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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 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).

Compare Reaching Between the Lines (the same effect, but used as comedy). A subtrope of The Fourth Wall Will Not Protect You.



    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 an 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 and Manga 

    Comic Books 
  • In the Bongo Comics crossover "When Bongos Collide!", Kang's and Kodos's ray zaps the Simpsons's 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 which 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.


    Film — 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 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. 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.
  • Occurs in The Purple Rose of Cairo, albeit in a 30's 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.
  • The electrocuted serial killer in Shocker 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 tv's.
  • Videodrome Here, though, the protagonist actually sticks his face into the television.

    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: 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
  • 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.
  • Sort of used in the Fringe episode "No-Brainer", where a video on the web that melted people's brains caused them to first hallucinate a hand that reached out from their computer screen.
  • In one episode of My Wife and Kids, 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.
  • Played for laughs in the teaser of an episode of Sabrina the Teenage Witch. 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)

TV Movies:

  • ITV's modern day adaptation of A Christmas Carol had Eddie Scrooge's father climb out of the TV to talk to him.

  • 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 
  • Persona 4. When you first encounter the Midnight Channel, the screen on the protagonist's television is showing the image of a woman blurred by television static, and when he touches the screen his hand goes through. He discovers he can enter a world inside the TV, and much of the game is solving the mystery of why people are being thrown into this TV world.
  • Toyed with in Dreamfall: The Longest Journey: 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.
  • The intro of Battletoads in Battlemaniacs shows a Distressed Damsel and Zits being kidnapped by villains bursting through the screen of a virtual-reality system.
  • Garfield the Cat does this in Garfield: Caught in the Act. 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.
  • 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.
  • Played for laughs in Obsidian, 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.
  • Used to solve a puzzle on the film studio floor of the hotel in Luigi's Mansion 3, as solving the puzzle requires moving items that Luigi can't take with him through doors, or reaching places he cannot otherwise get to.
  • The unlikely hero of Altered Destiny 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.
  • Mono, the protagonist of Little Nightmares II 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.

    Web Original 

    Western Animation 
  • This is how Captain N: The Game Master 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.
  • Happens on The Simpsons (of course) when Itchy and Scratchy smash the Simpsons' TV screen with axes and climb through the hole in a "Treehouse of Horror" special.
  • The Fairly OddParents episode "Channel Chasers" turns television into a world of flying television, each leading to a different channel.
  • Two variants happen in Garfield and Friends 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.
  • In Hanna-Barbera's 1966 Alice in Wonderland animated special, Alice chases her dog through the family TV set and into Wonderland.
  • A variation occurs in the I Am Weasel 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.
  • In an episode of The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy, 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!
  • In one episode of The Flintstones, 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.
  • The Tom and Jerry 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.
  • The akumatized villain Prime Queen in Miraculous Ladybug has as her main power the ability to use any TV as a portal to any other.
  • This was the premise of Jim and Judy in Teleland, an early animated series first broadcast in 1949. Two children go on adventures by entering their home TV set. Children watching should have been told, "Don't Try This at Home."
  • This was an occasional gag with the "visiphones" (video telephones) on the original The Jetsons, 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.


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