Abed: That's sort of my gimmick, but we did lean on that pretty hard last week. I can lay low for an episode.
The role a character takes when questioning the unlikely trappings of their own show, especially if this becomes their recurring trait. Occasionally this allows another character to lampshade the answer to the question with an even more roundabout explanation.
There are two types of Meta Guy: a bumbling idiot who has no idea of what they're saying (or at least, not the deeper implications), or a Deadpan Snarker who goes out of their way to point out flaws in each plan. While a bumbling-type Meta Guy (typically wearing already blood-colored attire) would say something like, "I don't get this plan! It looks like I'd get mutilated/executed/a nasty paper cut" etc., an insightful-type Meta Guy in a similar situation might say, "Are you sure this is a good idea? I don't get out much", alluding not only to their situation but the fact that they've actually considered not coming back.
This is often the gag involved in a Boke and Tsukkomi Routine, where the tsukkomi plays Meta Guy. The key to being a subtle Meta Guy seems to be skepticism built on natural cynicism, rather than actually being aware of the Fourth Wall. The latter takes the character one step further to become a Fourth-Wall Observer. Can overlap with Logical Latecomer, it their skepticism stems from being a newcomer to the setting who hasn't yet acclimated to the local weirdness.
- Asteroid in Love: While justifiable by her sexual orientation, Suzu's opinions and actions regarding the rest of the cast frequently represent what the archetypical moe-enthauiast and/or Yuri Fan Kirara readers would react, including the (sometimes borderline-lewd) Girl Watching, analysis and squeeing over the girls' Charm Points, as well as literally being a Shipper on Deck for Mira and Ao owing to their Homoerotic Subtext. She has even effectively declared "Het is Ew" among her friends, and her lust towards Ao is also similar to a fan's Perverse Sexual Lust.
- Carol and Gustav St. Germain serve this role in Baccano!. Conversation topics include: where is the story supposed to start, who exactly is the main character of the series and whether or not the loose thread about Dallas's missing body is a blatant Sequel Hook.
- A few characters played Meta Guy in Best Student Council whenever the characters seemed to remember they had no idea how Pucchan and Lance Bean (who were puppets) could think and speak of their own accord.
- Beauty fulfills this role in Bobobo-bo Bo-bobo. At first, Gasser also performed this role, but in later episodes he seems to slip into bouts of Not So Above It All. Gasser's case is strange in that at times, he plays this trope so straight as to loop right back in the series' weirdness. His reactions are usually so far over the top that they play a role similar to the rest of the antics.
- Code Geass: Strangely enough, Suzaku Kururugi becomes the Meta Guy in the side materials, especially those related to the second season, sometimes going as far as Breaking the Fourth Wall and acting out of character at the whim of the Rule of Funny. And Lampshade Hanging. For example, remarking to himself that he gets more attention in side materials than in the main story, and refusing to go along with Milly's orders because he knows that her smiling is a great big warning sign (compare to the show, where he does whatever she asks because it's "President's Orders").
- In Death Note, Ryuk frequently questions the implausibilities in Light's plans, and is in many ways an audience surrogate. In fact, he's the one that started off the entire plot, explicitly because he was bored, and only hangs around Light for as long as he is entertaining.
- In Edens Bowy, we get this amusing dialogue.
Miss Nyako: You misread the compass again?! Every time you look at the compass you read it wrong!... why... why why?! Why?!
Vilogg: Because Miss Nyako, I [bows] am an idiot.
Miss Nyako: [stunned and doesn't respond]
- Final Fantasy: Lost Stranger: As a Final Fantasy Otaku, Shogo ends up commentating on the world around him that reminds him of the games he loves so much. His encyclopedic knowledge of the games means that he recognizes the Mythology Gags present throughout the story, and trouble brews when he has to reconcile how things work in his current reality compared to how they work in the games. He also struggles to explain his knowledge to others without sounding like a lunatic, passing it off as "stories" he knows much like the fairy tales that talk about Libra.
- Nagisa from Futari wa Pretty Cure often questions the things she has to do as a Magical Girl, especially the speech.
- Shinpachi in Gintama, as the token tsukkomi of the series, being meta is primarily his role of the series.
- Being the straight man in Haré+Guu, Haré assumes this role frequently.
- Kyon from Haruhi Suzumiya. Haruhi herself can be meta at times; for example, she seeks out members for the SOS Brigade based quite specifically on anime character cliches. However, she's also a Reality Warper without realizing it, so the universe sometimes goes out of her way to meet her expectations.
- In Initial D, Takeshi Nakazato is introduced defeating several no-name racers with a grip-cornering style as opposed to the flashy drifting style flaunted by every other racer in the series. His reasoning is that, much like in real life, drifting is just for show and has no place in a serious contest of who's faster/fastest. Unfortunately, the series isn't about to deconstruct drifting-as-a-racing-technique for him, so despite his best efforts, his grip-style driving proves fruitless against multiple other drift-racing opponents like protagonist Takumi Fujiwara (who drives a car considered antiquated, no less), Akina RedSuns star Keisuke Takahashi, and an invading racing team of professionals, Emperor.
- Kanako in Love Hina, one major reason she didn't make friends easily. She has her harsh but rather genre-blind opinions on Keitaro's bizarre relationships with girls, made calculated awkward moments to entice him, and had a complete dislike of Naru's hot-and-cold personality.
- Ruri from Martian Successor Nadesico has commented on the ridiculousness of the series (and the way the characters in it behave) as a huge part of her role.
- Negima! Magister Negi Magi:
- Chisame the computer geek. Ironic since she herself is just as weird as any of the other characters, and getting weirder — the more she struggles to stay normal, the more bizarre stuff happens. Up to the point she becomes a semi-Magical Girl, whereupon she gives up on the reality she knew and dives headfirst into the abnormal, and gives up the Meta Guy thing except in extreme cases. Such as Jack Rakan.
- Rakan himself occasionally acts as a Meta Guy, especially in combat situations. And everyone towards Jack Rakan, because everyone realizes from the get-go that he's an outrageously broken video-game character.
- Usopp and Nami tend to be this in One Piece, which makes sense being that they are the only members of the Straw Hats with no special powers.
- A few different characters in Ouran High School Host Club. Renge is probably the most overt example.
- In the dubbed version of Yu-Gi-Oh! GX, Amon Garam (Adrian Gecko) takes this role in several episodes. It's around this point that the writers were getting more self-aware (or just fed up) - see also Dub Text and Who Writes This Crap?!. "The sooner I beat you, the less bad dialogue I have to hear!"
- Junko Konno serves as a surprisingly low-key meta character in Zombie Land Saga. She and Ai both believe the whole 'undead Idol Singer group' plan is doomed, but while Ai's complaints center around the other's lack of experience and legitimate industry difficulties, Junko is often the one to quietly remind the girls that they're actual zombies with all that that entails, remains nervous around the one member that hasn't regained her mind, and frequently comments on how ridiculous the situations they get into are.
- Alias: The Purple Man describes everything as if he and the other characters are in comic books, even going so far as to narrate events like he's writing a comic. He does a considerable amount of Leaning on the Fourth Wall in the final issues of the series.
- Keith Giffen's Ambush Bug was one of the first characters to do this, making this older than they think.
- Animal Man is an example of this trope being played mostly for drama. He was less than happy when he realized that he was a fictional character and side characters made the same realization with worse reactions.
Animal Man: Oh my God, I'm important to the plot...
- Batman's nemesis the Joker has played this role to an extent sometimes. One issue even had him directly addressing the audience at the start while recapping the events of the previous issue. It is apparently a canon fact that the Joker is so crazy that he's actually aware of practically everything having to do with the DCU, including events of stories that haven't happened anymore and, conceivably, the fact that it's all just comic books. It's described on multiple occasions as "super-sanity". The disturbing part is that this could explain the Joker's behavior in the first place; it's possible that he's a psychotic killer because he knows his actions don't matter. Nobody he hurts is real. He's beyond solipsism... and he's right. In fact, the more atrocities he commits, the more comics he appears in!
- Oh hey. Nice to see you here. It's me, Deadpool. Ever since I was told by Loki that I was a comic book character, I do this, sometimes bashing the fourth wall in until it doesn't exist anymore. Everbody thinks I'm insane in-universe, though, so no-one takes me seriously.
- In a limited sense, both Darkseid and Brainiac have shown to be unaffected by the events of either Crisis on Infinite Earths and Flashpoint
- Empowered regularly breaks the fourth wall when she appears in the title pages of stories; Ninjette and ThugBoy get confused when they appear and have no idea who she's talking to.
- Marvel Comics: Loki generally hovers between this trope and outright Fourth-Wall Observer. His newer incarnations are best described as sitting atop an in-universe fourth wall (claiming gods are living myth and metaphor) leaning on the real one and occasionally hitting it so hard it breaks in spectacularly awesome ways.
- Matthew the Raven, from The Sandman (1989), was noted by Neil Gaiman as serving as a sort of mouthpiece for the audience, frequently questioning the actions of other characters who went outside the bounds of real-world common sense.
- Sometimes, particularly when John Byrne is writing, the She-Hulk will take this role.
- Brainy Smurf from the The Smurfs. Unsurprisingly, this often made him the most unpopular smurf in his village.
- Spider-Man is a more "classical" type, as he often comments on the unlikely events of the plot, how his actions go against rationality, and makes pop culture references, but he's still completely unaware of the Fourth Wall. Usually, anyway.
- Superman: Mr. Mxyzptlk often gets portrayed this way in the modern era.
- Transformers: More than Meets the Eye: Brainstorm and Chromedome take on these traits under James Roberts, commenting on story pacing, infodumps, and how often their titular race is called on to save the universe from destruction. Swerve gets this way after he accidentally sets of Brainstorm's Metafictional Bomb.
- As will The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl (once claiming that it was okay to break the fourth wall in recap pages, another time actually being interrupted during a recap) and her two squirrel partners, Monkey Joe and Tippy Toe.
- Speaking of Deadpool, there's The Unbelievable Gwenpool, who started off as a popular variant cover gag and ended up as another fourth-wall breaker. The difference is that she's less LOL Memes and more of a Genre Savvy Ascended Fangirl, relying on storytelling conventions and her encyclopedic comic book knowledge to make up for her lack of powers.
- The Boondocks comic has Michael Caesar, who occasionally makes self-referential jokes and comments about the themes of the series, or points out comic strip quirks.
Caesar: Y'know, you're supposed to be all smart and political, but you always seem to be at least a week behind the news...
Huey: Do you have a point?
- Doing It Right This Time: Asuka, when she realises what she has time-travelled, doesn't so much lean on the fourth wall as trip over and bang her head on it. With a side order of Conversational Troping on top!
A desperate, slightly hysterical giggle bubbled out before she could stop it. "It's a do-over," she breathed. "It's a motherfucking do-over!" She fairly bounced out of bed and snatched up her dressing gown. "I'm gonna do it right this time," she muttered, throwing open the curtains. "I'm gonna have the best damn synch score ever now. Well... I can live with tied for first place with Shinji, I guess." She filled her electric kettle from the small wash-basin in one corner of her room. "Heh. I think I'll work on synchronising a little better with him too, after I beat the crap out of his asshole dad... Maybe I can defuse Commander Creepybeard's precious blue-haired tykebomb too? Well, she is kinda the baka's sister, wouldn't hurt to try being nice to her either way. In fact, screw it. If my life's going to turn into the biggest fanfiction cliche ever I'm just gonna roll with it and be the ultimate Mary-Sue, because I have earned some verdammt wish fulfilment in my life... And I really need to raise my blood sugar and blood caffeine levels because that sounded crazy even to myself."
- Kyon of course, remains the Only Sane Man within The Emiya Clan, and by extension, he takes the role of questioning the plausibility of every wacky adventure or absurdly random event that happens within the massive Multiverse the fic belongs to. He then proceeds to display knowledge of the various laws of narrative causality, and begins predicting exactly what's going to come next in the story, with stunning accuracy.
- Chisame, to a lesser extent, serves as this as well. However, she can only lampshade the events, not plot the storytelling.
- In If You Can't Beat 'Em, Eat 'Em, Rainbow Dash (after barfing in her special room the day before the contest) groans and says if she were a human, she'd be dead. Doubles as a Take That! when she adds she'd probably be barfing even more if someone tried to make a movie like that, referencing EQUESTRIA GIRLS. Word of God is that it was put in due to the author's intense hatred of the movie.
- In Legacy (DocSuess), in typical Wade fashion, he tends to Break the Fourth Wall at his leisure.
Peter: How'd you guys find me? I didn't tell y'all where I've been working.
Wade: Well, the author really wanted a scene with me in it because she forgot about me at your party.
- Pinkie Tales has Applejack of all ponies in this role, as she often breaks character to point out various oddities, like how her "mother" Mrs. Sparkle doesn't just use her Alicorn Magic to help out in the Applejack and the Beanstalk, despite clearly being an Alicorn or that part of the Beanstalk conveniently spirals around it like a ramp, or how Pinkie pretends like they are complete strangers, despite the fact that she obviously knows who Applejack is.
- In Project Voicebend, Amon is aware of the narrative structure and has the power to make his victims aware of it as well. Minor characters become terrified by their insignificance, and Bolin becomes aware of his parents' deaths being nothing more than a plot device.
- The Reactsverse:
- Weiss Reacts: Quite a lot of people, although Yang, Velvet and Cinder pull this off the most. It's even revealed Velvet only keeps up her stalker tendencies to make people laugh, and she loves her job.
- Lucina Reacts: Todd shows this the most, although Kellam isn't far behind. Also, Reflet, Todd's mother and Robin's Distaff Counterpart.
- Varric Tethras holds this role in the Skyhold Academy Yearbook universe, not unlike in canon. In particular, he has a knack for Painting the Fourth Wall, such as talking about inserting a time skip into the story - which then happens.
- Practically everybody has been a Meta guy in Yu-Gi-Oh! The Abridged Series, but especially Yami, who's often incredulous that his evil opponents take a children's card game so damn seriously.
- Goku often shows flashes of this in Dragonball Z Abridged, particularly in the movies - he's the only character aware that he's a story breaking character who will usually be the only one that can defeat the Big Bad after they've trounced his friends.
- The title character in Rango provides narration to his story, reminiscing about his own role.
- In the Austin Powers movies, Dr. Evil's son, Scott, is the Meta Guy. He's the source of the trope name Why Don't You Just Shoot Him?.
- This describes Guy to a G in Galaxy Quest. It comes with being an Affectionate Parody of Star Trek.
- Kingsman: The Secret Service:
- Riley in National Treasure.
Riley: Our evil plan is working.
- In the Scream movies, Randy was a horror movie buff pointing out various horror movie tropes, including going over the rules for surviving a horror movie — never have sex, never drink or use drugs, and never say "I'll be right back." Naturally, the characters break all three in record time. He expands the rules to sequels and trilogies in the second and third films. Given the 4th film is an assassin "remaking" the original, two Suspiciously Similar Substitutes to Randy deliver the rules of remakes/reboots. One of them is part of the Big Bad Duumvirate. And Scream (2022) introduces Mindy, the niece of Randy who has inherited his traits. Befitting for the subject of legacy sequels.
- Han Solo tends to fill this trope in the original Star Wars trilogy. Some critics have complained that one of the weaknesses of the prequels is the lack of a similar character to act as the audience proxy.
- There's Nothing Out There is all ABOUT this trope, which is personified by its main character.
- In Top Secret! there wasn't a character consistently the Meta Guy — which was exceedingly odd giving some of the surrealistic jokes (such as Nick and his girlfriend making out while parachuting and the camera panning to... a parachuting fireplace, which itself is a callback to an earlier gag where the camera pans away to a fireplace, and then has to pan away again to a second fireplace because Nick and his girlfriend roll back into frame). However, at one point Nick sarcastically summarizes his girlfriend's life as he knows it as being a little too weird even for a one-man pastiche of Elvis, the Beatles, and the Beach Boys. This leads into a fourth wall gag.
- Marco in Animorphs. The others often do it, but Marco makes it an art form.
- Mello is this in Another Note, commenting on both characters and happenings in the novel itself, and from the Death Note series proper.
- Cardinal in the Kingdom's Disdain books, a transplant from our world into the magical land of Laskmeer, often references Fantasy tropes like HP and "the Chosen One". His chances of being Genre Savvy or Wrong Genre Savvy are at any given moment about 50/50.
- Both Lord Peter Wimsey and his love interest Harriet Vane reference detective fiction tropes constantly, either in a dismissive This Is Reality manner or in an attempt to get into the head of a criminal who reads too many novels. Harriet in particular knows whereof she speaks, being a detective novelist herself.
- Leggy Starlitz in the Bruce Sterling novel Zeitgeist uses narrative to change reality. The antagonist Greek Mafiya Magnificent Bastard, Mehmet Ozbey, discovers this power, and goes on to use Bond-style Action Hero tropes for his own nefarious purposes. Leggy's young daughter Zenobia is particularly adept. At one point she's dancing on the ceiling, saying "Look Dad! I'm being impossible!"
- Mack of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is a movie/pop culture buff, and applies his knowledge of sci-fi and horror tropes to the team's adventures (e.g., reminding the team that they should Never Split the Party).
- Ash vs. Evil Dead: Kelly often snarks about the horror movie situations she finds herself in ("Sure, that building is not scary at all", "Oh great, another dark hallway").
- Denny Crane of Boston Legal. He once commented about a new character, "If he was important, he'd have been in the season premiere."
- Although Denny is by far the most frequent offender, everyone in Boston Legal does this from time to time. A recent episode opened with several characters worrying about whether the show had started yet.
- Alan Shore is definitely the most overt Meta Guy on Boston Legal. For a relatively minor example, he wants to be on cable.
- The Cleaner (UK): Terance, being an successful author, frequently makes jabs toward Wicky's crime cleaner and all the Cliché's that entails. He first considers him nothing more than a Mook with no imagination, but he slowly opens up to him.
- Media-saturated Abed on Community to the point where he's almost a Fourth-Wall Observer.
Jeff: Abed! Stop being meta, why do you always have to take whatever happens to us and shove it up its own ass?
- Doctor Who:
- In "The Power of the Daleks", Ben's refusal to accept the new Doctor and his conviction that he has been replaced with a malevolent imposter is a clear metaphor for audience feelings about the actor change.
- In "Robot", the Doctor's most recent regeneration (into the Fourth Doctor) has him making critical commentary on the Spy Fiction tropes of the Pertwee era, while alluding to a need for Revisiting the Roots.
- The Fourth Doctor in his late seasons is master of the Aside Glance and continually pokes fun at stereotypical Doctor Who tropes such as: monsters Immune to Bullets, the BBC Quarry sets, unconvincing People in Rubber Suits, plotlines about him constantly getting captured and escaping, how the hammiest person in the room is obviously going to be the villain, bits of bad writing that occasionally turn him Technical Pacifist, Insufferable Genius and Chaotic Stupid, and even the four-episode structure and the Saturday evening broadcast slot for the show. Even in his Darker and Edgier Season 18, he makes comments foreshadowing his eventual replacement with another actor, Played for Drama.
- Donna is a brash thirtysomething woman. She comments on how fantastic things like a "translation circuit" are, calls the Doctor out on his Technical Pacifist traits and knew the best place to find him was where there was anything weird going on.
- Professor River Song. Pretty much everything she says is a meta reference to TV or fandom in general. Spoilers anyone?
- In The Sarah Jane Adventures, when The Doctor guest stars as Matt Smith, after a minute Sarah Jane (a Tom Baker-era Companion, who met the David Tennant Doctor) recognizes him, and says, "Don't you see? It's the Doctor." Jo Grant (a Pertwee-era Companion), blurts out "What Doctor? The Doctor? My Doctor?" A common trope in long-term Doctor Who fandom is to refer to the actor who you first connected to in the role as "my Doctor" (i.e., "my Doctor is Peter Davison").
- The 50th Anniversary special "The Day of the Doctor":
- The War Doctor, a previously unknown incarnation just before the new series started. As such, he essentially takes the role of a classic series fan complaining about all the changes the new series has done.
- The Curator, another previously unknown incarnation from the distant future, who resembles a fan-favourite old Doctor. Almost all of his dialogue has careful double-meanings relating to the anniversary itself and to the fandom — for instance, his comment about "visiting old, favourite faces" alludes to fans (re)watching the Classic series.
- Clara, when she tells the Doctor that the sound of the TARDIS always spreads hope wherever it goes and reminds him of the "promise he made to himself" (after which the Doctor quotes some beautiful statements actually from the production documents kept by the BBC informing the Doctor's character).
- Osgood, who wears a Fourth Doctor-esque scarf and spends the whole episode acting like she's in a Doctor Who episode.
- Bill Potts has aspects of this, recognizing when the Doctor was about to wipe her memory ("That’s the trouble with you, you don’t think anyone’s ever seen a movie.") and questioning why the Daleks are always shouting.
- Chris was expanded out to one in the novelisation of "Shada", as a scientist very concerned with the potential implications of the massive amounts of Nonsensoleum the universe turns out to run on.
- Wash, who is the Audience Surrogate and often questions the flaws in the other characters' plans.
- One scene involves his wife joining in on the action, though:
Wash: Psychics? Really? That sounds like something out of science fiction.
Zoe: Dear... we live on a spaceship.
- Sue Sylvester from Glee frequently lampshades how improbable some aspects of the show are, particularly their lavish performances that appear out of thin air. Her leaning against the fourth wall is exaggerated in the sixth season.
- In Heroes, this is (or used to be) done by, appropriately, Hiro.
- Jac Naylor from Holby City is the Ur-Example of this trope, but now Chantelle has fell into this trap too.
- Dr. Arzt, a minor character on the show Lost who appeared near the end of the first season, was taken along with some of the main characters to find explosives, and comments on fan theories, such as why Hurley never gets thinner, or why only the main characters get to go on expeditions without consulting anyone else. Shortly afterwards, he is blown up while assuring the main characters of their safety... while holding a stick of dynamite.
- Hurley has been described as "the voice of the audience" by the show's producers, and often gets these lines. Some of his comments have included "X and Y are together... who didn't see that happening?" "He's my friend, but he also has this weird other life where he does super ninja moves," various direct questions addressing plot points and, in the Season 5 premiere, a long ridiculous summary of the show's events up to that point.
- Ziggy from Power Rangers RPM, with Flynn running a close second. 'Ranger Blue' opens with the entire team quizzing Doctor K on things like why their Zords have 'big, googly anime eyes', why they need to yell "RPM, get in gear!" whenever they morph, and how come things tend to spontaneously explode behind them when they do. Shortly after, the Blue Ranger even uses the explosion from his Transformation Sequence to take out some mooks.
- Noah in the TV adaptation of Scream, taking the place of Randy from the original movies (see above). His wit is aimed more at horror TV series this time instead of movies, but otherwise, he fills pretty much the same role.
- Martin Loyd from the anniversary episodes of Stargate SG-1. His story is that he's an alien writing a TV series (and later a movie) based on the SGC. This allows plenty of room for parodying their own mistakes.
- Stargate Command (wisely) lets him continue his work, so if anybody else discovers the secret they'll be dismissed as some kook who watched the TV show.
- This seems to be Jack O'Neill's job, as he does this at every opportunity.
- Cameron Mitchell is stated to have read the case files of every single mission the team had ever been on before joining. This reflects Ben Browder watching all the episodes on DVD before joining the show. He hangs several lampshades on common plot devices early on.
- Played with on Star Trek: The Next Generation when they introduced the Children of Tamar, who are an entire race of this In-Universe. They have a trope name for every situation and see every situation in life as a trope. In fact, their trope names are their entire language.
- Chuck from Supernatural, a prophet who wrote a series of books based on Sam and Dean's adventures without knowing they were real until they found his books and investigated. At first, he thinks he might have actually been causing all these things, and apologizes for some of the less popular episodes.
- Triple H and Shawn Michaels occasionally fall into this role under their DeGeneration X gimmick. They will very often reference long-forgotten storylines or things outside of kayfabe. In their most recent incarnation they have made reference to the Katie Vick disaster, Jeremy Piven's "Summerfest" flub, Kofi Kingston's gimmick change, Triple H's (not yet acknowledged in kayfabe) marriage to Stephanie McMahon, and Shawn Michaels' real name. And talking about what segment of the script they were in, and that the villain of the week needed to hurry up and interrupt them so they could have their confrontation and get to commercial break.
- A more serious example would be CM Punk's promo from the June 27, 2011 episode of Raw, wherein he acknowledged that he was Breaking the Fourth Wall, by referring to The Rock by his real name, talking about Rock and John Cena kissing Vince McMahon's ass, and blasted office stooge John Laurinaitisnote , Vince's "idiot daughter" and "his doofus son-in-law."
- Crispin Hayward from Dawn of a New Age: Oldport Blues. His book is titled Dawn of a New Age, and its plot is strikingly similar to the actual events of the roleplay. He makes some other tongue-in-cheek remarks that could apply to the RP, such as the difficulty of having too many protagonists.
- Destroy the Godmodder: Twinbuilder is this, TT2000 is this, many of the players pull this off. The actual posters are supposedly characters even though they're in real life, so that's not too surprising.
- Quincy Archer from Survival of the Fittest is the resident Meta Guy, writing a blog about the fake SOTF and the tropes it shows, and then commenting through out the stories on the actions of the various villains and heroes. He commits suicide, but if he hadn't, one of his personal favorite villains, JR Rizzolo, would have left him to burn.
- The Aeildari Harlequins from Warhammer 40,000 explicitly in-universe always think in stories, but the amount of awareness they have of the actual story they're in often extends to identifying major recurring characters Saved by Canon on sight and enough of a general sense of the setting's metaplot to nudge events to their canon conclusion. The Fabius Bile trilogy especially features a troupe of Harlequins and a group of Daemons warring in the background to direct the path of the titular Mad Scientist, with both groups all but outright stating that they're aware they are in a prequel (and indeed it results in a fairly major retcon).
- Paravicini in The Mousetrap has a lot to say about the conventions of its genre of crime fiction, right down to asking the detective not to spoil the ending and reveal the killer just yet.
- The title characters from Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead play this role, saddened by their role as Those Two Guys in the source material, but unable to do anything about it, as the play has already been written.
- Little Sally from Urinetown. Between her and Lemony Narrator Officer Lockstock, nothing in the show escapes Lampshade Hanging.
- Vladimir from Waiting for Godot, who seems to exhibit Medium Awareness and comments on it.
- Kefka in Dissidia Final Fantasy. He's apparently the only character in the franchise who knows he's in a video game. Among other things, he looks directly at the player at one point of the story (making the other character present look confused), hums the Victory Fanfare upon beating a higher-level opponent and mocks Sephiroth for being "just another" Omnicidal Maniac with A God Am I tendencies.
- Cranky Kong is like this in the Donkey Kong Country games. In between hints, he'll complain about how overblown and overrated the game's graphics and story is.
- In The Elder Scrolls, M'aiq the Lair is a recurring Easter Egg Legacy Character who has appeared in every game since Morrowind. M'aiq is a known a Fourth-Wall Observer (and Leaner and Breaker) who voices the opinions of the series' creators and developers, largely in the form of Take Thats, to both the audience (given the ES Unpleasable Fanbase) and isn't above above taking some at Bethesda itself. His "meta" dialogue understandably doesn't make any sense from an in-universe perspective and justifiably makes him seem very detached from the game world.
- The Time Goddess from Half-Minute Hero. Aside from her invocation of But Thou Must! when she first meets the main character in Hero 30, she also notes at the end of the "Beautiful Evil Lord" quest that the Evil Lord you just defeated/saved is noble/good-looking enough to possibly be a main character. Surely enough, the second scenario, Evil Lord 30, stars this same demon lord.
- HuniePop has Kyu, the game's tutorial character and mascot, who eventually becomes a dateable character, while still constantly brings up the game's mechanics, or how a certain piece of background music is her favorite in the soundtrack.
- A few have popped up over the course of the Kingdom Hearts franchise:
- Xigbar takes on this role in Kingdom Hearts 3D [Dream Drop Distance]. At the height of the story's climax, he starts an exposition dump by saying, "Let's hit these plot points in order," and openly lampshades how convoluted and wrapped up in itself the series' plot has become.
- In Kingdom Hearts III, Lea/Axel fills the shoes of anyone who missed out on crucial story details from any of the nine or so previous games and their various remakes and remasters, complaining about the plethora of Identical Strangers, Forgotten First Meetings and Artifact Aliases, at which point Jiminy Cricket suggests everyone fill themselves in with what he's written in his journal. Later on, he and the other heroes barely show up in time for the final showdown because they "had a couple of plot points that needed ironing out".
- In the Platform Game Level Up, Brainy the Squarian is this. He knows everything, including that you, the player, exist:
The Girl: So do I purchase it?
Brainy: You make a choice, entirely determined by another's actions.
- Conrad Verner of the Mass Effect series manages to be both types at the same time.
- Metal Gear has No Fourth Wall but some characters take this role more than others:
- Master Miller in Metal Gear 2 and Metal Gear Solid, who dispenses, as if grave military advice, tips on the ergonomics of video games. In Ground Zeroes's "Deja Vu" mission, he provides interesting facts about the series's technical development, well aware that the graphics have changed since the last game.
- Psycho Mantis starts out as a Psychic with the ability to read the player's memory card and gameplay stats. However, his cameo appearences in Metal Gear Solid 4 and Ground Zeroes Flanderise this by making Medium Awareness and his fourth-wall-breaking psychic powers his main trait (even recreating the fake television-disconnect screen on a console that literally cannot be plugged into that kind of television).
- Homestuck escapee Davesprite in Namco High spends his time poking fun at the traits of the Dating Sim before his ending rips your heart clean out of your chest.
- OFF gives us Zacharie who overkills this trope throughout the whole game. To give an example of his Medium Awareness, your first encounter with him has him describing himself as a merchant required in every video game.
- To a lesser extent The Judge and The Batter do have their moments with the former often directly addressing you in his dialogue and the latter teaching you the controls during the game's beginning.
- The Executor and Tradgedian of Pathologic are "stage hands" (which ties into the game's overarching theme of theatre, mostly consisting of Mind Screws and vapourizing the fourth wall). Their dialogue is full of Leaning on the Fourth Wall as a result. However, despite this claim, they are surprisingly participant in the main story: if you see them standing outside of a building in their distinctive bird masks and robes, then you know bad stuff has happened.
- In Soul Calibur VI, Guest Fighter Geralt of Rivia gets saddled with this during his brief visit to the world of Soul Calibur. He notices out how strange it is that this world has so many weapon masters able to go toe-to-toe with a Witcher, and pays Mitsirugi's attempt to become his rival no particular attention.
- Super Smash Bros.:
- Snake, one of Super Smash Bros. Brawl's third-party characters, plays this trope fully. His mission briefings usually consist of his complete boggling of how incredibly strange the Nintendo universe actually is. Given that he's the only character whose home franchise is remotely grounded in reality (and then it's borderline No Fourth Wall), it fits him quite well.
- Likewise, Slippy Toad fills this role during Fox and Falco's transmissions in the Lylat Cruse stage, noting how the characters can survive in deep space without oxygen or space suits. Peppy Hare immediately scolds him, breaking the fourth wall in the process.
- In the same way Snake was the Meta Guy of Brawl, Pit, Palutena and Viridi act as the Meta Guys of Wii U commenting on the other fighters. This makes sense given the fact that Kid Icarus: Uprising, which is what the 3DS/Wii U incarnations of the characters are based upon, has No Fourth Wall.
- Touhou Project: ZUN originally introduced Yukari Yakumo because he "wanted a character who could speak entirely from a meta perspective." Some of her abilities also have a meta element to them, such as her "Boundary of 2D and 3D" and "Objective Border" Spell Cards in the fighting games — attack patterns that skid along the edges of the screen as well as the 2d plane the characters are moving along on the ground.
- Undertale has Flowey, who is fully aware of your ability to SAVE and LOAD, calling you out on your previous actions, and towards the end of the game he closes the game and hijacks your SAVE file. He also directly talks to the player when they re-open the game after getting the Golden Ending, begging them not to reset it. Notably, none of this is Played for Laughs.
- Also, Sans the skeleton. He's so smart that he knows what you've SAVEd over without being able to SAVE, and comments on the changes between the SAVEs. This gets played to disturbing effect if you decide to go for a Genocide Run, where he serves as the final boss. Since it's almost impossible to get here on a first playthrough (you have to go out of your way to kill everyone) he starts to theorize on why you would decide to murder every living thing you came across after having already seen a happy ending. His number one theory is "you wanted to see what would happen". He also elevates the Meta Guy routine to a weaponized form, with almost all of his attacks invoking some flavor of Interface Screw. It becomes clear he's not attacking the player character; he's trying to stall out the player until they quit the game in frustration, because you're pretty much impossible to kill.
- Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodlines: The Malkavian PC knows the answers to questions that haven't been asked yet. He/she even knows she's in a videogame, once complaining that he/she doesn't want to do a mission, "but tell the guy controlling me that." However, they explicitly don't understand what they're saying more often than not and are just as surprised by the payoff as everone else. It's generally recomended to save Malkavian for a later playthrough, since most of these moments work best as a Rewatch Bonus.
- 707 from Mystic Messenger seems aware that he is in a romance visual novel, commenting at several points on how the player character has gotten on a certain character's route or on the anime tropes displayed by a character.
- 'Director' Hotti from Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Justice For All, may also have 'supersanity' - he's a mental patient who is able to somehow cut into Phoenix's Inner Monologue and who is aware of the fact that the game uses static backgrounds - when you choose to examine a hospital patient on crutches, he points out that the patient hasn't moved since the last time Phoenix was there, and says 'doesn't it make you wonder if any treatment is really going on in this place?'
- The entire plot of 1/0 was characters debating their own existence with the author.
- Ardam in Adventurers! points out bizarre aspects of the RPG Mechanics 'Verse the time, with most other characters doing it once or twice. Eventually, he manages to turn this into a dramatic speech.
- David of Bittersweet Candy Bowl is often this, when he isn't Leaning on the Fourth Wall or just being a Cloud Cuckoolander.
- Everybody in Bob and George. Megaman demolishes the fourth wall in the very first strip and it never gets rebuilt. The entire cast knows they're in a comic, interact with the Author on a regular basis, and lampshade pretty much everything that happens throughout its run.
- In El Goonish Shive, this role is the reason George exists; his first appearance lampshades the origin of the Hyperspace Mallets being explained seemingly out of the blue and his character developed from there.
- Friendship is Dragons: Weaponized. Here, Discord isn't just a villain, he's an entirely new DM called in to help the normal DM surprise the players. He was given all the information he needed on the players and the characters, allowing him to exploit the flaws of the players into exploiting the flaws of the characters, basically tricking them into roleplaying their own friendship falling apart.
- Halo of Grrl Power. When you have superpowers and you co-own a comic book store that sells superhero comics, you get self-referential. Before she signs up as a superhero, she sits and considers whether she has any 'bad' superpowers that will plague her, like having Wolverine's regeneration so she would get seriously hurt regularly. This specific example is defied by Maxima immediately afterward, pointing out that, to these characters, this isn't fiction, and thus the consequences of those "bad powers" might not actually apply.
- A Fourth Wall-preserving example: In Gunnerkrigg Court, the utter silliness of Dr. Disaster's space battle simulation breaks Antimony's Willing Suspension of Disbelief like a twig, amplifying her latent snark until she's a lampshade-hanging killjoy. At Kat's insistence, she eventually takes the MST3K Mantra to heart and starts having fun, but this doesn't stop her from noticing plot holes and questioning the use of one liners.
- Caliborn takes this roll on occasion, such as when he complains about the series use of Rainbow Speak Wall of Text chatlogs... in a Rainbow Speak Wall of Text chatlog. By Act 6 Act 6, he becomes a full-blown Fourth-Wall Observer, taking control of the narrative and talking directly to the readers.
- Dave ends up playing this role during Act 6 Intermission 3.
- Karkat has some elements of this possibly due to his ancestor's ability to remember other universes. In Karkat's very first log of Hivebent, he is confused that Gamzee can get hold of Faygo (since they are aliens), and when he meets his pre-scratch Ancestors he complains about how flat and shallow their characterisation mostly is compared to him and his friends. Kankri has a noxious variant in that he criticises the 'pr96lematic' elements of the world from inside his own universe, as if he were a sociologically-inclined fan complaining about Unfortunate Implications in his fandom on tumblr. At one point he lectures Mituna for being too much like a stereotype of The Mentally Disturbed, even though (from their perspective) Mituna cannot help acting that way.
- Everyone in The Order of the Stick does this from time to time. The kobold oracle does it all the time. Elan is probably the most notable example within the order. Recognizing story tropes is his only form of useful intelligence, and after he takes a level in Dashing Swordsman, he derives his new powers from adventure tropes.note
- Embodied in the character Cherry Blossomfeather from the long-comatose comic RPG World. As the story continues, it turns out that she has a special magical skill which allows her to look beyond the boundaries of her world - which manifests in a painfully deadpan attitude and a trope spotted at least once a strip.
- Torg of Sluggy Freelance is a fairly subtle case, always being the first one to realize when they're in stick figure filler strips and deducing the existence of the author for example. It's unclear whether this carries over to normal continuity but may be related to the fact that he's said to be unusually psychically sensitive.
- Avatar: The Last Airbender: Sokka is shown to be intelligent by making oblique references to events in the story. His prediction of a volcanic eruption (and subsequent frustrations with the disinterested townfolk) is another example of how he comments on the story.
- Cubert of Futurama was originally meant to fill this role, but this characteristic was dropped in later appearances after the writers realized how annoying it made him. It also helps that his early appearances mostly involved Professor Farnsworth trying to teach his son to accept the wonders of the world, mostly through science. Futurama has an odd relationship with Status Quo Is God, and Cubert's ability to actually retain the morals of stories from episode to episode fits right in.
- My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic:
- The show initially makes Twilight Sparkle one of these, most obviously in the first episode, where her character is used as a means to deconstruct the show's parent franchise. Following the reconstruction that occurs in the next episode, however, this slowly fades in prominence as Twilight develops into a normal resident of Ponyville, though she retains much of it to this day. Spike usually takes this role on the occasions where Twilight drops it entirely.
- Though Scootaloo is the resident Deadpan Snarker of the Cutie Mark Crusaders, Sweetie Belle is the one to not only question the majority of the trio's insane schemes, but express righteous exasperation in response to their various unlikely failures. This is most apparent in "One Bad Apple", where she proposes the correct solution to their dilemma (which is shot down by the other two) almost immediately and, upon the revelation at the end that their attempts to solve their problem simply made them into what they were trying to fight, reacts accordingly.
Sweetie Belle: Why does life have to be so ironic?!
- Another Sweetie Belle example comes from "Flight to the Finish", when the Crusaders are subject to another one of Diamond Tiara and Silver Spoon's venomous taunts.
Sweetie Belle: I do not like them one bit.
- Jeff Albertson (better known as Comic Book Guy) on The Simpsons is usually the character who does this, perfectly fitting with his persona of a nerd overanalyzing comic books and cartoons.
Homer: Does anybody care what this guy thinks?
- South Park:
- Craig takes on this role in the "Pandemic" two-parter, with his constant cynical lampshading about the main cast's tendency to get into increasingly ridiculous situations based on a backfired plan or idea.
- It's rare, but Kyle also has played this role on occasion. Perhaps the best example of this is during the episode "Butt out" when he told the boys that they could save themselves a lot of trouble if they just admitted that they chose to smoke on their own and the tobacco company had no part in the decision. He even commented that everything was following a formula and correctly predicted that he would make a speech at the end of the episode about what he learned during the episode.
- #21 and #24 from The Venture Bros. but many of the other characters are meta as well.
Met a guy? Like at a bar or somewhere?