superman's increasingly violent and tyrannical tactics following the death of Lois Lane. The issue ends with James saying that he misses the kinder, gentler Superman of old, which seems like commentary on the way DC and WB have been increasingly trying to revamp Superman as a Darker and Edgier character in an attempt to appeal to modern audiences (such as with the controversial Man of Steel movie or the New 52 reboot of the character).
    "I miss Superman. I miss the guy who actually inspired people. The Superman who had time to help a kid who fell off a bike. Before he was changed. Before he gritted his teeth and looked angry all the time. Before he became all hard and dark because people, supposedly, needed him to."
  • From The Flash:
    • In The Flash (volume 2) #133, the end of the first Mark Millar and Grant Morrison storyline concludes with Wally putting on a cod Scots accent and Linda telling him "You've spent entirely too much time around Scottish people." Of course, she's talking about Ewan McCulloch, the Mirror Master and not the two writers.
    • In The Flash Annual (volume 4) #3, Future Flash, a future Barry Allen, says that if it wasn't for him, Wally would be married and have two kids, and that it's his fault Wally is dead. While the latter is more guilt for not saving the current Wally, it's uncanny how this dialogue matches up with complaints about Barry's actions during Flashpoint which led to the RetGoning of the original Wally West and his entire family.
    • The Flash (volume 5) #24 has Eobard Thawne, who remembers the pre-Flashpoint timeline and not the New 52 one, mock the new Kid Flash. This Kid Flash was originally the New 52 version of Wally West, before negative reception led to DC reintroducing the original Wally West, retconning the New 52 Wally into the original's cousin. Eobard beats up the new Wally West while exclaiming that he's a "fake" Kid Flash and not even the "real" Wally West.
    • Later in that same series, Barry and Wally II have a brief talk where Wally II asks Barry what's up with Wally, and if they will ever discuss it. Of course, this is something readers have been asking DC's writers and editors since the Wallys' brief meeting, and has been skirted around for basically the entire Rebirth relaunch. Barry tells Wally II to be patient and that they'll get to it eventually.
    • Flash #751 has new villain Paradox aim a rant at Barry that sounds suspiciously like what a lot of fans have been saying about Barry for the last ten years.
      Paradox: You're not the first Flash, and you're far from the last. But you're the one who's written about the most. The one who shapes the legacy. Why are you the one worthy of the myth? Oh, I know... because you died. You're the great savior. The hero of the multiverse. The martyr. But you came back and did... what? What good have you done since your return that is greater than your own death? You know what I think, Flash? YOU SHOULD HAVE STAYED DEAD!
    • In the Flash-centric Dark Nights: Death Metal spin-off Speed Metal, Barry and Wally have a conversation that can easily be read as the audience complaining about how Wally was completely sidelined in favour of Barry after his return, and DC acknowledging that and promising to do better. Additionally, Barry confesses that, because he wasn't there to see Wally grow up, he still thinks of him as his sidekick rather than a hero in his own right; which seems like an admission from the writers that they were mostly fans of the old Silver Age stories and saw Wally as a supporting character who was just filling in for the “real” Flash rather than a beloved protagonist in his own right.
      Wally: You know... I saved the world when you were gone. I even saved the multiverse. Tons of times. More than I can count. Alone, with the Flashes, the Justice League. From the edges of time to the Fourth World I ran saving lives... and yet I always feel like I'm running behind you. I worked so hard to get out of your shadow But when you returned, I got shoved back into it.
      Barry: That's not what I wanted. When I was gone, I missed so much. And part of that was you growing up. Going from Kid Flash to the Flash. And sometimes... I forget that. That's my thing to deal with.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic (IDW):
    • In #2, a cave troll treats Fluttershy like she were a doll (including one shot that deliberately puts her in the same pose as the MLP "fashion" pony toys) and combs her hair, has rocks that look like Optimus Prime in his "toy" collection, and Rarity makes him some custom pony dolls. Sweetie Belle (watching from Queen Chrysalis's lair) comments that she'd make a cute toy. The whole scene is rather meta, considering the source material.
    • #48 has Discord holding a copy of the current comic's script to complain about the way he is being written in the story.
  • In Forever Evil: Arkham War #2, Gordon tells Pierce that he and Bullock call end of the world scenarios "Apocalypse Wednesdays" because they seem to occur weekly.
  • In Squee!, the six-year-old titular character suddenly becomes uncomfortably self-aware as he laments his status as a Cosmic Plaything:
    Squee: I'd like to take you home, but that's probably not a good idea. See, things seem to go really bad around me, and I'd hate to see something like that happen to you. You'd probably explode or something. It's like my life is being done by some awful, awful cartoon guy.
    Stray Dog: Woooof.
    Squee: I'm sorry, boy, but it's true. Everything seems like one big, stupid, mean, bitter cartoonist's joke!! And I don't think he even knows how to draw a dog. I mean, look at you! You look like some sort of weird lamb-baby-dog thing. Like he messed up and was too lazy to start over.
  • Scott Snyder's Batman run has a very obvious example. Since he was the writer of the New 52 Batman series, he rewrote Batman's origin in his "Zero Year" arc, which began with Batman #0 during "Zero Month", when DC published the new origins (or part of the origin) of their characters about a year after their New 52 Cosmic Retcon. The first page has Snyder blatantly telling people not to flip out because of change and the like, in the guise of a character talking about a refurbished bank. He even puts "Gotham National Bank" in bold, in case you don't get it:
    Author Avatar: What was once old will be new again. That was our mission. Perhaps some will accuse us of razing our own past too quickly, too aggressively. Well, to them I say, "before you criticize our new Gotham National Bank... at least try our free coffee!" ... Seriously, though. Welcome to your new bank, team. It's modern and fresh, but it honors the rich history of Gotham National by offering better service, better strategy and better security.
  • Justice League of America:
    • Grant Morrison's JLA featured an arc where Triumph, a largely-forgotten former member of the League from the 90s, fought against the then-current team. Triumph railed against the way he and his teammates were dismissed as second-stringers and never treated as "real" members of the Justice League, and accused the public of only caring about the "Big 7"note  heroes. This could be seen as a reflection of the way that Justice League runs featuring some iteration of the Big 7 tend to be more popular than those that do not, as well as the notorious reputation comic fans have for refusing to accept change.
    • Christopher Priest's Justice League run had a similar story element. In addition to the main villain being a deranged fan who refuses to accept a Justice League that isn't the one he grew up with, Simon Baz points out the real life hierarchy of the team when it comes to popularity, particularly the way Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman are effectively the Face of the Band.
      Simon Baz: Come on, Diana. Come onnn. There're like, four Leaguers who count—you three and Barry.
    • One storyline in the Dwayne McDuffie run had Anansi as the villain. As the Prince of Stories, his alteration of the characters was presented as rewriting the story, and when they teamed up anyway, he reflected that he shouldn't have set them all in the same continuity. He even (ironically) dismissed Animal Man as far too metafictional.
  • The Multiversity:
    • In The Just #1, a character reacts in surprise at seeing a comic book and asks if people even read them anymore. Similarly, there’s this little nugget from the Pax Americana #1 issue, which comments on the trend of superhero movies being huge at the box office while actual comic sales are in the gutter.
    Heroes are for movies. The super-hero is dead.
    • In Pax Americana #1, Captain Adam discusses the concept of comic book tropes to a group of doctors, but as he is discussing his ability to read their three dimensional thoughts, he's looking directly at the reader.
    • In Thunderworld #1, the Wizard Shazam breaks the fourth wall, telling the reader he was working on his 'omniscient narration'.
  • Modern Loki is so prolific in doing this that any given speech balloon has a significant chance of containing something that leans on the fourth wall. Lamenting that they don't have the power to write a happy ending for themselves while Aside Glancing at the reader (You could! Please!), stating that "It's never the end of all stories." about Secret Wars (2015) (Yeah. No. Not really a reboot.), and going on tangents about Loki being an important supporting character in Thor's life even when everything is All New All Different.
  • The Fictional Video Game in which Noob takes place has verbal Keywords Conversation. At some point a player is explaining something about Non Player Characters to his guildmates, using the NPC abbreviation. The impatient Quest Giver standing right next to them is baffled, wondering what a "Enpeecee" is.
  • Fantastic Four:
    • Way back in issue #12, Reed said that the team had redesigned their Fantasticar because "fans throughout the country" had complained about how stupid it looked. This was Stan Lee's way of acknowledging complaints from real-world fans, who had mocked the Fantasticar from its inception.
    • In an issue from the late 70s, it was mentioned that the in-universe Fantastic Four cartoon lacked the Human Torch because Johnny was out of town when the rest of team had to sign their contracts. This is a nod to the fact that the Human Torch was barred from appearing in the 1978 cartoon because the production company didn't have his TV rights.
  • Likewise, West Coast Avengers #12 introduced a brand new costume for Wonder Man, one that quickly proved extremely unpopular with readers. After months of reading fan letters calling the new suit terrible, writer Steve Englehart got rid of it in issue #24 by having one of Wonder Man's associates tell him that market research had shown that "the public" hated the costume.
  • Spider-Man/Deadpool #6 is all about the current spate of superhero movies. An actress playing Storm asks why the other Marvel actors never talk to her, with the actor playing Wolverine saying that it's like they don't exist.note  Deadpool's movie debut proves to be a disaster behind the scenes and is eventually cancelled, but Spider-Man assures him he'll get another shot someday. Then, in a bit of Self-Deprecation, Spidey backs this up by saying Hollywood loves doing Continuity Reboots of the same stuff the audience has already seen a dozen times before. And of course, the guys go to see a movie called Nighthawk v. Hyperion: Yawn of Boredom, which proves to be terrible, and has a Never Live It Down scene involving the two heroes' moms sharing a name.
  • Done as The Reveal in New Super-Man #8: in the epilogue a mysterious figure visits Super-Man Zero (China's first attempt at creating a Superman, from The Final Days of Superman), claiming that he was there at the beginning, and if it wasn't for him there wouldn't be any superheroes. The final splash page shows that he's the Yellow Peril villain from the cover of Detective Comics #1, which is exactly duplicated.
  • In Dynamite Comics crossover event Pathfinder: Worldscape, Red Sonja tells Kulan Gath that "she is really tired of hearing his voice". According to writer Erik Mona's official commentary, that is supposed to be a shot at her character's rather lackluster Rogues Gallery, as Gath is frequently used as her Arch-Enemy in many, many stories and it wasn't helped that the concurrent Red Sonja comic published at the same time used him too, a fact that Mona wasn't aware at start of his own series.
  • In the 1950 story Mickey Mouse and the Tagalong Pup, Mickey tries to return a whistling dog to the circus and is arrested when the ringmaster assumes that he stole the dog. As he sits in the slammer, Mickey laments "This like one of those ridiculous situations you read about in comic books. I never thought it would happen to me."
  • DC Universe: Rebirth #1 is basically an entire issue of this. The original Wally West is revealed to be alive and basically serves as Geoff Johns' (and the majority of DC's readership's) avatar as he laments what has been lost in the New 52 universe, from legacy to love. In what seemed like it would be a Take That!, Wally starts to dissipate into the Speed Force and resolves to "let the past go", as he says goodbye to Barry... only for Barry to save him, and for Wally and Barry to try to find the culprit that rebooted the universe into a dark and cynical place (out of universe, Geoff Johns himself actually wrote the story that did that). It's revealed to be Doctor Manhattan, who basically serves as Watchmen's representative (as well as Dan DiDio's). So basically Johns is saying that Watchmen and DiDio caused the universe to reboot, and for love and legacy to go missing. Further into the relaunch, Wally would repeatedly refer to the timeline as having been "edited", another jab at DiDio.
  • Iznogoud: In "The Magic Calendar", when Iznogoud tears off too many pages of the title artifact and ends up in Jean Tabary's studio in the 20th century, Tabary mistakes Iznogoud for a courier sent to pick up the latest Iznogoud story and apologises for the delaysnote  but says he only has ten panels left of the current story. Sure enough, there are just ten panels left in "The Magic Calendar", and when Tabary tries to help Iznogoud by gluing pages back on the calendar (thereby trapping Iznogoud in the timestream), he is stunned to see his nearly-finished story turn into blank pages. He shrugs it off and starts over - drawing the title panel of a story called "The Magic Calendar"...
  • Happens in Issue 17 of Star Trek: Boldly Go when Gary Mitchell boasts to Kirk about various realities he's visited.
    Gary Mitchell: Wait until you see the timelines where you're on an Enterprise powered by mushrooms! Or the ones where all of us are just fictional characters!
  • In Secret Empire, Carol says that she regrets her actions during Civil War II, noting that her attempts to make the public like her have actually made her hated. Some wondered if this was a commentary on the fact that Marvel has been pushing her so much that some now consider her The Scrappy.
  • The current Ms. Marvel was a fan of superheroes, in the sense that they’re famous people in her world, long before she gained her powers. She even writes (and reads) Fan Fic about them, which has led to some mild embarrassments now that she hangs out with them. Her vocabulary when talking about her adventures frequently sounds exactly like a comics fan.
    Oh! My! Gosh! I'm in a Spider-Man team-up!
  • In the final issue of Spider-Gwen, Gwen gives a nod to her own case of I Am Not Shazam:
    I preferred Spider-Woman. Spider-Gwen stuck.
  • Druuna: The Doctor, who is the writer's Author Avatar, tells Druuna that "if you weren't real, I would have to invent you".
  • The subtext of the 2018 Death of The Inhumans mini-series seems to mirror the state of the franchise following the cancellation of almost all of the Inhuman-related books and the spectacular failure of their live-action TV show. Throughout the series, the Inhumans' empire is systematically torn down and destroyed (with the narration explicitly likening it to the fall of Rome), with many of the Nuhumans created during the Inhumanity push ending up as C-List Fodder. Though most of the core Inhumans do ultimately survive, it's made clear that their golden age has ended and that they will no longer be as powerful or prominent as they previously were, seemingly mirroring the fact that while the attempts at turning the Inhumans into a massive franchise failed, the characters themselves will still live as part of the Marvel Universe.
  • Wonder Woman (Rebirth): Wonder Woman sees that her memories of the past (her origin) keeps changing...much like her actual comic book origin keeps changing significantly with each reboot.

    Comic Strips 
  • FoxTrot is all over this trope.
    • As a sterling example, the last set of dailies is Roger and Andy talking about how, after 19 years, a "major cartoonist" is moving his strip to be Sunday Strip-only. They even suggest ways in which said cartoonist could go out and thank his fans. Andy even gets in a good Lampshade Hanging in response to one of Roger's suggestions: "And break the fourth wall? Not likely."
    • Not even the move to Sunday Strip-only stopped these from coming. The strip for July 18, 2010 depicted Jason trying to decide which costume to wear for Comic-Con; showing him dressed up as Pikachu, Gandalf, Batman, Chewbacca, Mario, and a generic TRON character. When Peter suggests he goes as a Newspaper Comic character, Jason complains that he doesn't have a costume for that.
    • One example is a strip that was released around the time that The Phantom Menace was released; Jason goes to see the movie, and when he gets home, Paige asks how he liked it:
      Jason: Come on, Paige, what are the odds of a geek like me saying anything negative?
      Paige: I'd say something like the chances of George Lucas letting a cartoonist see the movie early so he could write about it in more than vague, noncommittal terms.
      Jason: ...Well, I wouldn't go THAT far.
      Paige: Okay, so there's a TINY chance that you didn't like it.
  • Candorville takes a darker-than-usual approach to this, as shown on the quotes page.
  • Sally Forth had Ted declare that they shouldn't do a "middle-aged couple gets overwhelmed by social media plot." When asked why he said "plot," Ted answered, "Sometimes I like to imagine my life as a series of week-long story arcs, and I want each one to be gold." Since then, both Ted and Hillary have been doing more and more leaning, sometimes getting pretty close to No Fourth Wall. Sally herself, and Hil's friend Faye, do their best to resist and keep the strip grounded.

    Fan Works 
  • In the To Love-Ru fanfic To-Love-Carnage Rito and Yui have a conversation about Fan Fiction that heavily implies they know they're in a fan fiction. Citing Fan Fiction tropes and hoping "God" won't write them out of the story.
  • In New Chance, Naruto met his father (still alive) in the first chapter. Chapter 2 starts with Naruto waking up and thinking it one of the many dreams he has had where "his parents were still alive, sometimes only one, or the Kyuubi didn't attack Konoha.", to name a few, not realizing how many Fan Fic premises he's listing.
  • The Kung Fu Panda fanfic A Different Lesson has a brilliant send-up of this trope via a bookseller the heroes visit, where a scroll is for sale which tells the story of the movie. Thanks to Gossip Evolution, willful misinterpretation, and a certain amount of Shout Outs to Fanon, Po is turned into a Fake Ultimate Hero who took out Tai Lung all by himself while the Furious Five did next to nothing (the fight at the bridge becomes a "footnote"); Viper only cares about makeup and pretty clothes, Monkey is mute, while Shifu's Cynical Mentor and Jerkass tendencies are lampshaded; the filmmakers' ploy with making Tai Lung appear to be a mindless beast before The Reveal of Ian McShane's voice is also referenced by making the snow leopard a drooling savage with Hulk Speak, and...Tigress is a man.
  • In The Familiar of Zero/Spec Ops: The Line crossover Zulu Squad no Tsukaima, the OC Sgt. Crosby does a lot of this, since he is an elite mook from a military First-Person Shooter in a magical world of tsundere and yandere.
  • In Oh God Not Again!, when presented with a headline reading "Harry Potter and the Pentawizard Playoffs", Harry muses that it sounds like the title of a book...
  • In the Bleach fic Hogyoku ex Machina, Orihime comments on Ichigo's adventures with "We could serialize them, maybe! Shonen Jump would take the manga!"
  • Another Bleach fic, Winter War, has one character musing that "sometimes the princess had to save the dragon, and sometimes she had to save the prince as well, and sometimes the princess and the dragon and the knight all teamed up together and went to argue with the person who’d written the story and complain about how they never got anything interesting and new to do." Of course, it's also from Orihime's POV.
  • Turnabout Storm:
    • Phoenix makes an off-hand comment about one of his world's shows within a show, The Steel Samurai, and comments on how amazing it's that a kids show got so popular with the Periphery Demographic. This wouldn't be a very remarkable comment, but he just happened to say it while being in Equestria.
    • While Phoenix and Pinkie are investigating, she starts to hum Pursuit ~ Cornered, one of Ace Attorney's most iconic themes. Phoenix comments that the tune sounds quite familiar to him.
  • A rather gory Digimon, The Interloper, has Christopher Van Numen regarding what had happened in that very day and how it all felt too perfect to be just a simple coincidence, all the while he infiltrates the DSI's R&D Wing, his internal monologue eventually going:
    "Were they nothing more but characters, whose capacities for self-determination were undermined by an unfeeling writer—an omnipotent author that had nothing better to do except enthused prostitution to the ideals of entertainment and fame?"
  • In the Death Note AU The Faceless Light is skeptical about having Naomi Penber, a woman, serving among his soldiers, complaining that she might get pregnant and slow them down. Naomi counters that there was more of a chance of Light getting pregnant than her.
  • In Ace Combat: The Equestrian War, Sky Eye says that "the game is over" for Red Cyclone when Fortress Intimidation is destroyed by Rainbow Dash and Firefly.
  • In Chapter 6 of the My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic fanfiction The Apprentice, the Student, and the Charlatan, Celestia and Luna are passing on backstory to protagonists Nova Shine and Twilight Sparkle about the antagonist. Bearing in mind that Nova and Twilight are dealing with romantic issues of their own, this little gem shows up.
    “Well, obviously,” Nova commented dryly, glancing at the wall with the hearth, the wall with the door, and the wall with the window as he attempted to organize his thought. “The stallion likes the mare, the mare likes the stallion. The mare is open about it, the stallion keeps it to himself, leading to all this unnecessary drama and tension. Really, this story just writes itself, doesn’t it?” he asked, leaning on the fourth wall.
  • In My Stupid Reality a Death Note AU where L is trying to make Light his successor, Light tries to get out of The Program by deliberately failing the psych exam by pretending to be a homicidal maniac who believes all criminals should die. Unfortunately he failed too well and L knew he was faking.
  • In one entry in GentlemanJ's fanfic series "The Journey of Graves," the title character finds out about a gentlemen's club (one that's PG-rated, tops) started because the men of Ponyville feel like extras in comparison to the Mane Six, with Graves saying that he doesn't exactly feel that way. Anyone who watched the series knows the guys are right, and anyone who reads the fics knows the metaphysical reason why Graves doesn't feel that way, because he's the main character of the fic.
  • Blind by Obsidian Sickle has a part where Naruto, Sakura and Sasuke are on the way to a client and go meta. During the trip Naruto (who's taken writing as a hobby) talks about how he's writing a story but is having problems. He says he wants to avoid just skipping parts but wonders what to write while characters travel saying "If they travel, it'll be boring to just say they're moving then skip to them at the destination". Sakura suggests putting in dialogue or show Character Development to spice it up.
  • Fantasy of Utter Ridiculousness:
    • Alice Margatroid demonstrates one of her Spell Cards to Coop and the others. Jamie wonders afterward where the creepy music came from.
    • After the protagonists return to Jersey City, Jamie wonders how the residents of Gensokyo—which is a melting pot of Japanese mythology—were speaking perfect English.
    • Marisa makes a claim later on that she and Reimu both become younger while incidents are in progress, trying to explain why they both look like adolescents when logically speaking they should at least be in their early 20s. Reisen tries and fails to call her out on this.
  • Plan 7 of 9 from Outer Space. Buster Kincaid accidentally swallows a blue pill and realises they're all living in an artificial reality created by machines — thousands of personal computers owned by Fan Fic writers who need to get a life.
  • Hivefled features, among other things, characters commenting on the way they're drawn.
  • Despite having No Fourth Wall, Calvin and Hobbes: The Series ends with the Five-Man Band looking back on their adventures, providing an outlet for the writers to look back on the series as well.
  • In Pokéumans, Brandon's fight with Zeke the Charizard is going badly, not helped by being fought in a room full of lava trickling down the walls. In his narration, after the fourth or so time he burns himself, he remarks that he felt like "some jerk was making me do this for comic relief".
  • Tiberium Wars pulls an incredibly meta line when you consider it's a novelisation of a Real-Time Strategy game:
    That's how war has been fought since Stalin rolled into the Allies a century ago. You point, you click, and they die. It's how it works.
  • The Powers of Harmony went on hiatus for two years due to various issues in the author's real life. The first chapter posted after the hiatus ended has Rainbow Dash, whose group is waiting to meet the dragon lord Bahamut, complain how it feels like they've been waiting for years.
  • A Trigun and Gungrave crossover fanfic, Wintertime Business, has Vash wondering why Brandon and Mika look like the people he knows in his era and ends up assuming that nobody there knows why. In truth, both series are created by Yasuhiro Nightow, and Brandon/Grave and Mika look like Legato and Meryl respectively.
  • The cast of the Contractually Obligated Chaos series don't usually lean on the fourth wall so much as they sometimes outright bulldoze it. (Given the source material, this is natural enough.) But there's one specific example in Sleeping Beetle which mixes this trope with Mythology Gag. Lydia, who has a canonical ability to somewhat communicate with animals, dryly remarks that this makes her an "actual Disney princess." This prompts Beetlejuice to ask what that makes him, to which she replies that he's obviously "something from a Tim Burton movie."
  • The Magi fanfic Take Up My Sword ends with Hakuei being painfully possessed by Arba . The last lines of the story are Arba doing a mix of this and Evil Gloating.
    Arba: Your story is over, and now? You are mine.
  • Invoked in the Star Trek: The Next Generation/Firefly crossover fic Lost in the Woods when Mal Reynolds first sees Deanna Troi and assumes that she's the Enterprise equivalent of a Companion, referencing how Inara and Deanna were basically intended to be the sex appeal for their respective shows.
  • This crops up repeatedly in the Dragon Age: Inquisition series Twice Upon an Age. In the Dragon Age games, Varric often talks about writing his books and is in fact a well-known author, so when he makes remarks in the fic about writing a book about what's happening, it seems like a continuation of that gag. However, it goes beyond this when the reader remembers that Varric is credited as the editor of the fanfic. Throughout the entire series, Varric inserts repeated editor's notes into the narrative; these do everything from explaining things to the reader down to outright scolding the author for something. Since the implication is that he's adding these notes while the story is written, and he's therefore actively involved in deciding what gets included in the story, the instances of him talking about writing the story come across as this.
  • Pokémon Reset Bloodlines does this every once in a while:
    • During its first encounter with Ash, MissingNo notes that in the previous timeline, Ash and his friends lived in a near-eternal state of happiness and joy, "like they were in a children's cartoon".
    • In Chapter 24, Anabel, who has recently joined Ash's travel group, thinks to herself that Ash radiates a cheerfulness and determination that she finds charming, "like someone out of those long running animated shows".
    • A sidestory centered on "the Dude" note  has him remark that even though someone might be a "nobody", it doesn't mean that they can't have adventures or their own story to tell, which is a comment on how many Characters-of-the-Day became Ascended Extras and starred in their own stories, forming an Expanded Universe.
  • A few times in Traveler, Ash notes that his situation feels like "the part where a story would fade out".
  • Harry in A Discordant Note detests the concept of destiny, saying that if life were a book, destiny would be a plot contrivance used to make things happen a certain way.
  • Kirby Of The Stars The After Story:
    • This exchange from Chapter 1 where the Kirby anime is concerned:
      Dedede: And [Fumu's] saying that like a Demon Beast showed up every week! How many times could it have been anyway?!
      Bun: (under his breath) Close to one hundred, I think...
    • In Chapter 11, Alphonse goes on a brief rant about constantly unresolved romantic resolutions in fanfictions, to the confusion of everyone else present.
  • In crossover Echoes of Yesterday, Taylor is feeling disturbed after learning that Supergirl is a real character in another universe, and eve more disturbed after being told she's probably a fictional character in a different universe, because who would want to read about her extraordinarily depressing life?
    "S-so you're not just a cape. You're a fictional character brought to life?"
    "Yes and no." Kara said. "I am fictional to your world, but my world is very real. There are many possibilities in the multiverse, Taylor. Fiction and reality blur the lines when you travel between worlds. Yours is not the first world I've encountered where we existed as stories, and I guarantee there are worlds where the lives of your people are recorded and told as stories of their own."
    Dear god, what sick twisted person would want to read something that dark and depressing?
  • Cinderjuice: When Lydia is compared to a Disney Princess, she replies that must make Beetlejuice something from a Tim Burton film.
  • Mega Man: Defender of the Human Race: When Bass arrives to attack the Mega Man Killers for harming Roll, Punk laughs at it and calls his reaction "your own personal fanfic shipping dream".
  • Distortions (Symphogear): Yumi, is talking to Hibiki about the recent events and how they feel like a fanfic to an anime.
  • The Resident Evil fanfic The Progenitor Chronicles: the MC and Rebecca come across a room with a map of the building they're in and a typewriter sitting on some crates. In-game this would be a classic save room. In-universe, it's completely out of place and the MC wonders why he's just found a typewriter in 2016.
  • In Lincoln's Memories: At the end of "Nothing But the Tooth", Luan Loud says, as her reason for keeping the video of Lincoln's three-hour cry, "You never know. Maybe he'll want to play embarrassing videos of himself seven years from now to make up for something he did."
  • During the battle against Frieza in Dragon Ball Z Dynasty, there's this gem by Frieza himself that lampshades his infamous... perception of time:
    Frieza: I cannot risk accidentally ending one of your miserable lives too early. With how angry you've made me... I plan to give each of you ten minutes.
    Piccolo: You think you can end this in ten minutes!?
    Frieza: Oh my word, you poor Namekian. You don't seem to realize...
    Piccolo: Realize what!?
    Frieza: A mere five minutes with me is almost like an eternity~!

    Films — Animation 
  • The ending for The Boxtrolls has Mr. Pickles and Mr. Trout discussing how neatly everything has wrapped up, as if it was a story, "Assuming we're in one." The stinger goes on to have the pair debate their existence and whether all their actions are controlled by invisible giants. As the discussion continues, the audience sees the sped up movements of a stop-motion animator flitting about a miniature set, manipulating them both.
  • Frozen II: During the song "Some Things Never Change", Olaf faces the camera as he sings the line "You all look a little bit older", as if he's acknowledging the six-year gap between Frozen and its sequel. Also may count as Fourth Wall Psych since some children (which Olaf could have been addressing in universe) appear from behind the camera.
  • When Gopher first appears in The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, he says, "I'm not in the book, but I'm at your service!" "Not in the book" can mean "I'm not listed in the phone book", but he's also alluding to his status as a Canon Foreigner—he was invented for the movies, so he isn't in the book.
  • In Moana, when Moana objects to Maui calling her "princess", his retort is a tongue-in-cheek summation of the Disney Princess franchise: "If you wear a dress and have an animal sidekick, you're a princess!"
  • Rango has the title character ask the Spirit of the West why he has to go back to town and save the day. The Spirit's response is "No man can walk out on his own story." This one might not count, as the plot and characterizations in Rango are heavily based on the concept of reality vs fiction. The Spirit of the West's line is a reference to how Rango has been jarred into reality after spending the majority of the movie treating his predicament as if it's a movie or play, and is a deliberate line to remind him that life is still a story to be told, even if it is deadly real.
  • In The Stinger for Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, a mysterious figure asks another what he's missed; after all, he's only been gone for two hours. The movie, of course, is just under two hours long, and the mystery man is Spider-Man 2099, one of the spider-characters absent from the roster featured in the rest of the film.
  • In Space Jam, when Bill Murray shows up for the climax as a borderline Deus ex Machina, Daffy asks him how he got there and Murray replies, "The producer's a friend of mine." Either Daffy is questioning how Murray got into the Looney Tunes world, and the answer is that Murray knows the producer of Looney Tunes, or they're raising the very valid question of what Bill Murray is doing in a Looney Tunes/NBA crossover movie in the first place, in which case the producer in question would be the film's producer, Ivan Reitman, who was indeed a friend of Murray's. Judging from the disgusted reactions from Daffy (and the leader of the Monstars), they took the latter interpretation.
  • At the end of The Sword in the Stone, as Merlin is going on to Wart aka. King Arthur about the legacy he will leave, he notes that "they might even make a motion picture about [Arthur]".

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Annie:
    • The film's very first scene is built around saying "Our Annie is not the Annie you know and expect", which alludes to the reaction to the title character's Race Lift.
    • A quick gag after "I Don't Need Anything But You" has New Yorkers watching the Stacks and Annie story unfold on the news. A man comments, "If he keeps up singing and dancing like that, there's no way he'd've won anyway."
    • Ms. Hannigan has a tendency to do this around musical numbers.
  • Austin Powers, "You know what's remarkable is how much England looks in no way like Southern California."
  • In Bulldog Drummond Drummond hears Phyllis's story and says "You must admit it's rather like a penny thriller." Bulldog Drummond was an adaptation of the Bulldog Drummond series of penny thriller novels.
  • In Contact, a film making money for Hollywood by portraying aliens, the main character Ellie says "Beg for some of that Hollywood money! They've been making money off aliens for years."
  • In Deathstalker II: Duel of the Titans, the opening has Sultana exclaiming, "I'll have my revenge... and Deathstalker, too!" Cue title screen. Didn't Family Guy make a similar joke?
  • Lots of this in the latter portions of Deathtrap, after Cliff reveals that he is writing a play called Deathtrap, based on the Fright Deathtrap that Cliff and Sidney perpetrated in the first part of the film.
    Cliff: Everything we did to convince Myra she was seeing a real murder would have the same effect on the audience.
  • One of the funniest moments in Ed Wood comes when Ed asks his DP which dress he prefers, the red one or the green one. The colour blind DP asks which the red one is — something the audience might also be wondering, as the entire film is in black and white!
  • A scene near the end of The Fifth Estate shows Julian being interviewed during his stay at the Ecuadorian embassy. At one point, he gives his thoughts on the upcoming WikiLeaks movie — the very movie he is in!
  • In Hellboy (2019), when the protagonists talk about some villain not being around anymore because of Hellboy, Alice quips that this probably means the guy won't be putting in an appearance in the sequel.
  • In High School Musical 3, during the "I Want It All" sequence, Sharpay and Ryan briefly sing a line about how "sequels pay better".
  • In His Girl Friday editor Walter Burns describes Bruce Baldwin as "He looks like that fellow in the movies - Ralph Bellamy"; Baldwin is being played by Ralph Bellamy.
  • James Bond:
  • In Jeepers Creepers, our heroes have just decided to go back and see if the creepy guy was really hiding a body. The sister comments to her brother, "You know the part in scary movies when somebody does something really stupid, and everybody hates them for it? This is it."
  • The predicament the park managers face at the beginning of Jurassic World is the fact that attendance has been gradually decreasing as people come to take living dinosaurs for granted. This mirrors how in real life the CGI revolution sparked by this franchise in The '90s has resulted in big budget special effects no longer being the major, automatic audience-attractor they used to be beforehand.
  • In Kingsman: The Secret Service, Galahad and Valentine discuss Bond movies (not by name). Valentine clearly catches on to Harry's cover, and when he confronts Galahad later, Valentine says it's like a scene in a Bond movie (not by name), where he explains his plan, then comes up with some absurd deathtrap and Galahad escapes. Galahad says it sounds good. Valentine just says "This isn't that kind of movie" and shoots him in the head. At the climax, where Eggsy kills Valentine, Valentine asks him if he's going to come up with a Bond One-Liner (not by name). Eggsy just says "It's like you said to Harry; this ain't that kinda movie."
  • Kung Fu Hustle: Early on, the main character, played by writer/director Stephen Chow, has a soccer ball kicked his way, does a few tricks with it, then flattens it while shouting, "No more soccer!" This is in reference to the fact that Chow decided to make this movie rather than a much-requested sequel to his previous film Shaolin Soccer.
  • In Little Women (2019), Jo's editor Mr Dashwood says of the protagonist of Jo's autobiographical novel "I don't see why she didn't just marry the neighbor". This is a nod to how large parts of the Little Women fandom (both historic and contemporary) wanted Jo and her neighbor Laurie to get married, and were upset when they didn't.
  • The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers features a scene that was not in the book where Faramir captures Frodo and Sam and takes them to Osgiliath with him. While there, Sam looks back on their journey and says "This is all wrong. By rights we shouldn't even be here."
  • Magnolia: "This is like a movie, and this is the part of the movie where you help me out."
  • Marvel Cinematic Universe:
    • Iron Man 2:
      Tony: I didn't expect to see you here...
      Rhodey: (now played by Don Cheadle) Well, it's me, and I'm here, so get over it and move on!
    • Iron Man 3 opens with Tony Stark opening with explaining his story in such a way that he is talking to the audience. In a post credits scene, it turns out that he is actually talking to Bruce Banner (fast asleep by the way!) in a therapy session, despite Banner's protests that he isn't a therapist!
      • Also, Killian speaking to President Ellis: "I just needed a reason to kill you that would play well on TV."
    • Many had suspected that in Avengers: Age of Ultron that Captain America could actually pick up Mjolnir but chose not to as to not ruin a fun game and/or upstage Thor. Come the Final Battle of Avengers: Endgame, Cap calls it and wields it. Thor's reaction is a boisterious I Knew It!, echoing many moviegoers' reactions.
      • Also in the latter film, Tony's recorded goodbye speech to Morgan says not everyone gets a happy ending; his, and the film's, is a Bittersweet Ending. He also goes " what a world. Universe, now." and says the sheer size of the universe would be somewhat surprising to himself ten years earlier.
    • At the end for the second trailer for Captain America: Civil War, an annoyed Iron Man declares "Alright, I've ran out of patience. UNDEROOS!" Cue the first appearance of the MCU version of Spider-Man, who takes Cap's shield, binds his wrists with webbing, then lands perfectly on a tarmac cart. For extra leaning, the spoilered character's first words? "Hey, everyone."
    • The Stinger at the end of Spider-Man: Homecoming isn't a preview of the much-anticipated Avengers: Infinity War or anything, it's a cheesy PSA like the ones Peter and his classmates watched during the film, in which Captain America appears to discuss the importance of patience even though it isn't always rewarded, leaving you to wonder why you wasted your time. Cap also breaks character and asks someone off-camera "How many more of these?", referencing the sheer number of entries in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
    • As the critic Moviebob notes, the villains of each Avengers movie has an evil plan that echoes the public perception of superhero movies at the time of each film's release:
      • Loki believes the superheroes will clash and not be able to work as a team.
      • Ultron believes that superheroes do more harm than good to the broader cultural landscape and must be eliminated.
      • Thanos believes that there are simply too many superheroes and plans to kill half of them.
      • 2014 Thanos just wants to end the universe. Not unlike how many people just wanted the MCU to end with Endgame.
    • In Captain Marvel, Vers is ambushed by a Skrull. In the next scene, she's suddenly a human woman on Earth named Carol, and an offscreen voice asks, "Am I the only one that's confused?" From there, it's revealed that Vers' abductors have hooked her up to a Mind Reading Machine that's displaying her twenty-odd years of missing memories out of order and out of context, and they're all just as baffled as the audience.
    • Spider-Man: Far From Home may just win the prize as far as this trope goes:
      • At the beginning, Jason wonders aloud, "Are the Avengers even, like, a thing anymore?" and other characters regularly wonder where the other superheroes are. At the time of the film's release, Marvel had yet to announce any future releases.
      • Betty mentions that everyone has to move on to a new "phase" of their lives early on; this movie is either the final movie in the MCU's third phase or first in Phase 4. In the movie's final minutes, there is a construction sign that reads "We're excited to show you what's next", above a four-phase roadmap. Phases 1, 2, and 3 are complete, with Phase 4 being a question mark.
      • Nearly everything about Mysterio is a nod to Marvel Studios' film-making process and established formula. His impressive superhero suit is usually CGI and he's actually wearing a goofy motion-capture suit except for when he makes public appearances, during which he rarely wears his mask or helmet because it would keep him from charming the person he's talking to. He also has recruited a writer tasked with making the outlandish events he stages sound as if they have some basis in reality; the MCU has regularly been applauded for similarly recontextualizing and reconstructing more outré ideas from the comics.
  • Subverted in the Metal Gear Fan Film Metal Gear Solid: Philanthropy. Pierre teases Snake by saying that he's so cool he'd "make a good video game character, no shit — a Nintendo platformer, I'd say!"
  • In The Misfits (1961), Perce, who had an accident a while back, assures his mother over the phone that "My face is fine. It's all healed up, just as good as new." Montgomery Clift had been in a serious car accident in 1956 that scarred his face and damaged his pretty-boy good looks.
  • In The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor, Evey became famous for writing novels based on her own adventures. In an autograph signing of her latest book, just before the camera cuts to Maria Bello instead of Rachel Weisz:
    Woman: Mrs. O'Connell, is it true that the Scarlet O' Kiefe character is based on you?
    Evey: No. I can honestly say she is a completely different person.
  • The Danish film Nattevagten ("Nightwatch") ends on this note, with characters discussing the events that have happened and noting that if it were a film it would be called "The Night Guard". And at the end of the movie, one of the characters would say "No" at his own wedding. He does.
  • In None Shall Escape—a 1944 film about a trial against a Nazi officer following the end of the then-ongoing second world war, told via flashbacks from the points of view of the witnesses at the trial—the judge's final remarks are clearly addressed to the audience just as much as to the people in the courtroom.
    "Men and women of the United Nations, all of you—you are the jury. It will be up to you to finally judge all criminals and to determine the penalties that shall be meted out to them. For this will only be your war if the final victory brings you justice and a true and everlasting people's peace."
  • Daniel's card trick in the opening of Now You See Me is filmed from the perspective of the woman he's showing it to. Not only does she play into it, a large portion of the viewers are also going to end up picking the same card.
  • In Ocean's Twelve, Tess Ocean (played by Julia Roberts) decides to pretend she's Julia Roberts, since she looks so similar, and runs into Bruce Willis (as himself), who thinks it's her.
  • The Only Son: Ryosuke takes his mom Tsune to see a movie, an Austrian musical called Lover Divine. As the lead actress sings a song, Ryosuke leans over to Tsune and says "This is called a talkie." The Only Son was Yasujiro Ozu's first talkie.
  • This line from Prometheus uttered by David as he holds a drop of the Engineers' organic sludge:
    David: Big things have small beginnings.
  • Revenge (2017) ends with Jen suddenly turning around to look directly at the camera right before the credits roll.
  • Happens accidentally in The Room. When Claudette discovers Mike and Michelle, who are introduced as they inexplicably come into the apartment to make out and eat chocolate, she asks, "What are these characters doing here?" The audience is probably wondering the exact same thing.
  • At the end of the television movie Santa Hunters, Alex tells the camera that it is time to put the cameras away and then yells "Cut!" The scene changes.
  • In Scott Pilgrim vs. The World, there is a brief scene where two guys are talking about a comic book version being better or worse than a movie version of something.
  • In The Seven Year Itch:
    • Richard shows his wife (herself appearing in an Imagine Spot) a few alleged flashbacks of other women throwing themselves at him, only for her to scold him for having an overactive imagination: "Lately you've begun to imagine in Cinemascope with stereophonic sound."
    • The following exchange about a character played by Marilyn Monroe:
      Tom: What blonde in the kitchen?
      Richard: Wouldn't you like to know! Maybe it's Marilyn Monroe!
  • At the end of Shanghai Knights, Roy suggests to Chon Wang (played by Jackie Chan) that they go to California to act in "moving pictures", particularly kung-fu action films.
  • In SHAZAM! (2019) there's a scene which shows a young boy playing with toy Batman and Superman dolls clashing them against each other, only for having Shazam and Dr. Sivana clashing outside his window making a huge BOOM. Which causes him to drop the dolls in amazement.
    CinemaSins: The exact reaction as the execs at Warner Bros after seeing the public's response to this movie.
    • Another scene has the characters admitting they can't come up with a name for Billy Batson's alter ego, a reference to the fact that the Captain Marvel name is not be confused with Marvel's Captain Marvel.
  • The Star Trek films:
  • Star Wars:
    This will begin to make things right.
    • In The Last Jedi, when Kylo Ren reveals to Rey that her parents were no one special, he adds that "You have no place in this story."
      • Earlier, when he refuses to leave Ahch-To with Rey, Luke asks her (paraphrased): "Do you think I'm going to walk out with a laser sword and face down the whole First Order by myself? What did you think was going to happen here?" Many fans came into the film expecting Luke to do exactly that. And at the end of the day, he does, but not exactly in the way you'd expect.
  • In Terminator Genisys, the T-800 frequently remarks that he's "old, but not obsolete"; This seems to reflect on the aging action star actor, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and his suitability for the role.
  • Top Secret! leans on the Fourth Wall, which promptly shatters:
    Nick: Look, I'm not the first guy who fell in love with a girl he met in a restaurant who turned out to be the daughter of a kidnapped scientist only to lose her to a childhood lover who she'd last seen on a deserted island and who turned out fifteen years later to be the leader of the French underground.
    Hillary: I know, it ... it all sounds like some bad movie.
    [Nick and Hillary both look at the camera]
  • In Tropic Thunder,, being about a Troubled Production, is basically Leaning On the Fourth Wall: The Movie
    • "I think I know a prop head when I see one!" says Tugg as he hefts what is an obvious prop head, seeing as Cockburn's actor is still alive. (Of course, In-Universe, everyone else is grossed out, because Tugg is handling a "real" bit of corpse and even licking "blood" off of it.)
    • Robert Downey Jr.'s character at one point says, "I'm a dude, playing a dude, disguised as another dude!" This could mean, "I'm Kirk Lazarus, playing Sargent Osirus, playing a farmer," or it could mean... "I'm Robert Downey Jr., playing Kirk Lazarus, playing Sargent Osiris."
    • A meta example: when pressed to stop acting like Osiris (because they're not filming anymore), Kirk Lazarus says "I stay in character until I do the DVD commentary!" Sure enough, Robert Downey Jr. did most of the DVD commentary as Osiris, turning into Lazarus when the appropriate moment was occurring on-screen.
  • About four minutes into Trouble in Paradise, Herbert Marshall's character says "Beginnings are always difficult." (He's talking about how to start off a fancy dinner.)
  • In a 1980s Finnish comedy film from the Uuno Turhapuro series, a restaurant waiter has been tricked, by two alcoholics, into drinking a full bottle of vodka. Later, when a lady enters the restaurant, and listens to the waiter singing a song, she glances around, and declares with an enlightened face: "I see. This must be a Finnish movie. There is no other explanation for the presence of so many drunk people in one scene."
  • Victor Frankenstein: At the SDCC panel, a clip was shown where Victor and Igor are wheeling a gurney down a hallway, and Victor repeatedly yells, "Big presentation in Hall H!" The SDCC panel took place in Hall H, and many of the attendees laughed and cheered at the line.
  • In the film Wonder Man, Danny Kaye tries to convince his twin brother (also Danny Kaye) that he's a ghost by walking into a solid stone marker (using trick photography) and asking "What's this, trick photography?"
  • X-Men Film Series:

  • The main character of Peter David's Sir Apropos of Nothing has the epiphany early on that he's a supporting character in the storybook world around him. He's not pleased and sets out to change this.
  • At one point in The Illuminatus! Trilogy, a character pens a scathing review of a book that seems strikingly similar to Illuminatus! itself:
    It's a dreadfully long monster of a book, and I certainly won't have time to read it, but I'm giving it a thorough skimming. The authors are utterly incompetent — no sense of style or structure at all. It starts out as a detective story, switches to science-fiction, then goes off into the supernatural, and is full of the most detailed information of dozens of ghastly boring subjects. And the time sequence is all out of order in a very pretentious imitation of Faulkner and Joyce. Worst yet, it has the most raunchy sex scenes, thrown in just to make it sell, I'm sure, and the authors — whom I've never heard of — have the supreme bad taste to introduce real political figures into this mishmash and pretend to be exposing a real conspiracy. You can be sure I won't waste time reading such rubbish.
  • Harry Turtledove has a tendency in his alternate history novels to have characters talk about the absurdity of things like the US winning the Civil War (in his Southern Victory series) or an explosive-metal bomb bursting over Nagasaki (in World War).
    • The Lord Darcy stories contain some similar references, usually about how terribly messed-up the world would be if Richard the Lion-Hearted hadn't survived his crossbow wound. In one story, Darcy speaks dismissively of detective-fiction fans, who treat the Serious Business of criminal investigation like it's some kind of entertainment.
  • J. R. R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings:
    • "You and I, Sam, are still stuck in the worst places of the story, and it is all too likely that some will say at this point: 'Shut the book now, dad; we don't want to read any more.'"
    • One chapter focused on Pippin ends with Merry telling him that his recent exploits are impressive enough that they'll probably get their own chapter in Frodo's book.
    • Justified in that the both LOTR and Hobbit are supposed to be autobiographical works by the main characters, first Bilbo, the Frodo and in the end Sam.
  • Meggie does this in Inkheart at one point, thinking that perhaps the things happening to her are just a story and hoping that the person reading it will close the book because it's "so horrible and scary". There is also a point where Elinor expresses a longing for the romantic medieval times and Dustfinger replies that perhaps she was "born into the wrong story".
  • About halfway through the first book of Black Legion the narrator notes that the Inquisitors would like him to skip the Legion's beginnings and get to the "interesting" parts - the sword Drach'nyen, the Black Crusades and the Crimson Path. Replace "Inquisitors" with "readers" and there you go.
  • Jane Austen:
  • In Robert Jordan's The Wheel of Time series, Thom Merrilin often says that one day people will read about their adventures in books. and that there is no way of knowing who the main character will be. Particularly, he suggests that perhaps he'll be remembered as the hero of the story, rather than Rand: a nod to their analogue characters in Arthurian mythology in which Merlin is sometimes treated as the main character over Arthur.
  • Doctor Who Expanded Universe:
    • The Doctor Who Eighth Doctor Adventures novel The Blue Angel has the Doctor start complaining about the Series Hiatus. In-story, his concern is that, being lost in some tunnels, he's afraid his story is over, but it spills over into a Meta Guy-type ramble about stories. The story contains three plotlines; one deals with an alternate Doctor who's an insane human. He frequently refers to his "episodes", which are in fact psychotic episodes, the content of which is quite a bit like episodes of the TV series. The whole book is just very, very meta.
    • On p229 (of 280) in the deeply Mind Screw-y Past Doctor Adventures novel The Infinity Doctors, the Doctor, confronted with a book of infinite pages, says:
    "The best thing about a book is that you can always tell when you're getting to the end. No matter how tricky the situation the hero's in, you hold the book in your hand and say 'Hang on, I'm two hundred and twenty-nine pages in, with only another fifty-one to go. It started slow, but it's building to a climax.'"
    • In another EDA, The Taking of Planet 5, the Doctor says "There was a time when it always seemed to be Saturday when I was on Earth, and the children’s programmes were excellent, if my memory doesn’t cheat." He then starts talking about Transformers, but the connection's already been made in the reader's mind. (Doctor Who is traditionally broadcast on Saturdays, and "the memory cheats" was one of the phrases associated with former producer John Nathan-Turner.)
    • The Fourth Doctor book Festival of Death has a line where the Doctor complains that it's unusual everyone seems happy to see him, because "normally, when I arrive somewhere, people point guns at me and throw me in prison. Within about twenty-four and a half minutes of arriving, usually." Classic Doctor Who episodes are twenty-four-and-a-half minutes long without the titles and credits and tended to get the Doctor captured as a stereotypical, staple Cliffhanger.
    • Taken to the absolute limit in the New Adventures story Conundrum, after the Doctor works out that the entire story is taking place in the Land of Fiction. At one point the Doctor plays Scrabble with one of the villains, Mel, then points out that there literally is not room on the board for the word that the narration has just described as being played.
    Mel was somewhat taken aback. "But... but it's there!" he protested.
    "I know," said the Doctor. "Interesting, isn't it?" In one fluid movement he folded the Scrabble board and tipped the letter tiles back into their tray. "You want to be more careful what you write in future," he remarked.
    "I don't understand."
    "That's because I wasn't talking to you."
    "You weren't?"
    The Doctor was on his feet now and his back was turned to his confused opponent. "No," he said. "I was talking to you!"
    To... me?note 
  • In Atlantis Found from the NUMA Series, a character looks into Dirk Pitt and reports that his background looks like a series of adventure novels.
  • In Cryptonomicon, Rudy von Hacklheber mentions that "there are certain old family connections" between him and Enoch Root, but that "the connections make a very long story. I would have to write a whole fucking book." That book would be The Baroque Cycle—which is in fact three volumes and can be described as "a fucking book" if anything can.
  • In The Last Dragon Chronicles, after main character David goes on a particularly emphatic rant, his landlady Liz soothes him: "David, stop talking in italics. It doesn't help anything."
  • In the Alcatraz Series the main character will sometimes makes a reference to how the events of the story would appear if they were written as memoirs, which is what the books pretend to be through Direct Line to the Author. Also, the characters will sometimes refer to how long ago an event happened by how many chapters it took.
  • In Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Vernon Durlsey and Mad-Eye Moody have this exchange:
    “I am not aware that it is any of your business what goes on in my house –”
    “I expect what you’re not aware of would fill several books, Dursley,” growled Moody.
  • In his Zamonia novels, Walter Moers has pretty much declared the fourth wall to be a floor. The books contain a note, that Walter Moers is not actually the author of the book, but actually just a translator and editor. The original scripts have been written by Hildegunst von Mythenmetz (Optimus Yarnspinner in English versions), his Author Avatar who is an author in the world of Zamonia. However, Hildegunst has the habit of not simply writing down the story he is telling, but constantly interrupting it and addressing his reader. These parts are so numerous that Moers left them all in when he made the translation. Hildegunst is a Bunny Ears Author who rants about nonsense and fictional events, but is himself a satire of the modern literature scene. Hildegunst is leaning very heavily on the fourth wall at all times, but it is explained by him actually addressing his Zamonian readers and not the real world readers.
  • In John Hemry's The Lost Fleet novel Invincible, Geary muses about the unrealistic cover that would probably be put on books about his life. He describes the covers the series actually got.
  • Richard Bachman Stephen King's pseudonym's book Thinner has a character complain that the premise sounds like "Something out of a Stephen King novel".
  • From Smoke and Shadows:
    "Do your best and happy endings are inevitable?" Her lip curled. "You're living in a fantasy world."
    "Hello!" Tony jabbed a finger toward her. "Wizard!" Held up his hand to show her the small scars on his wrist. "Vampire!" A larger gesture to take in the entire studio. "Television! Fantasy's seeming pretty damned real to me right about now."
  • Zeus Is Dead: A Monstrously Inconvenient Adventure does this often, at least when it's not actively taking a jackhammer to the wall. The Fates, upon their introduction, refer in vague terms to the reader. Thalia discusses Leif's refusal to accept his call to adventure. The narrative addresses the reader directly on numerous occasions.
  • In How Much for Just the Planet?, there's an Action Film, Quiet Drama Scene moment where Chekov, Scotty and two Klingons are hiding out in a sand trap on the 18th hole (as their golf game was interrupted by the Brigadier and Sergeant Benton bombing the shit out of it) and take the opportunity to do a little stargazing, apparently looking towards the Paramountain:
    Scott's eye was caught by an unusual constellation: a ring of stars haloing a distant peak. "Look at that, now. Doesn't it awe you a little? To think there might be a higher power than us, arranging matters?"
    "Or that we are the property of some vast indifferent thing?"
  • Characters in the Lord Peter Wimsey series have a penchant for talking about how much more convenient their lives would be if they were in a detective story, often courtesy of an important character who's a novelist.
  • Agatha Christie's Hercule Poirot novels have a few examples.
    • Ariadne Oliver is a character who appears in seven of the novels. Like Christie, she is a mystery writer who doesn't much care for her principal hero (vegetarian Finnish detective Sven Hjerson) but has to keep writing about him because he's popular with readers. Christie uses Ariadne to poke fun at the mystery genre, as well as herself and her own mistakes in her stories.
    • In Curtain: Poirot's Last Case, we have Hastings saying "I was tired of this silly joking about my 'speaking countenance'. I could keep a secret as well as anyone. Poirot had always persisted in the humiliating belief that I am a transparent character and that anyone can read what is passing in my mind."
  • In Palimpsest, two characters discuss the physics of their alternate world:
    "There are some theories. You know, no one really knows. It's not like there's a manual. A couple of times, I heard that someone wanted to write one, publish it as fiction — but we would know. We would see right through all those made-up characters and silly little narrative twists. We would know what it was: a primer."
  • Peacekeeper, the fifteenth novel in C. J. Cherryh's Foreigner series, centers around major character Cajeiri's ninth birthday party and wraps up a number of plot threads that have been dangling since about book seven of the series. It has several remarks to the effect that "the next wholly auspicious number after nine is fifteen" in the numerology of the atevi (the aliens who are the main focus of the book). In-universe, it's Cajeiri noting — or someone noting to him — that this is the most significant birthday party he's going to get for quite a while. But it also reads as meta-commentary; since Cherryh didn't manage to wrap up this particular plot by book nine of the series, she needed to drag it out through book fifteen if she wanted the structure of the series to respect its characters' numerology.
  • At one point in the Dora Wilk Series, Miron suspects that him and Joshua being forbidden from helping out Dora is not because it may cause an inter-system scandal, but because it would make Dora's job easier, worded so that you can almost hear "and the book would be over in moments".
  • Bored of the Rings has this on the last page of Chapter IV:
    Suddenly Frito had the overpowering feeling that he had come to a turning point, that an old chapter in his life was ending and a new one beginning.
  • Journey to Chaos: Shortly after his arrival on Tariatla, Eric remarks that his life has become very dangerous and strange, kind of like something out of a fantasy novel or video game.
    I'm rescuing a princess with a mercenary, a sentient staff, and a ghost. It's like one of those RPGs I used to play when I was a kid . . .
  • We Can't Rewind: Narrator and protagonist Don Richards occasionally stops to point out several things in his story that he's convinced would surely be different if he were living in a fictional story; particularly that unlike in all the made up stories in which bad guys typically get their comeuppance, the teacher who molested and made a single mother out of his new wife Denise back when she was eleven vanished as soon as he realized she was pregnant and was never seen again, let alone brought to justice.
  • The First Law: In the third book of the series, Ardee West complains about trying to get through the third book of The Fall of the Master Maker, griping that it's all just a bunch of battles and journeys, with too many wizards to keep straight. All of these could be criticisms of The First Law itself. Sand dan Glokta admits that he never could finish the first book.
  • Lethal White of the Cormoran Strike Novels:
    • At one point, the narration notes when Matthew's eyes darken that Robin had thought this was literary license until she watched as his eyes turned black as his pupils dilated in shock upon telling him "Well, the problem with that, Matt, is that I don't love you anymore."
    • When one of the members of the Chiswell family uses the phrase "Steady on, old chap," it's said that Robin never thought she would hear the phrase outside of a book.
  • Ciaphas Cain:
    • One of Amberley's comments in The Last Ditch basically boils down to saying you should use the Lord Commissar rules to represent Cain on the tabletop.
    • In The Emperor's Finest a decidedly meta footnote in Chapter 7: The irony of this statement seems to have eluded Cain entirely, though not, I suspect, most of my readers. In-Universe this refers to fellow inquisitors but the passage this footnote refers to fits the most common complaint in RL about the Cain series.
    • Amberley is disappointed that her fellow Inquisitors treat Cain's memoirs as light reading instead of food for thought. Given that the real world readers would have no idea who Cain was before they picked up the book, they wouldn't be overly surprised to discover he seems to be a self-serving coward which would greatly surprise people who have been watching his work for decades. Also, the books are much, much lighter than other 40K books whose grim setting is supposed to be dramatic and thought-provoking, often times to make people examine human nature or just for the shock value the setting provides. Comparatively, the Cain series is light-hearted and tongue-in-cheek which is more "light" then the darker material.
  • In The Conference of the Birds from the Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children series, Jacob comments upon his and Noor's arrival in Miss V's loop that he'd imagined something more welcoming waiting for them. He says that just once he'd like to see something such as a nice shade-dappled glen in a forest, "Just once, something like the portals in kids' books."
  • In Turtles All the Way Down, Aza's therapist quotes a famous No Fourth Wall moment from James Joyce's Ulysses, in which a character addresses the author with "O Jamesy let me up out of this." Later, as Aza has a breakdown, she thinks, "Whoever is authoring me, let me up out of this."

  • Just about any example in This Is a Song.
  • Whenever a singer says "stop!" and the music temporarily halts.
  • During the 2012 Grammys, Taylor Swift switched a line in her song "Mean" to read "Someday, I'll be singing this at the Grammys..."
  • Wynonna Judd's "Girls with Guitars" contains the line "Oughta be a song about girls with guitars."
  • Coldplay played on this with their breakthrough song "Yellow"
  • Deep Purple's "Smoke on the Water" tells the story of the band recording the song.
  • Carly Simon's "You're so vain, you probably think this song is about you."
  • "Weird Al" Yankovic's parody of George Harrison's "I've Got My Mind Set On You", titled "This Song's Just Six Words Long."
  • "From a Window Seat," by Dawes, which is about the songwriter riding in an airliner, taking notes to be used in composing the song:
    So I reach down for my notebook to see what impressions could be spun
    But it's just buildings and a million swimming pools
    So I leaf back through the pages to see where I am from
    Or for some crumbled map of what it's leading to
    And I find that the hero in the song that I am writing
    Doesn't know he's just an image of myself
  • Buffalo Springfield's "Nowadays Clancy Can't Even Sing":
    Who should be sleeping but's writing this song,
    Wishing and hoping he weren't so damn wrong?
  • The name of the game for a lot of Zyuden Sentai Kyoryuger. Notable Instances include:
    • Kyoryu Violet's introduction, in which he knocks over the background he is speaking in front of.
    • The entire first few minutes of the Distant Finale, Zyuden Sentai Kyoryuger 100 Years After, so much so, it's practically a Deconstruction. The beginning, based on the opening from the TV show, is filled with these moments where characters recoil in fear from the normally casual explosions, and various other goof-ups are made. The team is soon after criticized by the monsters they are fighting for not behaving like a true Sentai team.
  • Jefferson Starship's song "Light the Sky on Fire" (and the subsequent video in the Star Wars Holiday Special) features lead singer Marty Balin looking skywards and asking the following:
    Yes, I would really like to know
    What are they watching us for?
  • The last song on Radiohead's album The King of Limbs, Separator, has lead singer Thom Yorke repeating the line "If you think this is over then you're wrong", which sounds like he's singing that there's more music yet to come. And while the theorized King of Limbs Part 2 was a bit too optimistic (no pun intended), Radiohead did release 2 non-album singles, a remix album and a live DVD that same year.
  • Marty Robbins: Robbins' masterwork is considered to be the "El Paso" trilogy that began with the epic song of the same name, an even more epic prequel titled "Faleena from El Paso", and then more than a decade later he released the third part, "El Paso City". In this last song, Robbins sings about hearing the first song and the story within, "I can't recall who sang the song," he says.
  • The Megas regularly include lyrics that mention videogame mechanics, such as level selection or even specific enemies from the appropriate level, referencing the origins of their songs in Mega Man videogames. Sometimes they even include references to the songs being actual songs as well.
    Bubble Man: This is my redemption song!
    Wood Man: My level has robotic ostriches, bats and big monkeys.
    Elec Man: We're at a level select...
    Mega Man: What always ends in bloodshed begins as just a game.
    Mega Man: It's time to pick the stage.
    Mega Man: Is your song just lines of code, or something that you heard?
  • Twenty One Pilots’ “Stressed Out” breaks the rhyming structure of the first verse with the final line: “I wish I didn’t have to rhyme every time I sang.”
  • "Skydiving" by Lights begins with the line "It all starts here." "Skydiving" is the first vocal track on Skin & Earth, proceeded only by "Intro", which is just an instrumental prologue to "Skydiving."

  • In Jemjammer, after an extended break between episode five and six, Jyllana jokes that the docking procedure they began in the previous episode felt like it took eight weeks to complete.

    Professional Wrestling 
  • In Al Snow's promo about the debut of The JOB Squad (himself, 2 Cold Scorpio and Bob Holly) on the August 23 (taped August 11), 1998 Sunday Night Heat, he said that they are a secret organization "fighting against the evil organization PUSH, 'cause none of us are getting one!"
  • Triple H likes to do this. In his WWF Attitude (video game) intro, he speaks to the player as "that fat-ass guy sitting on the couch." In WWE'12 he expressed frustration at the WWE becoming PG-13 when feuding with the Miz. He thinks Edge is a smart guy for marrying Vickie Guerrero. "Marrying the boss to get ahead in the business? That's genius!" Throw in his partner-in-crime Shawn Michaels and they nearly break the wall down, from a baby photo with Triple H's head poorly photoshopped on to wondering who got Vince's daughter pregnant. Also during the writer's strike when Triple H came out, made a bad joke and then remarked "Who writes this stuff? Oh yeah, they're on strike!"
  • On October 10, 2011, Michael Cole said that he got a ton of Twitter posts and emails about how everybody missed him. When Jerry Lawler challenged him to show him one of these, he mentioned somebody named "Sean C" who sent him one of these. Michael Cole's real name is Michael Sean Coulthard.
  • When he isn't leaning on the wall, CM Punk is often cheerfully (or angrily) booting it down.
  • On the Raw following Wrestlemania 22, Edge said to Triple H, "That's the problem with you, Hunter. You think you own the place." In real life, Triple H is married to Stephanie McMahon.
  • After Thunder Rosa took control of Mission Pro Wrestling and declared it as many company positions would be filled by women as possible, she opened up the first all woman card "Hell Hath No Fury" by introducing Robyn Reid as the booker who made it all possible. While this implicitly was Thunder Rosa assuring she wouldn't be booking her own matches, she was more explicitly crediting Reid for getting clean wrestlers together durnig the COVID-19 induced restrictions, especially Big Swole from All Elite Wrestling and Lindsay Snow to challenge for the NWA World Women's Title belt.
  • "Stone Cold" Steve Austin once took a jab at Vince McMahon about the former's feud with Bret Hart by saying that "You're a greedy, selfish promoter and you know Stone Cold and Bret Hart are gonna get it on in the biggest match of the decade and you don't want to miss out! You're gonna fill your back pocket full, son."

  • Our Miss Brooks: An interesting example in the radio episode "Reckless Driving''.
    • Miss Brooks, Mrs. Davis, Mr. Conklin, Mr. Boynton, Harriet and Walter are on Mrs. Davis' porch listening to the radio.
    • Steve Allen suddenly drives up asking for the way to Hollywood - turns out he's going to host the summer replacement for Our Miss Brooks.
    • The radio is tuned to Our Miss Brooks Miss Brooks calling it the show "with the school teacher with my name".
    • Miss Brooks, incidentally, thinks Eve Arden is "a doll". Mr. Conklin hates the pompous principal, while Walter Denton likes "one character in particular."
    • Eve Arden announces her summer replacement, saying she would be listening to Steve Allen's show that summer. Everybody on the porch commending her nice speech. Allen, however, wonders if she'll really be listening. Cue Eve Arden saying of course she would, he has her job!
  • The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy had a scene with Zaphod dramatically speaking while "Also sprach Zarathustra" grew in volume under him, until Zaphod tells Marvin to cut it out, whereupon the final two notes barely make it out.
  • Welcome to Our Village, Please Invade Carefully has a couple of these.
    • In one episode, Lucy uses the alien computer to Skype the outside world but finds that nobody believes her story about the alien invasion. The computer says it would back her up, but people would think it was just an actor putting on an alien computer voice.
    • In another, The Resistance plan to put a hidden message in the village newsletter and use the alien minions to get it to the outside world, but decide that even if they could, the Perception Filter makes everyone outside the village ignore it, so outsiders would simply assume Cresdon green was a fictional location invented for a sci-fi series.

  • The 3rd RP of Darwin's Soldiers gives us this little quote:
    Cpl. Thomas Stern: It's as if someone is watching us and giving us what we need in order to get through our problems. That's very odd. Too much like 'deus ex machina' for me.
  • Dawn of a New Age: Oldport Blues has a post that was made in November and has a security guard talk about his Thanksgiving plans. The other guard asks him why he's thinking about that when (in-game) it's May.
  • In Nan Quest, the Big Bad asks Nan "Do you have a single thought of your own making?" in the course of a Breaking Speech. Given that her every thought and action was dictated by the tgchan collective, well... no, she doesn't.
    It was like he was living in a damn comic book.
  • Survival of the Fittest: a common trend that appears at least once each version is to have a character rant at one of the cameras. While they're usually directed at the terrorists and/or the in-universe audience, a portion can also be interpreted as applying to the readers of the site themselves, in some examples being in a You Bastard! context.

    Tabletop Games 
  • In the New World of Darkness, there's an insane, possibly evil, god-like intelligence called the God-Machine as a setting fixture and antagonist. The G-M regularly influences NPCs to behave bizarrely and causes all kinds of weirdness that players are often expected to investigate and thwart. Of course, being part of the World of Darkness, it only exists in a given campaign insofar as the other GM includes it.
  • The description of the disadvantage "delusions" in The Dark Eye lists "We are all just part of some strange game." as an example.
  • The Magic: The Gathering expansion Oath of the Gatewatch has a group of cards of different colors, each depicting a planeswalker promising to keep watch, but no black version is present. Three expansions later, Eldritch Moon completes the theme with "Oath of Liliana", whose flavor text reads, "I'll keep watch. Happy now?"
  • At least one Palladium Books RPG includes the job skill "Role-Playing Game Designer," which grants the character an extra Physical Endurance stat due to the exhausting demands of the job.
  • In an article on combining the Discworld Role-Playing Game with GURPS Dungeon Fantasy, Phil Masters introduces the Order of Subterranean Taxonomy, who delve into dungeons to learn about the monsters therein, and record their findings in numerous illustrated manuals, folios and tomes. In a nod to first edition Dungeons & Dragons, we're told the oldest have only black and white illustrations but are still thought of fondly, not just for the pictures of succubi serving as Poor Man's Porn.

  • Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead plays with the fourth wall a lot. The first scene centers on the characters flipping a coin ninety times in a row and it comes up heads every time. Guildenstern comes quite close to realizing that the reason this is happening is because they are fictional characters and the result of every coin-flip is determined by the author, not by chance; but he never quite figures it out.
  • William Shakespeare:
    Cassius: How many ages hence shall this our lofty scene be acted over in states unborn and accents yet unknown!
    • In Macbeth, "Life is but a walking shadow, a poor player who struts and frets his hour upon the stage..." note 
  • It's a key part of the Pantomime format that while one character will have No Fourth Wall, the rest of the cast are only allowed to lean on it.
  • Cyrano de Bergerac: This play is a blend of farce and drama, and his first act is placed at the Burgundy Theater. Cyrano has interrupted the Show Within a Show La Clorise. The rest of the theater actors are rehearsing a new play, and Cyrano invites them to a Sword Fight he will have with one hundred men.
    Cyrano: Come all—the Doctor, Isabel, Leander,
    Come, for you shall add, in a motley swarm,
    The farce Italian to this Spanish drama!
  • The 2011 revival of Company does this when Bobby and April are discussing Bobby's apartment. As the set was left to be as simplistic as possible, all of April's remarks about the (non-existent) decor ("That's darling!" "Isn't that tasteful and interesting!") were made in reference to the conductor and the audience (with Bobby at one point even reaching out and poking the conductor.
  • In the tradition of the original books, Percy Jackson and the Olympians repeatedly does this.
    • He initially refuses to sing "The Campfire Song" after almost half the show because....
      Percy: If I try to sing, it'll probably cause an avalanche.
    • An even more blatant (and hilarious) example:
      Dionysus: [The master bolt] isn't some tinfoil zig-zag from a travelling musical!
  • In Eugène Ionesco's Rhinoceros, we get this exchange:
    Jean: Instead of squandering all your spare money on drink, isn't it better to buy a ticket for an interesting play? Do you know anything about the avant-garde theatre there's so much talk about? Have you seen any of Ionesco's plays?
    Berenger: Unfortunately, no. I've only heard people talk about them. [...]
    Jean: There's one playing now. [both turn to stare at the audience] Take advantage of it.
  • The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy Radio Show Live underwent heavy cuts to get five seasons into a two hour show. Near the end, Slartibartfast brings up a number of the missing scenes and mentions that the eddies in the space-time continuum have lead to Arthur missing whole chapters of his life.
  • In the third act of Arsenic and Old Lace, O'Hara says, regarding his own play, that he wants to "just run through the third act quick."
  • The Phantom of the Opera features the following lyrics in the song "Prima Donna," following some Gratuitous Italian: "You'd never get away / With all this in a play / But if it's loudly sung / And in a foreign tongue / It's just the sort of story audiences adore / In fact, a perfect opera!"
  • Dog Sees God: "Do you ever feel like you're not a real person? That you're the product of someone's imagination and you can't think for yourself because you're really just like some creation and that somewhere there's people laughing every time you fall?"
  • In the last line of Charley's Aunt, Lord Fancourt (who had been impersonating Charley's aunt so Charley could tell his sweetheart's father that he had a chaperone) tells Donna Lucia (Charley's real aunt) that "in future I resign to Sir Francis Chesney all claims to 'Charley's Aunt.'" Brandon Thomas, who wrote the play, also was the original Sir Francis.
  • The Book of Mormon's Act I finale has a lyric from Elder Cunningham about how "[he's] gonna stand up and steal the show!"
  • In the musical Merrily We Roll Along, Frank introduces Mary Flynn to The Beautiful Elite as his friend, saying, "We go way back." "But seldom forward," Mary quips. Of course the characters don't go forward, since the show they're in runs Back to Front (and this is the first full scene).
  • Downplayed in Bullets Over Broadway. They don't exactly wink to the audience, but there is obviously a scene where the Show Within a Show briefly overlaps with the real show.
  • In some productions of Oliver!, the lyrics for Fagin's song "Reviewing the Situation" end with "There is no in between for me/But who will change the scene for me?", whereupon the set immediately starts to revolve as Fagin heads back to the fireplace to count his money.
  • The Mrs. Hawking play series: In Gilded Cages, when Mary comments that Nathaniel is rooting for her and Arthur's relationship, Arthur responds, "Of course he is. Who wouldn't be?" This has the double meaning for those members of the audience who may be shipping certain characters.
  • The eponymous character in Gilbert and Sullivan's The Mikado comforts the company with the words "I'm really very sorry for you all, but it's an unjust world, and virtue is triumphant only in theatrical performances."
  • Steven Bank's Home Entertainment Center is about a young guy who pretends that he's starring in his own musical variety show whenever he arrives home. He frequently addresses the audience when announcing what's happening on "The Steven Banks Show," but he's really supposed just talking to himself.
  • In To Kill a Mockingbird, the act break happens during the trial, and the final line of the first act is the judge calling for a recess of however long the intermission is.

    Visual Novels 
  • The Danganronpa franchise does this a fair amount:
  • Comes up occasionally in Mystic Messenger, though the game also has instances of explicitly Breaking the Fourth Wall. The most usual example is during evening and nighttime chats, where someone you're talking to will be about to leave the chatroom, and they'll remind you to "not stay up too late playing phone games."
  • This trope is used often in Ace Attorney.
  • Junior's "gamer talk" in Fleuret Blanc very obviously provides tongue-in-cheek hints on obscure gameplay mechanics (such as the Scoring Points), even if it's ostensibly about different games.
  • Ciel and Kohaku in Kagetsu Tohya both complain about their popularity. Kohaku is obviously referring to Tsukihime and breaking the fourth wall. Ciel... well, she breaks it a minute or two later (by commenting that even if she isn't popular, at least her sprite lets her carry an item. Yay umbrella) but hasn't yet by that point and is really referring to the school government play thingy. Oh, and she also complains about how it was called off because they didn't want to make sprites or anything for all the adults in the play... Uh... Yea, it's that kind of game, except when it isn't.
  • This line from Little Busters!, lampshading Kyousuke's role as the Big Brother Mentor:
    Riki: This always happens. He suddenly appears, dispenses advice and vanishes, like a scene in a manga.
  • Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors has the entire game world shown on both screens of the DS, with gameplay and novel pages being shown in the bottom screen while Junpei's view of the other characters in the game world being shown on top. It's even specifically drawn attention to in order to describe how Akane's psychic powers work. To her, she is seeing both her own viewpoint (the bottom screen, representing her present) and Junpei's (the top screen, representing her future) and is using information from the future to solve the puzzles and gathering information to save her own life as well as Junpei's.
    Akane (In Narration): Perhaps you can think of it as 2 movies showing on the same screen, at the same time. Eventually, it becomes difficult to separate them, and determine which movie is which. However, if I concentrated, I was able to focus on one or the other. That was why I was able to grasp what was happening in front of me.''
  • SOON: After getting the anti-robot bomb, that narration states "Things are getting intense. If only real life had save points or you would totally save right now..."

    Web Animation 
  • Red vs. Blue:
    • Near the end of Season 5, Church expresses irritation at the fact that "something dramatic happens exactly every five minutes" (which is the length of a typical episode).
    • In Season 11, Lopez the robot gets asked about his creators (i.e., the other characters) and says, "You're going to want to sit down for this story. It's about twenty hours long and I only enjoy telling it in five-minute intervals."
    • An early episode of Season 14 has Agent Florida, upon assembling everyone at Blood Gulch, muse that he could make the conflict last for fourteen seasons. When Vic asks what he means, he laughs it off and explains he means actual seasons.
    • In Season 15, Vic claims that he's been cutting the footage of the Red and Blue Teams' time in Blood Gulch into five minute movies. Intrepid Reporter Dylan states that there are at least 100 of them.
  • RWBY: Velvet is a one-off character who became such an instant hit with the fans that she was given a recurring role and a fan-designed uniform, but her weapon was kept deliberately secret during the design competition. When her team is finally introduced in battle in the Volume 2 finale, Velvet starts to reveal her weapon but is told by Coco to not waste it on the current fight because she's spent all semester working on it. It is a major tease for the audience, but turns out to have a valid in-universe reason for being so restricted in use. It's a camera that allows Velvet to fight with any huntsman weapon she's photographed. However, it's a one-shot use, and she has to take new photographs before she can use it battle a second time.
    • There's a moment in "Family" where Dr. Oobleck tells Yang that a lot of people want to see her get back on her feet. Yang is a bona-fide Woobie at this point for many, many, many, many reasons.
  • Episode 6 of RWBY Chibi proceeds to break the fourth wall's legs when Pyrrha Nikos, who died at the end of Volume 3 of the main series, is alive and well here. When Ruby tries to explain what happened, Nora promptly stops her and tells her than Pyrrha is fine and "Nothing bad. Ever. Happens. Everrrrrrrrrrr.

  • Agents of the Realm has a moment when Kendall asks about local legends and Paige is about to drop a four-page-long Infodump:
    Paige: This is going to be a hell of an exposition.
  • Apricot Cookie(s)!: Right after an implied Time Skip, Jammy and Butter have this dialogue:
    Butter Punch: And then they replied... "It's called a narrative time skip"!
    Jammy Smasher: Ha ha ha! They never did!
  • Bad Machinery: In this strip, Shelley asks Lottie what happened over a period of a year when this title was on hiatus, and suggests that Lottie has been uncharacteristically inactive. Lottie responds with a list of events, some of which occurred in other comics set in the Bobbinsverse.
  • In The Bird Feeder #182, "Celebrities," Terry claims one shouldn't look down on someone who treats fictional characters, especially those who appear in comics, as if they're real.
  • In College Roomies from Hell!!!, Roger isn't breaking the fourth wall, he's stoned out of his gourd on hallucinogenic blue mushrooms and talking to a Simpsons poster.
  • Darths & Droids: Episode 1762 takes this to its logical extreme, where Statler and Waldorf's dialogue consists entirely of lines taken from forum posts discussing the strip itself and its decision to adapt The Muppet Show. Within the context of the comic, they are talking about the song and dance number performed by a flock of cloned sheep.
  • Nadine in Demolition Squad does this from time to time, pointing out that she has completed the SAME year in school three or four times over, that she is an unrelated teenager below the age of majority freeloading at the principal characters' apartment for no clearly explained reason, that he would do well not to mention this is a job interview, that she has been wearing the same outfit for several years, and so on.
  • Discussed (sort of) in this Dinosaur Comics strip wherein God notices the fact that time passes in panels and mentions it, then when questioned about what he meant, insists that he doesn't know and neither should T-Rex.
  • Dragon Ball Multiverse: At one time, Vegeta complains that his waiting after his first fight seems to him like two years. Guess how much real time had passed since the fight.
  • El Goonish Shive:
    • In one strip, the characters are talking about shipping in general, and Elliot/Susan shippers in particular. As for why they'd be talking about people shipping themselves, Susan and Elliot have an in-universe movie review show, and they have pretty good on-screen chemistry to the point where many people in-universe assumed they were a couple.
    • In another comic, after Elliot accidentally reveals information that he wasn't intending to due to jumping to conclusions, the strip immediately cuts to Tedd who appears to be calling him out on it despite being in a completely different location. However, it turns out he's just watching an old sitcom, and commenting on a similar mistake.
    • During Grace's genderswap birthday party, after multiple strips in which Sarah's transformation is delayed, Ellen says there's going to be a riot if she doesn't transform soon ... referring of course to the others at the party, who can't order the pizza until everyone's transformed.
    • When talking about Diane's charisma boost spell, Tedd gets sidetracked by talking about how the spell would be represented in a comic. After mentioning the idea of using a different font for things said while the spell is active (the solution used in the actual comic), Tedd eventually decided that changing the word balloon would be better, referencing how many readers didn't notice the font change or got the wrong idea about it.
  • Erfworld in explanation for the magic discipline Turnamancy:
    That was why the seemingly disparate acts of turning wheels and turning prisoners fell under the same kind of magic.
  • Frivolesque has Suzie and Marianne, two background extras who tend to discuss things that lean strongly against the fourth wall whenever they get lines. Chloe also exhibits this behavior sometimes.
  • At the end of the General Protection Fault storyline "Harry Barker and the Prisoner of Angband", Sharon tells Ki about her Harry Barker dreams and comments she wishes she had the creative skills to write them as fanfic since they might amuse some people. Ki replies "Or irritate a certain class of others." Darlington had previously noted in The Rant that these were the two reactions to the Harry Barker storylines. In the final panel, they're both looking straight at the reader as they discuss the copyright issues of Sharon publishing the dreams.
  • In Girl Genius, Bangladesh Dupree indulges while mocking Gil:
    Dupree: You're surprised? She's outsmarted us before, right? I mean, if they ever write this down, they ain't gonna be calling it "Boy Genius."
  • This page of Girly: "These dickweeds sure can't get enough of it, all this swirly pitch blackness..." "It's probably because it's so easy to draw... [next panel] our attention with it."
  • Grrl Power:
    • Here: it's ambiguous Whether Sydney is actually talking to the audience or to Harem in the flashback panel.
    • Also here. Doubly serves as a Title Drop (at least pronunciation-wise).
  • Gunnerkrigg Court, page 499:
    Coyote: How is that for an enigmatic answer?
    Ysengrin: Very enigmatic. It barely answers anything at all.
    Antimony: In fact, it raises more questions than before.
    Coyote: Hahaha! Aw come on, I can't tell you everything right away! That would make for a boring story, don't you think?
  • Homestuck has this in Caliborn, who partially functions as a parody of the fans of the comic that criticize its glacial pacing. In a particularly slow part of the comic, while talking to Dirk, he points out the angst that the Alpha kids constantly have, wanting them to get on with the actual plot.
  • In Housepets! the first strip of "Let's Imaginate: And Then There Were None" has Bailey confused that they're doing this without an audience. Joey suggests they could video it, and Peanut replies that the only thing worse than an audience is an unseen audience. Joey gives an Aside Glance.
  • Happens early on in I Was Kidnapped by Lesbian Pirates from Outer Space
    Susie: Lesbian pirates from outer space! Psh! Sounds like a comic book to me. One that I'd definitely read.
  • In Life:
  • In Misfile, Ash and Rumisiel have a very interesting exchange while shopping:
    Ash: . . . Besides, I feel like I have to start being the protagonist in my own life story.
    Rumisiel: You're screwed then. I'm totally the protagonist of our collective lives.
    Ash: You are life's side character at best, and probably an antagonist.
  • Neko the Kitty:
    • Neko occasionally talks to a pretend audience in-comic. In later strips he also appears outside of the comic panels to deliver an additional sign-off gag.
    • Neko obliquely referring to his status as title character.
  • The Order of the Stick:
    • Tarquin (Genre Savvy already) calls out the readers when Thog turns out to be the arena champion.
      Tarquin: It's weird no matter how many people he kills, the audience still thinks he's lovable.
    • Two just-introduced characters have a conversation that's perfectly mundane within the story, but take a whole double meaning when you know that Veldrina is a cameo granted as reward for contributing to the kickstarter effort for the webcomic, and Wrecan is a posthumous cameo for a high-profile fan who'd passed away a few years earlier.
      Veldrina: Can you believe I threw 5000 bucks down just to get stuck here?!?
      Wrecan: And it felt like it took two or three years to get this far!
      Veldrina: That's money I could have spent on a new brooch. Or maybe a nice cameo.
    • In the strip where the Order leave Wrecan behind, he briefly discusses about how you never know how long you'll have to get to know someone. In addition, the strip is named "Mark of Distinction". Wrecan's real name was Mark.
  • Puck does this from time to time, with the line in question usually coming from Daphne.
  • In Question Duck, when the duck and main human character return with Wild Hair after Schedule Slip, another character asked where they had been. (This is only the third time in this strip that someone other than the duck has spoken.)
  • Schlock Mercenary:
  • In an impressive bit of Meta-fiction that leads back to This Very Wiki, Skin Horse has a scene where Sweetheart is reading the Ironic Echo Cut page, only to be interrupted with an Ironic Echo Cut.
  • Something*Positive:
    • Davan's furniture is in storage when Aubrey comes round. She says "Where's all your furniture? It's like we're in a comic and the cartoonist is too goddamn lazy to draw in the background like he usually does."
    • In another strip PeeJee asks why everything seems to revolve around sex. Davan instantly replies "Bad writing", but he's not really listening, he's hating the novel he's reading.
    • When Jason asks where comics characters go when their series is over, Aubrey suggests "the background of another, crappier, comic" and then they go on to discuss two characters S*P inherited from other webcomics. Aubrey says Helen (from Penny and Aggie) is a decent person, but "For some reason, people get angry when she's around". Helen's appearances in S*P always drew angry emails from some P&A fans who didn't like how S*P's author wrote her.
  • This strip of Wapsi Square starts with Conversational Troping between Shelly and Heather, and ends with Shelly asking who the audience is in this scenario while looking directly at the "camera."
  • In Weak Hero, after a lengthy flashback sequence to Gray's middle school days, Alex comments that it feels like it's been a while since the gang have been at high school.
  • The punchline of xkcd #1054 depends entirely on you reading the speech bubbles instead of imagining them as spoken dialogue.

    Web Original 
  • Timmy occasionally notes that all the historical figures visited by The Time... Guys are played by the same actor.
  • Nearly every episode of The Allen And Craig Show is about making that episode, and the characters consistently address the audience, camera guy, and the fact that they have very little money to produce the program.
  • Done in an episode of Potter Puppet Pals where Harry says towards the end, "...leave a comment, or submit a video response. And remember to subscribe!" It is presumed he's saying it to the audience before the camera cuts to Ron and Hermione, who look very confused.
  • In the final chapter of Sailor Nothing, one of the main villains gives a Breaking Speech that can be taken as him addressing either the characters or the audience.
  • In his Anime Abandon review of City Hunter: .357 Magnum, Bennett the Sage looks at the bottom-right corner of the frame to check how much time is left in the video when he realizes he's only thirty minutes into the source material.
  • In Video Game High School, Brian Firenzi plays a high-school-age character but obviously looks much older. Near the end of season 3, another character tells him that he "looks like a thirty year old man" but he just laughs it off.
  • Ads during Mission To Zyxx are typically read as intercepted transmissions from leaders of the Rebellion against the Federated Alliance, often at less-than-appropriate times such as the middle of a distress call from a crashing spaceship. That might've just been a fun conceit, until in one episode where we meet Centurion Tiddle, and C-53 identifies his father as Rolphus Tiddle, Rebel commander and underwear salesman.
  • TV Tropes:
    • An editor of the site will often introduce themselves as "This Troper". This is frowned upon for examples. So are That Troper and The Other Troper.
    • There are a handful of articles that make a point of addressing the reader directly, such as Big Brother Is Watching You.
  • Parodied in Naruto: The Abridged Comedy Fandub Spoof Series Show at least twice. The Stinger of episode 5 has the Hokage going off on an extended rant about bridges, which really sounds like he's talking about the concept of The Abridged Series.
    Hokage: Personally I don't see what's so important about a bridge. I mean, come on. First one guy makes a bridge, and everybody uses it, they're like "Ooh, look! A bridge! That's new!" So like, these other two guys make another bridge. It's kinda like the first one, but people use it anyway because the other guy is like "Oh, their bridge is pretty good too, check it out!" And then these three other guys are like "Oh, we're going to make the best bridge ever, we're going to combine our talents and be like 'Oh, look at our bridge, it's totally amazing, ooh!'" It's like, turns out really good, it's like the best out of all the other bridges. Everybody subscribes to it.
    Naruto: Subscribes to it?
    Hokage: I mean, uh, everybody crosses it. Because it's a bridge. Yeah. And before you know it, everybody and their mother is making a bridge. So there's a bridge... everywhere. Nobody even knows why they're making a bridge anymore. They just want people to cross it. They don't care where they're going. The first guy is like "I'm gonna go to conventions to promote my bridge!" It's like, it's just a bridge. It's not a big deal. Get over it.
    Naruto: What's he talking about?
    Kakashi: Apparently, bridges.
  • At the beginning of episode 7, which was released around the time MasakoX left Naruto: The Abridged Series, Kakashi (just before collapsing from exhaustion from his battle with Zabuza) quotes MasakoX's leaving speech almost word for word. After he collapses, Naruto says this:
    Naruto: Bowie-sensei! You can't leave! We need you! Who else is going to provide all the voices? (long pause) ...Of reason?
  • C0DA, written by former The Elder Scrolls series writer/designer Michael Kirkbride, takes place in the far distant future of TES universe. In it, it is strongly implied that Jubal has achieved CHIM, giving him an intentional Story-Breaker Power. He can manipulate events like the author of the work using his "ghost hands".
  • During the Team Four Star D&D campaign TFS at the Table, Lanipator's character Wake goes into a slump and nearly crosses the Despair Event Horizon. While consoling Wake that he is not the only one living a chaotic existence, his crewmate Ezra points out that 'Our lives have the randomness of dice rolls!'.
  • The Call of Warr:
    • Gravesite tells the prisoner if that if they answer his questions, everything will go smoothly...but otherwise, "this whole show will go south".
    • When trying to bring things back into order, Prince says:
    Now this has been a ridiculous show, so far...
  • In the official Doctor Who webisode "Doctors Assemble!", when Fourth says the Earth is facing its greatest threat, Fifth says this sounds like a Tuesday, but all the other Doctors think it sounds more like a Saturday. Except Thirteenth, who thinks it could be a Sunday. All of these refer to the day Doctor Who was broadcast at the time.


Video Example(s):


Who's The New Guy?

The new character Nathaniel joins the law firm late in Season 2. The other members of the firm discuss their reservations about a new coworker, which sound more like potential fan reactions to the new main character.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (5 votes)

Example of:

Main / LeaningOnTheFourthWall

Media sources:

Main / LeaningOnTheFourthWall