Audiences are good at figuring out which elements of a work are on which side of the Fourth Wall. No explanation is necessary for why our hero can hear his Inner Monologue but not his perspective's Background Music, or why the space ship is menaced by the Negative Space Wedgie, but not by the opening credits drifting by outside the ship: it's something we accept as part of our Willing Suspension of Disbelief.
It's also a wonderful thing to play with, and that is what Medium Awareness does; the characters acknowledge and interact with elements and conventions of the medium that shouldn't technically "exist" in-universe. Suddenly a character can tell how another character is feeling just from the Background Music and reply to the disembodied narration, they can read the subtitles at the bottom of your screen, and they can tell when it's almost time for a commercial break.
May involve Breaking the Fourth Wall. Compare with other metafictional devices, particularly Painting the Medium, which uses Paratext and artifacts to tell the story, and Reading Ahead in the Script which is exactly what it sounds like. Left the Background Music On is a specific inversion. Fourth-Wall Observer is what happens when a particular character has this on full-time and the rest do not. See also Genre Savvy (which doesn't involve the Fourth Wall) and No Fourth Wall.
- Anime & Manga
- Comic Books
- The Calvinverse
- Live-Action TV
- Video Games
- Western Animation
- In a GEICO advertisement, Mrs. Butterworth is aware that her face is being obscured by the GEICO logo.
- A promo for Law & Order: Criminal Intent on the USA Network featured the lead detectives puzzling over the network logo they just now noticed in the corner of the screen.
- Likewise, in a USA Network promo for Psych, Shawn and Gus notice small versions of themselves at the bottom of the screen advertising the upcoming episode. Shawn laments that "mini-us" sold out and Gus walks off at the end to call an exterminator for their "rat problem."
- Sheldon and Leonard are also puzzled about the TBS logo.
- 1980s Dorito Commercial saying its the end of her commercial at the end.
- In Tim Shaw's Pizza Hut commercial, he repeatedly uses his But Wait, There's More! schtick until Dougie cuts him off, saying "Not in a thirty second commercial, there's not," before signalling to the camera.
- Specifically in the 2010s many commercials had characters and spokespeople saying they are in commercials. Dennis Quaid in Esurance couldnt stop talking about him being in them.
- A 2021 series of State Farm advertisements has Chris Paul hear the State Farm jingle, wonder if he's in a commercial, then have it confirmed when Jake from State Farm shows up and wonder what's about to happen. But since they're advertising State Farm's surprisingly great rates, things instead go surprisingly well.
- An ad for the McDonald's Happy Meal tie-in with Lightyear, showing Buzz and the others discovering a Happy Meal within a deep cavern, ends with Mo panicking and looking around after the McDonald's jingle plays, anxiously asking where the "strange music" came from.
- In an Older Than Steam example, illuminated manuscripts from the 15th century included illustrations that played with the dimensions of the page. A Book of Hours produced in Flanders c. 1485 shows the front half of a little dog drawn in the marginalia of page 469, and the back half of the dog drawn on page 470. The dog appears to be crawling through a tear in the vellum of the page.
- Painter Pere Borrell del Caso's most famous work is a trompe l'oeil called "Escaping Criticism◊." It depicts a boy climbing out of a painting as if climbing through a window. The painted boy grips the sides as he sets his foot on the bottom of the frame. His head overlaps the top of the frame, glancing to the side as if checking for signs that he's been spotted. Del Caso also painted miniature portraits in which the subjects playfully interacted with the frames — in one, a little girl rests her elbow on the edge of the frame, casting a shadow outside the bounds of the painted canvas. (Del Caso's secret, of course, was that the frames themselves were part of the illustration.)
- In Happy Heroes, there are a few characters who break the fourth wall enough times to make it clear they're aware they're in a cartoon, with Big M. and Little M. seemingly the most medium-aware of the cast. Little M. casually mentions the viewers and explicitly refers to their previous adventures and mishaps as "previous episodes" while Big M. directly lampshades how the characters have limited mouth movements in an episode of Season 8 when Little M. tries Reading Lips to understand what Happy S. and Smart S. are saying through their Crystal Ball when they mess up the sound on it. Strangely enough, this character trait is completely thrown out the window in episode 36 of Season 8, where Big M. meets the show's production crew and seems genuinely surprised to learn he's a cartoon and Little M. thinks he's insane when he wakes up from that dream and explains it to him.
- The Lamput episode "The Split" is a Feud Episode, with the feuding characters being Fat Doc and Slim Doc; they had hurt each other earlier trying to catch Lamput, who makes multiple attempts to get them to reunite and work together again. Several of these attempts take place on a split screen, and Lamput gets rid of the line dividing the screen a couple of times so that the docs are right next to each other.
- The Further Adventures of Nick Danger is full of this. Nick is aware of his own narration, and asks "how do I make my voice do this?", and when the characters get stuck in a flashback, the butler explains that to escape, he just has to fade his voice out and cue the organist. There are also references to foley effects, like the cellophane used to create the sound of a crackling fire:
Catherwood: Why don't you pick up your cues?
Nick: Are those my cues?
Catherwood: Yes, and they must be dry by now. Why don't you pull them up out of the cellophane before they scorch?
- Jeff Dunham's character Peanut knows he's a puppet. For example, in one of his specials Guitar Guy looked at Peanut, prompting him to say "You know how I know you do drugs? You're looking me in the eye and you think I'm actually looking back"
- also "If you're not on drugs how did you come up with Meeee!!!"
- "What are you thinking?!?!? We can't talk at the same time!!!!!"
Jeff: What're you doing?
Peanut: A-speaking in Jose's tongue!
Jeff: Well, don't do that.
Peanut: Why not?
Jeff: It makes me feel left out.
Peanut: [looks at Jeff] Huh?
Jeff Dunham: I don't speak Spanish!
[Peanut and Jose look at him. Jose turns from Jeff, imitating the theme music from The Twilight Zone.]
Peanut: "Picture, if you will..."
- All of Dunham's puppets are aware that they're puppets.
- Eddie Izzard plays on this all the time, a good example being her Dracula bit - "Let's all go to Transylvania, and increase the plot of this movie!"; "Ooh, I wouldn't go up to the castle if I were you - you get filmed if you go up there!", and another gag about a horror movie character navigating a dark forest by avoiding the paths that go "Duh-duh duh-duh duh-duh..." and taking the one that goes "La lala lala!"
- One of Andy Kaufman's stand-up bits involved his writer and friend Bob Zmuda sitting in the audience and heckling him by (among other things) saying the punchlines to his jokes before he does. Then they get into an argument, and Zmuda's character calls Kaufman out on the fact that he's a plant and the whole thing is scripted.
- Jim Gaffigan regularly has an 'internal audience.' A good portion of his jokes are commenting on what the audience must think of his jokes, in a high-pitched whisper.
- In Lano and Woodley's The Island the characters frequently talk to the audience, reference the theatre and city they're in, and discuss which props on stage are part of the island reality and which are not. It's arguably a show about two comedians doing a show about being on an island.
- Colin: Ladies and Gentlemen I'm sorry if you had somewhere to be later on tonight but we have to do this show properly and the only way we're going to do the show properly, is to START THE SHOW AGAIN!
- Played straight for one character and subverted for another in an early Bloom County strip, Opus runs into Pac-Man in a bar, who is complaining about the pointlessness of all this eatin' and runnin' while being chased by one's ghosts in this crazy maze-like world. At the end, he violently shakes Opus, asking for him to put it in context as a metaphor; when Opus says, "A video game?", Pac-Man stops, thinks about it, then says, "Naw, it's not that."
- In one example◊ of Doonesbury an extra demonstrates awareness of the swear word censorship by hearing "obscene gerund" instead of the actual swear then wondering exactly what an obscene gerund is.
- Little Nemo in Slumberland:
- In one installment, Nemo, Flip and Imp are so hungry that they begin tearing off lines from their comic panels and knocking down letters from the Little Nemo In Slumberland logo, eating them. Nemo worries that this will upset the artist but Flip maintains that it will teach the person who draws them a lesson. When Flip asks what's in the letters they're eating nemo replies that it's printer's ink as far as he knows.
- A later strip involves all the scenery and objects in the comic suddenly and gradually disappearing including the floor. Nemo is left struggling to keep his footing on the panel borders before getting tangled up in them.
Nemo: (as panel 17 collapses on top of him) Oh Mama! Look what the artist has done to me! Oh!
- The characters in Pearls Before Swine frequently make reference to the fact that they're in a comic strip, often interacting with creator Stephen Pastis's cartoon self, and other "visiting" comic strip characters.
- At one point, Rat even preemptively attacks the cartoonist when he sees one of the cartoon's signature terrible puns coming on.
- Garfield is fond of this as well. In one early strip, he is hit by a shoe which makes the Written Sound Effect "SPLUT!" over his head. He then looks off-panel and says, "Wait a minute! Shoes don't go 'splut'!"
- Another time, he had a cold and pointed to his speech bubble, saying "Loog, eben my thoughts are stuffed ub."
- On other occasions, he's slept through most of the day's strip only to wake up just in time to acknowledge nearly missing today's strip, and even been caught picking his nose only to remark, "I'm on, aren't I?"
- His creator Jim Davis has used this trope in U.S. Acres: Orson told Sheldon their days were "not only numbered, but signed and dated" and he lived each moment as if it was his last panel.
- Swedish cartoonist Jan Romare is very fond of this trope, using it often in Pyton (Python) and Himlens änglar (The Angels of Heaven) with the most common form being characters interacting with the panel borders (hiding outside them, running into them, getting things stuck in them, eating them...)
- This sequence of Tank McNamara sees a pitcher becoming aware of a batter's thought bubbles in the middle of a baseball game.
- Schroeder considers putting in a transfer to a new comic strip in a Peanuts strip from 1952, after Charlie Brown thinks he's talking about baseball when he comments that he has perfect pitch.
- In Krazy Kat, Ignatz and Krazy are both aware that they're drawings who exist in a newspaper, though Krazy sometimes needs to be reminded. Ignatz even takes advantage of his position by asking the "boss" for extra ink when he needs it.
- Beetle Bailey has all kinds of weird gags involving the characters interacting with comic strips elements that are supposed to be only symbolic — such as Sarge eating a "Z" produced by a sleeping Beetle in an effort to get to sleep himself, or characters managing to produce empty speech bubbles.
- Hi and Lois: This is one possible interpretation of the November 10th, 2018 strip, where Ditto refers to Beetle Bailey as a "cartoon character". Not only is Hi and Lois a Spin-Off of Beetle Bailey, but Ditto is Beetle's nephew. Given the lack of context, it is also possible that there is a cartoon in the strip's universe based on the real Beetle, which would be Recursive Canon instead.
- Hsu and Chan show medium awareness in both the Slave Labor Graphics comics and the old strips that were featured in EGM. At one point Hsu prepared for a disaster because "that little text-box guy is acting all smug again." Another issue opened with the brothers trying to find a way to get the episode's title out of their house, before finally deciding to leave it there as a table or coat rack.
- JumpStart's male characters were discussing women they considered attractive. One suggested Pocahontas. The others jeered because she is a cartoon character, only to be reminded.... so are they.
- During the newsprint shortage of the 1970s, several characters in Conchy made reference to the crisis and what a threat it posed to their existence.
- The Far Side has several gags where characters can hear the background music:
- One featured a shot of Tonto knocking on an outhouse door, whispering, "Kemosabe, hurry up, the music's starting!"
- A group of cowboys at camp looking around: "There it goes again — whenever we settle in for the night, that harmonica starts up!"
- A gal standing in the aftermath of a huge bar brawl recounts it to the police: "So this little sailor dude whips out a can of spinach, this crazy music starts playin', and... well, just look at the place!"
- In Mass Effect The Equestrian Equation, this occurs in-universe, with Pinkie Pie being the only pony aware that Equestria is a simulation.
- Calvin and Hobbes: The Series - Yes, this fanfic has its own page now.
- The aptly named Code: Omake to Aeon Natum Engel has Rei having this. It gets messy when in the Nobody Dies crossover she meets Terrifying!Rei while footmarking.
- Bring Me All Your Elderly! has the original (ie. animated) Gaang, after seeing the live-action adaptation, travel to the movie world and fix all the problems. Hilarity ensues, up to and including the fourth wall itself, full of holes, shows up in one chapter.
Cartoon!Sokka: Clearly we are all stuck in some fanfic parody with no real logical basis to it at all.
- And later:
Cartoon!Mai: Try to be careful about breaking the fourth wall around Zuko, okay? He doesn't know, and it tends to freak him out a little.
- And later:
- Used at one point in Mass Vexations as a gag on plot-induced stupidity.
— But that works for my advantage. So I'll chalk it up to happening because the plot says so.
- Link can apparently hear the narrator in Super Paper Mario X, as when he was insulted by said narrator, he claimed that he could hear the narration.
- Pinkie Pie of My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic often takes this role in fanfiction. Antics include but are not limited to directly referencing previous (or future!) chapters, taking shots at slow update schedules, responding directly to the omniscient narration, knowledge of scenes she wasn't present for, and every once in a whiHEY EVERYPONY! Oh wow, this wiki is so much more fun than that last one I went to! They were all grumpy-pants "rawr citation needed >=[" and it was like wow you guys need to have a good party because parties always make people not robots unless they're actually robots which would be AWESOME except for all the clanking but I bet we could make some dance music out of that...
- *ahem* The strange part is that this is a deviation from the canon. Pinkie does have the ability to abuse cartoon physics to her advantage (such as messing with an Iris Out for a punchline), but she is explicitly shown at least once to not possess Medium Awarenessnote . That role falls to Spike instead.
- To be fair, fans have often suggested that the Iron Will thing was Pinkie Pie thinking "He can see them too!?"
- The Pony POV Series explains that Pinkie has this because she is G3 Pinkie Pie and the Sole Survivor of an apocalypse that universe, during which she became this trope. After a Split-Personality Merge, she becomes somewhat more sane and is capable of weaponizing this trope.
- In The Elements of Friendship, Pinkie Pie seems at least mildly aware that she is in a novel. As does Discord when he appears, even helping the reader with the cipher code for the cryptogram at the end of his debut chapter.
- Deconstructed in one non-canon Bad Ending to Turnabout Storm—in it, Phoenix Wright failed to get Rainbow Dash acquitted for murder and she fled to avoid banishment. Later, after Phoenix has been sent back to his world, Discord took over in Equestria because the Elements of Harmony were no longer complete in Rainbow Dash's absence. Pinkie Pie, with Luna and Twilight's help, contacts him by channeling Maya and informs him that he can save the day by "turning off the power and starting from a proper save point" and adding that if he's confused "the person sitting in front of the screen will know what she's talking about" - in short, showing awareness that Phoenix is a video game character and that they're both in an online fanfiction. Unfortunately, Phoenix himself isn't medium aware and thus has no clue what Pinkie's talking about...and then Discord himself hijacks their channeling session...
- *ahem* The strange part is that this is a deviation from the canon. Pinkie does have the ability to abuse cartoon physics to her advantage (such as messing with an Iris Out for a punchline), but she is explicitly shown at least once to not possess Medium Awarenessnote . That role falls to Spike instead.
- The narrator of Pokémon Strangled Red demonstrates this, even going so far as to point out some of the cliches written into the story.
- The fanfiction Human is essentially built on this trope - the titular character claims to be an Elder God in possession of eldritch knowledge (which turns out to be that Equestria is fictional).
- This seems to be the hallmark of Swing123 - aside from the above page, his other fics use it as well.
- The characters of You Got HaruhiRolled! are well aware that they are in a fanfic, and often measure time in terms of chapters or paragraphs. The best example is during the court case arc, where Kyon lampshades the fic's lack of continuity between arcs, by expressing surprise that Yuki was able to pull off a Chekhov's Gun from an earlier chapter.
- Played with in Akatsuki Kitten: Phoenix Corporation Overhaul, where literally every major character is aware that they are in a fanfiction, though only two of the canon characters can actually hear through the fourth wall. Of the thirteen OCs introduced so far, eleven work directly for the author, and one showed up for only a single chapter. The last is the girl that should be the main character, and is functionally the Only Sane Man for the entire story.
- Cosmic Horror Touhou AU Imperfect Metamorphosis has a scene in which Yuuka smiles serenely at the reader and asks if they're enjoying the story.
- Monokuma in Despair's Last Resort is aware that he's in a fanfiction and comments on how they need to keep the story rated T.
- Tamaki, in The Bank Called, Your Reality Check Bounced, subverts the trope by being perfectly well convinced that they are in an anime; he addresses the audience directly (leading other characters to wonder who he's talking to) and mentions having enough time in "this episode" for something. Kyoya, however, eventually explains that they are actually in a fan fiction, and he's apparently been aware of it the entire time.
- In the Contractually Obligated Chaos series, Prince Vince is not only aware that they're all in a bunch of stories, he's following the author on Tumblr and reads each chapter as it's released. It's actually a plot point - he keeps tabs on the heroes by monitoring the story and sends help when he can. He takes it Up to Eleven in the installment Bug Princess and the Seven Months, when he interrupts the conversation at one point to politely inquire which of those present is the POV character for the chapter.
- In The Apprentice, the Student, and the Charlatan, Nova Shine shows that he is aware of both the fact that he is in a story (he outright refers to the "backstory part of the chapter" at one point), and the fact that the first several chapters are undergoing a rewrite (On Twilight mentioning that mastering a spell will take time and effort, he notes that he mastered it in a day in the original version of the chapter).
- After the first chapter and a half of the All Guardsmen Party, the origin of the series as a Dark Heresy campaign is generally ignored. But an occasional line is thrown in. For example, the narrator points out that fighting in vacuum and zero-G felt like the party had lost exactly 10% of their ballistic skills, and capitalizes the word "Obsession" (also a gaming term) while describing Aimy and Twitch.
- In Must Love Ned Flanders, a fanfic of The Simpsons:
- Naomi informs the Simpsons and Ned that they're in a cartoon. Ned doesn't believe this, even after watching it, until he temporarily ends up in our world.
- Naomi's aware she's in a "book" when she mentions her frequent fainting and one instance of being knocked out that she's probably "been unconscious for at least half this book."
- Even though nobody told Edna she's in a cartoon, she's aware that America voted for her and Ned to stay together.
- At least two characters not from the real world seem aware of The Simpsons Movie.
- My Ridonculous Race. In India, the 5 contestants who have yet to reach the chillzone run for it in a slow-mo sequence inspired by the end of The Darjeeling Limited. For the Ice Dancers who incurred a time penatly however, their clock counts down as would normally. Meaning they place and Tom and Jen get eliminated.
- In Full Circle, Olympia is aware that she's in a fanfiction and takes potshots at the author while also trying to convince her fellow agents that they too are in a fanfiction that's terribly written. Of course, since Odd Squad as a show is full of Medium Awareness, it makes perfect sense, but the most hilarious thing about Olympia taking up this role is that there has actually been one instance where she directly speaks to the audience and everyone else has an Audience? What Audience? reaction.
- In OSMU: Fanfiction Friction, Oprah is aware that she and the rest of the Mobile Unit are in a fanfic, as she's reading it on her own computer. What's more, she also has active communication with the author himself. Makes sense considering that in the show proper, she's one of the characters that knows Odd Squad is a fictitious TV show.
- The Mobile Unit themselves zig-zag this trope. They seem to be aware that they're on a fictitious TV show and that there's established canon in place, but Chapter 15 implies that they don't know they're on a fictitious TV show at all, while Chapter 16 implies that they do know, and Chapter 17 implies that they're actively avoiding playing the trope straight.
- In Crusader of Life III, a JoJo's Bizarre Adventure fanfic, the main character gets transported to the world of Super Smash Bros.. She almost immediately realizes not only that shes in a game, but also what game shes in, and helps her confused teammate figure out the warped logic.
- An in-universe/possibly deconstructive take on this occurs in Scooby-Doo and the Cyber Chase. In it, the gang is beamed into a video game based on their adventures and run into the player character versions of themselves. Their digital doubles are not only aware of their lives as game characters, but also aware of the repetitious nature of their existence. They know it'll all start over again once the game is beaten. As such, when they got to the last level - a reconstruction of their hometown of Coolsville - they found where the monsters lived, where the goal was and stayed away to build a life for themselves there. This may be why the game's creator stated he was unable to finish the game. The virtual characters may have sabotaged him to keep the game from starting over. Ultimately, they do end up helping the originals finish the game in order to get out.
- Disney's direct-to-DVD film Mickey, Donald, Goofy: The Three Musketeers does this when Captain Pete finishes his Villain Song - as he sings the final triumphant note, the orchestral accompaniment disappears. He looks around bewildered and asks, "Why'd the music stop?"
- Also, whenever he mentions the Opera where he plans to kidnap Princess Minnie and arrange for an impostor to abdicate the throne to him, an operatic fanfare is heard as the camera cuts to a poster of the opera. Pete seems to be aware of the fanfare, and says the third time, "That little ditty's starting to grow on me."
- Over the Hedge ends with Hammy running smack into the camera.
- At the end of Shrek, the heroic ogre palms the camera's lens for privacy before kissing ogre-Fiona.
- In the Rankin/Bass Productions feature film Mad Monster Party?, after Francesca has an Inner Monologue about her plan to use Dracula to steal Baron von Frankenstein's secrets, the Monster's Mate suddenly comes to the conclusion that Francesca is scheming with Dracula, and resolves to keep a close eye on her. She then remarks that it's Francesca's own fault for "thinking out loud."
- Aladdin begins with a narrator telling the viewer to come closer, prompting the camera to come in and hit him in the nose. "Too close, a little too close!"
- During the opening titles of Jetsons: The Movie, the characters are introduced with the caption of "[Actor] as [Character]". When the text introducing Rosie appears ("Jean Vander Pyl as Rosie the Robot"), Rosie wipes away the text with a cloth.
- On the Finding Nemo DVD, there is a short documentary film by Jean-Michel Cousteau (It's called "Exploring the Reef"). In the beginning, he introduces himself and a trumpet fanfare (presumably the main theme) plays. Every time he says his name after that, the trumpets blare, and Nemo, Marlin, and Dory look around wondering where the trumpets are coming from.
- The Deadpool movie adapts his comic book trait to acknowledging movie tropes, including one scene in which he breaks the fourth wall during a flashback scene in which he broke the fourth wall, then informs the audience, "...that's like sixteen walls!"
- At one point he provides a Gory Discretion Shot by physically pushing the camera aside, which suggests an even deeper level of interaction than all the other comments — he's not just aware he's being watched, he can reach out and touch the camera!
- The Muppets:
- In The Muppet Movie, Kermit has Fozzie explain their situation to the Electric Mayhem by giving them a copy of the script, which comes in handy later.
- The Great Muppet Caper also has many Medium Awareness moments, beginning with the main characters watching and commenting on the opening credits, and continuing with numerous self-aware comments:
Peter Ustinov: What are you doing here?
Oscar the Grouch: A very brief cameo.
Peter Ustinov: Me too.
- Muppet Treasure Island also uses this to amusing effect. At one point the rats—who have been treating the boat as a cruise ship—are touring the titular island. The tour guide comments that this is an actual shooting location of the film Muppet Treasure Island.
- There are also several moments where the cast does acknowledge that they're singing, especially during "Professional Pirate" when Long John Silver mentions that it's his only number and tells the pirates to show that they've been practicing.
- Also when Billy Bones dies, Rizzo says, "He died?! But this is supposed to be a kids' movie!"
- The Swedish Chef's intro in the movie - as the cook for the island's natives. The cast justifies this by saying, "Well, how else do you think we were gonna get him in this movie?" Makes sense when one considers that the obvious job for him - chef on the ship - was filled by Long John Silver.
- This is played with after the song "Cabin Fever". Clueless Morgan asks "What was that song that just happened?" The other prisoners think he's lost it.
- And of course, when Captain Smollett and Benjamina Gunn fall off of a cliff, they're caught by Statler and Waldorf, who are the ship's mastheads.
Statler: We're heroes! We saved the pig and frog!Waldorf: Well, it was too late to save the movie!
- Mel Brooks has a lot of fun with this trope:
- Spaceballs: When Lone Starr talks about how they won't get too far with the blazing sun of the desert planet overhead, the screen dissolves into the fading sun... and Barf says, "Nice dissolve." Also, when searching for Lone Starr, the villains watch a video tape of the movie itself to find him. Even though (as Dark Helmet points out) the movie isn't finished yet. The entire movie has meta-references to itself being a commercial property, with the Spaceballs store, the Spaceballs Lunchbox, and the Spaceballs Flame Thrower. And... "You've captured their stunt doubles!!!" Or Dark Helmet banging his head against a camera... Or killing a cameraman with his Schwartz in the final fight.
- Robin Hood: Men in Tights has many examples of this trope, including the opening scene. A village is attacked with flaming arrows, and the flames on the buildings form the names of the actors, producers, etc. At the end of the scene, however, the irate villagers curse Mel Brooks (the director of the film) for including this scene. "Every time they make a Robin Hood movie they burn our village down!"
Robin: I lost! I lost? Wait a second, I'm not supposed to lose... Let me see the script."
- A line from the end of that sequence: "LEAVE US ALONE, MEL BROOKS!"
- In another scene, a camera slowly zooms in to a closed window of the castle where Marion is bathing. In the next scene, Marion is in the bath, when the camera comes crashing through the window (a similar window-crash gag shows up in High Anxiety as well).
- From the same film, the characters consult the script to confirm that Robin does, in fact, get another shot.
- And in Blazing Saddles, Hedley goes to the opening of Blazing Saddles and finds out Bart and Jim have tracked him down when the movie screen shows them outside the theater... and they then go into the theatre to find out how things end...
- A scene in Austin Powers in Goldmember featured Austin talking to a Japanese executive, with his speech subtitled. However, portions of the text blended in against parts of the scene that were the same color as the subtitles, causing the sentence to be altered to inappropriate comments (e.g., Please eat some shitake mushrooms), and Austin would look outraged until Foxy moved the objects causing the disturbance. Eventually the executive says, "Why don't I just speak in English?" Austin replies, "Yeah, you should! Then I wouldn't have to read the subtitles and it wouldn't look like you were saying things that are dirty!" followed by smiling at the viewer.
- At the end of Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Movie, Mike and the 'bots riff on their own credits. "Puppet wranglers? There weren't any puppets in this movie."
- In Monty Python and the Holy Grail, the prince of Swamp Castle is about to start a musical number, and the background music begins playing, but he is immediately interrupted by his father, who demands that there shall be no singing. This gag is repeated several times, until the king is unable to interrupt and the singing number actually begins, complete with spontaneously forming supporting chorus. (As you can imagine, the prince's father has even more trouble stopping the singing in Spamalot, the musical based on the movie.)
- "It's the old man from Scene 24!"
- When they reach Camelot, Patsy is well aware that the castle itself is "only a model".
- The entire "Get On With It" bit during the Castle Anthrax scene. In the middle of repeating what a terrible person Zoot is, Dingo suddenly stops, faces the camera, and asks if this scene should have been cut. Two characters from previous scenes insist that theirs were better before characters from previous and later scenes demand that they GET ON WITH IT!
- The movie ends with cops arresting everyone, and one of them covers the camera with his hand.
- In Monty Python's Life of Brian, a subtler example (which could reasonably be a well-crafted Leaning on the Fourth Wall — it's left ambiguous) has Eric Idle's character saying, "You'll see it's all a show Keep 'em laughing as you go!" in the last musical number Always look at the bright side of life (sung by Idle, Brian and all the other characters who have been sentenced to death).
- Leap Year: The first title card says "The opening scene of the trouble is a shot of Piper Hall, with a doctor approaching the house." Then the film actually does start with such a shot. Other scene transitions are similarly announced. At the end the characters are self aware as well. After Phyllis accepts Fatty's proposal of marriage, he shakes her hand and says "Thanks! Let's have a fade out without the usual clinch!" And that's what happens as the movie ends.
- The Gamers (the 2002 Dead Gentlemen video, not the 2006 film) ends with the player characters killing their own players, thinking that they're evil wizards, then commenting on/editing their own character sheets.
- The movie The Truman Show is all about this trope. In a more realistic way than most other examples; Truman's world really is a stage that he's being filmed on.
- In Stranger Than Fiction, Will Ferrell is a fictional character who becomes aware that he's in a novel when he hears a female voice narrating his life. As such, he gets a nasty shock when he hears her narrate about his "imminent death", and tries to convince her that he's a "real" person who doesn't want to die.
- At the beginning of the movie Johnny Dangerously, the year 1935 is laid over a busy street scene to set the flashback. Within a few seconds, a car crashes into the number.
- At one point in The Imposters, a character is eavesdropping on someone talking in a (gibberish) foreign language, which is captioned for the viewers. He eventually realizes that the captions are reflected in the mirror he is facing, and works out what is being said by reading them.
- Fight Club. Durden points out the "cigarette burn" marks indicating when film reels should be changed in a movie. There also his interesting... habit of splicing single frames of pornography into family-friendly films (and the film itself). In the original theater release reels that particular reel was actually cut about 5 minutes short so the mark he pointed out (which was actually extended by a few frames for effect) was actually marking a real reel change.
- There are the splices of Tyler himself throughout the movie whenever the narrator has insomnia.
- The Brick Joke exchange at the end of the movie, which repeats the scene from the opening (Tyler: "Do you want to say something?"; Narrator: "I can't think of anything") but changes a line - "I still can't think of anything." "Ah, Flashback humor."
- In both Wayne's World movies, Wayne is constantly talking to and interacting with the camera. Even Ed O'Neill did for a moment, before being reminded by Wayne that "only me and Garth get to talk to the camera".
- In the scene where Wayne is speaking with Cassandra in Cantonese, Wayne appears to be reading the subtitles while speaking, until he stops talking and the subtitles continue the dialogue.
- In another he speaks to her father in (subtitled) Cantonese and is challenged to a fight. He accepts, but asks that the fight be dubbed rather than subtitled.
Very well. If that is your custom, prepare to die.
- The gas station scene from the sequel. When the station attendant proves to be a horrible actor, he is replaced on screen by Charlton Heston. For added bonus, the crew member doing the switch is the actual director.
- "It's like, people only do these things because they can get paid. And that's just really sad". That scene broke the fourth wall because the movie actually had to do that Product Placement in order to stay afloat.
- Wayne pointing out the Exposition given by Chris Farley's character.
- The entire movie of Last Action Hero is essentially this to a T. The main character (and sidekick of Arnold) continually points out that he and Arnold's character of Jack Slater are in a movie. Perhaps ironically, the trope is also subverted and applied at the same time when Jack Slater finds himself in a real world and keeps acting like he's in a movie — making references and so forth without being in a movie... making the trope's execution decidedly meta at that point. The whole thing is one big Lampshade Hanging of the concept of an action movie.
- And then we have the ending of the film, where Jack Slater returns to the movie world with full knowledge of being a movie character and begins to refer to everything around him much like the main once did.
- The German 2004 comedy Der Wixxer and its 2007 sequel:
- It parodies a number of popular (also German) crime movies from the 1950s and -60s based on novels by Edgar Wallace. In recognition of the age of the source material, one prominent location is Blackwhite Castle, "one of the last black and white castles in the United Kingdom", where the action is filmed almost completely in black and white with the characters commenting on the palette change. (It's only 'almost' because one renovated wing of the castle is in fact in color, to the visitors' initial surprise.) In the 2007 sequel, they even used a black-white to color switch to defuse a bomb.
- While the detective inspects a crime scene ominous music plays. When he turns and exasperatedly says, "Oh cut it out boys!" the camera moves to some police men with music instruments who now stop playing and apologetically scamper off.
- In the second movie, a fake commercial break is inserted into the movie which at first looks perfectly real until it turns out the commercials (for dating hotlines and handy downloads) are parodies, too.
- Dr. Dolittle: It's explicitly stated that the animals can hear the movie's translation when an owl tells Dr. Dolittle "You're the one who can hear us, aren't you?" instead of the predictable "You're the one who understands us, aren't you?".
- National Lampoon's action film parody Loaded Weapon 1 features a scene where the protagonist hurts his leg on the subtitles and kicks them away. Another scene has Whoopi Goldberg's character aware of the clock subtitle when she leaves her message on her cop friend's answering machine. She even updates the time she mentions when she notices the clock change by 1 minute. When Whoopi feigns ignorance of the microfiche Mr. Jigsaw questions her about, he replies "Don't be coy with me, Ms York. This is too important...and it's also the plot."
- Bugsy Malone: Fat Sam says something in Italian. But his henchman, Knuckles, is Jewish and doesn't understand Italian. He is told to read the translation as the subtitle appears onscreen.
- Ridiculous spoof comedy Fatal Instinct has several such moments, including this interaction: "You speak Yiddish?" "No, but I can read the subtitles." - at which point, the two characters discussing the murder/insurance fraud plot look down at their subtitles and Face Palm.
- Who Framed Roger Rabbit is all about this trope, with the Toons knowing that they're cartoons made of ink and paint. Then again though they don't know they're in a movie about Toons that know they're cartoons, so it may not count.
- At least until the very end.
- The Man with Two Brains had an incident where Steve Martin's character, while driving in Europe, is stopped by a policeman who speaks to him in French with subtitles. When the policeman realizes that Martin's character can speak English, he has the subtitles turned off, happily remarking "Now we have much more room down there!"
- In George of the Jungle characters interact with the narrator more than once. For example:
Max: Thor! Were you arguing with the narrator?Thor: Well he started it.Narrator: Did not.
Narrator: Wait a minute, you're not George!George 2: Me new George! Studio too cheap to pay Brendan Fraser.
- The sequel played with it as well.
- Return of the Killer Tomatoes has lines like "Excuse me, miss, has there been a Car Chase in this movie yet?" and "Notice how everything we set up in the first reel pays off in the last? Pretty slick, huh?" When a character needs something to write on, he uses a copy of the movie's own script. However, the crowning point is when the movie runs out of budget halfway through and restarts loaded with incredibly blatant (and acknowledged) Product Placement.
- Julie from Scott Pilgrim vs. The World has a black censor bar flash over her mouth whenever she swears. Scott blatantly asks her "How are you doing that with your mouth?"
- Farce of the Penguins implies that all of the characters are aware that they're in a documentary, featuring scenes such as Marcus telling the sound track director to change from stock music to hip-hop because if he's gonna be walking 70 miles, "the track best be bumpin'," and a few characters talking to or full-blown arguing with Samuel L. Jackson, the narrator.
- Several of the porn parodies of Star Trek poke fun at Star Trek and porn movies by doing this.
"Should we go after them?" "No, they'll be gone for about twelve and a half minutes, the average length of time of an adult movie sex scene.""As you can see, there are many corridors on the ship, not just one shot from different camera angles.""We'll find you some clothing out of the ship's stores, something trashy with strappy high heels. You know, like a female porn star wears."
- One skit in The Kentucky Fried Movie has a reporter interviewing a band of terrorists. The leader starts explaining why they hate America, then stops and starts yelling in outrage because he noticed that, despite his perfect English, he's being subtitled. The skit devolves into him proving how good his English is by yelling out tongue twisters, and complaining that his compatriots are not being subtitled.
- The Stinger of X-Men Origins: Wolverine hinted at this, with Deadpool's body crawling toward his head, which looks up at the audience and shushes them, so that they won't spill the secret that decapitation didn't kill him.
- Funny Games. The entire film is a direct attack on the audience, solidified by the fact that a character talks to the camera, addressing the audience and even so much as changing the entire outcome of the film by literally grabbing a remote control and rewinding a particular scene in order to avoid it.
- Quarantine features an infected individual being beaten to death with the camera. The cameraman then spends the next minute or so wiping the lens clean of blood.
- An early scene in Equilibrium is shot from overhead and has a (vertically ejected) shell casing bounce off the camera lens. The filmmakers deemed it important enough to modify the pistol at significant expense, then have it animated in when they couldn't get the trick to work right mechanically.
- The lettering of the Zombieland opening credits is sent flying when hit by debris, people fleeing zombies or swinging weapons and so on. "The Rules" appear hanging from ceilings, painted on the ground, getting splattered with blood and so on, but aren't "really" there.
- In New Moon, early on when Jacob is fighting another werewolf over Bella, they tumble into the nearby woods, where they crash into the camera tripod and knock it over, screwing up the focus and filming everything sideways for a moment.
- Cría Cuervos: The Spanish pop song that features prominently on the soundtrack is playing quite loudly. Ana, our protagonist, looks straight into the camera and says "Could you turn that music down?" Afterwards the music does in fact quiet down quite a bit.
- Near the end of Crank. Chev is riding an elevator with a Chinese guy. The guy turns to him and starts speaking to him in Chinese, with subtitles. The camera angle changes a couple times, but the subtitles keep the orientation they had in the original shot (directly in front of the Chinese man at chest level), and Chev starts reading them. Looking bewildered. Then it turns out that he was just hallucinating the whole thing.
- In The Three Stooges in Orbit, the Stooges are able to eavesdrop on a pair of Martians because they read the subtitles.
- Black Mirror: Bandersnatch:
- If you "screw up" at a certain decision, you hit the dead end pathway and are forced to start again. From this point on, Stefan and Colin are aware of the actions they performed and the choices you made on the last run. Sometimes, they're very aware, for others they just think they have Déjà Vu.
- Throughout the story, Stefan notices certain actions that the viewer makes on his behalf. He even begins to defy actions that would otherwise derail the story.
- It even gets to the point where Netflix itself is heavily involved in two of the routes.
- After The Cavalry Arrives Late at the conclusion of The Outlaws IS Coming!, the Colonel boldly states that "the cavalry has never arrived late in the history of American motion pictures".
- The Thursday Next books have the books footnotes heard by characters, and used as a contact network. The characters from the BookWorld are very impressed by Thursday's ability to know who's talking even when there's no character tags. This is merely the tip of a iceberg of metatextual fun.
- The Terry Pratchett book Only You Can Save Mankind has aliens in a computer game who seek safety from ruthless humans (the players, blasting them away with careless abandon) beyond "the barrier". The barrier turns out to be an enormous "Game Over" sign. Their environment itself was effected by how aware of the genre trappings the person was. Johnny, whose imagination tends to towards friendly aliens sees them and their ships as non-hostile. Kirsty, who's seen movies and "knows how these things should go" sees the ship's corridors as slime-covered dungeons and the aliens as slavering, razor-toothed monsters. When they hear an alien coming and discover that instead of an armed guard, it's a small and friendly tea-lady, Kirsty complains that Johnny's doing it wrong.
- Shows up a number of times in The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales. For starters, Chicken Licken finds out that it's not the sky that's falling, it's the table of contents. (Rule of Funny since none of the book's pages are even numbered.)
- A trademark of the Collective of the Retconning Crocodiles in The Crew of the Copper-Colored Cupids, who "understand metafiction" in a way they use to their advantage.
- Sometimes, the characters of Robert Rankin's Armageddon The Musical series realize that they are in a film. Even though it's a series of books. (The final one even had film credits!)
- Other times, they know that they are in a book. After a major sex scene, the characters involved are annoyed that the entire scene was simply whited out. Some of the characters taunt each other by saying that, if they make fun of the plot, they'll just simply be removed. Characters complaining about a Running Gag has even become a Running Gag ("I hope that's not going to be a running gag. It's crap.") And let's not get start about how one character was able to find where Elvis and his time-traveling sprout went by looking at the previous book.
- At various points in Spike Milligan's novel Puckoon, the character Dan Milligan objects to The Author's treatment of him, resulting in a series of very funny Medium Awareness gags.
- In John Barnes's One for the Morning Glory, the characters are aware that they are in a Fairy Tale. They are also aware that they do not know what their role in said fairy tale is, which inspires due caution.
"This is not how these tales end," Calliope said firmly.
"This is not the way that things end when they get to be tales," Amatus said, "but since ours is not told yet, we cannot count on it. There were a hundred dead princes on the thorns outside Sleeping Beauty's castle, and I'm sure many of them were splendid fellows."
- Jackson in Butterfly's Effect not only shows Medium Awareness, he is also Genre Savvy to the point of being dangerous. When discussing his brother and sister's situation
"Imagine we're in a book. You two WILL fall in love but separate because society will never accept you, your baby will turn out fine thanks to the fact fiction is, well, fiction and you two will go on to live your own happy lives while carrying a torch for each other 'til the day you both die. END OF STORY!"
- And at the end, we get him shrieking to nobody in particular, "I TOLD YOU SO!"
- In one illustrated Winnie-the-Pooh book, when the title character finds himself stranded on a branch too high to safely jump off, he climbs down the block of text on the page. This idea is also used in the animated adaptation... in which the characters are also in a book.
- One of Dave Barry's many books contains a bit in which he includes an incredibly short (four pages) novel which is very, very obviously being written with the hope that it will be made into a movie. At the end of the book, two of the characters are standing around when the movie end credits begin scrolling up from the bottom of the screen. "Hey," one of them says, "these names are backwards."
- Also playing on the Book-into-Movie medium is the initial description of the hero:
- In Sophie's World, an introduction to philosophy textbook thinly disguised as a novel, has the main characters realising they're in a book and plotting to escape. At one point Sophie is instructed to do very interesting things for a while so that the narrative will focus on her, letting the other character make plans in secrecy.
- The Lord of the Rings parody Bored of the Rings has several instances of this, one of the most notable being when one of the party members asks how much further to their destination and another "looks across the vast expanse of pages to the right" and replies they have a long way to go yet.
- In The White Chess Queen, a never-completed sequel the Strugatsky brothers intended for their science-fiction classic The Inhabited Island, Maxim would have encountered some wise man who was in charge of all the trouble around. As the hero tells that man about a better way of living on the Communist Utopia Earth, he's told that the whole thing is impossible and if Maxim was raised in such a society, he's probably a character in the book. Guess why this sequel have never seen the light.
- A rare serious example appears in some of Robert A. Heinlein's later works, most notably The Number of the Beast and The Cat Who Walks Through Walls. In them, he developed his "World as Fiction" concept, where every fictional world ever created exists as an alternate reality. Eventually the characters come to realize that every universe, including their own, exist as fiction somewhere else.
- Gene Wolfe's "The Last Thrilling Wonder Story": the hero knows he's in a story and has conversations with the author. And then there's this gem:
Sir! Mr. Wolfe, sir!
For Pete's sake, Brick. You'll wake everyone up.
They can't hear me. They're on another part of the page.
- Sonic The Hedgehog And The Silicon Warriors:
- Sonic mentions the reader and the fact he's in the book several times, with the added bonus that he knows he's normally a videogame character too, commenting that the Mystic Cave Zone had great background music.
- Later when the inhabitants of Green Hill Zone are infected by a virus we get this gem:
'But aren't we videogame characters anyway?' asked Tails, who had joined them by the ailing rabbit.
'Well normally, yes' Sonic agreed, 'but at the moment we're characters in a book. Look, this talk is all getting very complicated, and we've got a real problem to deal with here.'
- In the third novel of Noob, which is set in a Fictional Video Game, the protagonists have to sneak into the enemy capital for the purpose of an investigation. Mission Control gives them a serum that will make them blend into the capital's population. The only thing the serum does is change the cursor over their heads that marks them as Empire players in the game's interface and has their Online Alias written on it: the color changes from the Empire's yellow to the Coalition red and gives them a Sdrawkcab Alias.
- In Redshirts, one character realizes that the starship Intrepid is part of a mediocre sci-fi show, which kills off ensigns regularly to heighten the drama. The only way to survive is to "avoid the Narrative". At the end of the novel, Dahl realizes that he's the hero of this very book.
- Journey to Chaos: Tasio the Trickster is aware that he is a character in a fantasy novel. He can even get his hands on a copy of Looming Shadow (it was full of blank pages, but otherwise correct).
- Myth Adventures
- M.Y.T.H. Inc in Action. A section written in Robert Asprin's own "voice" is followed by Guido's First-Person Perspective complaining about being interrupted, and when a returning villain says that what happened to him after his last appearance is "another story, if you know what I mean", Guido knows that what he means is this is a side-story which Asprin will probably sell to a magazine or something.
- Myth-Nomers and Im-Pervections has a minor character who drives a cab. At one point he mentions being at an auction where an author was auctioning off a cameo in his next book, and flat-out tells Skeeve that if he'd lost, Skeeve would be taking to someone else at this point.
- In the later books of Alice, Girl from the Future, it happens to many characters. The Genre Savvy ones are careful to arrange everything as it should happen in a novel, and the recurring villains know that they are recurring villains and cant kill Alice because shes the series protagonist.
- On the title page of The Pigeon HAS to Go to School!, the Pigeon urges readers "WAIT! Don't read that title!" and is seen dropping his head and stating "Too late. Rats..." at the start of the story.
- The Neverending Story:
- The Childlike Empress uses her power as ruler of Fantastica to turn to the beginning of the book YOU are reading, creating a loop only Bastian can break, being effectively part of the loop at that point.
- Having read the book The Neverending Story himself, after finding himself in Fantastica Bastian theorizes that his current experiences may be recorded in the book, and that "maybe someone was reading it at that very moment".
- The Monster at the End of This Book relies on this. Grover will use ropes, boards and nails, and even build a brick wall to keep you from turning the pages (which break them that easily) and coming closer to the titular "monster" at the end of the book. ...Which just turns out to be Grover himself.
- The 2021 Theodor Seuss Geisel medal winning picture book reader See the Cat: Three Stories About a Dog features a dog named Max who has this. The book is split into three stories. The first story involves the dog railing against the text of the story, which describes in increasing detail a cat, even though there is no cat to be seen. He is then embarrassed when said cat appears at the end of the story. The second story involves a snake who is going to bite him, until he writes in the word "not" so that it reads "The mad snake is not going to bite the dog." In the third story, the narration states that he must run and jump and spin and fly in order to avoid having a hippo sit on him. He flat-out refuses, as he only wants to take a nap, and says he will leave, and if he does that, then nobody will want to read the book and it'll get thrown away.
- The novelization of the Labyrinth movie says that Sarah can hear the background music in-universe.
- In The Stinky Cheese Man, not only are all the fairy tale characters perfectly aware they're in a book that's going wrong, to the point of complaining to the narrator about their stories, but they comment on the front matter, table of contents, typography, endpapers, and even the UPC and ISBN on the cover.
"Could you please stop talking in uppercase letters? It really messes up the page."
- "Elbow Room", the last story in short-story collection Elbow Room, has Paul, a white man, marrying Virginia, a black woman. Virginia gets pregnant, and starts to think about being a black woman trying to navigate a white world.
- Elbow Room: "Elbow Room", the last story in the collection, is filled throughout with comments, mostly critical, from an "editor" who doesn't like the narrator's disregard for order and form in the story. That is then followed by dialogue exchanges between the narrator and the editor, in which the editor further criticizes the narrator's lack of clarity and recommends that some pieces be deleted, while the narrator defends his choices.
- In Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah," the chord progression follows the lyric "it goes like this, the fourth, the fifth, the minor fall, and the major lift": C, F, G, A minor, F.
- The News Boys song "Your Love Is Better Than Life" has this line near the end: "I don't know how I can wrap it in a four-minute song."
- The Relient K song "The Scene and Herd" has the line: "And I'm sorrowed that you probably magically got this song for free."
- Steely Dan's "Deacon Blues" is notable for its nearly indecipherable lyrics, but half way through the fifth verse, Donald Fagen says [to the listener]: "I cried when I wrote this song/Sue me if I play too long..."
- In David Bowie's "Five Years," has the line "Don't think you knew you were in this song."
- The infamous chorus of "You're So Vain" by Carly Simon:
"You're so vain, you probably think this song is about you"
"You're so vain, I'll bet you think this song is about you, don't you?"
- The Lady Of Shalott is this on Emilie Autumn's "Shalott", which combines it with Self-Deprecation and Leaning on the Fourth Wall. The lines are "I should've guessed it all along 'cause now some drama queen is gonna write a song for me".
- Aly & A.J.: "This is our Potential Breakup Song, our album needs just one..."
- In "My Girl" by Chilliwack: "I hope she's doing alright/I got no way to know/Unless she gets to hear this song/Hear it on the radio"
- Neil Pye from The Young Ones once committed his hippie musings to record with Neil's Heavy Concept Album. The final track of side A is "Cosmic Jam" in which Neil is aware he's on a vinyl LP - including pointing out the upcoming blob of peanut butter someone dropped on the record (at which point the song becomes incredibly muffled), and that he's about to get dragged away by "the skatey bit" at the end of the side. That is, except, on the cassette version of the album, where "Cosmic Jam" plays out at usual... but is immediately followed by Neil pointing out that NONE of the jokes in the song would apply to cassette users. He attempts to rectify this by rewording the jokes for the format, but gives up and leaves the studio, opting instead to join some sidewalk musicians in a rendition of "Brown Sugar" — which he doesn't recognize and is immediately offended by.
- The second side of Something/Anything? by Todd Rundgren opens with a spoken word piece in which Rundgren invites the listeners to search the record for mastering gaffes — bad editing, popping P's, hiss, hum. Whoever finds the most, wins!
- In the original double-sided record version of Ray Charles' "What'd I Say", voices came on protesting at the end of the first side, and on the beginning of the second side Ray calls out "All right!" before launching into the second half of the song.
- The Firesign Theatre's How Can You Be In Two Places At Once When You're Not Anywhere At All? has Nick Danger listen to the other side of the record (which turns out to be a snippet of the other side, played backwards) to figure out where he is.
- Sparks' song "My Other Voice" is about the vocoder being used in the song.
- Fall Out Boy, "Sugar, We're Going Down":
I'm just a notch in your bedpost, but you're just a line in a song.
- Metallica have a song titled after H. P. Lovecraft's most famous short story, "The Call of Cthulhu", but it's spelt "The Call of Ktulu". However, the misspelling is intentional. Lovecraft wrote that saying, or even spelling out, Cthulhu's name would draw his attention. Since Cthulhu is the Trope Codifier for Eldritch Abomination, this is not something you want to happen. Doubles as The Fourth Wall Will Not Protect You.
- The Who:
I write the same old song with a few new lines
- Gettin' in Tune begins with "I'm singing this note 'cause it fits in well/With the chords I'm playing"
- New Song is essentially this trope from start to finish:
And everybody wants to cheer it
I write the same old song you heard a good few times
Admit you really want to hear it'
- They Might Be Giants have a few:
- "Number Three" is about a singer who says, "There's just two songs in me, and this is No. 3." The song is the third song on the album.
- "When Will You Die" has singer John Linnell introduce the band: "This is Dan, and that's Dan, and there's Marty on the drums to complete the band, and I'm John and he is also John and all of us are wondering when you're gonna die."
- "Everything Right is Wrong Again" has the line, "Every move is false, every four is waltz again." The time signature briefly changes when the singer says "waltz" — not waltz time but it's awareness nonetheless.
- Terry Scott's comedy single "My Brother" ends with him leading his brother away, "before you fall down the hole in the middle".
- In the gramophone recording of the Voskovec/Werich song V domě straí duch (There's a ghost haunting the house), V+W introduce the song with a dialog which starts as follows:
[scream]Voskovec: What was that?Werich: It's wolves!Voskovec: Wolves in a record player? That's nonsense!
- The British children's TV character Roland Rat Superstar's first album is titled The Album on cassette, and The Cassette of the Album on vinyl. Each format has its own between-tracks skits addressing the supposed mix-up.
- This occurs to some degree in almost all modern pinballs. Characters in the game will directly address the player about key targets or opportunities ("Get the extra ball!"), or comment on the player's performance.
J Jonah Jameson: "Eight arms? He should be playing this game!"
- Occurs several times in Williams Electronics' No Good Gofers.
- A rather subtle one comes about after completing seven holes:
Bud: I can feel the power!
Buzz: That's all those wires down there!
- Another one comes after tilting the table:
Bud: Hey, this game is violent enough!
- A rather subtle one comes about after completing seven holes:
- Your opponents in The Champion Pub are aware that the single figure representing them has no legs. Patrotsky sometimes starts a match with "Be thankful this glass separates us."
- If you tilt Fun House, Rudy the Dummy will chime out "Hey! It's only pinball."
- Done quite a bit in The Shadow, thanks to the large amount of custom dialog from the various characters.
The Shadow: "Finally, you've learned to control the pinball!"
- In Cue Ball Wizard, draining the ball down an outlane gets the comment, "I hate these outlanes."
- Played with in Lethal Weapon 3; activating the various Stunts shows a clip of the characters performing a stunt before a film crew, so they're aware they're in a movie... but they remain unaware they're actually in a pinball machine.
- Sarcastically lampshaded in Metallica:
Robert Trujillo: Were in a pinball game, maybe well get a record deal now.
- Deadpool unsurprisingly uses Deadpool as a Meta Guy.
- In addition to knowing that they're going through a Harry Potter world, the main four children in the Cool Kids Table Harry Potter-themed game Hogwarts: The New Class also know that they're main characters. Matt in particular has Knowledge of Narrative Structure and can determine where the story is going.
- A the 2009 TNA Victory Road, Kurt Angle promised that the match he and Mick Foley were soon to have would not be pay per view quality, suggesting he was just going to uneventfully squash Foley the way jobbers are on "free" TV.
- When TNA Impact moved to Monday Nights and went live in 2010, Madison Rayne and Velvet Sky's first order of business was attracting enough viewers to make these changes sustainable, settling on their own poker show, noting they had been taking off.
- At SHIMMER's 3/17/2012 show, Cheerleader Melissa assured everyone that Nicole Matthews would not take the singles title from her after only one DVD.
- A Private Eye Monologue in ZBS Foundation's Ruby 1: The Adventures of a Galactic Gumshoe radio series:
Ruby (narrating): ". . . Who really wanted him dead? . . . Yeah, the Author. Authorsthey create characters just so they can blow them away. Writing is a dirty business."
- In Riders Radio Theater, all the characters at one point or another seem to be aware of the audience, the narrator, the existence of the show's script, sometimes even interacting with them. Ranger Doug and Slocum both have explicitly taken actions because of something they heard the narrator just say.
- Hamish And Dougal play with this a lot. In one episode, the Laird turns over an explanation of everything strange that's been happening in that episode...in letter form. We hear Hamish and Dougal mutter as they read it, before exclaiming "Well, that all makes perfect sense!" Then there's the Running Gag that pops up whenever they get to a new location...
Dougal: Here we are at the [location]!
Hamish: ...why did you say that?
Dougal: Well...there might be blind people around here, not knowing where they are.
- Over the Edge involves a metaplot which could result in the PCs becoming aware of what they are.
- The joke Dungeons & Dragons supplement Portable Hole Full of Beer contains a Prestige Class that slowly causes the character to become aware of the fact that they are in a roleplaying game. At the final level the character becomes a real person and moves in with you.
- Foxbat, in the Champions superhero RPG has Wrong Medium Awareness, being firmly convinced he's a comic book villain. He retains this in Champions Online, where he begs for a "GM to port me to a different spawn point"
- Straighter example: A Mutants & Masterminds fansite introduced Foxbat II, who rejected his mentor's ludicrous view of the world, and instead believes himself to be an NPC in a superhero RPG.
- The RPG Tales from the Floating Vagabond has a number of "schticks", powers that can help (and occasionally harm) your character. One of these is the 'Rogers and Hammerstein Schtick', which gives your character his own theme music that he and everyone around him is aware of. This means that if someone is sneaking up on him, the music will shift to sneaky music (makes it really hard for him to sneak up on anyone not deaf, though). Sudden shifts to dramatic battle music can predict an ambush, etc.
- The Star Munchkin RPG based on the Munchkin card game has one class called "Farce K'n'gits". Their power is awareness of the great Farce - that they're in a comedic RPG - and thus gaining the ability to manipulate the game and its players directly, as well as ignore things like those laws of physics and common sense not actually covered by the game's rules. Non-K'n'gits can dabble in Farce powers as well.
- Man, Myth, & Magic from Yaquinto, had a random encounter table that included a gamemaster who had become trapped in the game.
- Guise in Sentinels of the Multiverse is simultaneously aware that he's a comic book character and a game character. His deck is based around screwing with perception, tropes and genres, to the point where one of his most powerful combos relies upon him parodying Conan the Barbarian and Pulp Fiction simultaneously, and one of his damage-dealing one-shots involves hitting an opponent with that card's type line. In the digital version, he also comments on his archnemesis's deck gimmick of instant win or lose conditions in preprogrammed banter, gets actual voice acting for his fourth-wall-breaking comments (only one other hero, the Argent Adept, has recorded sound effects, and most of those are musical instruments), and his on-turn background picture will occasionally point into your hand and say "PLAY THAT ONE".
- The Planescape fansite mimir.net has a subfaction of the Guvners who reckon reality is a game, with people and even gods no more in control of their destiny than a chess pawn, but that if they understand the rules they'll be able to play better. So far, they've discovered that people have six attributes which can be expressed as whole numbers and that it is somehow completely impossible for a warrior to successfully strike his foe more than 95% of the time.
- A player character option for Die Laughing is "The Person Who Knows They're In A Movie", which also gives them the option to make them a Genre Savvy horror movie buff.
- Late into the first act of Mel Brooks' The Producers, Max and Leo tell their Swedish intern Ulla to tidy up their office. As act 2 begins, Max and Leo return to the office to find everything, from the walls to the furniture, painted white. When asked about when Ulla managed to pull this off, she responds that she did it during the intermission. Later on in the same scene, Ulla will ask Leo why he is moving so far to the right of the stage, replaced with "camera right" in the film version.
- In one scene Leo loses his temper at Max and calls him "FAT!". This insult doesn't work very well when Nathan Lane has been replaced by the much slimmer Tony Danza, causing Tony to look confused and Leo to say, "Well, you used to be."
- Also, in the song "Betrayed", late in the second act, Max is recounting the events leading to him ending up in a jail cell. At the point in the recounting where the play had gone from act I to act II, he shouts "Intermission!", the stage lights dim and he sits quietly on the bunk for a few seconds before continuing the song. In some performances after Nathan Lane left the show (having played Max), Max would pull a Playbill out from under the bunk, thumb through it, and then announce "He's good, but he's no Nathan!"
- In another performance Max said "They were saving this cell for Michael Jackson" during the pause.
- In one London production Max had a good old moan about the refreshments on offer in the theatre: "What? THREE POUNDS for icecream?! It's tiny! Where's the proper spoon? What are you supposed to do with this little wooden thing?"
- During 'Untitled Opening Number' in [title of show], the cast calls attention to tropes common in musical theatre as they illustrate them, "We'll softly start the coda from a very tiny point. And then we'll get a little louder to further emphasize the point. And then we'll cross downstage towards you! And now we're yelling fortissimo!"
- In general, this trope is a large part of the play's structure and story, and as such comes up on a fairly regular basis throughout the show.
- All the characters in NF Simpson's play A Resounding Tinkle are quite aware they are in a play. There are frequent conversations about whether or not the audience will understand what's going on, at one point two characters are on stage being silent and then debate as to whether they should entertain the audience or not, at another point one of the characters wanders off the stage to talk to two cleaners in the theatre, all the characters are unceremoniously pushed off-stage in order for a group of critics to come on and debate the play, and the play ends when a member of the audience complains that the audience have had quite enough and demands to speak to the producer; the play concluding with all the characters thanking the audience for putting up with them.
- In the P.D.Q. Bach parodic opera The Abduction of Figaro, Donna Donna tells Donald Giovanni, in recitative, that she's so mad that she's not going to sing her aria. She then stamps offstage in a huff, leaving everyone scratching their heads until the orchestra director gets them back on track.
- The Stoned Guest has the two main female characters briefly discussing their opera careers before getting back into character. Later they start singing ever-higher notes until one of them breaks off and says "I'm only a mezzo, you know."
- At the end of the first act of A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, Miles Gloriosus is threatening to put Pseudolus to death. Pseudolus asks if he can have a word first, and Miles agrees. The word? "Intermission!"
- Spamalot features The Lady of the Lake, who co-sings "The Song That Goes Like This" with Galahad and has "Diva's Lament" as a solo. Her awareness of the fouth wall actually leads to the plot resolution: The Grail is under an audience member's seat. (Sir Robin, on the other hand, is Genre Savvy about musicals, but doesn't realize he's in one.)
- Triple dose of William Shakespeare examples:
- Puck's closing monologue reveals his Medium Awareness to any audience members who haven't picked up on it yet (which, depending on the production, can be quite obvious or completely hidden).
- Feste, on the other hand, has his Medium Awareness vary drastically by production.
- In the epilogue to The Tempest, Prospero asks the audience for applause and cheers to provide the wind that will blow his ship home.
- A Strange Loop: Usher and the Thoughts (his thoughts, personified) are aware that they are in a play called A Strange Loop. Near the end, Thought 4 urges Usher to make a decision about his life and wrap things up, because the white people in the audience want to go home.
- Whether Galileo is aware of being in a Musical or not during We Will Rock You remains open for debate, that his band knows that they're in a musical is established when they tell the Big Bad that they've in fact been in the wings for the whole show.
- In Les Misérables the characters bring in and sometimes conduct the pit orchestra during "Beggars at the Feast".
- In one production of Oliver! in London, the orchestration uses a violin soloist during "Reviewing the Situation". Since a violin is one of the items that Fagin has in his box of treasures, there were several Played for Laughs moments where Fagin, apparently hearing the violin solo, would stop and stare at the violin, and pick it up to examine it. The same part also featured a long monologue by Fagin where he seemed perfectly aware that he was on stage in a theatre (see the entry in Breaking the Fourth Wall for details).
- Urinetown lives and breathes this trope, especially in the case of Officer Lockstock and Little Sally, who hang lampshades all over the place. Probably the most notable example is the Act One Finale, which Officer Lockstock explicitly refers to as such twice and tells the audience to enjoy intermission.
- The Mystery of Irma Vep has several roles played by two actors. At one point, the maid (played by Actor 1) tells the Stable Boy (played by Actor 2) to go get their Master (played by Actor 1). The Stable Boy explains that he can't, for "obvious reasons." Followed by an Aside Glance by both actors.
- Rock of Ages has several instances of this, including one character asking the on-stage band "Have you been here the whole time?" and the show's narrator handing the hero a program to motivate him.
- In Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (the 2013 musical), this trope applies to Willy Wonka (figures), who is aware of the audience and the theatre itself. Besides serving as the narrator of the "Creation Overture" animated prologue and Breaking the Fourth Wall to address the audience on more than one occasion, at the top of Act Two, he's revealed to be "conducting" the entr'acte and then sits on the lap of someone in the front row for a moment! (Note that the Golden Ticket tour group rushes through the aisles when he calls for them after this, but they do not seem to share his awareness of where they are, so he's also a Fourth-Wall Observer!) At the end of the show, he reveals that he's embarking upon a new adventure — in the audience's world. And during the first curtain call, as Charlie himself takes his bow, Mr. Wonka is revealed to be in one of the theatre's box seats, cheering him on. He was serious!
- A Man For All Seasons features the character The Common Man, who is dressed in a black body stocking and opens the play by ranting about the lousy character he's been given to play. Through various costume changes he then becomes a variety of small parts, allowing the play to avoid needing separate actors for all of them. The last is Thomas More's executioner.
- Picasso at the Lapin Agile opens with Albert Einstein arriving at the eponymous cafe, only to be told he's not supposed to be there yet because the cast has been listed in the program in order of appearance and another character is supposed to arrive before he does. Einstein leaves and later returns, acting as though the previous exchange never occurred.
- Man in Chair, the narrator of The Drowsy Chaperone, lives and breathes this trope. He frequently pauses the Show Within a Show (which he is playing on a record) to give (fake) behind-the-scenes facts and remark on the action. He is also fully aware that he is in a theater addressing an audience, and spends all of what should be the intermission chatting and eating a Powerbar. This mostly only applies to him, but at the very end, the show's characters console him after a blackout and an appearance by his building's superintendent ruins the finale and bring him onto Trix's plane.
- Love Without Stockings a parody play by Norwegian author Johan Hermann Wessel, has the characters constantly discussing the premises of the play they are in. At the end of the play, Mercury (being the psychopomp from Classical Mythology), wakes up all the dead characters, and is immidiately called out on his presence in a Christian society. "Why, that his how a Tragedy works", he explains, and all the other characters end up in a fit of laughter.
- In one production, an aria was sung by the main character, while he became more and more impatient with the orchestra and frequently signalled for a cue to leave the stage.
- In some productions of The Lion King, Zazu not only breaks the fourth wall, but occasionally expresses awareness that his character is a puppet.
- During a sung debate in Hamilton, Alexander Hamilton tells his faltering opponent "Don't modulate the key, then not debate with me!"
- During the song "The Reynolds Pamphlet," Thomas Jefferson gives a copy of the titular pamphlet to the director of the pit orchestra.
- In Elisabeth, Tsukishiro Kanato (2018, Takarazuka)'s Lucheni asks the audience if they've noticed a camera today, says he too has noticed a camera, and then asks the cameraperson to come closer and make sure he looks handsome.
- The titular character of Baddy harasses the conductor and steals his baton during the title song.
- In the stage show Elephant & Piggie's We Are in a Play, Elephant & Piggie realize towards the end that they are in a play, hence the title. This is a concept borrowed from one of the books on which the show is based, We Are in a Book!. They then realize that if they are in a play, then can, in Piggie's word, manipulate the audience by making them do things like saying what they say, or dancing.
- Ace Attorney occasionally hints it's aware of its interactive nature. For once, you may get Trilo to call Phoenix an "8-bit excuse for an attorney".
- When you get to play as Edgeworth in case 3-5 upon presenting Iris with a demon-warding hood she says she gave it to Wright, because she had a premonition something might happen and didn't want Wright to "fall into its grip". Edgeworth notes to himself (in a blue text used for inner monologue) that the guy wound up falling into something much deeper and colder instead, followed by "I probably shouldn't say that out loud though. Thank god for inner monologue."
- Also in Justice for All upon examining some part of the interior in Hotti Clinic Phoenix makes an inner comment about it, in blue text as usual. Surprisingly, that comment gets answered to by Director Hotti. Phoenix is all but pleased with someone interfering with his inner monologue.
- The series in general is all too aware of the trope and will exploit it whenever possible, which gets characters to react with predictable results. Likewise, whenever you have to take a risk in a trial that could carry a stiff penalty or someone proposes to give you a bigger penalty than usual, they'll "show" you via your Life Meter appearing on screen and showing how much it'll cost you if you make a mistake.
- In CLANNAD, Tomoyo, Tomoya, and Sunohara hold a brief conversation with Sunohara's upside-down sprite suspended in front of the screen (he had just been kicked in the air), ending with Tomoya telling him "Hurry up and fall, this screen looks unnatural."
- In CROSSCHANNEL, at one point Taichi flips Touko's skirt up expecting a Megaton Punch. When he doesn't get one, he decides to go one step further by pulling her panties down and quickly requesting that someone throw up a mosaic. And, of course, as per Japanese laws on H-Games, it's already there.
- A possibly unintentional one in Melody. In both the Good Ending and the Family Ending, Hank Sharp eventually terminates Melodys contract with Sharp Records due to a lack of continued interest in her work. Melody then asks the protagonist if things would have been different if theyd both made different decisions. This is absolutely true in the story, but in reality, a lot more is up to chance.
- At one point in A Profile, Masayuki questions his mother's use of a tilde in her sentence.
- Hideo Kojima's Snatcher: At one point, the player is asked to turn up the volume to listen for a faint noise. When a loud explosion occurs shortly thereafter, Gillian complains his ears are ringing. "That's because you turned up the volume," Metal cheerfully replies.
- Yo-Jin-Bo likes to go around Breaking the Fourth Wall. The guys like to tease Mon-Mon about "not being one of the characters you can get at the end of the game", and his response is that he has an Image Song and has spent too much time reading his lines to not be a "capturable character".
- At one point in Hatoful Boyfriend, our heroine shows up late to school... only for the teacher to point out the date in the upper-left corner of the screen (it's a vacation day).
- Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair: When Monokuma arrives and transforms Usami into Monomi, she keeps insisting he stop calling her that, until he forcefully overwrites her name, and she is both shocked and annoyed to notice that the game's text boxes have changed to reflect her new name.
- In Doki Doki Literature Club!, Monika becomes aware that she is a character in a visual novel. She really doesn't take this well, and starts going about haphazardly deleting the other girls from the game so she can be with the player. This in and of itself has its own problems, since the way she approaches it causes numerous glitches and technical errors. Towards the end of the game, Sayori also gains awareness due to succeeding Monika as club president, but Monika shuts her down, and the rest of the game for that matter, so what happened previously won't repeat itself. Deconstructed Trope: This trope is often played as a joke, but how would you seriously feel about being a side character in a short video game?
- Homestar Runner:
- Much of the site's content is a Fourth-Wall Mail Slot segment, in which most of the characters are aware they're on some kind of show.
- In the Strong Bad Email "flashback", Strong Bad doesn't see Homestar standing about a foot to his right because Homestar is Behind the Black.
- In "virus", the computer virus-induced breakdown of reality strands Strong Bad in the cold, black space outside the cartoon window, and allows Homestar to notice and mess around with the navigation links below the cartoon.
- In "Halloween Fairstival", Homsar walks along the entire perimeter of the cartoon window.
- After Adobe Flash Player was officially deprecated by Mozilla Firefox and Google Chrome due to security concerns, the Brothers Chaps did a cartoon where Strong Bad freaks out about the end of Flash causing The End of the World as We Know It for Free Country, USA.
- The main characters of The Adventures Of Ledo And Ix can hear it when the other accesses the party inventory, and know to expect monsters in a dangerous location "unless that music is very misleading."
- The Defrosters.
James: I thought for sure that kissing her in one-shot hand-drawn action sequence would work... Time to stop monologuing. The inside set is way prettier, and has nicer music.
- Naruto: The Abridged Comedy Fandub Spoof Series Show: "PILOT NO JUTSU!" gives us this exchange:
Naruto: Hey, Sensei! Why are there sometimes black bars at the top and the bottom of the screen?
Iruka: Oh, they're there to make the show look really cool. Everyone knows that widescreen is better than the original aspect ratio.
Naruto: Oh, I thought that maybe they were there to hide the subtitles.
Naruto: These black bars make our show look really awesome. Believe it!
- Later in the same episode...
- Although Yu-Gi-Oh! The Abridged Series flip-flops over the presence of a fourth wall, Shadi reveals he is tasked with protecting it.
- In fact, the abridged Noah arc is subtitled as 'The Cancelled Series' because the show has been cancelled from within by an organisation claiming to be 4KidsEntertainment, and the protagonists are fighting to bring it back. Yeah.
- The meta joke being that said arc is the one that follows the point where 4Kids ended the American dub of the original show.
- In fact, the abridged Noah arc is subtitled as 'The Cancelled Series' because the show has been cancelled from within by an organisation claiming to be 4KidsEntertainment, and the protagonists are fighting to bring it back. Yeah.
- Ever After High Maddie Hatter is very aware of the narrators of the stories, and is irritated of their constant arguing. Kitty Cheshire is also aware of their existence, in the episode focusing on her, she trolls on them by making them guess weather she is a Royal or Rebel(she is neither, she just likes to sow chaos).
- Maximumble: In "Style", the characters discuss one character's hair stylist and the other's desire for a new one, before acknowledging that neither character has hair and saying the script must have been written for a different comic strip because it doesn't make any sense.
- A Very Potter Musical uses this quite a bit, ranging from characters talking about things they did while offstage, to Ron accepting a package of Twizzlers from a member of the band, to Voldemort, during the final battle, yelling at the band to change the tone of the background music.
- In A Clone Apart, the following exchange is the first dialogue we hear:
- "Did you see that? It's a bunch of floating text out in the middle of space!"
- "No no no, that was a midichlorian cluster."
- "There aren't any midiclorians in space."
- "Of course there are! How else do we hear sound in space?"
- In Smashtasm, Princess H introduces herself to Super 64. As soon as she does, a caption appears stating her name. She complains to The Narrator that this is redundant, and she and The Narrator start arguing.
- A CollegeHumor parody skit of Sesame Street had the cookie monster replaced by a "pot cookie monster". By the end of the video the drug's effects cause him to realize that he's just a puppet.
- Split panel fun at Cracked.com.
- Also, this Cracked column, in which the characters in a noir-style story realize they're fictional characters. They immediately start asking "Who Writes This Crap?!?!" and arguing with the author. At one point, one character's dialogue links to the author's previous noir columns to prove that he's "already sort of done the whole noir thing. Once or twice." The author is... not pleased.
- Name an Abridged Series. Any Abridged Series.
- In Suburban Knights they can read Nostalgia Chick's subtitles. She instructs them to when they keep commenting on the fact they can't understand her.
- The Music Video Show does this in the 100th episode.
"Wait, why am I still in split screen? There's more music video?"
- Doctor Horrible's Commentary! The Musical! has several songs about the song. Most notably "Ten dollar solo."
- In the musical episode of The Legend of Neil the fairy, when asked to sing with him by another fairy comments "I don't like online musicals''
- "You see how they condescend to us with their subtitles!"
- The Monkey King has godlike powers in the Whateley Universe, and this is apparently one of them. In the only story in which he narrates, he not only demonstrates medium awareness, he stops and makes comments at a couple regular posters on the website forums.
- Deconstructed in-universe in the SCP Foundation's description of SCP-085, a sapient animated drawing who learned that she is only a drawing and became depressed.
- Furthermore, S Andrew Swann's Proposal for SCP-001 is that higher level staff are becoming aware that their universe is a work of fiction, going by the messed up, often contradictory backstory of the foundation and the SCPs therein.
- References to how this site is a wiki are constantly referenced.
- In the former translation of Superego, the shadow names were given underneith the panel of their first appearance. Vivian's command was at one point 'Why don't you introduce me then?', and in the translation, her runic name◊ was there to answer it.
- In Farce of the Three Kingdoms, characters generally refer to past events by chapter. They are all fully aware that they are in a book, and occasionally argue or bargain with the narrator.
- Deconstructed in Scott The Woz with, of all things, the blue border that serves as the watermark for every single one of his videos. In the 200th episode, Borderline Forever, it's revealed that not only is the border a tangible In-Universe thing, but it acts like a parasite, obstructing Scott's vision for as long as he can remember.