The Fourth Wall Will Not Protect You

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Fourth Wall Breach Advisory by bamthand.jpeg
"Ladies and gentlemen, please do not panic. But scream! Scream for your lives! The Tingler is loose in this theater!"
Vincent Price as Dr. Chapin in The Tingler

A monster is on the loose terrorizing a bunch of innocent people. As long as the monster and the victims are characters in a fictional world, one would usually be correct to assume that the boundaries of the Fourth Wall will be respected. But then, Breaking the Fourth Wall, the monster assaults the omniscient narrator, or leaps out at the audience.

See also Rage Against the Author and The Most Dangerous Video Game. May involve Sean Connery Is About to Shoot You or Tome of Eldritch Lore. For an in-universe equivalent, see Dead Line News. Compare Refugee From TV Land.


Examples of The Fourth Wall Will Not Protect You include:

Anime and Manga[edit | hide | hide all]

Comic Books[edit | hide]

  • In DC Comics' Animal Man comics written by Grant Morrison, the evil and crazy Psycho-Pirate has become aware of the comic-book-reader audience and is trying to goad his army of resurrected super-villains into attacking them. (Morrison's entire run is about the growing awareness of the characters that they're in a comic book.)
    • The peak of this is probably when the hero has a mind-expanding peyote trip, looks out of the frame at the reader and cries "OH MY GOD! I CAN SEE YOU!"
  • In the DC Comics series Infinite Crisis and the Marvel Comics series Infinity Crusade, both Big Bads intentionally endanger the reader. 
    • DC used this on occasion, under the claim that "Earth Prime" was the reader's home dimension, and so any threat to the multiverse was a threat to the reader. This... stopped working. Hey, remember how the universe was destroyed by a wave of antimatter in 1985, and suddenly reappeared in 2006? Me neither.
  • A Fridge Logic-y version occasionally happens with The Joker. He never outright states he can see you or interact with you, but he does interact with his own speech balloons and has turned the page for the reader, indicating that he knows you're out there. Now, consider what the Joker tends to do to people...


Fan Works[edit | hide]

Princess Gaia: "And why would you want to be 'protected' from mama sweetheart? I just want you to be happy and safe. Just listen to mama's singing and you'll understand."

THE SCARIEST PART IS THAT THE MAN WAS YOU!!! (OR HE WAS A LADY IF YOU ARE A LADY) AND YOU FORGOT THAT THIS HAPPENED

  • Imperfect Metamorphosis is an Alternate Universe Touhou Fanfic. A much-hyped and foreshadowed climatic battle occurred between Yukari Yakumo and Yuuka Kazami. At the end, Yukari merged her soul with Yuuka's, in the attempt to effectively destroy her. It failed, but because Yukari is connected at a deep level with reality's veil, Yuuka saw every single reality that exists or that we created with our imagination for just about everything. She knows about us. She knows about TV Tropes. And she made that fact known.
  • This was a key element to the infamous Revenge Wars fics which flooded the Anime Fan Fiction Mailing List in the mid- to late-1990s in response to and in the wake of Scott "SKJAM!" Jamison's story Sauce: tired of being jerked around, romantically and otherwise, by the various fic authors, assorted anime characters enter the real world to mess with them in return.

Film - Animation[edit | hide]

  • In Disney's animated Robin Hood, the rooster narrator is seen in prison. He explains that he's in for tax evasion and that even he isn't above the law.

Film - Live Action[edit | hide]

  • The ending of The Woman in Black, where Jennett looks directly at the camera, implying that your children will die next.
  • A splice between this and Leaning on the Fourth Wall is Kevin McCarthy near the end of the original Invasion of the Body Snatchers screaming "You're next!" at the audience.
  • William Castle, director of The Tingler and several other films, was famous for using these kinds of audience-threatening gimmicks to draw in audiences.
  • Wes Craven's New Nightmare involved Freddy escaping into the "real world", so that a new movie had to be made to imprison him again.
    • The earthquake was written into the script before it occurred for real. Robert Englund plays both a fictionalized version of himself and Freddy Krueger, who is listed as "himself" in the end credits.
    • Freddy Krueger himself could be considered an almost meta application of this trope, as he leaves his first few victims alive so that they'll tell people about the scary burned man with claws in their dreams, so other people will have nightmares about him too... Which, when one stops to think about it, includes the audience.
  • The Last Horror Movie is based around this trope. The entire premise is that a real-life serial killer has taped over the slasher movie you rented, and when you finish watching the film, he's going to come and kill you, too. Unfortunately, the effect is spoiled somewhat if you bought the film on DVD.
  • In Gremlins 2 The New Batch, the Gremlins break out of the movie and assault the projectionist, forcing them to run other movies. They are eventually stopped by Hulk Hogan and the movie proper resumes. When the movie was released to video, the sequence was changed to the Gremlins breaking into the TV and being defeated by Stock Footage of John Wayne. The theatrical version with Hulk Hogan is restored for the DVD release. 
    • In the novelization, the Brain Gremlin hijacks the book to talk about the Gremlins' hopes and desires. He is cut off by the novelist, David Bischoff, managing to axe his way through the locked door of the room where he keeps his computer, and Brainy decides to git while the gitting's good.
  • On YouTube there is a video of a J-Pop group Morning Musume watching The Ring in absolute horror... so when a girl with black hair and a white robe pops out from under the TV and starts lumbering towards them, they FLIP OUT. Funny stuff. (Especially if you don't like that pop band.)
    • The American remake plays with this. The movie ends with Rachel guiding her son into making a copy of the tape to save his life. When he asks what will happen to the people who see it, the camera zooms into the video screen and forces the audience to watch the tape again, implying that it's us.
    • Even without that implication, one of the reasons this film was an international success is surely that it plays on the fear behind this trope: not only are these "fictional" horrors real, they're coming to get you.
    • The DVD version of The Ring has a special feature that lets you watch the video in its entirety. Once started, cannot be stopped by any means whatsoever, except unplugging your dvd player. After it's finished and you return to the title screen of the DVD, it plays the sound of a phone ringing.
  • An in-movie example happens at the beginning of Demoni 2 (Demons 2 in English), when a young girl watches a movie about a Zombie Apocalypse caused by virulent Demonic Possession, a demon inside the TV pushes its way out into the real world and turns her, triggering a new outbreak. It seems just like a gimmick at first, but then you realise YOU'RE watching the same kind of movie she was...
  • The Great Train Robbery might be the Ur Example for film. It doesn't even fit into the plot: just that at the end, a rough-looking bandit aims and fires his revolver at the audience. Some people fainted when this was first shown.
  • The original House on Haunted Hill ends with one of the characters facing the camera and stating that the ghosts will come for "you" next.
  • Used in two of the Amicus portmanteau films. Torture Garden ends with Dr Diabolo, a distinctly playful Satan, saying that it's only sporting to give his clients a chance of escaping his domain; "...but will YOU?" In the 1972 Tales From The Crypt, Ralph Richardson's gloomy Crypt Keeper dispatches all his unwilling guests to a Fire and Brimstone Hell, then turns to camera and says "Now, who's next?"
  • John Carpenter's In the Mouth of Madness. The film you just watched is the one which is driving people insane!
  • The end of Videodrome. The main character ends up in a room with a television playing a clip of him putting his gun to his head and pulling the trigger. As he does, the screen explodes and intestines pour out. Immediately afterwards, the clip starts playing out around him. He puts the gun to his head. Bang. Try watching this on your own television in the middle of the night. It's fun.
  • During one showing of Scream 2, whose opening features a couple stabbed to death during a preview of the Show Within a Show Stab, a woman was stabbed by the man sitting next to her, just as in the movie.
  • This trope is the basis of the plot for Stranger Than Fiction.
  • This is also the basis of the plot for Midnight Movie
  • The sheer nature of how The Rocky Horror Picture Show has evolved allows for this - while the movie plays on the screen, actors bring the story to life around you... or in the case of the bedroom scenes, on top of you.
  • The original ending of Little Shop of Horrors (which can be found on YouTube) where Audrey II crashes through the screen of the film and laughs as the camera (audience) goes closer and closer into its gaping maw.
  • The first movie ever shown publicly did this. The Lumiere Brothers' first film began with a train heading straight for the camera; people dove out of their seats during the screening.
  • The movie The Stuff advertised itself with "public service announcements" warning viewer that the Stuff was real, dangerous, and something to be avoided at all costs.

Literature[edit | hide]

  • House of Leaves begins with repeated warnings from Johnny Truant (the fictional editor of the book) not to read the book because it will scare the pants off of you and prevent you from sleeping ever again if the Minotaur doesn't rip your throat out first and you will find yourself noticing that the walls of your house are maybe just a tiny bit off. As the book continues, Johnny Truant steadily goes insane after reading Zampanò's notes, even though he believes them to be largely fictional.
  • A short story from Asimov's Science Fiction in the 1990s was told by a narrator who had encountered some cursed words in a library book that caused the reader to suffer horrible bad luck for the rest of his or her life - whoops, you just read them, too! Fortunately, words that will negate all such curses and give the reader good luck turn up in the same book near story's end.
  • A short story by SF author Frederic Brown, "Don't Look Behind You", was the alleged first-hand account of a supposed real killer who got a hold of one of the copies of the short story collection it was in. He inserted this one and only version of the story under an appropriate-looking title and is lurking around near whoever got the copy of the book with it. The author apparently didn't take into account that some people may have checked the book out of a public library a great many years after it was published.
    • A story with the same gimmick by Steve Gerber, titled something like "In The Shadows, In The City", appeared in the black-and-white Marvel magazine Haunt of Horror (not their short-lived prose mag of the same title). 
    • Anthony Horowitz included a very similar short story in one of his Horrowitz Horror books. The first letters of every paragraph spell out "I am going to murder you soon."
  • Shel Silverstein once wrote a poem about the ugliest, scariest, meanest monster in the world. And it's standing right behind you.
  • The Thackery T. Lambshead Guide To Discredited Diseases has a number of entries marked with a symbol that means "Can be contracted by reading this entry". One of them, Buscard's Murrain, causes the speaker to continuously repeat a word called "the wormword". The disease is caused by pronouncing the word correctly... and of course they've gone and printed the word in the entry (yGudluh).
  • In L. Frank Baum's The Magic of Oz, the story reveals a word that causes magical transformations when uttered. The omniscient narrator says that he would dare not reveal the word to the readers if he thought the readers would be able to use it to transform themselves or others, but since no one (other than Bini Aru or Kiki Aru) had been able to pronounce the word "Pyrzqxgl" correctly, he felt safe in revealing the word to the reader.
    • In Zenna Henderson's short story "The Believing Child", first-grader Dismey Coven learns the word from her teacher—and learns its pronunciation from her mother. The story ends with the teacher trying to persuade Dismey that yes, Bannie and Michael were indeed very mean and unkind to her, but they've been rocks all day long and now it's time to turn them back into little boys ...
  • Similarly, Jesus may be able to "see" back down the wormcam in The Light of Other Days, although this is only vaguely hinted.
  • From The Dark Tower, about Mordred:

Just don't take your eye off what you see, for even in your imagination, here is a creature who can do damage. Remember that it came of two fathers, both of them killers.

  • In Clive Barker's book Mister B. Gone, this trope is used horrifyingly well. The demon narrator tells the reader to close the book and burn it, at first asking, then begging, then moving into genuinely terrifying threats. Given what he does for the whole second half of the book, his descriptions of what he will do to torture you and his noting that he could be right behind you, that you could turn around and not have time to scream are not easily shrugged off. No reader, even the firmest of cynics, would want to finish the book.
    • In the end he admits it was all a trick. He WANTS you to burn the book, and set him free. He can't really do anything to you after all. He asks if you will give the book to someone you don't like even.
  • This is the primary conceit of the literary classic The Monster at the End of This Book; Grover warns the reader not to finish the book, as they will surely be devoured by the monster. In the legendary and chilling denouement, it is revealed that Grover himself is the monster at the end of the book, and the reader is in no real danger.
    • The trope is also reversed in this book, as the fourth wall does not protect Grover from the reader.
  • An odd example occurred with Thomas Harris when writing Red Dragon. He planned out the scenes by imagining he was an invisible observer watching the whole thing play out ... except he just couldn't shake the idea that unlike with the other characters, he wasn't 100% invisible to Lecter. Even though this was a fictional character Harris himself was creating, Hannibal Lecter was still watching him.
    • Most writers have this particular fear... they just don't talk about it.
  • Greg Heffley from Diary of a Wimpy Kid once watched a movie with his friend Rowley, about a muddy hand that goes around killing people. The last person who sees the hand is always the next victim. At the end of the movie, the hand crawls straight towards the screen, implying that Greg and Rowley are the next victims. This kept them nervous and paranoid for the rest of the book.
  • In "Spiral" (the sequel to "Ring"), it's mentioned that in addition of the Ring movie created to spread the virus, one of the characters wrote the story in book form. Just try and not drop the book in a moment of self-doubting horror.
  • The Animorphs are always quick to remind the reader that absolutely no one is safe from the Yeerks, repeatedly noting that this includes the readers, the readers' friends, the readers' families... This fact is constantly reiterated by the teaser narration on the backs of all the books: "Everyone is in danger. Yeah. Even you."
  • Mostly Harmless ends the ever-decreasingly-accurately-named Hitchhiker's Guide trilogy with a bang: a reality-manipulating device (The Guide 2.0) completes the extermination of Earth and the prevention of The Question's revelation, by causing a chain reaction of events that resulted in all humans who had ever left Earth being on Earth when it was destroyed in every possible dimension and timeline. Douglas Adams had been considering a sixth book in the series, which would necessitate bringing back Arthur Dent and thus chunks, but died of a heart-attack before he could write it. Did The Guide 2.0 do it?
  • A nice one on the Brazilian series "Dragoes do Eter". The author actually uses the reader as a character, making him affect the story, making the characters aware that there are readers, but they actually think the readers are "Demi-gods". In this universe, Demi-gods are the most powerful beings in existence, and whenever The Narrator starts talking to you, awesome happens. If you find that technique to be cheesy or that it gets old like DC's Earth Prime, I ensure you that it's Better Than It Sounds
  • In the fourth book of The Pendragon Adventure, The Reality Bug, the Reality Bug plagues a virtual reality program that might kill everyone who is plugged into it. At the end of the book, the bug punched a hole in reality, thus escaping and ready to murder people in the real world.


Live-Action TV[edit | hide]

  • The Doctor Who episode "Blink" ends with the Weeping Angels having been defeated and everything back to normal... except then there's a creepy montage of angel statues, implying that every single one of them is out to get you.
    • Even more fourth-wall breaking is that the angels which can only move when no humans can see them never move when the viewer can see them, even if no on-screen characters are looking...but can move once the viewer can't see them.
    • Taken to epically scary levels in the new episode "The Time of Angels" when it's revealed that Angels can project themselves through pictures of themselves.
  • Apparently, Rod Serling isn't immune to this trope either. In the end of the episode "A World of His Own" in The Twilight Zone, which featured a dictation machine that would summon whatever had its description recorded and make it disappear when the corresponding tape was destroyed, Rod assured us that the episode, was entirely fictional and stuff like that wouldn't happen, but West looks at him and says, "Rod, you shouldn't!" Then West promptly takes out another envelope out of the safe, and the envelope contains the film Rod was described on, and West says that "[Rod] shouldn't say such things as 'nonsense' and 'ridiculous'!" Then promptly tosses it into the fire. Then Rod says, "Well, that's the way it goes," and vanishes.
  • Roman Nebakov of Life officially makes the jump from Smug Snake to Magnificent Bastard when he breaks through the fourth wall, killing the cameraman from season one, and using the camera to make a ransom video.
    • That's not a straight example. The cameraman he killed is making an (sort of) in-universe documentary. Several other characters interact with him as well, and his footage is obviously different than the shows typical film style.
  • On Discovery Kids' Channel, there was a show called Truth Or Scare. One episode was about vampires, and the final few minutes were devoted to the story of Dracula. The host mentions it's a bit odd that a simple bowie-knife killed Dracula, and perhaps he was meant to come back. She then suddenly stares directly at the camera, leaning forward with a creepy look on her face, and monotones "Harker, you fool..."
  • In Are You Afraid of the Dark?: The Tale of the Midnight Madness, the vampire escapes the movie and haunts the protagonists in the "real" world.
  • The BBC production Ghostwatch. The implication is that the program was acting as a national séance and that watching it has let the ghost loose in your home.

Music[edit | hide]

  • The music video for Will Smith's "Men in Black" has him using the neuralizer on the audience. A commercial for the film also did this: 

Announcer: For those who have already seen Men In Black...
Will Smith: Sorry! (activates neuralizer)

    • The Men In Black ride at Universal ends similarly. The idea for the ads was so that you could see the movie "again, for the first time."
    • This was also done in a Code Geass AMV set to "Men In Black", with Lelouch geassing the viewer.
  • Played for laughs in Weird Al's song "I'll Sue Ya", where he points at the screen at one point and shouts "I might even sue YOU!"
    • Also in "Don't Download This Song", which is The Long List of Very Bad Things that will happen to you if you pirated the song off the Internet. Of course, part of the joke was that this was a preview track for the album it was on that was available as a free download.

Newspaper Comics[edit | hide]

  • In a Calvin and Hobbes strip, Calvin's Dad does this by his intention to read Calvin a bedtime story about a severed hand that strangles people. Calvin faints around the point Calvin's Dad sticks a hand through the neck hole of his own shirt and grabs his own throat, screaming. This proves to be the most effective way of getting Calvin quiet and into bed.


Radio[edit | hide]

  • In one of Bill Cosby's comedy routines, the "Chicken Heart" story of the radio program Lights Out ends with the eponymous monster paying the audience a visit. "It's in your home state!" *bump-bump* *bump-bump* "It's outside of your door!" *bump-bump* *bump-bump* "And it's going to eat YOU up!" It scares Little Cos badly enough to both smear Jello all over the floor AND set the sofa on fire. Crowning Moment of Funny.


Theatre[edit | hide]

  • Open Circle's production in Seattle of Pickman's Model (by H.P. Lovecraft) abused the fourth wall when one actress screamed at the audience, "This person needs help! This is not part of the performance! Stop sitting there and somebody call for help!" Actually, yes, it was, it was just part of a performance inside a performance. Some audience members seized their cell phones in a moment of panic, while others just watched the performance continue. 
  • Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street: "Sweeney waits in the parlor hall / Sweeney leans on the office wall / Nowhere to run, nothing can hide you / Isn't that Sweeney there beside you?"
    • They then point at the audience and accuse them of being just as depraved. The actor portraying Sweeney Todd may even enter and start singing from behind the audience!
    • During "Epiphany" Sweeney starts pointing at the audience and offering to give several members a 'shave'.
  • Sondheim likes this trope. Both Into the Woods and Assassins feature the lesser version, with a group of characters turning on the omniscient narrator. Taken Up to Eleven in Into the Woods, when the narrator (who had been narrating the first act and the second act up till now) gets noticed by the characters in the story, and offered up as bait for the giant that wants to kill them all, stating "he's not one of us." This is ultimately how the narrator dies -- the giant picks him up then simply drops him. Splat!
  • Tanz der Vampire includes several moments where vampires appear in the auditorium, with the audience. And the closing number is them essentially declaring that you're next, which would be pretty creepy if it weren't actually the upside of a Downer Ending.
  • Played with in some performances of The Phantom of the Opera during a sequence where the Phantom projects his voice into the theater the audience is sitting in. ("I'm here, the Phantom of the Opera!")
  • At the end of Pippin the Players try and convince to audience to come on stage and light themselves on fire in Pippin's place. In some productions they go into the house, and even succeed in getting people almost to the stage before the Leading Player steps in and stops them. But then again, there isn't much of a Fourth Wall in Pippin anyway.
  • The "Don't Feed The Plants" ending of Little Shop of Horrors. Warnings are sung directly to the audience, and the plant puppet leans into the audience and the theatre finally goes dark after it opens wider than it ever previously did in the show.


Theme Parks[edit | hide]

  • Disney Theme Parks
    • Disney World's Great Movie Ride: Halfway through your friendly tour guide goes off to investigate something and has the tour get hijacked by a movie character.
    • In the "Honey, I Shrunk the Audience" attraction at Disneyland, a bunch of animals are shown prominently giving the effect they're almost getting out of the screen and endangering the audience. Of particular notability are rats that would "jump" into the theater at the same time... something would rub into the spectator's legs.
      • There's a similar one in Disney's California Adventure based on A Bug's Life, too. That latter one fits the trope especially well, since it can cause actual discomfort - there are rods that poke out of the back of the seat to simulate giant bee stings. Potential Nightmare Fuel for sure. (This film also plays at Disney's Animal Kingdom in Florida.)
        • At this particular point, it's common to see most of the audience lean forward for no apparent reason. Woe betide the newcomer who does not follow suit.
      • Yet a third such attraction is the Muppets 3D show, also at California Adventure. In this case, though, while the fourth wall won't save you, Rule of Funny will; the only thing that happens to the audience is getting squirted by a gag lapel flower, because the rest of the time, the Muppets are too busy inflicting their shenanigans on each other to bother the audience. (This film also plays at Disney's Hollywood Studios in Florida.)
    • One of the oldest examples was the final stretch of the "Haunted Mansion", when the Lemony Narrator warns of the ghosts coming home with you uninvited just before passing mirrors which reflect ghosts sitting in the cars beside passengers.
  • Tactile effects have become pretty popular in 3-D attractions (often labelled "4-D"). "Shrek 4-D" at Universal Studios and "Borg Invasion" in the (now closed) Star Trek Experience in Las Vegas are two more examples.
  • Also, at an Alien vs. Predator performance in Universal Studios the Predator actor would routinely walk among the audience and scare them.


Video Games[edit | hide]

  • In Alan Wake, after a big plot-revealing moment, the villain Barbara Jagger looks down on the protagonist, and then briefly glimpses at the camera, before suddenly leap/teleporting right into the viewers face, angrily growling "You!" Oh yeah. She knows you're watching...
  • In Assassin's Creed II, Desmond is creeped out when Minerva looks at him instead of Ezio and warns about the impending apocalypse. Ezio meanwhile is left in utter confusion as to who Desmond is, presumably for the rest of his life.
  • In Batman: Arkham Asylum, the game appears to CRASH at one point to mess with your head, just to get a taste of how Batman must be feeling when he's getting pumped full of Scarecrow toxin.
  • Comix Zone has the artist for his own comic get attacked by one of the villians after a lightning strike.
  • In The Legend of Zelda: Majoras Mask, after the Skull Kid screams to bring the moon down you get an absolutely lovely closeup of it staring right at the screen with a giant evil grin on its face.
  • Metal Gear Solid has Psycho Mantis, who displays his psychic abilities by reading your memory card, then forcing your game controller to move on its own (using the vibration function).
  • Eternal Darkness - most of the sanity effects affect more the player than the character - the volume-changes, the "erasing your save", the fake demo box, and the slowly tilting screen will play games with you.
  • EverQuest 2 features one dungeon, the Estate of Unrest, where the Big Bad, a malevolent ghost turned Genius Loci and low-level Reality Warper, spends the entire thing regularly taunting and threatening the player characters, but is baffled as to why he can't sense their souls to attack them. When the party enters the caves beneath the mansion where his bones lie, aiming to forcibly reincarnate him to kill them, he roars that he finally found their souls and that they won't be safe "behind that pane of glass." Then the screen is engulfed in static for a moment as a skull appears and tries to lash out at the player.
  • In-universe example: In the All There in the Manual Backstory for Infocom's Hollywood Hijinx, B-movie king Buddy Burbank was notorious for several uses of this trope. A film of his entitled Meltdown on Elm Street involved an accident at a neighborhood nuclear power plant, resulting in a nuclear meltdown. After the citizens try to resume their normal routines (only without hair), a nuclear power plant worker who survived the accident but became a horrific homicidal monster goes about killing the citizens. The climax of the film took place at the Elm Street Cinema. Burbank arranged that each theater showing the movie have an usher run up and down the aisles wearing a glowing nuclear plant worker's jumpsuit. The result was that several moviegoers died of shock. This bit of Backstory was most likely inspired by the real-life "Tingler" example mentioned above.
  • The main enemies in La Tale, the Agasura, are said to be after the game's Game Masters for their omnipotent power of 'hack'. 
  • In Minecraft, Ghasts shoot fireballs at your character... if you're in first-person mode. In third person, it becomes clear that they're targeting the camera. This was actually a bug, it's been patched out.
  • Andres Borghi has made many creepy MUGEN characters, but Noroko is unique among them for her use of this. Her ultimate, One-Hit Kill special involves her beginning to cry in front of her opponent, who approaches her, and then we're treated to a first-person, cinematic sequence of what said opponent sees: her revealing an eyeless, noseless, mouthless face and reaching out towards the screen, or alternatively opening a deformed mouth and screaming at you. After this, the hapless opponent collapses dead, presumably of sheer fright. Even straighter, if she wins the battle, you may occasionally see her hand scratching your screen, leaving trails of blood on it.
  • In the Bad Ending of Nanashi no Game, the cursed RPG is passed onto your DS.
  • Early in Omikron: The Nomad Soul, you (the player) are told that it is your own soul which entered Kay'l's body at the beginning of the game and which is now hopping around the inhabitants of Omikron. In other words, your own body is now one of The Soulless until you beat the game.
  • A great example is in Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door. In this game all your fights take place on a theater stage, and you derive power from the in-game audience's reaction. During one boss battle, the boss seems to be defeated, but then gets up and eats the audience, recovering half her health.
    • Happens more than once in the game. Cortez steals the audience's souls, Magnus Von Grapple 2.0 uses audience members as ammunition for a rapid fire machine gun, and the Shadow Queen absorbs the audience to restore health.
    • Works in reverse too... the fourth wall doesn't protect Mario, the partners or the enemies either. Cue audience members charging on stage, with Shy Guys knocking over background decorations, Boos making characters immune to damage and everything from items to food to rocks being thrown at Mario (or anyone else) depending on how well you're doing.
      • The fourth wall doesn't protect the audience either. Should someone in the audience try to heckle Mario or his partner by throwing garbage at them, Mario or his partner can return the favor by jumping off the stage and attacking the heckler, forcing the person to leave.
    • In Super Paper Mario, several characters refer to the player as "A being from another dimension". The Fridge Horror? Count Bleck plans to destroy EVERY DIMENSION!
  • Super Smash Bros. Brawl's Gamyga, an enemy resembling a sentient sunflower built "like an avant-garde work of art from some young art-school grad", seems to have a very blank stare and never looks at the attacking character. However, its trophy points out that it is indeed facing its attacker, since it's facing the screen, directly at YOU.
  • Tomb Raider II did this at the end when Lara sees the player peeping in on her after a shower. "Don't you think you've seen enough?"
  • Ultima VII starts off this way, with a red demon poking his head through your computer monitor, telling you how he's going to take over your earth just as he's taking over the world of Brittania.
  • This scene from Pokémon Platinum, when Giratina enters.
  • Touhou's Flandre can break anything, 4th wall included.
  • I Robot has an enemy called the View Killer; a nasty looking spike that is fired at the player's camera rather than Robot. Because you know, giant beach balls of doom weren't bad enough.
  • Any Augmented Reality game which treats the player as an in-game character to be targeted and attacked, with examples including Spirit Camera: The Cursed Memoir.


Web Original[edit | hide]

  • The short story "Federal Reserve Skateboard" on the Xkcd blog includes this line:

"At last, Bernanke got a solid grip on Greenspan's collar and hurled him through the fourth wall, knocking you to the ground."

  • A large number of Creepypasta stories depend on this as their angle.
    • A notable example is Wake Up. Wake up. PLEASE WAKE UP.
  • Ben Drowned is heading this way with its final stage, by allowing a game with active Interface Screw as part of an Alternate Reality Game.
    • In-universe example: Ryukaki. He was just following the game like the rest of us...and somehow ended up with BEN on his case. We later find out why. "Something about a boy dying here some time ago. It's meaningless to me, but peoples' superstitions make for great house prices."
  • SCP Foundation: Implied in-universe in the entry for SCP-674.
  • The Slender Man Mythos and its followers are fond of this, often showing Slendy attacking the cameras outright. 
    • In one Marble Hornets Entry, the masked man stares right at you. Not the camera, you. 
    • It's implied that this has happened in-universe in Everyman HYBRID. Slendy only started stalking the main characters after they tried to do their own (painfully obvious) Slenderman series, which seems to have willed him through the fourth wall to show them how it's done. Just think what that means for us, the viewers.
    • There is a theory that Slender Man has some control over his victims, and that he's compelling his victims to post videos of him to the internet, to help the spread of knowledge about him, and will him into existence.
  • The Entity from Atop the Fourth Wall. In August near-subliminal messages from it started appearing in the credits, and Linkara responded to any questions about this by saying that he didn't see anything, despite his usually posting out of character in the comments.
  • YouTube promotes this in preparation for the 2011 version of The Thing.
  • In Die Anstalt, one of the patients, Dr. Wood, is a psychiatrist who is revealed to have narcissistic personality disorder and becomes a cult leader. If you try to use dream analysis therapy on him at this point, Wood steals your pendulum and proceeds to try and hypnotize the player character into joining his "Claw Association".
  • From the YouTube account 666 video, a Creepypasta, there's a reason you shouldn't watch it in fullscreen, and it isn't a screamer.
  • Dragon Ball Abridged has a touch of this at the very end of episode 12. They've already established Mr. Popo as the most frightening and creepy thing in existence. Then the end of the episode has one of the members of Team Four Star wake up from a nightmare related to the show and declare that he has to stop editing so late at night. Suddenly Mr. Popo takes over his computer and starts talking to him in the real world. Cue a massive Oh Crap.
  • The NES Godzilla Creepypasta has the player insulting Red/the Hellbeast after escaping from him. He stares back. And it only gets worse after that.
  • ZALGO! H͉͙̖͎́ͬ̿͟͠ͅȨ̶͚̺͈̬̏̑͊̄̓ͨͪ̚ ̻̬̂̎͒̂̌̕͟C̦̦͚̱̯͕̾͊̏ͦ͘͜O͕͕̟͇͎̩̞̅ͩ̚M̵̪͔̗̺ͯͭ̀E̢̟̙̗̰̬̲͕̘̍ͪͬ̌̏̑͜͢S̴̤̯̫ͩ̑̄̂̚͘͠.̭̞̠̟̘̪̉͒ͧͯ̾͆


Web Comics[edit | hide]

  • In the Dungeon Crawling Fools extra content of Order of the Stick, Roy grabs the narrator to their pre-dungeon warmup and uses him as a distraction for the monster guarding the castle.
  • After killing most of the Greek pantheon, what's left to challenge Kratos? You are.
  • The Bongcheon Dong Ghost controls your computer.
  • In Homestuck, Lord English has somehow entered author Andrew Hussie's house. Cue Oh Crap!


Western Animation[edit | hide]

  • The narrator in Danger Mouse was sometimes affected by whatever Evil Plan was afoot. When Baron Greenback interfered with the world's transmissions, the narrator kept talking over the end credits, saying he was probably going to be cut off soon. He was.
  • Looney Tunes, being Born in the Theatre, occasionally involves gags with the audience. See that trope for details.
  • In the episode of The Powerpuff Girls where Mojo Jojo turns the world's population into dogs, Mojo turns the effect on the Narrator about halfway through. 
    • Also, a body-switching ended with everyone back to normal... except Bubbles and the Narrator somehow ended up switched. 
    • Not to mention the episode where Mojo kidnapped the narrator, took over, and made the Powerpuffs commit crimes.
    • And once more in "Tough Love", wherein HIM manages to turn everyone in Townsville, including the narrator, against the girls.
  • In an episode of Earthworm Jim, Psycrow and Professor Monkey for a Head capture Jim by pointing a gun at the narrator and making him read out, "After Psycrow and Professor Monkey for a Head had captured Jim..."
    • There was a villein who at the very mention of his name meant he would come and take you away. Even typing the name would not keep you safe, his name was Candle Jack and he
  • In one episode of The Simpsons, a bully who preys on geeks and nerds lunges at the viewer right before the show fades to black. 
    • Also in the "Treehouse of Horror" segment 'Attack of the 50 ft Eyesores,' Kent Brockman is reporting on the advertising menace, and states that the next time you see a commercial, it could kill you and your entire family. Homer then appears and says "we'll be right back." Then there's a commercial break!
  • One episode of The Grim Adventures of Billy and Mandy ends with Nergal, desperate for friends, using his magic powers to turn everybody into nerglings. At the very, very end of the episode, he rises in front of the screen, says "And you. You will be my closest, most bestest friend of all", and transforms the viewer.
  • "Wild Cards," an episode of Justice League, is presented (sans opening and ending) as a real-life television program hijacked by The Joker, who has planted a number of bombs on the Vegas strip and will detonate them unless the Justice League can stop him and his Royal Flush Gang henchmen. It's then revealed this is a Batman Gambit designed to trick as many people as possible into watching, because one of the Gang is a telepath whose gaze - even through the screen - can drive people insane. And while the Joker explains all of this to you and his corny TV music ends to be replaced by ominous chords, her eyes are still staring at you from the top of the screen.
  • Darkwing Duck:
    • One episode had Gosselyn somehow create evil clones of herself with Personality Powers, who are eventually captured and trapped somewhere. The villain, who had helped with the capture, warns the protagonists that the evil clones could come back if they wanted—all they'd need was a particular device. The screen fades to black, and then the clones appear onscreen, the leader saying "Hey, kid...we need you to get something for us." All three of them suddenly lean forward, giggling "Pretty pleeeaaase?" The device in question is a Particle Accelerator, which becomes doubly funny when you get older and realize that CRTs, found in every television set in the world back then, are particle accelerators.
    • NegaDuck once threatens a news reporter by crawling through the TV he's displayed on into the studio.
  • Dave the Barbarian has The Dark Lord Chuckles, the Silly Piggy kidnap the narrator and use him to control the story. It would have worked, too, if the narrator didn't lose his voice near the start of the second act.
  • In 1937 Warner Bros short The Case of the Stuttering Pig the villain threatens the audience, especially "the guy in the third row" who, at the end of the cartoon, inverts this trope and throws a chair at him.
  • In Transformers Prime, the Chaos Bringer Unicron makes an Early-Bird Cameo. He doesn't do much, but he's staring straight at you. Sweet dreams.
    • Just about any time he's not looking at characters in the show, he's staring directly at the audience. Considering that Unicron consumes worlds, it's likely he can see ours.
  • In Beast Wars at the end of the second season finale Megatron on the orders from the Original Megatron fires on the Original Optimus Prime at point blank with everything he has. As one of the most overly Hammtastic speeches ever is given, his camera angle and steadly magnifying mugshot make him look like he is also talking to the audience itself, giving the impression that even they are not safe from what he had just done.

Megatron: "The Autobots lose, evil TRIUMPHS, and you...YOU NO LONGER EXIST!"

  • It was common in the early days of film projection for hairs to get caught in the projector's shutter and dance annoyingly across the screen until they either worked themselves out or an annoyed projectionist stopped the film and removed them. "Magical Maestro" played with this, animating a hair onto the picture, annoying the audience until the main character, the opera singer, grabbed the hair and disposed of it.
  • The first season finale of Young Justice reveals that the trigger phrase to activate the mole is "Broken Arrow," which puts Red Arrow into a trance where his handler can retrieve information and plant subconscious instructions. This phrase also works on the audience: After it was uttered, the show cut to a commercial and returned after the counter-command was given, leaving the audience unaware of what had transpired, and ignorant even of the fact that anything had happened at all.


Real Life[edit | hide]

  • S. William Hinzman, the Cemetery Zombie from Night of the Living Dead, asked in Real Life that his body be burned after his death (which occurred on February 5, 2012, from cancer) for this reason; he often joked that if he was buried, he'd just, in the words of a newscaster in-universe, "come back to life to seek human victims".
  • Superman once fought the Ku Klux Klan. The real Ku Klux Klan. (Okay, no, he didn't actually punch real people, but the radio program contained advice on how to help catch them.)
    • And he won. Exposing the Klan on the radio program is credited as one of the reasons it didn't experience a renaissance and become as publicly acceptable as it was in the early 20th century: not as many people wanted to be associated with such a group of clowns.
  • Reportedly, when John Wilkes Booth fell onto the stage after firing upon Lincoln, many of the theater patrons were confused by whether or not it was part of the play.
  • The Nord-Ost terrorist attack in Moscow, 2002. The terrorists appeared on stage of a theatre, and, similarly to the Booth example above, the audience initially thought it's part of the show and applauded.


  1. If you happen to be using a Dualshock 3 controller instead of a Sixaxis, the psychokinesis does work and PS remarks how vibration is back.