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Television Portal

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Well, at least it's not a Wii Remote.
You're watching television when suddenly the screen turns to static. A face appears, dark and scary, but you're not worried. After all, it's only the television, nothing can happen. But then it moves closer and closer, so close that it starts reaching out from the TV screen. Now you're very, very scared.

Welcome to the Television Portal. Most often a form of Nightmare Fuel ('cause who wouldn't be freaked out by a television image coming to life?) and Paranoia Fuel (do you know how many hours of television you watch?). Sometimes results in Up the Real Rabbit Hole, Trapped in TV Land, Refugee from TV Land. May start when The Television Talks Back. A subtype and quite literal version of The Fourth Wall Will Not Protect You.

May extend to coming out or going into a television set or other electronic device with a screen (i.e. a computer). Also very commonly done with a Stringy-Haired Ghost Girl as a Stock Shout-Out to The Ring.

Compare Reaching Between the Lines (the same effect, but used as comedy) and Portal Book (the low-tech version, less likely to be played for horror).


    open/close all folders 

  • An ad Mario Kart DS features various people throwing things into their TV sets, which are showing a live racing event, and creating trouble on the racetrack.
    "Now, you can affect the race from anywhere. Take on the world with Mario Kart DS and Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection."
  • In The Chase (Pepsi), Michael Jackson is cornered in a museum by a hyperactive mob, but escapes twice, using both this and a Portal Picture. Though, there was no obvious hints of magic use throughout the commercials, so it makes you wonder...

    Anime & Manga 

    Comic Books 
  • In the Bongo Comics crossover "When Bongos Collide!", Kang's and Kodos's ray zaps the Simpsons' TV, causing Itchy and Scratchy to emerge from the set and, through their constant fighting, wreak havoc in Springfield, culminating in a core meltdown of the nuclear plant.
  • Dark Entries, a graphic novel about John Constantine, features a storyline that takes place in a gameshow in Hell. One character, Jude, sticks his face in a television screen to see what's on the other side; it turns out it's a portal out of the aforementioned Hell.
  • Due to the way she died in A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors, Jennifer in Nightmares on Elm Street is a walking television, who can transport people through herself.
  • The infamous cover art for Sonic Live, which had a very off-looking Sonic reaching out of the TV to greet two actual children.
  • An issue of an Atlas anthology comic had a bumbling inventor develop a way to contact and transport items to a distant inhabited planet through his TV. Unfortunately, while demonstrating this to a friend, his nagging wife oblivously unplugged the set to save electricity, stranding them mid transit in the void of space.
  • One man in an anthology comic discovered a Miraculous Malfunction in his television that made the things projected on it become real. After using it to give himself many expensive items depicted in commercials and programs, he attempts to use it to bring a lovely woman to life. Unfortunately, she's coming from a horror movie, and the monster is right behind her.

    Fan Works 

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Late in Casino Royale (1967), a film which had already started out deranged and, by its last half hour, has become completely unhinged, Le Chiffre (Orson Welles) is anxiously watching two of Doctor Noah's enforcers (who have come to kill him) over a security monitor. One of the men walks right up to the camera, reaches his gun hand up, and then smashes through the screen and shoots Le Chiffre dead. (Discussed with accompanying screencaps here.)
  • A Christmas Carol (2000) has Eddie Scrooge's father climb out of the TV to talk to him.
  • A Nightmare on Elm Street:
    • In A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors, Freddy Krueger kills Jennifer by popping out of the television, although his head comes out of the top and his arms come out of the side, rather than out of the screen. She ends up with her head smashed into the screen.
    • Spencer is pulled into a video game by psychedelic tendrils that emerge from an old television in Freddy's Dead: The Final Nightmare.
  • Poltergeist (1982): While Carol-Anne is watching static on a TV, a ghostly hand comes out of the TV, waves around, and eventually dives into the wall.
  • The Purple Rose of Cairo: Occurs in a '30s movie theatre. The black-and-white character in the film-within-the-film turns to color as he approaches his admirer in the audience, and later vice-versa.
  • The Ring: As shown in the page image, people who make the mistake of watching the cursed videotape may end up with Sadako/Samara climbing out of their TV to attack them.
  • Shocker: The electrocuted serial killer could travel through electrical lines into appliances, including television sets. Later in the movie, the protagonist uses the same ability to travel into and out of TVs.
  • Videodrome: Here, though, the protagonist actually sticks his face into the television.

  • Charlie and the Chocolate Factory: Willy Wonka is in the planning stages of using this as a means of distributing Wonka bars, though the process requires using a giant chocolate bar due to how small the TV screens are. Mike Teavee impulsively tries testing this out on himself and gets shrunken to an inch high as a result.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Are You Afraid of the Dark?: In the episode "Tale of the Crimson Clown" the titular clown doll is shown reaching out of a television when trying to attack a bad kid.
  • Doctor Who: The Weeping Angels are shown to be capable of this. In "The Time of Angels", River has a short video clip of the Angel in the hold of the Byzantium. But as the Doctor and River shortly discover, "That which holds the image of an Angel becomes itself an Angel"... just as Amy finds herself alone with the recording and the Angel begins moving, eventually projecting itself out of the screen to attack her, with everyone else locked out of the Drop Ship... They do this again in Series 13.
  • Eerie, Indiana: In "Scariest Home Videos", Simon's younger brother Harley bites the remote control while watching Bloody Revenge of the Mummy's Curse. As Marshall and Simon had hooked a video camera up to the television, Harley switches place with the film's star Sir Boris von Orloff. Harley becomes trapped in the film while Sir Boris enters the real world.
  • Fringe: Sort of used in the episode "The No-Brainer", in which a video on the web that melts people's brains causes them to first hallucinate a hand that reaches out from their computer screen.
  • My Wife and Kids: In one episode, after a yoga instructor on a video misled Mike with her talks about "ultimate intimacy" (him thinking sex) which really meant a state of concentration, he threatened to reach through the television and choke the woman if Jay didn't turn the tape off.
  • Sabrina the Teenage Witch: Played for Laughs in the teaser of one episode. Salem starts yelling at a TV news anchor, who, it being a house of witches, starts arguing back.
    Anchor: We interrupt this program to beat you up. [crawls through the TV screen and starts chasing Salem]
  • The Outer Limits (1963): In the episode "The Galaxy Being", radio engineer Alan Maxwell sets up an interstellar scanner in his station's transmitter shed, hoping to make First Contact — which he does, with a humanoid Energy Being from the Andromeda galaxy. While talking with the alien, Alan is forced to leave the station, but warns the substitute DJ (who doesn't know what's going on) not to tamper with the power settings. However, as soon as Alan leaves, the DJ boosts the station's signal anyway. This also increases the power of Alan's telescreen, which has the unexpected side effect of teleporting the Andromedan across space and right into the transmitter shed!

  • David Bowie's "TVC15" from Station to Station has the protagonist's girlfriend crawl into a TV set and never come back: by the end of the song he's wondering whether to follow her or not. Yes, this is from his "cocaine madness" era.

    Theme Parks 

    Video Games 
  • Altered Destiny: The unlikely hero gets portaled to another planet through the screen of his loaner TV set. That actually belonged to the Conan lookalike leaving the place as he drove up.
  • Battletoads in Battlemaniacs: The intro shows a Damsel in Distress and Zitz being kidnapped by villains bursting through the screen of a virtual-reality system.
  • Dreamfall: The Longest Journey: Toyed with. Faith definitely gives off a Samara/Sadako vibe when she appears on TV screens after it is briefly obscured by static. However, she never actually comes out of said screen, only talks through it. Also, in The Longest Journey, there is an optional scene where Fiona's TV screen acts as a portal to Arcadia, bringing magical creatures from it into the room. However, they quickly disappear, and everybody thinks they saw a weird dream.
  • Game & Wario: In Gamer, this is one of 5-Volt's preferred methods of checking on 9-Volt to make sure he's sleeping and not playing his game. On lower difficulties she'll just peek out of the TV, while on higher difficulties she'll leap out, sit and watch TV for a bit, abruptly scurry over and stare at him while he sleeps, and then finally leave through the bedroom door. Seriously, Mom does not screw around. This also applies to the Gamer stage from the Super Smash Bros. series (the fourth game and the fifth game): if 5-Volt appears from the TV, she'll scan one end of the stage and move from one side to the other quickly, then back again. It's the hardest stage hazard to avoid, and if you get caught, you get sent flying.
  • Garfield: Caught in the Act: Garfield the Cat does this. The plot starts when Odie surprises Garfield, causing him to crash into and break the TV. Garfield tries to fix it; however, the "extra parts" he tosses away become The Glitch, whose first action is to transport him into the TV, where he ends up in worlds based on different genres (Hammer Horror, caveman movies, film noir, etc.) The game concerns itself with his trying to get out.
  • The Gex series is known for this trope in all the games in the series, Mostly as teleportation between levels.
  • Little Nightmares II: Mono, the protagonist, is able to tune TV signals to enter them as portals to reach a hallway he's been trying to get to the end of. When he finally reaches the end of the hall, he unleashes an entity known as the Thin Man, who comes out of the television to pursue him and is partially made of TV signals. After this, Mono uses linked TV sets as portals to navigate the city, controlling which ones connect by using a remote to turn them on and off. Mono and the Thin Man are implied to be alternate forms of each other caught in a time loop, explaining their similar abilities.
  • Luigi's Mansion 3: Used to solve a puzzle on the film studio floor of the hotel, as solving the puzzle requires moving items that Luigi can't take with him through doors, or reaching places he cannot otherwise reach.
  • Obsidian: Played for laughs in a bureaucratic dream world containing TV-Head robots that show live-action people. One of them at the end picks up a pair of CG glasses, puts them on by pushing them through the screen, and seamlessly transitions to the on-screen actor wearing real glasses.
  • Persona 4: The cornerstone of the plot is that there's a world inside the TV, but only the protagonist is capable of opening the portals. Yet it soon turns out that someone else has the ability and is murdering people by throwing them into the other world; after the second death, the protagonist and his friends (who gain the power when they gain their Personas) use their power to enter the world to start rescuing would-be victims while trying to find out who's doing it. But there were actually three people who had the power to open the portals; the one who was throwing people into TVs was trying to save them from the murderer of the first two victims.
  • Sunset Overdrive: As a The Ring Shout-Out: One respawn animation has the player crawl out of a CRT TV.
  • Total Distortion has a satanic-looking TV in the Distortion Dimension, which, when turned on with a remote, leads into a seizure-inducing maze of cable channels connecting the front side of the dimension with the ending.


    Web Original 
  • It's become something of a meme to show a Stringy-Haired Ghost Girl emerging from a screen... a smartphone screen, that is. The resulting mini-Sadako usually becomes a Cute Ghost Girl instead.
  • Done for humor in this Vine: A man googles a burning question: shouldn't more than one Cheez-It be called Cheez-Thems? However, he quickly deletes his search as a hand pops out of his monitor and grabs him by the throat, presumably to stop him from digging further into this forbidden knowledge.
  • The Noedolekcin Archives: This is Kirk Odd's main method of entering our world. According to Seismo in a tweet, Kirk is able to crawl out of the TV screen and kill whoever is watching him.

    Western Animation 
  • In Hanna-Barbera's 1966 Alice in Wonderland animated special, Alice chases her dog through the family TV set and into Wonderland.
  • Captain N: The Game Master: This is how the title character first enters Videoland. While he's playing Punch-Out!! in the real world, the Ultimate Warp Zone activates in Videoland and sucks him and his dog into the TV.
  • The Fairly OddParents!: The episode "Channel Chasers" turns television into a world of flying television, each leading to a different channel.
  • The Flintstones: In one episode, in annoyance at a television show, Fred turns off the TV, only for the show's host to reach through the screen and turn it back on.
    Barney: Well, that's one way of keeping up their ratings.
  • Garfield and Friends: Two variants happen in the episode "T.V. of Tomorrow", where Jon, Garfield, and Odie look at various futuristic TV models. One includes a "Taste-O-Vision" feeding tube mask meant to allow the viewer to experience what people are eating on TV shows. Unfortunately for Garfield, the interactivity isn't limited to food, as mud from an on-TV mudslide pours through the tube as well. Likewise, the 3-D TV Garfield and Odie try out next is a little too real, allowing Binky the Clown to hit Odie with a custard pie, both pets to be splashed by a surfing show's wave, and an octopus tentacle to reach through the TV and pull Odie in. A remote control from the outside sets him free.
  • The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy: In "Aren't You Chupacabra To See Me?", Billy puts a cursed VHS tape into his VCR and causes a chupacabra to come out of the screen.
    Billy: Wow, I didn't know this movie was in 3D!
  • I Am Weasel:
    • A variation occurs in the short "I.R. in Wrong Cartoon", in which Cow gets Weasel out of her TV by fishing him out of the top of the TV rather than the tube.
    • Another variation occurs in "Ping Pong at Sea", where Baboon travels to the ping-pong game by going into his small TV and coming out through a camera on the ship.
  • The Impossibles had a villain named Televisatron, who used television sets to commit thefts.
  • The Jetsons: This was an occasional gag with the "visiphones" (video telephones) on the original show, where George might be talking to Mr. Spaceley on the visiphone, and Spaceley's arm would reach through the screen to poke him in the nose to make a point. These incidents were only treated as gags, though, and the visiphones were never treated as any kind of teleporting portal.
  • Jim and Judy in Teleland is an early animated series first broadcast in 1949 with this as the premise. Two children go on adventures by entering their home TV set. Children watching should have been told, "Don't Try This at Home."
  • Miraculous Ladybug: The akumatized villain Prime Queen has the ability to use any TV as a portal to any other as her main power.
  • The Simpsons: In "Treehouse of Horror IX" Happens (of course) when Itchy and Scratchy smash the Simpsons' TV screen with axes and climb through the hole.
  • Tom and Jerry: The short "Pecos Pest" is about Jerry's Uncle Pecos practicing for a televised performance, and every time he broke a guitar string, he would pluck a whisker from Tom as a replacement. In the end, as Tom and Jerry watch Pecos on TV, his guitar string breaks. Tom laughs at the ironic turn of events until Pecos reaches through the screen and plucks out Tom's one remaining whisker.


Video Example(s):


The Thin Man

He seems to have the ability to travel through the televisions placed all around the game, which is similar to the ability Mono has.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (3 votes)

Example of:

Main / TelevisionPortal

Media sources: