Animated Actors

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.

Haruko: Those slow motion scenes are really tough, huh?
Mamimi: Yeah, you have to hold your breath until they cut.
Haruko: You can get cramps from that, you know?

Naota: What? I thought it was a special effect! You're doing the slow motion?

An animated episode is in full swing. The action suddenly stops, the characters step out of character, and address an unseen figure. The view pulls back to reveal the action is taking place on an animated TV soundstage. Usually punctuated by a heated exchange between the animated director and the character.

This is a specific type of fourth wall joke.

Many times, the "actors" who play the characters are very different from the characters themselves. Often, the dumb, inarticulate comedy relief will turn out to be a posh Shakespearean ac-tor. A large, imposing character may take off his head, revealing himself to be a normal-looking guy wearing a costume. The Big Bad may turn out to be a total sweetheart when not in character

Many times, the character's name will stay the same, but occasionally the crew will call them by the voice-actor's name.

Also used as a method of Lampshade Hanging, as the character will often complain about some trite or hackneyed element of the scene, and refuse to proceed. There's also the popular gag of having them mess up their lines or goof off, though obviously these Hilarious Outtakes took just as much work to write, voice, draw and animate as the rest of the show.

This can be a throw-away gag, or it can be the plot of an entire episode.

If the animated characters are interacting with live action humans / people, it's the Roger Rabbit Effect.

If taken to a whole dimension, where characters in a writer's portfolio are reused across whole works (sometimes with different roles) like how a "real" actor/actress would, it becomes a Reused Character Design.

Not to be confused with someone who acts in an animated manner.

Examples of Animated Actors include:

Anime and Manga

  • Alien Nine. The ending of the manga shows the main characters as this, as if to soften the horror of the events that preceded it
  • Excel Saga. Almost consistent throughout the entire series, in fact, running a coach and horses through the Fourth Wall. Some of the most prevalent highlights:
    • Anime Director Shinichi Watanabe (a.k.a Nabashin) and original manga author Koshi Rikudo are quickly shown to not only both portray their real selves (Nabaeshin's connection to either side is questionable at best, depending on his scene however), and yet both in-canon with the Anime's story and relation to Excel Saga's characters.
    • Misaki's insistence that the director to refrain from fanservicey camera shots of her, every character tenuously slipping in and out of awareness of being in an anime and unawareness of this same fact.
    • The Great Will Of The Macrocosm herself, who exists as the Director's Reset Button for fixing the story, as the gaggy nature of the show routinely results in painting the plotline into a corner. And quite possibly at least 70 more examples, besides these.
  • One anime example is FLCL, which used this gag more than once to great comic effect.

Haruko: Those slow motion scenes are really tough, huh?
Mamimi: Yeah, you have to hold you breath until they cut.
Haruko: You can get cramps from that, you know?
Naota: What? I thought it was a special effect! You're doing the slow motion?

    • And then there's the "Manga Scene," (or rather, manga scenes), the second of which ends with a discussion on whether it was really necessary to do a second time.
  • Done in the anime series Pani Poni Dash!, where the scene often pulls back to show that the classroom is a set on a stage, or the "cameramen" are obviously visible, or a stagehand accidentally walks into the "shot"; the "actors" are quite professional and never let on that they notice.
  • At least one shot during the "crowded bath" scene in Puni Puni Poemi clearly shows the edge of the set and camera crew beyond it. Link.
    • Puni Puni Poemi basically takes this trope and smashes the non-existent fourth wall with it. Twice because the first one was a blooper.
  • Subverted in Amaenaideyo!!. In the Baker's Dozen episode of the second season, we begin seeing Ikkou and the girls out on what appears to be another exorcising job. Then suddenly things turn into a soundstage and the cast give comments on making the show. Right before the episode concludes, an actual spirit appears in the studio, and Joutoko-baa reveals that it was all part of an elaborate scheme to lure out the ghost haunting the studio.
  • Adventures of Mini Goddess has an episode where the characters think they have day off, only to find that the camera's running and they need to set up something to show. Another episode has them answering viewer mail.
  • After The Movie was released, the creators of Fullmetal Alchemist produced an OVA in which the "actors" portraying the various characters get together after filming to celebrate the release of the film. The characters hang several lampshades, and one gag involving Gluttony not being an actor occurred at the end.
  • Bleach had an example during the omake at the end of the Amagai arc, when Ichigo suddenly returns to Hueco Mundo, is jumped by Nel, and is told by Orihime to get into his Bankai, showing him a page of the manga. While Ichigo is still baffled, Orihime tells the camera that they'll be picking up where they left off from the manga.
    • The start of the Amagai arc is another example, especially since it aired in the middle of another arc, and again with the new filler, where Ulqiourra sheaths his sword in the middle of a fight, and says "let me know when I'm needed on set". Actually, the writers have lampshaded this just about every time this has happened.
  • The Naruto gang has commented multiple times in their omakes after their previews on the show.
    • The omake for Episode 109 features characters preparing for recording a scene, with heroes and villains including one who's dead at that point in the arc sitting together in the same room.
  • The Lucky Star gang are proven to be animated actors by Lucky Channel. Their names, personalities and relationships are the same as they are in the show.
  • In the "outtakes" of the first volume of Magic Kaito, the characters are shown arguing after the scene has been cut. One of the crew workers comments in disbelief that Kaito and Aoko can't even get along in real life.
  • Maria-sama ga Miteru has "Maria-sama ni wa Naisho", which are chibi outakes.
  • The Omake chapters of the Fushigi Yugi DVD feature the cast going to an onsen as a reward for their hard work.
  • The Pandora Hearts DVD omake are all introduced with the characters thanking the viewer for buying the DVD. Then the camera pulls back, and the characters and crew chat a bit.
  • Characters in Bobobo-Bo Bo-bobo often talk about being actors and complaining about how much they get paid.
  • The School Rumble OVA showed Tenma and Karasuma in the recording booth.
  • Hello Kitty Fairy Tale Adventures portrays Kitty and her friends in-character, but the actual plots feature them as theater actors playing out the fairy tales. This leads to such amusing sights as a penguin wearing a blatantly obvious swan costume with its bill above his forehead.

Comic Books

  • In the Batman anthology "Black and White", a story by Neil Gaiman and Simon Bisley called "A Black & White World" shown Batman and the Joker working on a movie set, reading over their lines and commenting on the corniness of the dialogue, as well as the general way characters in comic books are treated and/or mistreated; the Joker comments that he never gets big dramatic splash panels like Batman, while Batman retorts that he is the one who gets to make all the big speeches. Oddly enough, Lobo is their director.
  • A variation turns up in one issue of Astro City, where a device that brings movie creatures into the "real" world of the comic accidentally pulls in cartoon lion Loony Leo along with the movie monster the villain was aiming for. Leo helps the hero defeat the villain, and the hero convinces the audience to believe in him and prevent him from fading away. Leo then spent a few years as an actor before his career hit the skids.
  • Repeatedly used in Dykes to Watch Out For. In an early two-part series, the characters threaten a walkout to gain creative control of the strip. The trope that they are actors in the comic's world is used several more times. The book The Indelible Alison Bechdel featured a long sequence in which the characters are portrayed as both actors and as the staff and managers of DTWOF Inc., with author Bechdel portrayed as a 'staff writer' chained in the basement and humoured in her 'harmless delusion' that she creates the strip.
  • Used sometimes in Cherry Comics. Perhaps most strikingly seen in "Cherry Gets it in the End (and Mom Does Too!)" from Cherry #12, where Cherry starts to undo the zipper on her boyfriend's pants so that she can perform fellatio on him. All of the sudden, a male voice yells "CUT!" and the panel pans out to show Cherry and her friend on a set and surrounded by a film crew. The director states that there has been a couple of script changes, much to Cherry's confusion.


  • Some authors of Anime fanfiction have employed this trope by by providing "outtakes" from their story, or by suggesting that the characters of various cancelled or completed series are now unemployed and are taking jobs in fan-written stories in order to make ends meet. (See here for some classic examples of both.)
  • At least one author has written a series whose entire focus is on this sort of thing.
  • Trimatter's In The Lunchroom uses this device to comment tellingly on Adaptation Decay and the evolution of Fanon in fan fiction.
  • Similarly to Trimatter's story, Clell65619's Harry Potter and the Read Through mixes this and Meta Fic, as the cast of the Harry Potter novels critique the new fanfic script they've just been handed.

Film: Animated

  • Pixar used to play faux-Hilarious Outtakes (or is it Hilarious faux-Outtakes?) during the credits of their movies, complete with falling boom mics, backdrops, flubbed lines, and crew members. They stopped the practice and switched to other credit bonuses when they thought it was becoming too predictable.
  • The Danish animated film Terkel in Trouble had semi-interviews with the actors, with most or all of them Playing Against Type.
  • An interesting example is Aki Ross, the protagonist from Final Fantasy the Spirits Within. Hironobu Sakaguchi intended for Aki to appear as a digital "actress" in multiple feature films. Aki's career was tragically cut short by the box office failure of her debut film, the aforementioned Final Fantasy, and the subsequent bankruptcy of Square Pictures. However, before the latter was finalized, Square produced a demo for the Animatrix project featuring a PVC-clad, short-haired Aki acrobatically dueling a sentinel from the Matrix films.
    • Most bizarre was her layout in FHM, the point of which (other than the obvious) was to trick people into thinking it was a real person, thus showcasing the amazing advances in covering up a complete lack of movie with awesome visuals.
    • The Movie's DVD release included a faked blooper reel. While some of the bloopers could never happen in real life (Such as crashing their ship and emerging with shrapnel sticking out of their heads) others were more realistic, with the characters spoiling takes by sneezing or corpsing.
  • A special feature on the Kaena: The Prophecy DVD had the female lead, Kaena, being interviewed in regards to the many demands of her role, such as the physicality (it only seems to play in French, though).
  • Wreck-It Ralph does this with videogame characters. The title character is an arcade villain dissatisfied with doing the same routine for 30 straight years, even going to Bad-Anon meetings with other characters. When he decides to try his hand at being a hero, he abandons his game, causing his character sprite to disappear from the arcade machine.

Film: Live Action

  • Who Framed Roger Rabbit? featured Baby Herman, a hard-drinking, smoking, sexually-harassing animated actor who, because of his looks, played innocent-baby parts. In fact, this is the film's whole gimmick: all cartoon stars exist in the real world. One notable instance is a scene where the penguins from Mary Poppins (released a couple decades after the movie is set) work in a bar, implying they had to rely on menial jobs until they got their big break in Poppins.

Live Action TV

  • In the episode "Nasty" of The Young Ones, Alexei Sayle, during his monologue (which usually broke the fourth wall anyway), mentions that the other actors probably talk about him behind his back. Cut to backstage, where the other four are playing cards, still in costume but not in character:

Adrian Edmonson (Vyvyan): I hate him.
Nigel Planer (Neil): He drinks like a fish.
Rik Mayall (Rick): Yes, he's got no talent.
Christopher Ryan (Mike): Alexei who?

  • In one extremely strange episode of Power Rangers RPM, the action is paused to take viewers behind the scenes into the making of an episode- but everybody is (sort of) still in character. One segment involves Scott and Tenya 7 practising their moves and explicitly stating that they do this so neither of them get hurt. Scott might not want to hurt Tenya cause he's The Hero, but in character, she would kill him.
  • An episode of Dinosaurs dedicated to everyone acting really strange after finding a mysterious "plant" ended with shooting concluding and Robbie walking off set to deliver a PSA... about how if people talked about these things in real life, they wouldn't have to do these PSAs.

Newspaper Comics

  • Bloom County sometimes used this—on at least one occasion the strip came to a screeching halt mid-panel because Opus hadn't received that day's script; and in one storyline all the "actors" went on strike.
  • Ink Pen: Based around a temp agency for Animated Actors.
  • Pearls Before Swine uses this trope liberally.

Puppet Shows

  • Very common in The Muppets productions.
    • The Jim Henson Hour episode that ran the original Dog City included a "Making Of" segment which revealed, amongst other things, that the stunts were done by cats in dog costumes.


  • The Goon Show did this sort of thing on radio, with characters frequently commenting on the story, insulting the announcer and generally drawing attention to the fact that they are on stage recording a radio show. Furthermore, as Roger Wilmut points out in his book The Goon Show Companion, the characters often make remarks to each other in character which make it clear that they are already acquainted. In other words, the actors are playing characters who are themselves playing characters.
    • In one episode, "The Phantom Head-Shaver of Brighton" was revealed to be...Wallace Greenslade, the narrator.
  • To some extent this was also imitated by later shows like Round the Horne, I'm Sorry Ill Read That Again and The Burkiss Way.
  • This was combined with The Danza on Hello Cheeky. The actors played personas of themselves (thus John Junkin was a serious professional, Barry Cryer a lovable swine, Tim Brooke-Taylor a naïve snob and Denis King a ditzy egotist), and these personas were treated as the real actors, who played every character of every sketch. The writing credits were the same in-universe as well, which meant that some episodes included jokes about characters shirking their duties.

Barry: We present our play of the week. It's called 'Krunggeqwertyuiop', because I was drunk when I typed it.


Video Games

  • A variant is the oft-copied Looney Tunes short "Duck Amuck", in which Daffy Duck has a running argument with a malevolent animator who repaints the scenery and Daffy himself to twist the reality of the story. Warner Brothers even did this again, to Bugs Bunny, in the short "Rabbit Rampage". This was further repeated when the latter short was remade into a Super Nintendo game which gleefully referenced the original short plus several other Bugs Bunny cartoons, with the final boss being against Daffy Duck in some of his appearances (including Duck Dodgers and Robin Hood Daffy). And again when the original cartoon was remade into a Nintendo DS game.
  • Marvel Ultimate Alliance has a Hilarious Outtakes segment wherein it's revealed that the various characters apparently did their own voice acting. Even during evil ninja attacks!
  • After Jade Empire ends, the characters Dawn Star and Sagacious Zu talk about their careers and how they landed their roles in the game. Dawn Star talks about her past in "dancing," while Sagacious Zu talks about being typecast as the mysterious loner.
  • The end credits of the '90s Sierra Adventure Game Freddy Pharkas: Frontier Pharmacist were broken up into chunks, alternating between real credits, and then scenes where the actors got out of character and complained go the game's director. Interestingly enough, the "actors" playing the characters had different names than those of the characters' own voice actors.
  • Eat Lead: The Return of Matt Hazard's plot involves a corrupt CEO's plan to kill off a video game character that he can't simply fire because he has a lifetime contract.
  • All but directly stated in the massive fourth wall break at the end of Sonic Chronicles: The Dark Brotherhood. The characters start discussing the Cliff Hanger ending and talk about the team that made the game; a not-so-subtle (but funny) way of hiding the credits.
  • The first Splinter Cell game had an extra with the computer generated "Sam Fisher" being interviewed in the game's live action production office, claiming that he'd originally been hired as a Special Forces consultant and Mo Cap artist ("all those splits... ow.").
  • Rival Schools: United by Fate had an unlockable Hilarious Outtakes video featuring the fighters as actors.
  • All arcs of Higurashi no Naku Koro ni has a "wrap party" featuring all the characters except Keiichi (who absence Rika Lampshades is just because he doesn't have a character image), including Satoko wondering that the point of the ending was, and if it pissed the player off.
  • Parodied and Subverted, like everything else in the first after game Tea Party of Umineko no Naku Koro ni, the spiritual sequel of the above. After the series of grisly murders and the bad ending, Battler finds himself completely confused and sitting around with the other murder victims, who are cheerfully having tea and snacks, complaining about how they died, and insisting on how the Witch killed them. Battler refuses to believe in this conclusion, all the victims rapidly revert back to their state of death, the witch Beatrice reveals herself, and whisks Battler away to Purgatorio, where the two begin their logic battles that sets off the remaining episodes.
  • Meta example: The Japanese voice cast of the BlazBlue series host a radio show on Nico Nico Douga, in which they speak as themselves, but are represented in the videos as their respective characters.
    • Except for Daisuke Ishiwatari, who is represented by Sol Badguy.
  • In Poker Night At the Inventory, Max and Strong Bad occasionally discuss Telltale Games, who made episodic adventure games for both franchises (as well as Poker Night); Max is happy with his games, Strong Bad is not. Also played with for the Heavy Weapons Guy, as Tycho recognizes him as a video game character while the Heavy himself seems to be unaware.
  • While it doesn't occur in the actual game, Borderlands has the Claptrap web series of ads, depicting the characters as actors on a set with a Claptrap as the temperamental director.

Web Animation

  • Episode 10 of Bowser's Kingdom is an episode where Geno hosts a interview show with the cast from said series.


  • Sam Sprinkles, from Zebra Girl, is a deconstruction of the trope, as he's a Funny Animal rabbit actor from a parallel universe which seems to exist mostly to create cartoons for the main universe of the strip. After his show was canceled, he became a homeless, manic-depressive alcoholic. Of course, his experiences as an actor have left him impossibly Genre Savvy.
  • Implied a couple of times in Sluggy Freelance, with the implication that the characters are themselves but also acting their parts (though in the story at large, they're not). The biggest use of the idea was in "Sluggy Freelance, where are you?" where a number of guest artists teamed together during Pete Abrams's "paternity leave" to draw a filler story in which the original cast had gone missing and characters from other comics were hired to act their roles.
  • Used constantly in In Wily's Defense. The author decided near the end of the first "season" that his webcomic was a TV Show and stuck with it in every breach of the fourth wall from there to the end.
  • Done a few times with Sore Thumbs.
  • In the Gunnerkrigg Court interlude City Face, the commentary below each page speaks of the characters like actors playing roles. And the Shout Box below these pages featured commentary from these in-universe actors rather than from Real Life readers.
  • The premise of Greystone Inn is that comic strips are produced like television shows, a la Roger Rabbit. The webcomic follows the behind-the-scenes business of the fictional syndicated comic of the same name, of which we are shown very little.
  • Checkerboard Nightmare follows the titular character (usually just called "Chex") throughout his comic book adventures. While the series is mostly a No Fourth Wall story, there are moments where even that premise is broken and they step out of "character" to talk about production of the comic... which itself is about the characters sitting around talking about the comic.
  • Red vs. Blue has the PSAs that feature the characters talking as if they are acting. This tends to be limited to the main cast, the Reds and Blues, and doesn't feature other characters like the Freelancers or any of the AI.
  • El Goonish Shive: In an EGS:NP strip Tedd (who is 17 in-story) claims to be twenty-one outside of continuity due to Webcomic Time, creating a sort of Animated Actors Dawson Casting.
  • The Order of the Stick #227: An expository flashback ends and we cut back to the main cast taking a break. When Celia points out that the flashback is over everyone rushes to get ready. Elan complains that they're supposed to get a 2-panel warning and Vaarsuvius states that he well be calling his agent as soon as the story arc ends.
  • In a few strips of Dark Legacy Comics, Keydar the rogue is shown to be the cartoonist. In two strips, Donald draws the strips instead.
  • The Cartoon Chronicles of Conroy Cat takes place in a world where all toons are actors, and the titular character's many jobs involve working behind-the-scenes of several cartoon series.
  • Shadowgirls did this once, giving a behind-the-scenes tour guided by Lindsey.
  • Megatokyo frequently features its own characters in non-plot-related comics, both the serious and the parodies. Notable examples are Seraphim's Corner, Full Megatokyo Panic, Circuitry and unMod.

Western Animation

  • Cartoon Network used to play a meta version of this trope in their commercials, suggesting that all the toons actually worked in their offices.
  • Sealab 2021 had four episodes of this type.
    • The last one actually had a person asking "Are you supposed to be the actual characters, or the actors playing them?" to which the answer was "Absolutely."
  • In I Am Weasel, the director was the devilish series antagonist.
  • Sheep in The Big City did this constantly. They would often cut to the narrator as he commented on a particularly ridiculous aspect of the storyline. One episode takes place "behind the scenes", with General Specific attempting a Hostile Show Takeover.
  • A variant is the oft-copied Looney Tunes short Duck Amuck, in which Daffy Duck has a running argument with a malevolent animator who repaints the scenery and Daffy himself to twist the reality of the story. Warner Brothers even did this again, to Bugs Bunny, in the short Rabbit Rampage. This was further repeated when the latter short was remade into a Super Nintendo game which gleefully referenced the original short plus several other Bugs Bunny cartoons, with the final boss being against Daffy Duck in some of his appearances (including Duck Dodgers and Robin Duck). And again when the original cartoon was remade into a Nintendo DS game.
    • Other Looney Tunes cartoons played with the idea that the film was actually a stage show, allowing Bugs to turn and address the audience (who in some cases talked back, an effect that was lost on youngsters watching them on television), and treating the screen as nothing more than a backdrop on that notional stage. Porky Pig, Elmer Fudd, and several other Looney Tunes characters have either threatened to resign from or torn up their acting contracts during a cartoon if things begin to go badly for them.
      • Taz has done this at least once in Taz-Mania.
    • The Scarlet Pumpernickel has Daffy Duck complaining to an unseen producer about being typecast in comedy and pitching his script for a swashbuckler starring himself.
  • Clerks the Animated Series played with this a lot in the opening sequences, for instance having characters answering fan mail (well, mostly hate mail) and attending a convention.
  • As usual, The Simpsons subverted it in an episode where Homer goes to an art gallery which is displaying Matt Groening's work. He says something like "Matt Groening! He doesn't belong in a museum! He can barely even draw!" Then a giant pencil eraser appears and seems to "erase" Homer. We then zoom out to see that the giant pencil is being carried by two museum workers and is part of the scene. Another episode was a mock "behind-the-scenes" episode, featuring the supposed "actors" that portray the characters, with (for example) the actor playing Lisa complaining that they made her take anti-growth hormones to keep her as a child throughout the show's run.
  • In The Critic, Jay Sherman addresses the audience a few times. One episode he does this is "A Little Deb Will Do Ya," in which he tells the audience not to reveal the said episode's twist to those who haven't seen it.
  • Part of the basic premise of Kappa Mikey, which is about actors on a TV series.
  • The first episode of Tiny Toon Adventures began with this trope, and the artist drawing Buster, Babs and the rest of the Toons for the first time.
    • Another episode reverses the typical "big character is actually a guy in a suit" gag by having Sweetie, a tiny pink bird who is probably the smallest regular cast member, turn out to actually be Richard Nixon, who is three times bigger than the costume he's wearing. After zipping the costume back up, Nixon (in Sweetie's voice) complains that he's only getting paid scale.
  • Veggie Tales uses this trope in just about every video/episode. There are the kitchen countertop scenes with Bob, Larry, and maybe another character like Junior, and then they break away for the story. The same "Veggie Tales" characters will play multiple roles in all stories and silly songs. For example, Archibald Asparagus is voiced by Phil Vischer, but Archibald plays the part of Jonah in The Movie.
  • The American Dad episode "Bullocks to Stan" featured the character Klaus commenting on scenes, explaining that he was pretending his life was a TV show and he was doing the commentary. This even happened in one scene that Klaus did not appear on, and explained that the extra playing a chef was the same man who had played somebody else in a previous scene, saying that the man who had been intended to play the chef ("Jimmy Ng") had died during filming. The credits for the episode played over an animated scene of the various "actors" from the show in a behind-the-scenes moment, hugging an unseen character, with the caption "Dedicated to the memory of Jimmy Ng".
    • An episode had the action stop and pull out to reveal a set and a crowd of people gave Roger an award for American Dad's '1000th vagina joke'.
    • An episode had Stan getting fed up with the uninteresting B Story he was in and walking off the set while complaining about the writing.
  • In the episode "Candle Jack", Freakazoid! uncased himself from a rope he'd been tied up with to get up and thank the director and his co-stars. There is a slight difference in that, for instance, he refers to the fact that Cosgrove is voiced by Ed Asner. At the end of the series finale, Freakazoid again thanks the cast and crew, bringing them out for a curtain call and leading them in a stirring rendition of "We'll Meet Again"
    • In another episode a large number of bit characters who had not been seen in some time showed up, demanding to know why. Freakazoid told them that, due to financial problems, the network couldn't keep them all in any position above washing his Freak-Mobile.
  • The planned Grand Finale of The Angry Beavers, "Bye Bye Beavers", demolished the fourth wall by having the characters openly discuss their impending cancellation and complaining about how the network would continue to make money off them while they lost their jobs. Naturally, the network wouldn't allow this to air and production was halted before animation started. (There is, however, a recording of the voice work done for this episode floating around the internet.)
  • The Magic School Bus, when originally shown on PBS, included an ending segment where the show's "producer" (an animated character voiced by Malcolm-Jamal Warner) answered questions supposedly phoned in by kids who had just watched the episode. Some episodes even featured characters from the show picking up the phone themselves or complaining to the producer about how they had been portrayed. The kids calling in were usually just disembodied voices on the producer's speakerphone, but a caller did appear in one episode and was shown to be animated as well. This segment is usually cut in syndication.
    • On an interesting side-note, these segments usually consisted of the producer apologizing for the creative liberties taken with reality (such as explaining that, yes, the heat given off by the lava should've fried the kids by itself), but pointing out that, had they been completely realistic, there would be no story. It was, from an educational stand-point, a refreshing break from most cartoons.
      • The only true Animated Actor in these segments is Liz, Ms. Frizzle's class lizard, as opposed to the producer character, which is only seen in these segments.
      • Phoebe also did the Q&A session once for the desert episode ("All Dried Up").
  • Utilized in an episode of Eek! The Cat, wherein Eek discovers that the voice actor of his girlfriend is a large burly man, and that he himself is voiced by an old lady.
  • House of Mouse, it's basic premise is "The cast of every character in the Disney Animated Canon goes to a night club run by Mickey and Co. to watch shorts staring... Mickey and Co." In one episode, Mickey thought his position as host was being threatened, which sent him into a panic because "Showbusiness was the only thing he could do."
    • In another, Minnie is forced to stall for time with stage acts while Mickey, Goofy, and Donald Duck go film a cartoon, on account of the one they intended to show getting lost (or possibly stolen-an occasionally recurring element was the "Show Must Go On" clause in the lease, which says that landlord Pete, who wants to bulldoze the place to put up some other venture, can't do a thing as long as there's an audience and a show, so he tries varied and sundry plots to remove one or t'other, including stealing all the cartoons).
    • The guests are also hinted at being Animated Actors. In one episode, Cruella de Vil says "One movie and you're labeled for life", and no villain acts as evil in the House of Mouse as they do in their movies. They do silly things based on Flanderization, instead (i.e. Jafar is obsessed with lamps.)
  • One episode of Family Guy had the musical number at the start of every show become completely messed up, with several of the cast suffering what should have been broken bones at the least, and one apparent death. Stewie jumps up in front of the camera and tells the camera guy to stop rolling, cut to the show.
    • Another episode had Stewie make an obvious Manatee Gag set up and when nothing happened he asked if they had a clip to show. Yet another had Brian and Stewie discussing whether a person would be able to understand Stewie fully, which generally only applies to one-off characters and those less connected with the main cast, and a off-screen voice told them they were still filming, and then they got back on with the scene.
    • The episode Business Guy had Peter briefly looking at the camera and realizing they were filming before giving the episode's first line.
      • at least one episode of Family Guy ends with the cast stepping to the front of what is suddenly revealed to be a studio set of their living room, joined by the other characters, and doing a spiel to the audience
  • The Aardman stop-motion animated short Pib and Pog ends with the revelation that the two violent lead characters are merely actors playing roles.
  • Animaniacs is all about this trope, as is stated in the theme song ("We have pay-or-play contracts..."). The Warners and Slappy the Squirrel will remind us of this in nearly every episode. The trope is invoked to the point that it's not always clear where "reality" ends and the show begins. (The premise would appear to be that the scenes at the Warner Studio lot are taking place in the "real world", while the "show" constitutes the skits; yet if Scratchnsniff, Ralph, etc. are also actors in the title sequence, that suggests even those scenes are scripted. What gives?)
  • One King of the Hill episode had Hank Hill end the episode by addressing the audience about the nudity of the preceding episode (a shot of Hank's bare ass). He claims as an actor he would only agree to a small amount of nudity if it was required for the story (but the Fox Executives were pushing for a lot more). He then apologizes to anyone who was offended by his nude body.
    • Likewise, a clip specially animated for a blooper show featured a "blooper" wherein Luanne's top accidentally falls off during "filming" of a scene. Everyone chuckles and Hank teases that Luanne "already got the job."
    • There was a storyline that played during promos between the end of the second season and the beginning of the third involving a network plan to move the series to Los Angeles (Mayor Guiliani pitched for New York). After it was resolved that the show would stay in Arlen, the season-ending cliffhanger was discussed (Hank promised that the death of a main character would happen over his dead body).
    • This sort of thing was surprisingly somewhat common, where one of the main characters would show up during the credits to talk about a certain subject, usually what the episode was centered around. For example, in Keeping Up With the Jonses, a smoking related episode, Boomhauer talks about the dangers of smoking. The Perils of Polling likewise had Hank talking about the importance of voting.
  • Henry and June of KaBlam!!.
  • A late-entry Terrytoon, "It's a Living", starred aggressively cute stock character Dinky Duck, who's had enough of his cartoon routine and walks off the movie screen, 'Purple Rose of Cairo' style, for the greener pastures of television.
  • The Total Drama series, although they're more Animated Reality Show contestants (other shows in the universe, including Celebrity Manhunt, suggest that it is an animated world where the contestants are in a regular reality show).
  • Dave the Barbarian would occasionally conclude a show with several of the characters sitting off-set in a typical film studio to address the audience about some issue they may have had with the episode. Of course there was never any serious talk given.
  • The Cleveland Show does this in Cleveland Live!, the first episode of the second season.
  • Occasionally done on Jimmy Two-Shoes. One short had Jimmy and Lucius host a blooper reel.
  • Daria had several marathons and specials featuring the cast as these.
  • Done in many episodes of Garfield and Friends. Once in "Flat Tired" Garfield is sleeping and the director tells him to wake up and start the cartoon. He says he's tired and the director picks Odie to replace him in the episode. Garfield watches the cartoon on tv as it happens and makes comments. When Odie gets in trouble the director asks Garfield if he's going to do anything. Garfield agrees to help, but insists he get guest star money
  • Frequently happens in the teasers on Arthur.
  • Happened a lot in The Twisted Tales of Felix the Cat. For instance, in one episode Felix washes up on a beach and has an argument with a clam about whether or not he should get up and explore the island. The clam pulls a script out of its shell and declares that Felix has to explore the island, since it's in the script. Felix sighs and gets up to instigate the rest of the episode.
  • The basic premise of "Drawn Together" - Every character is an Expy of a famous animated character, and they're all cooped up together in a 'reality' show.