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Playing With / Breaking the Fourth Wall

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Basic Trope: Characters are aware they are in a work of fiction, and are able to talk to the audience.

  • Straight: Characters can turn to camera and talk to the audience.
  • Exaggerated:
    • Characters are able to argue with the writers, to the extent that they can alter scenes after they happen.
    • No Fourth Wall
    • The Fourth Wall Will Not Protect You
    • Characters become impatient with you for not responding and actually manage to get out of the screen and into Real Life to talk to you directly.
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  • Downplayed: Leaning on the Fourth Wall
  • Justified:
    • The characters are in a Reality TV show or being filmed for a documentary. The cameras ARE there.
    • An Author Avatar breaks the fourth wall, as the author has reason to be aware of the audience that (s)he is writing to.
    • Bob is an experienced universe hopper, thus he's genuinely capable of seeing into other realities- Breaking the fourth wall is easy.
  • Inverted: The actors remain completely in character and are shocked by the writers turning up on the set and telling them that they are fictional characters, explaining what is about to happen.
  • Subverted: A Fourth Wall Psych, e.g: Jim turns to camera and comments on the situation. On the next shot we realize that this was shown through Bob's eyes.
  • Double Subverted:
    • Bob then turns to camera and says “He was talking to me, OK? Jeez.”.
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    • Jim says "Not you, Bob! Them!", referring to the audience.
  • Parodied:
    • As Alice does a long, inappropriate Shakespearian soliloquy, other characters pace around looking impatient.
    • One of the characters is the camera person.
    • The characters break the fourth wall in a way that makes no sense for the medium they are being portrayed in, e.g. cartoon characters referring to the audience as "the reader".
    • A character breaks through the fourth wall (a literal wall), leaving a pile of debris when they enter the real world.
  • Zig Zagged: A Bob is always talking to camera, both to the writers and the audience. It gets diagnosed as paranoid schizophrenia, and he is committed to mental hospital. We get scenes from “the ward for people who talk to invisible cameras” which are very odd. People in this ward are not always in agreement about where the camera is. Meanwhile, the writers miss having someone to talk to, and are punishing the other characters. Alice realizes this, and proclames it in a long Shakespearian soliloquy. The writers are moved and flattered by this. Bob is later released, but he is cured of his fourth-wall breaking.
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  • Averted: Despite the wacky, whimsical, and down-right illogical setting, despite the whole thing being a spoof, no-one ever so much as turns to look at the camera.
  • Enforced: This is exactly the kind of show where people talk directly to the audience and the authors. And they do.
  • Lampshaded: “Yes YOU, audience! I can see you! Hello!”
  • Invoked: When something unfair happens, Bob complains to the writers.
  • Exploited: Reading Ahead in the Script.
  • Defied: The characters pretend that they are oblivous to the fact or at least the very likely possibility that they are on a T.V show/movie and just roll along with the script as if they are in the real world.
  • Discussed: “I prefer talking to the writers than the audience. You can get more done”
  • Conversed: “The characters on this show are always talking directly to the viewers. But they never seem to hear when I talk back to them.”
  • Deconstructed:
  • Reconstructed:
    • However it's pretty harmless - it's basically talking to yourself. The other characters learn to ignore it.
    • Upon noticing they're supposedly fictional characters, it doesn't take long for them to realize we're just as fictional. Thus acknowledging us as mere observers they're capable of seeing too.
  • Played For Laughs: Bob, upon witnessing his author acts like he's their god, shrugs his shoulders and says to the audience "Least its not hentai."
  • Played for Drama: The Shakespearian soliloquy: A character gives a long speech, pretty much directly to the audience, about everything going on in their head.

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