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No Inner Fourth Wall

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When No Fourth Wall and Show Within a Show love each other very much... ahem. Sometimes you have a Show Within a Show. In those cases you have a fictional universe within a fictional universe. No Inner Fourth Wall happens when there's no fourth wall between those, but the fourth wall remains between the viewers and the main fictional universe.

Often, these internal breaks will also lean on the real fourth wall. For example, the show within the show will have a contrived plot element, and a character in this show will say "Who Writes This Crap?!", breaking the internal fourth wall. Then, the main show will have a similar contrivance. No need for the characters of the main show to complain; the characters in the show within the show have already done so for them, and the external fourth wall is preserved.

Often used in Rage Against the Author or Interactive Narrator scenarios, where the "real world" author is also fictional. Compare Comic Books Are Real, where the Show Within a Show isn't even fictional.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • Re:CREATORS has characters pulled from their respective stories and sent to the real world, learning they were fictional along the way. The main villain uses the power of fan art and fanfiction to augment her powers during a crossover special, already blowing the fourth wall out further in-universe. Never once do we see the characters learning about being fictional characters in Re:CREATORS itself, though they come close in the recap episode.
  • Set in and around a book store, Touhou Suzunaan ~ Forbidden Scrollery often recaps myths and fables in the story, and whenever a Buddhist monk shows up in these stories, they are portrayed by resident super-monk Byakuren, who seems to be aware she's starring in these mini-tales and relishes her opportunity to play a heroic monk or exorcist.

    Fan Works 
  • The Nightmare House is about the children from The Loud House having nightmares. In Luna's nightmare, Mick Swagger trash-talks her on TV and is aware that she's trying to turn the TV off.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In Last Action Hero, Jack Slater finds out he's a movie character from his fan, Danny. Danny never finds out that he's a character from Last Action Hero.
  • The NeverEnding Story is based around this trope. It is about a boy who reads a novel that he is a character in. There is a point where he is reading about himself reading about himself.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Cluedo: Played with in one episode. Although the audience and the detectives know that the stories are fictional, detective Andrew Sachs implies in his question that he has met the Reverend Green before.
    Andrew Sachs: You might not remember this, but I went to one of your church fetes, and there was a copy of the same Rembrandt that was in the house. I tried to buy it, but you had bought it before me. What did you do with it?
  • On No Soap, Radio, the Sitcom shenanigans of the Pelican Hotel typically serve as a Framing Device for the various unrelated sketches and skits... except when it's funnier for them to cross over and interact.
  • In Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Vic Fontaine is aware about being a hologram. He even jokes about this and has limited control about the holosuite and the station's communication system.

  • This is the basis of Endo and Kobayashi Live! The Latest on Tsundere Villainess Lieselotte's premise. Broadcast club members Endo and Kobayashi originally intended to use a Romance/Eastern RPG hybrid as a live commentary mock-up, in a way not unlike Two Gamers on a Couch. The problem is when they noticed Prince Siegwald, one of the most important Non Player Characters, can hear and respond to their commentaries on the other side of the screen.
  • Tenkaichi, Banzo and Fuji from Lessons for a Perfect Detective Story are all aware they're within a fictional series called "The Great Detective Tenkaichi", being forced to play their respective characters: the great detective/amateur sleuth, the useless detective and rookie cop. They aren't aware of the show or book Lessons for a Perfect Detective Story
  • Jasper Fforde's Thursday Next, with its mind-bending use of metafiction, plays with this. Thursday enters fictional worlds but hasn't yet found a copy of The Eyre Affair - at least until the fifth book, when she does, and this trope is demolished. In the sixth book, the protagonist is the fictional Thursday who plays the role in the books published in the "real" Thursday's world. At one point she thinks that even when she's not being read, she can't help feeling that someone is controlling her actions and reading her mind.

    Video Games 
  • Eat Lead: The Return of Matt Hazard has this, there's no fourth wall between the 'real world' and the video game world, with the video game characters being interviewed for biographical documentaries, but there is a fourth wall between the world QA and Wellesly inhabit and ours.
  • In The Empty City, one of the characters experiences all the characters from the television coming out of it into the 'real' world. They go away when he turns it off.
  • Star Ocean: Till the End of Time. The characters eventually find out that they're characters in a video game. Then they break out of it. Of course, they break out into ANOTHER world, and are still in our video game... so effectively, the original part was a videogame INSIDE a video game!
  • Viewtiful Joe is fully aware of all the toku film tropes he encounters and enters, but never notices any non-overlapping video game cliches.
  • In Morrigan's ending in Tatsunoko vs. Capcom: Ultimate All-Stars, she takes advantage of Yami's warping of dimensions to escape the game itself and enter the real world, only to be repeatedly schooled by the kid playing the game. Who is definitely not the person who just got the ending. Curses.
  • The Duck Amuck video game for the Nintendo DS also counts, but unlike in the cartoon, the artist is Daffy Duck himself.
  • Piyori Nijino from Disgaea 6: Defiance of Destiny is from the TV World, taking the role of Prism Red of the universe-wide Sentai show, Ultra Chroma Power Squad Prism Rangers. Her and other characters within the show seem to be aware they're characters from the show. Piyori talks about being a role model for "the good little boys and girls watching", she mentions bringing up ideas to the producers to make the show more popular, and can detect the very ratings of the show.

    Web Animation 

    Web Comics 
  • The characters in Kid Radd are aware they are in a video game, and at one point talk to a "player", but only very rarely do they show awareness of being in a webcomic.
  • The Protagonist of Erfworld is aware he's in some kind of tabletop military gaming simulation-like world, but no one has any idea they're in a Webcomic. Except possibly Charlie.
  • Harry Potter Comics includes the same popular fantasy fiction as our world, including The Lord of the Rings, which has been revealed to be part of the actual history of the Harry Potter universe.
  • Homestuck is this, if you view the bulk of the story as the show within the show of Andrew Hussie writing Homestuck. Let's explain, shall we: There are a number of fourth walls in the story. The one labeled as the "fourth wall" exists between the story and Hussie's Study, but the actual fourth wall exists between the audience and Andrew Hussie, And only Andrew Hussie, as he is the only one aware of his status as a character in the story he tells. And then there's the "fifth wall," which Hussie defines as the wall separating two omniscient narrators — which he defines right before crossing said wall to go beat up the other narrator that hijacked his story. It's that kind of a comic.
    • Notably, the only other character who has actually broken the actual fourth wall is Dirk, following the events of The Homestuck Epilogues where he assimilates with all of his splinter selves throughout the universe. This includes Lord English, whose younger self had direct contact with Hussie and showed him how his own world worked.
  • In qxlkbh, during the romantic comedy arc, Laurie mentions that the in-universe show Quick had no fourth wall at all, which is a hint for the fact that it's just a replacement of qxlkbh in a character's dream.

    Web Original 
  • The Church of Blow's plot follows Cornelius Blow who, towards the end of the story, discovers he is a fictional character and has a conversation with his "actor" who is also fictional. Unlike many examples, this is played for drama as Cornelius comes to terms with his fictionality.

    Western Animation 
  • Duck Amuck, when it turns out the artist is Bugs Bunny. The Spiritual Sequel, Rabbit Rampage, drawn by Elmer Fudd. Both of whom then address the audience.
  • Dog City revolves around detective Ace Hart interacting all the time with his creator, Eliot Shag, as he writes (or rather draws) his adventures.
  • Where on Earth Is Carmen Sandiego? has the protagonists (and Carmen) interacting constantly with the viewer. The catch is, the "viewer" is referred to as "Player", for the idea is that the adventures are those of a video game and the one they talk to is the one playing their game.
  • One of The Simpsons "Treehouse of Horror" episodes involved a remote control which brought television to life.
  • Likewise, one Family Guy Halloween special involved Stewie getting Trapped in TV Land.
  • The entire premise of Captain N: The Game Master is that a boy from the "real world" finds himself in "Videoland". However, said "boy" from the "real world" is also fictional from our point of view.
  • In The Fairly OddParents!, Timmy often wishes himself into fictional worlds, most notably the world of the Crimson Chin. After the first time Timmy enters the Crimson Chin's world, the Chin is fully aware of his status as a comic book character, even saying "Did I say that out loud? That was supposed to be a thought balloon."
  • In The Amazing World of Gumball episode "The Safety", Gumball is watching a Wile E. Coyote and the Road Runner-type cartoon. Darwin then calls to the cartoon to complain about the excessive violence and other unsafe stunts about the cartoon, conversing with one of the characters (live), causing it to get boring. Gumball, of course, gets crazy.