Fiction that strains, but does not break the fourth wall.

In the coming-out episode of “Ellen,a friend gives her a CD by comedian Ellen Degenrous”. and is told that she resembles the comedian. Since she didn’t break character and say outright that she was the same person, the effect is to show it is fiction without every having broken the fourth wall.

In addition, I have seen films in which what we believe to be background music, is actually the radio playing. I also seem to remember examples of characters being transported to alternate universes where they are thought to be fiction characters. Anyone have any more they would like to share?

P.S. Other often used devices can be found at the following wiki.Television Tropes & Idioms I can not find any sort of name for this concept there, only that fourth-wall breaking has diffrent intensities.

In Arsenic and Old Lace, the homicidal maniac is said to look like Boris Karloff. Which was apt, because on the stage he was played by Boris Karloff.

(Sadly, in the movie, the part was played by Raymond Massey, who does not look enough like Karloff to make the line funny, and was not famous enough in his own right to get the line changed to “You look like Raymond Massey.”)

In the movie Maverick, Mel Gibson’s character is in a bank that is robbed by Danny Glover. The two look closely at each other, then shake their heads, and Danny runs off, hops on his horse, and says, “I’m getting too old for this shit.”

Last Action Hero, a sadly underrated film, in which a young boy magically falls into an Arnold Schwarzenegger movie. Then the movie characters enter the “real world”, with the actors doing double duty as the characters and as “themselves”.

For those who don’t know, they were co-stars in “Lethal Weapon” I didn’t remeber till I googled their name.
Nice responses, everyone.

In an episode of Doctor Who, (Remembrance of the Daleks) he travels back to the same location where we first saw him, I.M. Forman’s junkyard in 1965. During that show the viewer see a television show advertising an upcoming Science fiction TV show, but cuts away before we see the title.

Let’s see. The Wikipedia entry for breaking the fourth wall lists a Simpsons moment that I feel strains, rather than breaks the fourth wall : When Mr. Burns has been shot, Dr. Hibbert looks at the camera and points, saying “Can you solve the mystery?” - then the camera pulls back, revealing he was speaking to Chief Wiggum.

*Arsenic and Old Lace * has another nod - reportedly there’s a tombstone in the graveyard bearing the name Archie Leach - Cary Grant’s real name.

Another Grant-picture, His Girl Friday, has Cary Grant’s character refer to Archie Leach as the “last man who crossed him”. In that same movie, trying to describe his ex-wife’s new fiance, he refers to the guy as a “Ralph Bellamy” type - and the fiance was, in fact, played by Ralph Bellamy.

As if that wasn’t enough, I believe the line was immediately followed by a little jazzy saxophone riff, very similar (or perhaps the same) to the sax riffs David Sanborn plays throughout the Lethal Weapon movies.

In Ocean’s 12, characters keep whispering that the character Tess (played by Julia Roberts) looks like someone, but they don’t come out and say who. Later, as part of a plan, they convince Tess to check into a hotel as Julia Roberts, the famous actress, and everyone (including Bruce Willis, playing himself) believes her.

The show Arrested Development has a lot of knowing references, like reteaming Happy Days co-stars Ron Howard (the narrator and executive producer) with Henry Winkler (the incompetent lawyer Barry), and having GOB (played by Will Arnett) marry his real-life wife Amy Poehler (her name on the show is never revealed, and we later find out he doesn’t even know it).

The syndicated TV show She-Spies, about three sexy female secret agents, used to have a lot of “wink wink nudge nudge” moments where it was clear the characters were aware of the campiness and the ridiculous situations. I believe they even broke the fourth wall, referring to their writers once or twice. They do that all the time on The Simpsons.

Perfect stuff, Gamera. Also very Candid.

The one that springs to mind is from real life, and I am not sure that it qualifies. I believe I recall reading that Stephen king has confessed to killing and eating Richard Bachman. That could be seen as an admission to killing an actual human being, if he did not qualify it with the statement that Richard Bachman is one of his pen names, and I believe I recall that fact being left out of the humorous article. (Spy magazine, maybe?)

Good stuff, and I was trying to remember what I had heard about Ocean’s 12, but…

Argh! This is not about breaking the fourth wall, just **bending **it. If you are going to point out examples from the Simpsons, don’t put one where they show it’s fiction, instead show examples like when Homer had a map of Springfield held up to the screen for a long time, and then said, “Did you have enough time to read that?” There’s Something About Marrying" He was not asking the audience that question, he was asking his family.



:mad: :confused:
I can’t work in conditions like these. He bolts away from the conference table, and the camera follows him off the set, past the Studio (lurkers) audience.

His identical twin, who also plays the part of “Scott Plaid” takes his place at the table.

“Geez, what a drama queen he can be”

In an episode of the MTV cartoon Undergrads, two characters (Jessie and Nitz) are discussing the ‘Spring Fling’, a carnival that State U throws every year.

Jessie mentions that Good Charlotte will be playing, so, Nitz, apparently unfamiliar with them, asks ‘what have they done that I would know?’ just as someone walks by with a stereo blaring The Click, the theme song of the show, done by Good Charlotte.

In “Third Rock from the Sun”, there is an episode where the Big Head (overplayed wonderfully by William Shatner) is talking to John Lithgow’s character about a demon on the jet engine of the plane he took. Lithgow’s character responds “You saw him, too!”

This references the Twilight Zone episode (Shatner) and movie (Lithgow) where they both played the same part. It makes no sense unless you are aware of their previous roles.

Gabe Kaplan starred on Welcome Back, Kotter for years and Robert Heyges played one of his students. Later they were both appearing together on another show, playing different characters, and Heyges’ character told Kaplan’s character, “You know, you’re a smart guy. You could have been a great teacher.”

Winkler on AD was once shown making the “Fonzie in front of the mirror” gesture shown on the credits for “Happy Days.”

They’re usually come under the umbrella of “in-jokes,” by the way.

A few examples:

In one Green Acres, Lisa and Oliver visit their senator. Lisa asks, “What actor are you? All senators are former actors.” The senator says “Lyle Talbot,” his name.

In one episode of Eerie, Indiana, the brilliant "Reality Takes a Holiday (written by Vance Degeneris, Ellen’s brother), Marshall gets transferred into an alternate reality where he is an actor in a TV series, Eerie, Indiana; everyone refers to him as Omri (the name of the actor).

In Cheech and Chong’s first album, they talk about playing a Cheech and Chong album.

The Firesign Theater did this a lot. Nick Danger says, “Didn’t I say this on the other side of the record” then listens and you hear the sound of a section of the first side of the record playing backwards.

In the film Caprice, Doris Day is on the lam and ducks into a movie theater, which is showing Caprice.

The characters watch a videotape of Spaceballs during Spaceballs.


In the opening sequence for “The A Team”, Dirk Benedict passes someone in a Cylon costume on the street. He turns, raises a finger and opens his mouth to say something, then the scene cuts to something else.

Dirk’s previous gig was on the show “Battlestar Gallactica” where Cylons were his enemy.

I didn’t mean to be offensive. I was just trying to show an example of a camera show the audience. In addition, the drama queen line was about me. It was an actor playing me, calling me a drama queen. I hope that this does not derail everything.

If you feel like insulting me, there is a perfectly good thread in the pit.

In one “Angel” episode, Fred’s parents come to town and run across the monster of the week. Fred’s mother comments that Fred’s father likes the Alien movies…“except for that last one”. Joss Whedon (the creator of Angel) wrote the screenplay for “Alien: Ressurection”.

That reminds me of one I haven’t seen myself, but have heard referred to. On “Mad about You” Paul (played by Paul Reiser) makes a comment about never having seen “Aliens” (where Paul Reiser played a main character).

There’s also a few “bending” comments on Smallville, referring to various Superman mottos, people, visuals, etc. In one ep, Clark is thinking of running for class president and is asked what hist positions are. His response: “I stand for truth, justice, and…some other stuff.” He also ran under the slogan “Man of Tomorrow”.

Let’s not start on Smallville - you can count on a winking nod to Superman Continuity in almost every episode.

What Lithgow actually said was “The same thing happened to ME-E-E-E-E-E-E,” the last word said in that unique Lithgow squeal.

In an episode of “The Critic,” Jay and his son are at a Hollywood party when they see Jon Lovitz. Marty (the son) makes a comment that Jay sounds lust likr Jon Lovitz. Jay is, of course, voiced by Jon Lovitz. In another episode, Jay gets the idea for a movie called “Dr. Strangelovitz.”

In a similar vein, in a Simpsons episode, Artie Ziff (Marge’s Prom date) goes to Moe’s bar, and three other characters that were all voiced by Jon Lovitz on the show say hello to him.