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Sliding Scale of Fourth Wall Hardness

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"I didn't feel the need to appear before now, because I knew I'd face big shouty demands like this as soon as I broke the fourth wall. I think I might have to retcon everyone and go back to nice peaceful anonymity."

In fiction, Webcomics in particular, the Fourth Wall is sometimes nonexistent; sometimes it is so solid that you can lean on it. This is a sliding scale of how solid the Fourth Wall is.


From most solid/hardest, to least solid/softest (Note that promos and the like do not count for this scale):

Completely Solid Fourth Wall


Visible Fourth Wall

  • Soliloquies, Asides, and the like, as long as the audience is not directly acknowledged. The characters behave as if they were characters in a story, but they don't know who might be watching. (You talk to the audience in a soliloquy, yes, but only because the conventions of the theater say that doing so means that you're actually just thinking out loud at the audience.)
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall: Where the characters don't know that they're fictional, but they make comments that tease on the fact that they are. For instance, saying, "You watch too many sitcoms" in a sitcom, or "That felt like it went by quickly" after a Montage.
  • Aside Glance/Comment: If a character briefly looks at the screen, or even makes a brief remark towards the camera, this usually qualifies as Visible Foruth Wall. The reason is because it was directed at the audience out-of-universe, but in-universe, it can be written off as coincidence or thinking aloud.
  • Advertisement:
  • Fourth Wall Psych: Where the fourth wall wasn't broken, but we're clearly meant to think it was initially.

Semipermeable Fourth Wall

Nonexistent Fourth Wall

  • Medium Awareness: The characters may directly acknowledge the mechanics of their medium and/or that this is just a show, but these acknowledgments don't actually affect the plot and/or the characters never acknowledge their fictionality.
  • Full No Fourth Wall: The characters acknowledge their fictionality directly.
  • Noticing the Fourth Wall: The characters become aware they are fictional in the most terrifying way possible; the knowledge that they're only real in someone's imagination and will cease to exist when the story ends is used for existential horror.
  • The Fourth Wall Will Not Protect You: Things inside the story, we are warned, can attack the reader.
  • Fake Interactivity: The characters not only address the audience, but act like we replied.
  • Interactive Narrator: The characters and the narrator can have conversations.

Beyond No Fourth Wall

  • Mind Screws sometimes go beyond No Fourth Wall, to imply such things as the viewer being a fictional character, so this entry is for them.

No examples; there are plenty of subtropes for them.

  • Well, maybe a brief comparison of Bob and George and 1/0, to explain how the scale works:
    • The characters of Bob and George know they're in a Web Comic, but it only sometimes directly impacts the plot, and the characters' actual existence is never in question.
    • In 1/0, Medium Awareness is the main plot, and the characters themselves acknowledge and debate their possible fictionality/nonexistence.