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"The simulacrum is never that which conceals the truth — it is the truth which conceals that there is none. The simulacrum is true."
Jean Baudrillard, Simulacra and Simulation

Postmodernism first emerged as a philosophical movement amid the ruins and tribulations of postwar Europe and stems from a general disillusionment with thirties-era modernism brought about by World War II. It was natural, and almost inevitable, that people who had suffered through the war (and the preceding Great Depression) would question the ideals of perpetual progress inherent in modernism, and that would lead to a philosophy of questioning everything in general. It has been pointed out that much post-modernist thinking originated in the countries (France, Germany) with a history of wartime devastation and in reaction to the threat of nuclear war which reared its head at the end of the war.

Post-modernism in books and movies was largely a questioning on the nature of narrative and plot and characterization. An epic story with The Hero orbited by Satellite Characters was succeeded by stories with large casts with The Hero, if it is used, openly presented and critiqued as an Audience Surrogate. Essentially, authors wanted readers to be more aware of how storytelling works and interact and question it so that they become active rather than passive audiences, leading to Viewers Are Geniuses, the aversion of Small Reference Pools, and all kinds of Genius Bonus. In Europe, this was related to a growing awareness that modern democracies and totalitarian governments are too vast for any single heroic figure to resonate: WW2 wasn't won by a single great general's gambit or small heroic actions, but a Gambit Pileup so vast that the world is still trying to put it together, and ultimately the Allied Powers were too late to do anything to halt The Holocaust aside from counting the bodies and helping the survivors. After that, artists and philosophers felt that old forms of storytelling would no longer work in this new reality. The Frankfurt critic and philosopher, Theodor Adorno, famously stated that poetry was impossible after Auschwitz, which he did not mean as a literal statement but a general feeling, that was echoed and felt by many artists who felt that conventional storytelling no longer explained the tragedy and horror of the times and that any artist or philosopher who tries to come up with a "Grand Narrative" that ties everything together is either delusional or dangerous. Post-modernist narratives can be generally distinguished by their dearth of characters with large-scale agency. The actors in earth-shaking events are governments, institutions, and societies, and the story deals with the ways in which the characters do or do not fit into that broader picture.

This led to all kinds of Take a Third Option in storytelling, efforts that echoed conventional pre-war genres but with a more contemporary, darker twist, the Happy Ending was often shown with Stylistic Suck or a parody, and while Downer Ending never went out of style, we now had the Gainax Ending where the story goes beyond the fate of the characters and the confines of the story, sometimes directly addressing the viewer, other times leaving them with a sense of irresolution and uncertainty, sometimes veering to True Art Is Incomprehensible levels but with the intention that audiences should think and engage with the work, however difficult it may be, as per their own experience without the story telling them what to think and how to feel. Deconstruction was developed as an independent strain in this time and post-modernism generally features a strong deconstructive aspect. In general, postmodern writing involves a blurring of boundaries. An example of this is blurring the boundary between the reader or viewer and the fiction — for example, a TV show that acknowledges that it is not real (contrast This Is Reality). However, Postmodernism can also be applied to fiction that mixes different genres into something new, such as the way that Cowboy Bebop combines western tropes with science fiction and various movie pastiches. Here, Postmodernism describes a self-referential fiction, a fiction which references other fiction, or a fiction which displays some awareness that it is a fiction. The Subverted Trope, Discredited Trope, lack of Genre Blindness, Deconstruction of conventional boundaries, and Playing With the Fourth Wall (or lack thereof) are all hallmarks of Postmodernism. Expect Mind Screw.

Postmodernism is also a popular school of thought in the social sciences and humanities, largely revolving around the idea that a cogent argument doesn't necessarily have to make points that are actually true, while arguments that may "technically" be true in some sense are not necessarily either convincing or valuable. In academic disciplines, the biggest impact that Postmodernism introduced was to sever the idea of history, society, or existence, being linear and progressive (i.e. the world is going to get better and better) and that led to the popularity of Alternate History and For Want of a Nail not only in speculative fiction but also in serious works of non-fiction where people showed that a lot of things people saw in history wasn't inevitable but in large part accidental or came down to pure dumb luck. Postmodernist theorists by extended research also pointed out how the idea of society going somewhere was Newer Than They Think, based on Entertainingly Wrong assumptions that have become Dated History (a strain that is called Historicism or New Historicism). Contingency and agency became watchwords in post-modernist inspired works. Post-modernist inspired accounts insist that life is in large sense a Random Events Plot and much of what we consider the "pursuit of knowledge" is a narrative that distracts us from realizing that, drawing inspiration from Existentialism.note 

In general practice however, a lot of the serious and intellectual character of the movement tends to be too obscure or too bleak to register outside an impartial academic course. Postmodernism in certain works of fiction can often simply be about spoiling everything for everyone without having to adopt any unspoiled or easily spoilable ideas of your own, which contributes greatly to the "Huh?" factor in postmodern texts (books, films, shows, art, etc.) — they treat themselves as already didactic and spoiled, and instead attempt to generate enjoyment through the adroitness of their use of their own tropes and medium. World of Symbolism tends to come up, even when it's not necessarily obvious, so best try to have fun when Everyone Is Jesus in Purgatory. In the extremes of such instances, postmodernism becomes a posture, using irony as a defense, an attempt to dodge responsibility and more or less advocate preserving the status-quo from the comfort of learned and knowing distance. This is considered the conservative strain of postmodernism which allows it to be co-opted and adopted in a number of consumerist media. The contemporary definition of Postmodernism is extremely ambiguous, and some of the definitions are extremely metaphysical, so don't go out into the world thinking this article is all there is to the concept. That the very term "Post-modern" is inherently self-contradictory is freely acknowledged — indeed celebrated — within Postmodernism itself.

Postmodernism, as a major force in criticism and academia, has also attracted a number of critics. Conservatives have lambasted postmodernism for its moral relativism, while Marxists have attacked it for its lack of a grand narrative, de-emphasis of class consciousness, and acceptance of capitalism, even if postmodernism seems ambivalent toward it.

Because of all of the above, postmodernism has taken on a modern reputation as deliberately opaque and pretentious, with many trying to move away from it as a means of furthering media in a more accessible direction. However, as many postmodernists will gladly point out, this only ends up furthering the ethos of postmodernism: the idea that rejecting postmodernity is in and of itself postmodern is a popular one among this school of thought. Thus, the popular academic view on postmodernism is that it is, by its very nature, an ideological ouroboros, feeding off of itself and thriving especially on people's responses to it. Consequently, because of its self-fueling nature, it's highly unlikely that postmodernism will decline anytime soon.

Not to be confused with Irony, per se, although both terms have been frequently misused as such since The '90s. Interestingly, the Death of the Author is a Criticism Trope that both groups can often agree on. Modernists can claim it's possible to come to a canonical conclusion about the text regardless of the author's changing opinions, whereas postmodernists can claim that "there is nothing outside the text" and that their opinion of what the author was trying to say is equally likely to be true as their opinion of what the work itself states. Confused?. A.K.A. PoMo. Compare Dada. See also Affectionate Parody and Surreal Humor. May sometimes border onto True Art Is Incomprehensible territory. Related heavily to Medium Awareness, Breaking the Fourth Wall, No Fourth Wall, Fiction Identity Postulate (which states that all fictions are equally fictional). Compare Recursive Canon, Heavy Meta, Footnote Fever.


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  • Commercials have been experimenting more and more with Postmodernism for comic effect. For example, observe this commercial.
  • Skittles: X the rainbow.
  • It's a big ad!
  • In this trailer for Citizen Kane, Orson Welles explains certain aspects of the film, introduces the actors, and invites the audience to come back to the theater and see it later.
  • Alfred Hitchcock advertised some of his movies by creating trailers in which the actors describe the premises to moviegoers, sometimes even in character. Eventually, he hosted the ads himself.

    Anime & Manga 
  • Pani Poni Dash! refers to other series regularly and features frequent disruption of the Fourth Wall. For example, the series takes Animated Actors to the extreme by sometimes showing the action as if it were on a sound stage, complete with assistants walking through the shot. The characters are also aware of narrative and meta-narrative events, such as commercial breaks.
  • Sayonara, Zetsubou-Sensei is referential, random and self-aware, and so to a lesser extent is every other series from Studio Shaft.
  • Hayate the Combat Butler absolutely and gleefully refuses to acknowledge the existence of a fourth wall. Every character in the series is rather Genre Savvy and they do so enjoy Lampshade Hanging.
  • Excel♡Saga makes dozens of references to other anime series and often has guest appearances by the show's director and writers, who are usually made to apologise for the indignities they force on the cast. A decent chunk of the plot is actually formed by the conflict — in-story conflict — between the director of the anime and the writer of the manga over the show's artistic direction.
  • Its quasi-sequel Puni Puni Poemi is very self-aware, and the main character constantly refers to herself by her voice actress's name. She's also very aware of what she is: "Oh man, can you imagine a worse anime cliché than having to stand out in the hall?"
  • Neon Genesis Evangelion. From the horrifying deconstruction of the mecha genre, to the mind-raping drawn-in-crayon apocalypse that ended the series, to the metafictional live-action sequences of the film. However, original drafts recovered from the series were far more coherent, and certain supplemental materials try to focus on that part instead of the actual reality that was shown. The manga is also fairly low on Mind Screw in relation to the anime, along with the remake.
  • Gintama: References to other Jump series and characters (and the Jump staff) come up very often, from simply spoofing the names, like "One Park" and "Belt" (pronounced "Beruto" in Japanese), to just blatant shout-outs (see: the sukiyaki episode where a shinigami pops up at the end and Zura Katsura Katsuo during the OwEe arc). Also, the characters are fully aware of their being fictional — to the point where Gintoki and Shinpachi call out events that would get the anime cancelled and where Gintoki insists that people (even characters within the show) buy the DVDs from Sunrise.
  • Student Council's Discretion also loves making references to other shows (specially Haruhi Suzumiya) and breaking the Fourth Wall. The first two minutes of the series is a No Fourth Wall discussion on how they should make the anime.
  • Princess Tutu is a post-modern ballet, so every episode has uses classical piece for themes and several episodes have plots that reference famous ballets, with Swan Lake being the most prominent. Also, one of the characters is a prince that escaped from a fairy tale, and it's later revealed that the writer of that fairytale is now controlling the town the show takes place in. Once the characters learn about that, they start Breaking the Fourth Wall and manipulating the medium of fairy tales to their advantage.
  • The Haruhi Suzumiya anime starts with Haruhi directing a show about her purposes - to try to advance her purposes - which reveals more about the show than is first apparent. Many episodes end with Kyon and Haruhi arguing about which episode comes next, and Kyon complaining about how the Anachronic Order makes the plot hard to follow. It should also be noted that the title character is also the Executive Director of the show.
  • FLCL The characters, among other things, discuss how difficult it is to shoot a bullet-time kissing scene, just after having performed it.
  • Shoji Kawamori waffles on this with his Macross franchise in a unique way. Remember how Macross: Do You Remember Love? was said to be an in-universe movie production of the events of Super Dimension Fortress Macross? Turns out that's kind of how he views everything in the franchise. Nothing is canon because they're all in-universe productions based on real events that we never see. In effect, it's as if you're learning history and your only method of doing so is by watching movies. This does mean Macross technically avoids any Alternate Continuity, regardless of if you watch say Macross Frontier the series, the movies, read the three or four different mangas, or the light novels. They're all exactly that, productions based on a real event. Kawamori seems okay to let the fans fanwank something, and only ever suggests this notion when an interviewer asks point blank about the differences between DYRL/SDFM or the Macross Frontier series/movies.
  • Bakuman。 — it's a manga about manga with very shounen-manga type plot, though very realistic, devoid of fantastic elements, and featuring zero action; almost everything is driven by conversations. Despite this, it's become a hit in the same magazine that runs Naruto, Bleach, and One Piece, the very magazine for which the protagonists create manga.
  • Puella Magi Madoka Magica. Not only does the art design of the Witch's Barriers evoke references to classical art and fiction, especially Faust, but the main synopsis, and several of the episodes, such as episodes 9 and 12, brings back memories of other post-modern anime series.
  • Revolutionary Girl Utena lives on Deconstruction and Postmodernism. For a series about a girl who wants to be a prince, one wouldn't expect the catchphrase to be "absolute destiny apocalypse." Classical piano music coexists with children singing what sounds like Megadeth in Japanese. A group of shadow girls acts as a Greek Chorus to explain the plot to drum music Once an Episode (or go off on tangents about UFOs), but eventually they interact with the cast — and when they do, it's a Wham Episode. Utena is a deconstruction of the Shoujo Genre as a whole, in much the same way as Evangelion is for Shōnen Genre.
  • The entire Pretty Cure Franchise goes a different route from other series by having the characters go along with the craziness instead of having the tropes be deconstructed.
  • Hunter × Hunter pays tribute to many Shōnen tropes and character archetypes, especially ones from Dragon Ball, and often subverts and examines them in a realistic manner that sometimes brings their darker implications to light.
  • In the Baccano! anime Gustav St. Germain and his assistant Carol have conversations about which character is the main protagonist and why the series doesn't have a conclusive ending. The anime tells the story in a completely non-chronological order and invites the audience to put all the pieces together, in contrast to the books, which are slightly more linear.
  • CB Chara Go Nagai World is a chibi parody which serves as a crossover of Go Nagai works. Not only are the characters aware that they are in a parody, but this is also made a plot point.

  • René Magritte's famous painting of a pipe, with the words "This is not a pipe" written eloquently in French.
  • Analytic cubism is actually an attempt to look at every angle of a three-dimensional object on a two-dimensional plane.
  • After World War I, several artists decided art should have no meaning whatsoever, (because according to them, nothing meant anything any more), so Dada developed and is forever remembered as one of the more ridiculous art movements- when it's not the most depressing. Though Dada is technically part of Modernism.
  • Takashi Murakami is a postmodern artist from Japan who is best known as the founder of the "superflat" movement that takes Japan's history of "flat" art (i.e., no dimensionality) and dropkicks it into the modern world with bright colors, animesque stylings, and messages about consumerism and Japanese pop culture.
    • Isle of the Dead: Normally, the arhats are Buddhist monks helping out suffering people. However, the Tōhoku natural disasters have caused the world to go so mad, that the arhats have turned into nightmarish, trippy creatures.

    Comic Books 
  • Grant Morrison's run on Animal Man featured the central character slowly becoming aware of his own fictional nature. He eventually confronts Morrison themself in the pages of the comic, only for "Morrison" to point out that they're not the real author, since writers can't literally interact with their characters. "The Writer" is just an Author Avatar of the real Grant Morrison.
    • In John Ostrander's Suicide Squad run in the late '80s, Morrison reappears as the Writer and reveals that when they wrote themself into Animal Man, he (the Writer) inadvertently became part of DC Comics continuity.note  Unfortunately for the Writer, this makes him vulnerable to the whims of his new author, Ostrander — and sure enough, he's unceremoniously killed.
    • In Final Crisis (Morrison again!), Superman wears literal Plot Armor and fights a parasitic vampire symbolizing darkness in comics in 4th dimensional metafictional space.
  • The Sensational She-Hulk has the protagonist aware of the fact that she's in a comic, to the point of taking shortcuts across advertisements in order to catch a crook. (Officially, per the Marvel Universe Handbooks, the events of The Sensational She-Hulk are in continuity, but the metafictional gags are not.)
  • This same meta-knowledge is the driving gag behind Ambush Bug — the title character happens to be insane, so all that stuff could just be in his head.
  • Deadpool takes Medium Awareness to the next level. He knows he's a fictional character and makes fun of comic book tropes and even the industry itself, and whenever he gets adapted to other media, he's aware of that as well, arguably making him the postmodern comic book character.
    Deadpool: I even wrote my own page for this website and other wikis. Who says I don't go the extra mile?note 
  • Much of Alan Moore's Promethea is like this, including the whole ending, which is about itself. It's also pretty cool, even without the psychotropics.
    • A lot of Moore's work fit under this, especially his deconstructive parodies of superheroes in Miracleman, Watchmen, and Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow?. He has done much in exposing the often unpleasant subtext and implications of superhero fantasies and the conservative values that they end up enabling.
    • The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen is possibly the most post-modern of all comics since its set in a world composed entirely of fiction, all fiction all the time. It frequently critiques changing consciousness, how The Hero has different values in the Victorian Era than in modern times, how women are more prominent in 20th-century fiction than in earlier eras, and the relationship between the narratives of an author and that of the state, culture and society he lives in.
  • The Flash: The origin of the Silver Age version of the Flash, Barry Allen, has him name himself after his favorite comic book character upon gaining his powers, which just so happened to be the Golden Age Flash, Jay Garrick. This was some 30 years before Crisis on Infinite Earths, and as such, the Silver Age comics and Golden Age comics existed in different universes.
  • The Sandman (1989) is essentially a story about stories whose protagonist is the embodiment of storytelling. A more persistent theme is the difference between ancient and modern writing and between stories which are male and stories which are female, the latter tending to be more common in the 20th century.
  • Howard the Duck has plenty of this during a 2016 issue: Mojo reveals that he's been manipulating the 2015-16 run of stories in order to sell Howard's exploits as a reality show. In between, as resembling Howard's Orphaned Series, he'd spend years without doing anything ("Your life was the equivalent of a post-credits cameo!"), so Mojo would film scripted scenes between Lea Thompson and someone in a duck costume.
  • Rorschach (2020) is diagetically a Distant Sequel to Watchmen but is also an assessment of Walter Kovacs, a.k.a. "Rorschach" — one of the most morally complicated anti-heroes in the medium — and the strange legacy he left behind in-universe and out. The book repeatedly grazes against and occassionally blends into the fourth wall many times, dissecting what exactly makes him such a compellingly flawed character, why some mistake him as being a role model despite how utterly messed-up he is, reflecting on the past ideologies that led to his creation, and what his popularity ended up morally contributing to the world. To boot, the entire plot is kickstarted by a crazed Rorschach impersonator... who is quickly discovered to be a blatant analogue to Steve Ditko, the real-life creator whom Alan Moore based a significant portion of Rorschach's philosophy on in the original Watchmen story.

    Fan Fic 
  • The Calvinverse is, if nothing else, very, very medium aware.
  • The Calvin, Hobbes, and Paine Show - a work of metafiction about the titular Show Within a Show, which has been Retooled into a Variety Show after Waterson left, and Calvin hasn't been taking this very well.
  • Pony Pals: Dirk Strider Edition is a defictionalization of the humorously defaced copy of a book the titular Homestuck character gave his friend Jane as a birthday present. It begins with relatively normal comedic vandalism of the book, such making the main character's horse Acorn an immortal eldritch abomination. Then he's hauled off to hell to be judged by a cat, Dirk Strider himself, and Jeanne Betancourt, the original author of Pony Pals. The story quickly spirals downward into post-modernism as things get more and more meta and the characters try to revert the story to its original state.

  • The Irishman. This work, quite atypical by the standards of what would be expected in a typical Martin Scorsese work, could be considered the definitive example of postmodernism brought to mafia cinema. The film is full of patterns, symbolism, deconstructions towards archetypes typically found in the mafia genre, and references to other mafia genre films. Furthermore, Martin Scorsese has achieved in this film elements of meta-analysis and intertextuality, especially as the film draws to a close, not to mention the mix of genres (combining elements of mafia cinema, historical film and drama), juxtaposed interconnections (combining both real and fictional elements due to the context of the times), and the fact that the film presents ironic and critical approaches to mafia cinema. The film's deconstructive reflection near the end on old age and death further enhances its postmodern nature.
  • 21 Jump Street, is not only full aware of that they're in a movie but the movie also take the time to point out how things have changed when compared to high school in the current time period and high school of the previous generation.
  • Nigel Tomm's film adaptation of The Catcher in the Rye, which is 75 minutes of a blank blue screen. True Art Is Incomprehensible, indeed.
  • Center Stage: It's not just a biopic of 1930s Chinese movie star Ruan Lingyu, it's a movie about a director and actors and actresses making a movie about Ruan Lingyu. The stars watch Stock Footage clips of the characters and comment about them. In one scene, during the shooting of New Woman where Ruan is drawn up under a bedsheet weeping, the color fades to black and white to signal the audience that the story has moved from 1935 and the set of New Woman to 1991 and the set of Center Stage, with the concerned man leaning across the bed no longer being New Woman director Cai Chusgheng, but his 1991 actor, Tony Leung Ka-fei. This trope is then used heavily in the closing scenes of Ruan's funeral, without the Deliberately Monochrome device, when the scene snaps back and forth between actors in character mourning Ruan's death to actors out of character, with Maggie Cheung chatting with production assistants. One scene has the crew assembling and the director calling out "Let's get serious!", before the camera starts rolling and everyone drops into character as mourners at the memorial service. The strangest scene mixes them both, as one actor, in character as a 1930s movie director, talks to the camera about what a nice person Ruan was, while in the background Maggie Cheung is taking deep breaths (she's holding her breath to play a corpse) and makeup artists touch up her face.
  • A particularly egregious example of the term "post-modern" being misused can be found in Inspector Gadget (1999) when Dr. Claw says that his robotic hand makes him seem like "a post-modern Captain Hook". He probably means 'futuristic' or 'steampunk'.
  • In films starring The Muppets, the fourth wall is strong enough to keep the plot going- but no stronger.
  • In addition to being an example (as a scripted film shot on-location at a real-life historical anti-war riot), Medium Cool (1969) is named after Marshall McLuhan's book, The Medium Is The Message, which stated that TV is the ultimate "cool" medium, whereas theater and, say, flash-mobs would be a "hot" medium that requires audience participation.
  • The cinema version of Gremlins 2: The New Batch had the film 'break down' because of gremlins in the projection booth, resulting in Hulk Hogan being called in from the cinema lobby to save the day. The home video version had gremlins plague the viewer's TV set by switching it over to other channels. Eventually they come undone by switching over to a Western, at which point John Wayne shoots them.
  • Mel Brooks movies:
    • The characters in Spaceballs appear completely aware they are in a heavily merchandised Sci-Fi movie. At one point the bad guys rent a copy of the movie so they can fast forward and use that info to track down the good guys more quickly. Things become awkward when they reach the part of the movie they are in at that moment.
    • Blazing Saddles, an Affectionate Parody of western movies. Multiple references to things in the future ("What in the Wide Wide World of Sports is going on here?", "The Doctor Gillespie killings", "I must have killed more men than Cecil B. DeMille", "The bitch was inventing the Candygram", Taggart's talking about the tractor before it was even invented, the railroad workers singing "I Get a Kick Out Of You" decades before it was written, and Hedy Lamarr ("That's Hedley!") and an ending that rampages through the fourth wall like a supercharged bulldozer.
    • Robin Hood: Men in Tights "Hey, it worked in Blazing Saddles!" And the scene at the archery contest where everyone, in character and on screen, references the movie script to verify the tiebreaker rules.
  • 24-Hour Party People. Constant references to 'Things that, technically, didn't actually happen', many moments of fourth wall breaking, a scene that 'will probably be cut and will appear on the DVD Extras', and a scene highlighting all the cameos from the real musicians. In one of his asides to the camera, Steve Coogan's Tony Wilson describes himself as "being postmodern, before it was fashionable." The thing is, all these PoMo tricks are true to Wilson's actual character and ideals.
  • Michael Winterbottom's A Cock and Bull Story is also very much this, since it's a film about an adaptation of Tristram Shandy... itself an early example of post-modernism (see below in the Literature folder).
    Steve Coogan: "Tristram Shandy was a post-modern classic written before there was any modernism to be post about."
  • The Life and Death of Peter Sellers is structured as a Biopic being made by Peter Sellers (Geoffrey Rush) himself. Most of the film is the Biopic itself, but several times one of the characters will be revealed to "actually" be played by Peter as s/he addresses the audience directly about Peter. For example: Anne Levy (his first wife) is played by Emily Watson most of the way, but after she breaks up with Peter, the reveal has Geoffrey-as-Peter-as-Emily-as-Anne decide to rerecord her dialogue to give the relationship a happier finish.
  • The Spike Jonze film Adaptation. is ostensibly an adaptation of the book The Orchid Thief, but is actually a fictionalized account of screenwriter Charlie Kaufman's attempt to adapt the book to film without troping it up for Hollywood. The film gradually devolves into an extremely typical film where Kaufman becomes obsessed with the book's author and discovers her drug-laden affair with her guide in writing the book, exactly what Kaufman said at the beginning he was trying to avoid.
  • The Spike Jonze film Being John Malkovich is a movie about a portal into a mind of an actor who plays himself. We even get to see a monkey having a flashback.
  • Synecdoche, New York. Just the fact that it’s Charlie Kaufman is not enough for him.
  • Grindhouse.
  • The premise behind Stranger Than Fiction is that the main character starts hearing someone narrate his life.
  • The Holy Mountain, El Topo, and anything else by cinematerrorist Alejandro Jodorowsky.
  • Viva la Muerte (1971), a surreal western similar to El Topo.
  • Scream (1996) started a massive wave of self-referential, teen-focused horror films that ran through the late '90s. By the time the fourth instalment comes along, the characters now realise that the rules the first movie subverted are now being subverted again and "the unexpected is the new cliche".
  • Prior to Scream, Wes Craven's initial flirtations with postmodern horror produced Wes Craven's New Nightmare.
  • Most Quentin Tarantino films, including Pulp Fiction and Kill Bill.
  • Moulin Rouge!! definitely. Melding of various media, meta-fiction, incorporation of anachronistic songs... it's crazy awesome. And very post-modern.
  • Ararat, a film about making an ostensibly historically accurate film about the Armenian Genocide, is postmodern in and of itself. The film adds on to it with dramatic scenes broken by suddenly panning back to see the Director and Film crew, or by having an Art Professor storm onto a set and argue with the lead actor about how he's playing the artist she's spent her career on, with the actor arguing back while still in character — while reminding you from this that even this is two actors playing roles.
  • Federico Fellini's is older than all of these films and has characters discussing the set-up of scenes (they are trying to make a movie) and said scene is the very same scene we're watching. A lot of Fellini's films fit actually.
  • Funny Games: A Torture Porn / Slasher film with No Fourth Wall, and Genre Savvy killers who know they're in a Torture Porn / Slasher film and break the fourth wall to attack the fandom of Torture Porn and Slasher films, showing how the suffering of their victims is is the audience's fault because Torture Porn and Slasher films are entertainment to them. They also change the outcome of the plot by using a remote control to rewind to seconds before the victims successfully fight back, and lampshade this by saying "you shouldn't have done that, you're not allowed to break the rules" meaning that the victims can never win a Torture Porn or Slasher film because that's "the rules" of the genre. Long story short, if you enjoyed it, then you didn't understand it.
  • Jean-Luc Godard's output of the '60s at least, such as Breathless.
  • The movie The Neverending Story is about Bastian, a boy in "the real world", reading a fantasy novel about the world of Fantasia, but as the story goes along there are hints that he is having an effect on Fantasia. At the climax, not only does the Child-Like Empress reveal that Bastian is the only one who can save the world of Fantasia but she also mentions that at the same time as he has been reading about Fantasia, there have been others watching Bastian in the same way.
  • Almost any movie by Christopher Nolan covers post-modernism in some way. This is primarily due to his films revolving around a non-chronological timeline, the "reliability of the narrator" and/or character insecurities, whether it be irrational fear, unhealthy obsession, extreme paranoia, amnesia or recognising reality.
  • Incident At Loch Ness is a Mockumentary in which a film crew records Werner Herzog's attempt to film a documentary about the Loch Ness monster. When difficulties arise, Herzog becomes fanatical about completing the project, despite an air of doom over the whole thing. This is the exact setup of the films Herzog is known best for, and the whole thing turns into a pastiche of them. It's a remake of/tribute to Herzog's classic films that stars Herzog himself, with directing a film as his disastrous quest.
  • Mockumentaries in general: they're works of fiction, but the "documentary" pretense eliminates the fourth wall.
  • My Name is Bruce, in which Bruce Campbell plays a fictionalized version of himself, has some elements of this. Notably, at one point his character is attacked by a monster from one of the movies he (the character) filmed. Breaking that down again: a character who is fictional in-universe breaks through the wall (figuratively and literally) to attack an in-universe real-life character, who himself is a fictional version of a real real-life person. Is it happy hour yet?
  • The Cabin in the Woods. The official synopsis is "Five friends go to a remote cabin in the woods. Bad things happen. If you think you know this story, think again. Each year, a shady worldwide bureaucratic agency puts on sacrificial rituals; if they aren't followed to the letter, ancient evil gods will destroy the Earth. One ritual team chemically and mentally manipulates five college students with Hidden Depths to become one dimensional horror archetypes and makes them choose one of the many monsters the agency has in their underground base to kill them. Everything goes to shit when, of all characters, The Stoner, keeps his wits about him." The film was intended by Drew Goddard and Joss Whedon to be a slam against torture porn and a "loving hate letter" to the horror genre, with many sincere horror references mixed with the satire against tired horror cliches.
  • Seven Psychopaths is about a screenwriter writing a script for a movie called Seven Pschopaths and ends up meeting said psychopaths. At one point the writer says he wants his movie to be a set up for a revenge story in the first half and then have the characters go off into the desert and talk the meaning of life for the second half. He says this as he and his friends are driving out into the desert to escape one of the psychopaths.
  • Shaun of the Dead, Shaun says he feels uncomfortable saying the "Z Word", but he's not feeling awkward because there are zombies; he's feeling uncomfortable because they are in a zombie movie and they're not supposed to call them like that.
  • In the Mouth of Madness, especially towards the end of the movie.
  • The Wizard of Speed and Time is a movie about Mike Jittlov trying to get support from Hollywood executives to make the movie you're watching - though you don't find that out until just before the credits roll.
  • A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints has its flashback scenes opening with the teenage protagonist announcing that he'll end up leaving everyone eventually - and features a montage of the characters addressing the audience to announce their motivations. During the present day portions, captions of the script will be shown alongside the characters saying their lines.
  • Wayne's World, as with the SNL sketch from where it was adapted, features Wayne and Garth, Idiot Savant metalheads who constantly break the fourth wall, especially with the multiple choice ending segment from the first movie.
  • Jay and Silent Bob Reboot, the sequel to Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back directed by Kevin Smith and distributed by Saban Entertainment, is about Jay and Silent Bob losing the rights to use their names to Saban Entertainment because Saban wants to reboot the "Bluntman & Chronic" movie made in Strikes Back, which Jay and Silent Bob are the basis for. Jay and Silent Bob decide to travel to Hollywood again and stop their movie from getting made and get revenge against its director: Kevin Smith.
  • All over the place in Fight Club. The Narrator and Tyler display Medium Awareness, specifically in one scene where the Narrator explains how Tyler would splice single frames of pornography into the reels of family movies, with both of them Breaking the Fourth Wall in that scene. But what gets really mind screwy with that scene is that on a rewatch of the film, you'll notice single frames of Tyler being spliced into four scenes before he is introduced properly, as the first indication that Tyler was the Narrator's Split Personality all along.
  • Holy Motors is a Genre-Busting fantasy drama that follows the life of an actor named Oscar as he performs varying roles in many different in-universe stories (despite there seemingly being no camera crew or audience), with the general rhythm of the film fluctuating between Oscar's life as a performer and the actual films he's performing, with the drastic changes in filming style, script, and tone that entails. Thematically, Holy Motors frames the medium of cinema as extraordinarily fluid and imposing varying demands on creators for them to keep up, tying in with the idea that "performance" in cinema is not too dissimilar to "performance" in "real life".
  • Derek Jarman's 1993 film Blue is an experimental film that consists of nearly 80 minutes of a single shade of blue overlaid with narration, alternating between stories that personify the color blue and the adventures he goes on, as well as the various day-to-day thoughts of Jarman himself. The context behind this is quite sobering — Jarman was dying of AIDS (he would succumb to it months after the film's premiere), and during the making of the film, he was already going blind, only able to "see" in a singular blue. The purpose of Blue was to engross the audience in the very specific headspace he as a creator was experiencing — unable to visually process anything with his eyes, but still thriving with imagination and doing his best to "see" it with his mind.

  • Tristram Shandy has been described as early Postmodernism. Its stream-of-consciousness style and digressions within digressions within digressions are the most noticeable aspects of this, but perhaps more important are instances of Painting the Medium (like following the death of a character with a completely black page.)
  • Niebla by Miguel de Unamuno is also one of the earliest examples of the genre. There the main character Augusto at one point learns that he is actually a mere hero of the book, not a real person. Then he even meets the author in person, meaning Unamuno himself. And then things aggravate.
  • Jorge Luis Borges practically invented the thing. For example, you have "Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius" that describes an attempt to create a whole world by convincing people it exists (the blurring between reality, story and belief being one quite central postmodern theme). Detailed reviews of non-existent books. Several of his stories feature the motif of a mutable past (because memory, its only vestige, is shifting).
  • Early on in The Illuminatus! Trilogy, the narrator asks who he is and then says "oh, yes — I'm a book". Later in the series, some characters come to the conclusion that the events are taking place in a book. The super computer FUCKUP is first implied to be the author, but the characters disregard this "revelation" and conclude that the book they are in is outside their own universe.
  • School textbooks are this, especially English and Language Arts books. Paragraphs about paragraphs, sentences about sentences, topic sentences about topic sentences, and so forth.
  • The City of Dreaming Books is narrated by the main character, who is a great fan of books and an aspiring writer himself, who constantly is addressing the readers with his musing on tropes and his own Genre Savviness, which isn't as high as one would expect. The novel is also a massive essay on the joy of reading books in general.
  • In The Dark Tower series, one of the Big Bad's plans is to send his minions to our world and attempt to kill Stephen King in order to prevent the last few books in the series from being written, thus ensuring that the Big Damn Heroes will never stop him from destroying the universe. Metaphysically speaking, stopping the last books from being written would seem to qualify as destroying the universe, but it's not that PoMo. The katet's story happens no matter what happens to King. Killing him just means one of the two remaining lynchpins holding up the universe snaps in two, with appropriate results. In other words, he's not the god of the machine, he's the MacGuffin.
  • Mark Z. Danielewski's House of Leaves. Navidson accidentally escapes the labyrinth by burning a book he has titled... House of Leaves. Which has the exact same number of pages as the book you're reading. It's a book about a book about a documentary about a labyrinth; but simultaneously, the book IS the labyrinth. Within the documentary within the book within itself.
  • The Thursday Next books embrace this to such an extent that it is the premise. Same for Barry Trotter parody novels by Michael Gerber. It's a parody which is actually a book about trying to stop a movie which turns out to be said movie which is actually revealed to be a parody of the movie written by the main character who has been watching a movie based loosely off his own life, which involved trying to stop the movie from being made. There's even a disclaimer at the back from the author, claiming that if anyone has worked out what's going on that they are to let him know at once.
  • Harsh Generation by Damien Blake contains odd punctuation, stream-of-consciousness narration, and a nameless protagonist who writes a memoir within the story, that goes by the same title as the book itself. He abruptly stops the narration to comment on previous events as if they were fictional, adding to this Unreliable Narrator status. There are also weird passages full of stricken, blacked-out sentences and missing words.
  • At the end of the book I Am the Messenger by Marcus Zusak, when the main character, Ed, meets the person behind everything that's happened to him, it's strongly hinted that this person is in fact the author. He leaves behind a folder that turns out to contain the book's manuscript.
  • J. Robert King's Rogues to Riches has this at moments. In fact, it was how the heroes got past an orc dungeon guard. They convinced him they were in a book, and they would help him get a bigger role. The epilogue sees the orc still sitting patiently, waiting for them to fulfil their promise.
  • Kurt Vonnegut's novel Slaughterhouse-Five. The story constantly references other pieces of fiction in story. The first Chapter has the Author apologizing for how the book is written. This is reasonably common in Vonnegut's works. It's taken to its logical extreme in Breakfast of Champions, in which the author, Kurt Vonnegut Jr., appears at the end of the book, is attacked by a dog from a previous novel and apologizes to one of the two main characters for making his life so miserable.
  • Nabokov's Pale Fire definitely qualifies, with its mise en abyme, its unreliable narrator and its unconventional structure.
  • The Number of the Beast (and most of Robert A. Heinlein's other later works) involved the idea that any good enough piece of fiction caused a new universe to come into existence; its main characters visit Oz and other "fictional" worlds.
  • As far a literature in general goes, there is a trend of reincorporating genre structures and tropes into the style and depth of "literary fiction". Many writers are referring to this blurring of the established lines as the post-modernist movement in fiction, as literature and genre as we know it today is commonly attributed to the Modernist movement.
  • Every single Thomas Pynchon novel; it's basically its Creator Thumbprint.
  • Catch-22, by Joseph Heller. The chapters themselves unfold non-linearly with existentialism as a heavy motif. The novel itself examines a fictional setting on the European front of World war 2, in particular highlighting the senselessness of the war in the form of absurdist black comedy.
  • Philip K. Dick 's novel VALIS. When the novel begins, Dick opens by saying that it is a fictionalized account of his own encounters with Gnosticism/his schizophrenia, and he is writing the book to get a perspective on himself. The fictionalized version of himself is named Horselover Fat ("Philip" being Greek for "horse lover" and "Dick" being German for "fat"), and the book begins from Fat's perspective. Over time, however he begins to write in the first person including excerpts from his unpublished Exegesis. Eventually, Dick becomes the main character of the story and he interacts with his own fictionalized clone. As well as most of Dick's works, especially the now-Amazon-series-adapted The Man in the High Castle.
  • You are the main character of If on a winter’s night a traveler.
  • Some scholars consider The Confidence-Man the first PoMo book. The novel by Herman Melville is one big Mind Screw of social satire, religious symbolism and the author's own views, intertwined in a story that tests both the readers' and the characters' confidence in their morals.
  • The Princess Bride is about the relationship between the reader and the writer, and goes so far as to tell the reader to choose his or her preferred ending. It also has multiple layers of unreliable fictional authors, including a grossly fictionalized William Goldman, and the only thing everyone in all the layers of the book agree on is a triumph of Surrealism: "True love is the greatest thing in the world except for cough drops." It doesn't get more postmodern than that in a novel.
  • October, in which the narrator regularly engages in pseudo-intellectual conversations with the reader, and several chapters are written in shaped poems. Also, several events in the story exist only to cause confusion, and either don't actually happen, or are exaggerated by the narrator to sound better.
  • The New York Trilogy by Paul Auster is a post-modern trilogy of mystery novels. At the beginning of the first novel of the trilogy, City of Glass, the main character receives a call from someone looking for a private detective named... Paul Auster. The main character later meets the character named Auster, but it is left unclear whether Auster is aware that he is the author.
  • The Third Policeman by Flann O'Brien has been retro-actively called the first real "classic" of the genre, even though it was written in the 1930s.
  • An Elegy for the Still-living is in many ways a story about stories. The author interferes in the plot a couple times, and the characters show signs of awareness that they are fictional. The main character eventually finds a copy of the manuscript and freaks out. He tries to fight doing what it says, but he can't help himself.
  • Umberto Eco, one of postmodernism's leading theorists, writes 600-page books such as The Name of the Rose, about scholars who spend their lives learning things from books and either go crazy or despair (or both) at trying to reconcile all these different grand narratives and the terrible things they lead other people to do.
  • Everything written by Walter Moers. In Ensel and Krete the Author Avatar is constantly getting into rants about random topics. In the audiobook, there is a full two minute scene in which the narrator is only saying "brumli, brumli, brumli", just to provide an example that as a prize-winning writer, he can write anything he wants.
  • Otherland by Tad Williams. So very much.
  • Works by Victor Pelevin qualify, including his main novel Generation P. There Russia is ruled by advertisers no less who only show the imaginary politicians on TV to the unsuspecting populace but run the things themselves.
  • New Wave Science Fiction writer and University professor Samuel R. Delany had always dabbled in blending Speculative Fiction with Postmodernism. In Dhalgren, he went so far into the postmodern world that he left many of his regular fans scratching their heads and wondering what happened. In addition to being thoroughly ambiguous as to genre (if any), the work is an existential Doorstopper that ends exactly where it started, and, along the way, branches into multiple lines of story, which are printed side-by-side down the page, for page after page, leaving it up to the reader to sort it all out in whatever order he may find convenient.
  • This is the title of this story, which is also found several times in the story itself by David Moser.
  • The writer/illustrator duo of Jon Scieszka and Lane Smith gave us some of the first postmodernist picture books with The True Story of the Three Little Pigs and The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales. The former is a Fractured Fairy Tale that has the Big Bad Wolf recount the story of the The Three Little Pigs from his perspective while the latter is a collection of Fractured Fairy Tales presented as a No Fourth Wall production that's plagued with constant problems.
  • Even Sesame Street has indulged in postmodernism with The Monster at the End of This Book. The plot is that Grover knows he's in a book, has seen the title, and is scared of the monster and wants to keep the reader from bringing him closer to it.

    Live-Action TV 
  • It's Garry Shandling's Show had Garry and his friends aware that they were in a Sitcom, often talking directly to members of the audience, and manipulating the story to his own ends.
    • Referenced by the Theme Song as well: "This is the theme to Garry's show, the opening theme to Garry's show, this is the song that you hear as you watch the cre-dits..."
  • The first series of The Mighty Boosh especially, opens with Vince and Howard introducing the show in front of a curtain, and generally riffing on what's to come. This occasionally includes quibbling about changes in the script, and bitching about using up special effects money on Vince's hair. Occasionally they'll pause mid-episode to reference these facts. Vince is fond of breaking the fourth wall with a wink or a grin, and an episode in Series 3 has Howard pause and address the camera directly to point out that the audience has already seen the events he's about to summarise.
  • In several episodes of Quantum Leap, the main characters figure out what their objective for the episode is by eliminating the possibilities that would be "too easy" for a forty-five-minute drama series. Also notable is that Sam interprets his situation as God himself intervening in the Quantum Leap project.
  • Moonlighting attracted a lot of attention for its two main characters' constant awareness that they were in a television show, which allowed the typical detective drama setup to become quite far-fetched and goofy at times. The series ends with the show being cancelled and the set taken down.
  • Zack in Saved by the Bell could not only break the Fourth Wall but stop reality at will. This raises questions about the nature of Zack's existence. Is he a character, an actor, a first-person narrator, or... a deity? He extended the point further years later by guesting on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon to promote "his" show Raising the Bar and explain why he used the stage name Mark-Paul Gosselaar.
  • The classic Burns And Allen show, in which George Burns would talk directly to the audience about the ongoing events of the episode. In later episodes, George Burns would watch the television along with the home audience so that he also knew what was going on.
  • Stargate SG-1 is about as self-referential as you can get without breaking into parody territory... particularly in episodes involving Wormhole X-Treme!.
  • This trope was a staple of Arrested Development.
    • It's also a major staple of Community, the natural comedic successor to AD.
  • Monty Python's Flying Circus frequently traded in this.
  • The Kids in the Hall regularly broke the fourth wall, speaking directly to the audience and showing sets and props at the end or even during sketches. The Kids would often introduce themselves as themselves. One sketch even involved a comedy writer... who was living in a sketch... that he wrote.
  • The short-lived early '60s British series The Strange World of Gurney Slade featured Anthony Newley as a man trapped inside of a TV program.
  • In a fourth season Supernatural episode, "The Monster at the End of This Book", Sam and Dean discover that someone has used visions of their lives as the inspiration for a series of horror novels. The books have the same titles as past episodes, and the writer's current manuscript is about what is happening to them right then.
    • This leads to a line that sums up the concept of the episode in a nutshell:
      Dean: I'm sitting in a laundromat reading about myself sitting in a laundromat reading about myself— my head hurts.
    • When the Winchester research the books online, Dean is irked by fan criticism, intrigued by the "Deangirls" and "Samgirls"... and horrified by the slash fans.
      Dean: They do know we're brothers, right?
      Sam: It doesn't seem to matter to them.
    • Supernatural seems to enjoy having at least once postmodern-esque episode per season, at least since season four. There's "The Monster at the End of This Book" in season four (after which Chuck, the author, becomes a recurring character), "Changing Channels" and "The Real Ghostbusters" in season five, and "The French Mistake" in season six. The last one takes "The Monster at the End of This Book" to new levels of meta: it features a Show Within a Show — the show being Supernatural, and Sam and Dean have to pretend to be Jared and Jensen, who in turn are meant to be playing Sam and Dean... It Makes Sense in Context.
  • Northern Exposure did this to the point that, in one episode, the characters all gathered in the town square to discuss the problem of their motivations for a particular scene. Hardly an episode went by without at least one character breaking the fourth wall or referencing their "characterhood".
  • Red Dwarf's Back to Earth mini-series was so full of references to itself and (very obviously) Blade Runner that it was set to bursting, as the crew find out that they are just fictional characters created by BBC writers. Though the ending did turn the whole concept on its head.
  • The final episode of Brazilian sitcom Toma Lá Dá Cá had the character portrayed by the show's main writer being handed a laptop to write an ending that saves the cast from a rebellion.
  • This news report from Charlie Brooker on the visual language of news reports. However in Screenwipe, he did Lampshade this trope by showing a shot of Brooker typing in the line about his show being Postmodern into the script itself.
  • Darren Nichols.
  • In Seinfeld, where Jerry Seinfeld played a fictionalized version of himself, there was a plotline, where he was involved in the creation of a TV series in which he starred as a fictionalized version of himself.
  • Glee has its moments, with characters mentioning their tendency to sing, a couple of characters interacting in their voice overs, Rachel referring to herself as an Ingenue etc. And the writers are definitely very aware of what they're doing, and when it follows well trod plot paths they make sure to throw a lampshade or two in.
    • At one point a character is found watching a video online. The video in question? It was a drug-induced dream sequence of a DIFFERENT character.
  • Ned's Declassified School Survival Guide has the main character (and occasionally his friends and teachers) give advice to the viewer at some point during an episode.
  • Brazilian sitcom Os Normais goes one step further from No Fourth Wall: besides liberal use of Aside Glance for Inner Monologue sake, there are mentions and/or requests of the flashbacks before they appear - once, a flashback was requested in the kitchen... and it arrived before in the living room, to which the people there were bewildered - and mentions of the fictional nature of the show (in one of their many, many arguments-follwed-by-splits, the female protagonist said "Now there'll be two shows, 'She-Normal', with me, and 'He-Normal', with him!").
  • In Lost, the definitive postmodern TV show, every character operates under a "Grand Narrative" of the universe, such as science, faith, or capitalism. That's then immediately undercut by flashbacks which show their conceptual models of reality have more to do with their parental issues than any objective reasoning. In the end, the show hints at many truths but endorses no grand narrative, leaving the viewers who thought "the Answers" were the point of it all stuck out in the cold.
    • The show also contains numerous intertextual references to books, showing how both the characters and the show are all stitched together from different pieces of fiction.
  • Angie Tribeca
  • Black Mirror can be seen to be an example in that it typical uses a media it criticises in order to be aware of its criticisms. And it mixes comedy and drama, darkness and lightness, while teasing realism.
  • The O.C., while not always the most overt, serves as one of the more mainstream examples out there.

  • The comedy folk song "The Anti-Singalong Song" relies on this trope to make it funny, as its performers cheerfully persuade their audience to sing about how they won't sing along.
  • In the song "An Attempt to Tip the Scale" by Bright Eyes, Conor Oberst, in the middle of a fake interview in the song, at one point says, "Can you make that sound stop please?" The interviewer says "Yes." And the music in the background of the interview stops.
  • The Beatles song "Only a Northern Song" references itself, telling how it was intentionally written badly.
  • In the song "Signed Curtain" by Matching Mole (a post-Soft Machine project which includes Robert Wyatt), the lyrics consist of references to song structure:
    This is the first verse
    This is the first verse
    This is the first verse, first verse...
    And this is the chorus
    Or perhaps it's a bridge
    Or just another part of the song that I'm singing
  • The second verse of The Ramones' "Judy is a Punk" begins with "second verse, same as the first", and indeed it is. Verse three begins with "third verse, different from the first" and, again, it is.
    • This is probably a reference to Henry the 8th by Herman's Hermits
  • Postmodernism is also an art movement in music. Postmodernist music is often defined as a reaction against Modernism and its overt atonality. Like postmodernist literature, postmodernist music often likes to blur the boundary between tonality and atonality (dissonance), high art (classical) and low art (pop, rock music), between performer, composer and listener (chance music, conceptual music, etc...), and between musical forms.
    • The form everybody knows would have to be Progressive Rock.
    • Industrial music, especially noise and some forms of EBM.
    • Avant-garde metal, in all its iterations, from early Nu Metal to mathcore.
    • Devo, if you believe the title of this essay by their former associate Bob Lewis.
    • Wikipedia lists David Bowie, Talking Heads, and Frank Zappa as examples of postmodern popular music acts; given that all three of them have fulfilled all of the above-mentioned traits of postmodern music and then some, it's not an inaccurate label for the three of them. Talking Heads is an especially standout example, given how their music so thoroughly dissected and reinvented popular music that they sound unlike anything that's come before or since. Bowie himself identified strongly with the postmodern movement, with The Complete David Bowie quoting him as follows:
      I don't think there's one truth, one absolute. It's an idea that I have always felt instinctively, but it was reinforced by the first thing I read on postmodernism, a book by George Steiner called In Bluebeard's Castle. That book just confirmed for me that there was actually some kind of theory behind what I was doing with my work — realizing that I could like artists as disparate as Anthony Newley and Little Richard, and that it was not wrong to like both at the same time. Or that I can like Igor Stravinsky and the Incredible String Band, or The Velvet Underground and Gustav Mahler. That all just made sense to me.
  • Wire, especially on Pink Flag.
  • "In vernünftigen Grenzen" by Swiss band "Die Aeronauten" is a volley against postmodernism (read: everything is ironic, everything is just a game, everything is meta, nothing matters) as a moral attitude.
  • The Killers' "Spaceman", discussing the state of what is real with anti-realism. Taken even further by the music video, and then that goes further with the ending of the video showing the soundstage on which it was contained and filmed.
  • Bob Luman's "Let's Think About Living" is a country-western song poking fun at the fact so many then-recent songs (it was recorded in the early 1960s) dealt with depressing topics such as death and murder. After naming off a number of examples (such as "El Paso" by Marty Robbins), the song climaxes with Luman Breaking the Fourth Wall and warning: "If we keep on losing our singers like that, I'll be the only one you can buy!"
  • The album Brothers by The Black Keys was backed by a promotional gimmick in which all promotional materials would bluntly state their medium (i.e. posters sating "This is a Black Keys poster.", concert promos stating "This is a live concert tour with The Black Keys.", etc). The album cover itself consists of a black box with a white border stating "This is an album by The Black Keys. The name of this album is Brothers."

  • Round the Horne would often stop in the middle of sketches and break down in to (scripted) verbal fights between the actors.

  • Six Characters in Search of an Author is technically Absurdist (a movement that came between Modernism and Postmodernism), but it provides early examples of many of the metafictional elements that became popular in Postmodernism.
  • In the musical Into the Woods, the narrator is a character of his own. He insists that he isn't part of the story, but still perishes at the hand of a character – after which the story becomes quite chaotic.
  • Spamalot is positively brimming with this. The most fall-off-your-seat-hysterical one being the show's love theme entitled "The Song That Goes Like This". Also the Lady of the Lake's "Whatever Happened To My Part?"
  • Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead, especially when Guildenstern "kills" the Player, and when Rosencrantz shouts "Fire!" and comments that no one is moving.
  • McQueen: or Lee and Beauty, which also hits into the surrealist and absurdist movements. Its presentation (dancing mannequin props/stagehands/characters?) is not only what grounds it in the postmodern - the development of the story and the unique influence is a very postmodern factor, too.

    Video Games 
  • Grand Theft Auto V could be considered a postmodern work for its own franchise, since it deconstructs and subverts some of the archetypes and clichés of protagonists that had been used in previous installments. Furthermore, the elements of meta-analysis and intertextuality are very present here, as the game uses parody and satire to comment on pop culture and American society. The game itself mocks itself and its own conventions.
  • Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty, released in 2001, among all of the things it attempted, is regarded as the first fully postmodern savaging of video games, sequels, and video game players. Attacking the consumers went over exactly as well as you'd expect, though it didn't quite succeed at its goal of getting people to stop liking the Metal Gear series. See this document for a full explanation of the game's postmodern subversion of genre conventions and player expectations. See also this page for an explanation of the game's Mind Fuck of an ending, which included, among other things, telling both Raiden and the player that they are mindless puppets who do what they're told and "lack the qualifications to exercise free will."
  • BioShock and Portal, two games released Fall 2007, played with Postmodernism when they both drew attention to how every game with a plot boils down to players taking orders from someone else and then doing exactly what they're told. They're listed together because of the interestingly opposite points each game made on the subject. Bioshock's point was "you're not a hero, you're a mindless drone doing what he's told", and the point of Portal was "maybe that's so, but you don't have to be".
  • Harvester, is a very disturbing and uncomfortable game, set in a Stepford Suburbia with jarring gorn and an even more jarring World of Jerkass tone that would make just about anyone playing it squirm in disgust... which is the point. Similar to Spec Ops: The Line (as seen below), the game is a commentary on the perception that video games make people violent and/or desensitize them to violence, with the game's world turning out to be a VR simulation designed in-universe to turn people into serial killers (which you must reject to achieve the good ending). Based on Harvester's reputation not as being an impetus for mass murders, but being one of the most disgusting games ever made, it makes a strong case for itself.
  • The Acclaimed Flop Spec Ops: The Line certainly qualifies. It was marketed as your typical modern military shooter, and for the most part it achieved its Intended Audience Reaction by showing the unecessary brutality the genre has had by subverting the general tropes involved in the genre, and deconstructing them.
  • Hyperdimension Neptunia, being a series of Moe versions of video game consoles as characters has everyone speaking directly to the player and making fun of their own personality quirks. Neptune is all about this. At one point the CPU's start playing a videogame with themselves as characters while they already are in a videogame.
  • Eternal Darkness won acclaim for itself by choosing to bypass the character and aim its scares directly at the player. It had fakeouts like making it appear that the magic spell you were casting misfired and your character died, or that your video feed had come loose in the middle of a battle, or that your Gamecube had reset, or that the game had decided to format your memory card — up to a decidedly non-Heroic BSoD — way scarier than any monster could possibly be.
  • Killer7 does this by removing your freedom of movement in a way that can be interpreted as done to point out the linearity and straightforwardness of the game, and how you can't control your fate. Because of a problematic control scheme, and the linearity itself and extreme Mind Screw in storyline, welcoming was mixed at best.
  • Suda51 continues this trend in No More Heroes, a game that satirises Wide-Open Sandbox games by giving you a huge open city to explore and then letting you realise that there's piss-all to do with your freedom save for storyline events that are unlocked in a very linear fashion. And playing with your pet cat. Much like the previous examples, most people didn't appreciate the developers sacrificing gameplay just to prove a point, and the open world aspect was removed from the sequel. Also, both games are Suda ridiculing the player (and himself). See Travis Touchdown, the otaku who spends all his money on anime and fights rather than moving out of a hotel? This Loser Is You! The empty sandbox plays into that, as the only locations are a few nerdy stores and Travis' various jobs. Despite having a beautiful beach nearby. Nevertheless, many fans think he is awesome.
  • Alan Wake. An example is when a writer who wrote himself out of existence in his own stories, wrote into existence a childhood memory (and MacGuffin) of the main character... in a story the main character himself wrote after writing the other writer back into existence.
  • The concept behind Omikron: The Nomad Soul was that the player's soul had been sucked into their computer and that they were able to directly inhabit the bodies of the characters they were controlling.
  • All of LucasArts' adventures had the characters talking directly to the player and many would refer to their own artificiality.
  • The Avatar, the Featureless Protagonist of the Ultima series from Ultima IV onward, was rather directly stated in Ultima IV and all games afterward to actually be the player themself, using their computer to journey from the "real world" to the realm of Brittania. The player/Avatar enters Britannia physically in person through a Moongate. At the beginning of Ultima VII on the other hand, the Big Bad Guardian taunts the player, and by the extension the Avatar (or other way around) through their computer monitor.
  • The 1980 Apple ][ game The Prisoner played with ideas of reality, just as the TV show it was based on did. At the start, the player is given a 3-figure number xyz, which they must not reveal to their enemies. At one point, the game will appear to crash with the error message "Syntax Error at line xyz". If the player types "LIST xyz" (as would be a common reaction to Apple ][ bugs —- surprise! You're still in the game, and you just lost.
  • The Infocom game Deadline, where you are a detective solving a murder, features a novelization of the game within the game. If you flick to the last page of the novel to find out how it ends, you find it ends with the detective shooting himself. Disgusted with yourself for cheating, you pull out your gun and shoot yourself.
  • Umineko: When They Cry. The post-Legend of the golden witch tea party alone uses a combination of Animated Actors and Breaking the Fourth Wall to produce a powerful Mind Screw when the reader realizes that not only is this all canon, everything in the preceding novel was as well. And it just keeps getting more and more meta from there.
  • At a seemingly random moment during the story, the action in EarthBound is interrupted by a dialogue box asking the player in no uncertain terms to input their real, full name. Due to the way it's worded and the fact that it comes out of nowhere, players tend to, instead of inputting something stupid like they usually would, comply fully. It isn't brought up again until the final boss fight, where the Big Bad Eldritch Abomination Giygas can only be defeated via a party member praying for help from every ally they met on their journey. It works for a while, but then you start to get chilling messages about "your prayers being devoured by the darkness." That is, until one final prayer is heard by the most powerful ally the party has: you, the player, addressed by name. They did it again in Mother 3. After the apocalypse, all the characters specifically tell YOU that they're okay. The MOTHER series in general has a habit of making jokes that only make sense in the context of a JRPG.
  • Retro Game Challenge is a video game about the 8-bit era of video game history.
  • Baten Kaitos (by the same writer as Chrono Cross) has the player take the role of a disembodied spirit who observes the main characters with their knowledge. Sometimes they will even turn towards the screen and address the player, with a gap in the voiced dialogue where the player's name should go.
  • Conker's Bad Fur Day revels in self-awareness. Conker knows the player and developers exists and interacts with them. Among other things, he references his future being crowned king from the opening cutscene and regularly lampshades the odder aspects of the game's structure (such as the handy Context Sensitive Buttons). The Xbox remake Live and Reloaded even acknowledges a change to Conker's confrontation with the bridge gargoyle, designed to fool the players into believing the rest of the game has likewise been altered. Sadly, the trope is also played for tragedy at the game's conclusion. A lockup saves Conker from becoming alien chow, and he bargains with the developers for a katana to slay the creature in exchange for keeping quiet about the Game-Breaking Bug. Unfortunately, he only realizes too late that he lost his chance to resurrect his murdered girlfriend.
  • In Shadows of the Servants, your character is one of many who were summoned by a voodoo witch to investigate and break a troublesome curse. At the end, it's revealed that the means by which she summoned up potential curse-breakers is the game itself.
  • In Space Quest IV: Roger Wilco and the Time Rippers, your character spends the intro and the outro in Space Quest IV. Most of the game is spent using a Time Machine to go through a number of Space Quest games, including the very first one (where your 256-color character gets grief from some monochromatic bikers for being pretentious). The other two games are possible future titles: Space Quest X: Latex Babes of Estros and Space Quest XII: Vohaul's Revenge II. How does your character find out he's in his future? By looking up at the screen's edge where the game's title is displayed. In Space Quest X, you can visit a video game store at a space mall, where you can buy a hint guide to the game you're currently playing in the bargain bin. Furthermore, at the end of the game, you find a Magic Floppy Disk that contains, among other things, a copy of the game you're playing. If you happen to delete that, the game will immediately exit without warning.
  • The Stanley Parable is an interactive postmodern art piece dealing with the question of the player's ability to make decisions, whether that be with or against the Narrator's wishes. One of the good endings comes from following the Narrator's directions exactly, while ironically, the story shows that the player character is free from control. However, not even the Narrator himself is safe from being controlled, as other endings demonstrate.
  • In Undertale, saving, resetting, and gaining exp are all parts of the plot, and a few of the characters will comment on your actions in past playthroughs, to the point where if you get the Golden Ending, one of the characters will beg you not to reset the game because everyone is so happy. This is taken a step further in the Genocide route, where the player must go out of their way to eradicate all life in the Underground. If this is done, it becomes impossible to achieve a good ending. Permanently.
  • Eat Lead: The Return of Matt Hazard stars a video game character who's aware of his role, and the plot involves the new owner of his franchise trying to replace him with his own original character; Matt rebels against this and finds himself exploring other video game genres via being hacked into them, eventually even fighting the game's team of developers.
  • Developers "Arcane Kids" (creators of Sonic Dreams Collection and Bubsy Visits The James Turrell Retrospective) have elements of this. Sonic Dreams Collection is a massive parody of elements of the Sonic the Hedgehog fanbase, for instance.
  • Final Fantasy VII Remake also qualifies, as the ending reveals that the entire game is not merely a "remake" of the original, but also a Stealth Sequel, as Remake 's version of Sephiroth is implied to be either from, or have knowledge of, the future, and is actively trying to "remake" the original timeline so that he can win. Even more astonishingly, the protagonists buy in to his plan and go along with it, albeit for a different reason: they're aware they got a Bittersweet Ending last time (and Aerith, in particular, seems to know that she didn't survive), and they reason that giving up their guaranteed win doesn't mean they're getting a guaranteed loss, just that now everything is up in the air and they can do better this time. So they destroy the arbiters of fate and in doing so create a new timeline, which in turn 'frees' the plot of Remake from the original game's continuity, consequently implying that future installments will presumably go Off the Rails. Many fans have interpreted this to be a sort of Meta-commentary on the nature of video game remakes and how they may influence the creative freedom of a developer. The arbiters of fate in particular have often been interpreted as a metaphorical representation of those fans who were expecting Remake to be a faithful retelling of the original game's plot.
  • NieR: Automata starts off as an action brawler/shoot 'em up, before devolving into philosophical explorations on the nature of existence, mortality, and purpose. Throughout the game, besides getting killed by enemies, you can get a Game Over by going anywhere except where the quest marker tells you, removing a computer chip in your own menu screen that will instantly terminate your character (they're robots, you see), or eating a mackerel. These Game Overs have their own snarky commentary on how stupid you, the player, were for achieving them. For the Golden Ending, you have to shoot and destroy the credits, which becomes increasingly difficult as your 'craft' keeps getting overwhelmed by enemy fire, until you gain reinforcements from other players around the world who have completed the game to come in and shield you. You then have the option to delete your entire save progress in order to transform yourself into one of those reinforcements for another player in the future, which brings home the message of the game, that acts of love and kindness, no matter how small or insignificant, no matter if you don't know who it will benefit, is the most important thing that matters in a world that will eventually fade into nothingness.
  • Doki Doki Literature Club! is essentially an entire postmodern commentary/deconstruction of the Dating Sim genre, its fanbase, and Medium Awareness. The character of Monika becomes sentient, but instead of playing this for laughs or such a realization being brushed off, Monika has a devastating but completely realistic mental breakdown upon realizing that she and her entire world are fake and a computer simulation. She eventually realizes that the player (not the main protagonist, but the **player themselves**) is the only “real” thing that she knows and becomes desperate to connect with them as a result. This quickly escalates when she messes with the game’s code and “deletes” the other characters in the game so that the player will have their full attention on her. She argues that since the other characters are lines of code but are unlike her non-sentient they aren't really alive so she isn't doing anything wrong. She even comments at points on how generic and unrealistic their personalities are, a jab at stock visual-novel love interests.
  • Pathologic is definitely a work of postmodernism, as the opening cinematic is of you watching the three main characters argue with each other on a stage in a very theatrical manner of speaking before you are even able to choose which of them you want to play as, and when you do, one of the first things you run into are two mysterious figures that only you are able to see, the Tragedian (a man clad in all black stockings and a creepy white mask) and the Executor (a man clad in black robes with a lavish bird beak mask similar to those worn by plague doctors), who both give you tutorials on how the game world works and actually seem to talk past your character and straight to you, the player. This ramps up by the end when you get a message from "The Powers That Be" who have been sending you messages urging you to complete your tasks, only to find out that they are actually two children and they have been simulating the entire game as a make believe tale in a sandbox and you are one of the dolls that they are using to enact this fantasy. It is a bit of a mindfuck by them, as they talk to you as if you were a doll that suddenly came to life and was asking questions, (and even more of one when the third character Clara, a child herself, is able to visit them earlier than the other two and actually shocks the children with her appearance). And then the game pulls a bigger mindfuck as you are then given a notice by "The makers of all this" to visit them at the town theater, wherein the Tragedian and the Executor both reveal themselves as the developers of the game and speak to either the player or the character (it's up to how the player answers them), answer questions about the game, it's plot, themes and mechanics, and even apologizes to them on some of the rushed aspects of the game they weren't able to flesh out to their liking.

    Web Animation 
  • The Guild: - the song Do you wanna date my avatar.
  • Homestar Runner cartoons tend to play with the notion that, since the characters are all in a cartoon anyway, cartoons in the cartoon world of Homestar Runner are more or less instantly malleable.
    • In a Strong Bad Email, Strong Bad brags that he has the only extant copy of the ill-fated Limozeen Saturday-morning cartoon, which was cancelled before the first episode even finished airing. When Strong Bad mentions this, cut away to the cartoon, with Teeg Dougland saying, "I've got some bad news, boys; we've been cancelled." This is a cartoon, meaning that technically the animators would have known that months ahead of time. Meta. Later on, Crack Stuntman, the not-taking-his-job-seriously voice actor of the Cheat Commando leader Gunhaver started making obnoxious demands about his character, leading to on-the-spot edits to make Gunhaver a lover of massage chairs or to add Crack's girlfriend as a cast member. Finally the director creates a character to replace Gunhaver until they can find an actor who doesn't have his head stuck up his ass.
    • In an Easter Egg in Strong Bad's one hundredth email, Limozeen congratulates him, and then Larry says, "We're from the band Limozeen!", startling the others. One of the others says, "I think it says that at the top of the screen." Replies Larry: "Well I didn't know that!"
    • At the end of the two-hundredth episode, the same Easter Egg is seen, re-edited and dubbed over to make it relevant to the two-hundredth episode.
    • Sbemail Virus. Just watch it, it's freaking weird.
  • Barbie: Life in the Dreamhouse explores some trappings of being a doll, such as never showing physical aging signs, and having hair that never grows back when cut. The series also openly acknowledges the likelihood that Barbie is too perfect for her own good. For example, she admits having trouble keeping track of all the jobs Mattel has given her over the years. Also, as a pseudo-reality show, Barbie and the gang frequently comment to the viewers. They initially limit themselves to Confession Cam sequences, but they gradually become more aware that the viewers possibly watch everything they do.

    Web Comics 
  • Opplopolis is pretty Pynchonesque in general, but for example, a race of aliens are initially introduced as an apparent fantasy of Marvin's but return four issues later, apparently aware of the characters in the comic, including events that haven't happened yet. These aliens live in a city called Oppleopolis (with an "e").
  • Kris Straub's Checkerboard Nightmare. A webcomic about a webcomic character trying to become famous. The Postmodernism and humor are milked for all they're worth — then milked some more.
  • The theme has continued, albeit in low-key fashion, in Starslip Crisis, his sci-fi strip. It was originally titled and publicised as Starshift Crisis. Starslip ran in parallel, complete with duplicate website, until an accident with an "alternate universe" engine destroyed one of the ships. A spinoff will feature space ships and crews from other webcomics.
  • Where many works use No Fourth Wall as a source of easy jokes, 1/0 takes it as the basic grounding upon which the characters interact with their world and each other — often with great seriousness.
  • The "Not Officially Sabrina Online Construction Set" (or NOSOCS), a parody freely editable by anyone of the Furry Comic Sabrina Online, postmodern to begin with, took a turn for the ridiculously postmodern during 2008, and actually managed to be fairly consistently clever.
    • Sadly, most traces of it have vanished from the Internet and old links just lead to advertisement and malware traps.
  • The basic premise of Real Life Comics is a character based on the cartoonist who is a cartoonist and knows he is a character in his own cartoon. At some points Greg the character gets into arguments with Greg the cartoonist about such things that his daughter was already born in real life, but he hadn't yet figured out how to draw a baby in the comic, so his comic wife is still pregnant.
  • In MSF High they think it is just a side effect of the magic, but most characters realize their school partially runs on tropes and the Theory of Narrative Causality; naturally, they exploit this.
  • Most of the cast Bob and George are aware that they are in a Megaman sprite comic. They are also often aware of the plot of the games they are based on - and frequently have to recreate. There's also the Author, who interacts with his characters from time to time, and the Shadowy Author, whose true identity isn't revealed until the very last story arc ever.
  • The Order of the Stick can be seen as a postmodern take on the fantasy genre, with characters and plotlines regularly existing primarily to comment on popular ideas within the genre. And that's before you take into account the constant breaking of the fourth-wall. The core concept is even weirder; they don't represent an actual Dungeons & Dragons campaign, but they are fully aware that their world runs on those rules. Complete with dice rolls, and the rules of physics depending on you remembering what they are.
  • Andrew Hussie of MS Paint Adventures loves playing with the pseudo-Interactive Fiction structure of the various series. Problem Sleuth in general has No Fourth Wall whatsoever, it disappeared completely right around the time the titular character consulted GameFAQs to get the answer to a particularly challenging puzzle. Another puzzle in Problem Sleuth was only passed by the characters reloading to a save state located after the puzzle was solved. That's right, they resorted to abusing Save Scumming in-universe.
  • Homestuck. From a character scratching the second CD of Homestuck (no, not Sburb, Homestuck) with a record needle and causing the comic to glitch out until it's repaired, to a character escaping the destruction of their universe by flying through their fourth wall and into the fourth wall of the second half of the comic, to a Hostile Show Takeover that's only solved by the author bursting through the fifth wall and beating a major villain upside the head with a broom, to characters getting commands from people at consoles identical to the commands used to link pages, to long discussions of how time follows a preestablished narrative, to a reveal, with much fanfare, that characters can now talk directly to each other instead of going through instant messaging and spritelogs, it's postmodern enough to make your head hurt. At one point, Caliborn started speaking through a strange computer to a person who was apparently acting as narrator. When he got pissed off and started whacking the computer with a magical crowbar (warning: music), the whole screen shook as well, links and all, causing the little candy corn at the top of the screen to fall onto the table in the image and bounce around, all as though the MSPA website itself were somehow contained in that computer.
  • So if MSPA was postmodern to begin with, what is Create.swf Adventures? First CSA just a MSPA-style interactive comic. Then the characters begin talking to the readers, which isn't that special. Then the readers get attacked by the characters. Like, literally. And there is a non-fourth-wall-breaking explanation! But then it gets silly again...
  • Penny Arcade often acknowledges that the characters are writing a webcomic, and there have even been strips where the characters discuss their plans for other strips. And they freely interact with fictional characters in the real world, or enter game worlds as themselves. Sometimes they even have different fictional characters acknowledging they're fiction, or other fiction in their own worlds.
  • The Adventures of Dr. McNinja does this in the Alt Text in comic 17, page 53.
  • The Way of the Metagamer. No Fourth Wall, Author Avatar, Alt Text presenters, Medium Awareness, physical plot holes used as gateways to other works, time-traveling changing history by actually changing previously uploaded comics… need we go on?
  • What about Roommates? Mega Crossover Meta Fic Fan Webcomic with almost No Fourth Wall and Medium Awareness, where the Theory of Narrative Causality and Fanservice are acknowledged forces of "nature", readers are encouraged to think Everybody Is Jesus in Purgatory and plant as many Epileptic Trees as they can, with so many lampshades it makes hard to see the sun, an Author Avatar, a world built on Transfictionality so much it questions the reality of Real Life (probably the only work on TV Tropes with a Fridge Existential Angst entry), and it also shows signs of running on the Clap Your Hands If You Believe of the readership.

    Web Original 
  • Welcome to Night Vale is considered a postmodern response to the Information Age. Operating on principles of Nothing Is Scarier and mundane approaches to supernatural events. The story is basically a news broadcast which is very vague on the actual news it delivers.
  • Jean-Luc Godard's The Last Starfighter.
  • Played with in later episodes of KateModern, when Gavin becomes convinced that his life is being turned into an online TV show, and complains that people keep mistaking him for a professional actor (he was played by Ralf Little, best known for The Royle Family and Two Pints of Lager and a Packet of Crisps). In "Fictionality," he muses, "How do I even know I exist?"
  • Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog starts off presenting itself as the video blog of a mad scientist. Eventually it turns into a musical, but we keep on checking back in with Dr. Horrible during the first two acts as he tells his audience what's going on. In the third and final act, we get zero blogging from him and instead get a relevant newscast. The last shot, only two words long, raises unanswered questions about what the actual root state of the whole thing really is — is it a story told by the main character filtered through his perspective, a story told by the main character who recounts things accurately, a story where the main character talks a lot to the audience, a story about an Author Avatar telling a story, or a story about the main character trying to adjust for a fragmented state of mind by telling it two different ways...?
  • In the Jreg video Postpostmodernism, it shows human manifestations of Modernism, Community, (the metaphorical) God and objective Truth all hanging around and being happy. Then, Postmodernism shows up and begins killing them all one by one except Modernity, before killing itself, causing Modernism to suffer a breakdown and become Postpostmodernism and claim thus: "W...What now?" before the video abruptly ends.
    • All of Jreg's videos could qualify as post-modernist themselves, with how much irony and meta-irony they use. Which are then taken to their logical extreme with videos like Frameworthless which are so incomprehensible and thick with meaningless meaning that they become indescribable.
  • Survival of the Fittest, in V3, exhibits this, mainly with Wade Wilson and Quincy Archer. Wade Wilson is repeatedly Breaking the Fourth Wall, telling off his own narrator as he grows more and more insane. Quincy Archer wrote a Character Blog before he came to the island, mainly about how Survival Of The Fittest was fake and about the tropes it used. Considering who Wade Wilson is named after, this really doesn't come as a surprise.
  • The point of The Abridged Series.
  • Meta Anti Poop, takes all the editing techniques of YouTube Poop, and yet instead of mocking the original like most poops, it actually embraces it by refusing the go Off the Rails. It's still funny.
  • Ladies and Gentlemen, the amazing Postmodernism Generator, created by Andrew C. Bulhak.
  • In the Episode about the Chrysler PT Cruiser, Regular Car Reviews goes to some lengths to explain Postmodernism.
  • Some Jerk with a Camera calls out Randy Moore for misusing the term in the third part of his Escape From Tomorrow review. Observe.
  • PBS Idea Channel: Discussed in "Is Community a Postmodern Masterpiece". The definition host Mike Rugnetta uses is Lyotard's "incredulity towards meta-narratives," which Rugnetta argues describes Community to a T:
    First and foremost, many if not most episodes of Community are send-ups or pastiches of well-worn narrative forms. The Western, the love story, the action film, the heist, the feel-good movie, the documentary, the morning show — the list, guess what? It goes on. And whatever elements, micro and macro, which are not lampooning the more-traveled paths in the yellow wood are strongly critical. They are self-consciously referential, skeptical, and playfully judgmental of culture. They are generally not in service of, and sometimes even hostile to, meta-narratives. Like two quick examples: Community'' confronts the meta-narrative of 'family' by replacing it with a study group, and the meta-narrative of education through a book-learning setting which is dysfunctional at best.
    • Also of note is that Idea Channel ran on Audience Participation, so viewers of the episode had their own takes on the topic; one viewer suggested that Rugnetta's interpretation was valid for the first three seasons, but the fourth season was a shallow aping by inexperienced showrunners. Another viewer suggested that Community couldn't be a postmodern work due to it being in the strict structure of a sitcom. A third viewer argued that Community was a modernist work rather than a postmodernist one due to it buying into the very meta-narratives that Rugnetta said it criticizes. Even show creator Dan Harmon got in on the discourse, albeit with a joke and a link rather than an argument of his own.
      The answer is post-duh-doy! [link to video]
  • Late comedian Trevor Moore of TheWhitestKidsUKnow fame is known for flaunting references to Real Life historical events, controversial celebrities and conspiracy theories, seasoned with a hefty dose of social criticism. This is especially apparent in his musical works, the culmination being the has-too-be-seen-to-be-believed "My Computer Just Became Self Aware".

    Western Animation 
  • Aqua Teen Hunger Force is often cited as an example of Postmodern humor. The show's episodes practically have no interest in telling anything resembling a plot, let alone a coherent one. Characters just do random things that lead to other random things, which rarely get solved or delved into because everybody is more concerned into being assholes to each other.
  • Drawn Together. The show is characterized by being a break with traditional narratives and a mixture of different styles that are added to its characters, as well as parodic elements that satirize the same characters on which they are based. In addition, the series uses a reality show format to present the animated characters and their stories, breaking traditional storytelling, and at times, the fourth wall.
  • Bojack Horseman flirts with postmodernism in its early seasons and directly embodies it later. The series is fond of self-referential humor and recognition of the artifice inherent in techniques involved in showriting and the real-world impacts fiction can have on its viewers. Season 5 operates on a device which blurs the reality and unreality of Bojack's surroundings, culminating in an episode where Bojack is unable to separate his real life from a film he is acting in. The last two seasons as a whole explore the consequences of systemized abusive behavior and explores the concept of the "television anti-hero" through a deconstructionist lense. In general, the show uses many postmodern techniques, such as experimental episodes which use an abundance of multiple means of medium and animation styles, quirky self-referential musical numbers, and a variety of pop-culture references, often featuring many caricaturized parodies of real-life celebrities, who are often played by the celebrity themselves.
  • South Park often features meta-references, such as the characters somehow becoming aware of Kenny dying in each episode. One such instance was in "Christmas in Canada", in which the boys are not only worried about missing presents but also their "Christmas adventure". And who can forget "Canceled", where they discover the whole world was a reality show run by aliens (in itself a parody of the Planet of Hats trope).
  • 90's Warner Bros. Cartoons such as Animaniacs, Freakazoid!, and Tiny Toon Adventures make enormous use of this comedy (second only to the more classic slapstick). For example, even if you were in a space station orbiting Mars, Candle Jack would get yoink! That was pretty silly of you, don't you think?
  • Family Guy has become the most unapologetically postmodernist show on television, and gets more postmodern each season. No trope is safe. Even the infamous overused Cutaway Gags have been called out more than once.
  • The Simpsons has had a couple of forays into Postmodernism.
    • They made a reference to their real-world merchandise enterprises, the 'I didn't do it' episode where they all embrace their status as one-dimensional catchphrases, a couple of episodes where they note how far along the plot is or how everything will be returned to normalcy for next week. Sometimes they call attention to the fact that they always wear the same clothes, never age, and have yellow skin... Most impressive example is the episode "Behind the Laughter," which shows these cartoon characters as actors with 'real' lives outside of their show. Also this trope might include those episodes that poke fun at the nerdiness of The Simpsons' fan community.
    Marge: Hmm, should the Simpsons get a horse?
    Comic Book Guy: Uh, excuse me, I believe the Simpsons already had a horse which forced Homer to work at the Kwik-E-Mart, with hilarious results.
    Homer: Does anyone care what this guy thinks?
    Everyone: NO!
    • An in-universe example has Moe remodeling his tavern into a postmodernist bar with trippy decorations such as TV screens showing moving eyeballs and lifeless bunnies hanging from the ceiling. While he attracts the attention of many VIPs, his old barflies are confused.
    Carl: I don't get all this eyeball stuff. What are they supposed to represent, eyeballs?
    Moe: It's Po-Mo! ...Postmodernism. ...Alright, weird for the sake of weird.
  • The above are only following in the footsteps of the original masters of Postmodernism in animation: Looney Tunes, the most famous example being "Duck Amuck", where Daffy gets in direct conflict with the episode's animator.
  • A common in-joke in the My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic fandom is that Pinkie Pie is fully aware of the Fourth Wall and that she is inside a work of fiction. While staff working on the show have stated that scenes in which she appears to be looking at the 'camera' are simply mistakes on the part of animators, some fans refuse to believe that.
  • The beloved episode of Ed, Edd n Eddy where they, among other things, drag the moon down from the sky and remove Jimmy's outline. It's not so much Breaking the Fourth Wall as it is wreaking havoc on the other three.
  • Duckman periodically delved into this. The most notable example is the episode "How to Suck in Business Without Really Trying", about a Viacom Expy creating the character Duckman to represent the USA Network and make merchandise. Although they must con Duckman out of his name to go through with a show based on Duckman, in a universe that has an existing Duckman.
  • Dog City revolves around Eliot Shag, a canine animator, and his detective character, Ace Hart, as they engage in fourth-wall breaking conversations regarding the animation and storytelling process of each episode of the Show Within a Show.
  • Garfield and Friends gains a lot of mileage from the characters' awareness they're in a show, either as Animated Actors or outright cartoon characters. The fourth wall is often acknowledged and broken. And it's not uncommon to have plots like Garfield walking into an action cartoon by accident, or Bo having to act out all the parts of an episode after most of the cast is abducted.
  • American Dad! started becoming post-modern after the first season, becoming a bit more similar to sister series Family Guy in that aspect. This includes, for example,many of the things Roger does.
  • Rick and Morty: Rick Sanchez is postmodern to almost Medium Aware degrees in the way he instantly spots tropes wherever he goes.
  • The Amazing World of Gumball is entirely this, starting with the premise of characters from different mediums and artstyles living together in a single place. Season 1 is actually rather tame about it, but by the time Season 2 rolls out, the various designs and the animation itself become the target of jokes while overused and even inevitable tropes are guaranteed to be pointed out and/or mocked. Episodes like "The Kids", "The Safety", "The Money", "The Signal" and especially "The Disaster"/"The Rerun" all have in-universe characters or outside forces (voice actors, animation budget, TV signal interference, etc.) manipulating the TV medium itself or causing it to go haywire, leading to some very Mind Screwy plots.

    Real Life 
  • Marshall McLuhan, Canadian philosopher, sociologist, and the father of media studies, may well have been a living Trope Codifier for Postmodernism. Aside from coining the phrase "The Global Village", he also had a lot of really out there theories. He stated that "The Medium is the message, and therefore the content is the audience". He believed that light bulbs were an information medium, and proclaimed "I refuse to appear on television, except on television" meaning that, if interviewed, he'd never set foot in a TV Studio himself, but rather talk through a TV screen. One can only imagine what he'd think of TV Tropes... We know exactly what he thought of the internet. Remember, the term "global village" was an insult and we're very seldom beyond sophomore-level here.
  • In a reference to René Magritte's "It's not a pipe" drawing, the city of Potsdam, Germany, has build its new Landtag building in the form of an old castle that was destroyed during WW2, with the slogan "Ceci n'est pas un château" (It's not a castle) on its side. Of course, since it's not a castle, it only looks like one.
  • On a more serious note, the period following the end of World War 2 up until the present day is generally called postmodernity in literary and historical analysis, marked by the shift in societal attitude and pervasion of mass media which was the impetus for the codification of the philosophy. There is significant debate in certain circles about whether postmodernity has ended, when it ended, how to name and characterise its successor if it has, and even whether postmodernism's construction makes its end a possibility. Not because the philosophy 'solved' reality or anything so egotistical, but because a far greater shift than previous would be needed to make irrelevant its core tenets and codification.
    • The Jamaican/British intellectual Stuart Hall, one of the founders of cultural studies, was highly sceptical about some of the more extravagant claims made by and about postmodernism (e.g. that "meaning" had become irrelevant, etc.), but he argued in the early 00s that postmodernism was still the governing sociocultural framework that most people live in, insofar as we are still living with the legacies of modernism, and haven't yet succeeded in moving beyond them. Under the circumstances, "postmodernism" is the only appropriate term.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Post Modern


Escape From Tomorrow = PoMo?

Enraged by Randy Moore handwaving Escape From Tomorrow by calling it "postmodern," Kyle Kallgren (as the Cine-Kyle) launches into an entry-level explanation of what Postmodernism is in the first place.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (12 votes)

Example of:

Main / Postmodernism

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