List of films that break the fourth wall  

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The Birth of Venus (detail), a 1486 painting by Sandro Botticelli
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The Birth of Venus (detail), a 1486 painting by Sandro Botticelli

In the early days of "talkies", the Marx Brothers' stage-to-screen productions often broke the fourth wall. In their 1932 film Horse Feathers, for example, when Chico sits down at a piano to begin a musical interlude, Groucho turns to the camera and deadpans "I've got to stay here, but there's no reason why you folks shouldn't go out into the lobby until this thing blows over."

By the 1940s, breaking the fourth wall was accepted in popular culture, as evident in the appealing "Road to..." movies with Bob Hope, Bing Crosby and Dorothy Lamour. Hope or Crosby often addressed the audience with a wisecrack, letting them in on the joke or with an irreverent comment about the film's producers.

The fourth wall is sometimes included as part of the narrative, when a character discovers that they are part of a fiction and 'breaks the fourth wall' to make contact with their audience, as seen in films like Tom Jones, which won the Academy Award for Best Picture in 1963, Woody Allen's Annie Hall (with Marshall McLuhan) and The Purple Rose of Cairo

Mel Brooks frequently breaks the fourth wall in his movies for comedic effect. The climax of Blazing Saddles features the characters crashing into the set of "another" production. In Robin Hood: Men in Tights, the characters review the script of the movie during the archery competition scene. Spaceballs features several examples including reviewing the script, a character hitting a camera, and viewing a copy of the movie on an "instant cassette" that was released "before the movie [was] finished."

A good example of metafiction can be found in the film Stranger Than Fiction, in which Will Ferrell's character Harold is able to hear the voice of the film's narrator. His attempts to discover the identity of this woman, aware of every action he takes, becomes the plot of the film.

The fourth wall was broken twice both versions of the 2000s film Funny Games by Michael Haneke.

List of films that break the fourth wall:


0–9

A

  • Airplane! - Robert Hays, as Ted Stryker, looks into the camera and says "What a pisser." Also Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, who plays the copilot, breaks character (within the script) to make a reference to his real career in basketball.
  • Alfie - The titular character (Michael Caine) talks to the audience often, beginning with the very first scene. The remake starring Jude Law also uses this technique.
  • The Amazing Mr Blunden - over the end credits, all of the cast (in character) deliver their various cheery or not-so-cheery goodbyes directly to the camera and the audience.
  • Amélie - The main character looks at the camera and explains that she likes to search for small details that people do not notice in the cinema, and how she dislikes old American movies in which a driver does not look at the road while driving.
  • Annie Hall - Woody Allen breaks the wall by asking the audience direct questions. He has been often quoted in interviews as portraying this as homage to Groucho Marx. Whether this truly qualifies as breaking the fourth wall is debatable, as his addresses to the audience are isolated monologues akin to a narration. He does, however, address the audience during the famous scene where he produces Marshall McLuhan while in a theater line and says to the audience, "if only life were like this." He also speaks to the audience this way in other films, such as Love and Death.
  • Anguish (film) - Somewhat is similar to the Neverending Story as it could not be seen as technically, breaking the "fourth wall", but does feature around a complex plot in which the first storyline is shown about a third of the way turning out to be a motion picture being observed by a number of onlookers in a movie theater. When the film ends, we suddenly see the credits scrolling up on a completely different movie screen, together with another completely different cinema audience onlookers observing it before getting up and leaving. Implying that the real storyline was also yet another film within film.
  • Asylum - at the close of the film, Geoffrey Bayldon's character looks directly to camera as he comments "Got to keep the cold out - as Doctor Starr used to say..."
  • Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me - At the start, Austin talks to the audience about how his wife was really a fembot. The titular character and his superior, Basil Exposition, try to explain the workings of time travel to each other before Austin says "I've gone cross-eyed." Basil replies that it's best not to think too much about how it all works, and turns to the camera and says, "That goes for you all, too" as Austin grins sheepishly at the camera. Later, Powers also addresses the audience when he introduces a musical performance by Elvis Costello and Burt Bacharach. After the credits, a shot of the cliff from which Mustafa fell is shown, with Mustafa saying, "Hello up there. Is the movie over?" before describing the symptoms of his fall, a callback to earlier in the film.
  • Austin Powers in Goldmember - When speaking with Mr. Roboto, Austin continuously misreads the character's onscreen subtitles due to various object(s) in the scene "blocking" them from view. On seeing a mobile model of a Godzilla lookalike a Japanese Man ends his conversation with a fellow onlooker by addressing the auidence and winking at the camera. Also at the end of the movie all the characters are at a movie theatre watching their movie premiere.

B

  • Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure - At the end of the movie, when Bill and Ted (who barely know how to play guitar) are practicing with their band, "Wyld Stallyns", Rufus turns to the camera and says apologetically, "They do get better."
  • Blazing Saddles - Sheriff Bart (Cleavon Little) speaks to the camera several times, and, at one point, rides his horse past a full orchestra playing the score for the movie. An old woman takes a break from being beaten by thugs to remark to the audience, "Have you ever seen such cruelty?" Hedley Lamarr (Harvey Korman) asks rhetorical questions while looking into the camera, then says, "Why am I asking you?" Later Lamarr tells his group of henchmen, "You will only be risking your lives, whilst I will be risking an almost certain Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor!" Near the end of the film, the characters leave the fictional realm of Rock Ridge and enter the actual Warner Bros. studio, literally breaking a wall in the process. One character, just before he punches the director of another film, shouts "Piss on you! I'm working for Mel Brooks!" When Lamarr tries to escape into a movie theater, the movie he watches turns out to be Blazing Saddles itself, and he sees that the hero is still on his trail.
  • Bordello of Blood - As before the Crypt Keeper speaks directly to the camera, while one character mentions he feels like he's in a bad episode of tales from the crypt.
  • Bogus At the story's conclusion Bogus (Gérard Depardieu) having observed Albert (Haley Joel Osment) leave with Harriet (Whoopi Goldberg) from his mother's graveside, suddenly looks directly at the camera and explains to the audience how odd it is that when it comes to farewells, there are none, imaginary friends like him are just forgotten, unlike introductions, he states although that's sad he can't complain, as that's his job. He starts to walk away, then looks round saying if anyone watching needs him...he's available. We then see him stroll off into the horizon, before switching to another scene of him coming across another child in need who he greets and introduces himself to this girl/boy.
  • Broadway Melody of 1938 included a performance by then-popular singing star Sophie Tucker. During Tucker's major musical number at the end of the film, several neon signs in the background change to read "Sophie Tucker" even though Tucker was not appearing as herself in the film.
  • Bugsy Malone - following a devastating ambush on his gang, a distraught Fat Sam advises his loyal Jewish henchman Knuckles that they are to carry on as if everything is alright, during which he lapses into his native Italian ("tutta casa sono buono"). A puzzled Knuckles asks him what he means. "Read the subtitles", advises Fat Sam, wearily. An on-screen subtitle reads "Everything's hunky dory", and an understanding Knuckles comments in Yiddish "Oh, al is is git."
  • A Bug's Life - During the end credits they show animated bloopers where characters screw up as if they were real actors.

C

  • Casual Sex - At various points in the film Stacy and Melissa look at the camera when they are saying certain things about either a person, or an event. Examples of this would be at the beginning of the film when Stacy and Melissa talk about their sex life while standing in front of a black screen talking to the audience. Another example would be when Matthew and Melissa are laying in the sand and Matthew says that he cannot be with her, Melissa looks right at the camera and says "I really wish you hadn't seen that."
  • The Cat in the Hat - At the end, the cat is seen to have been narrating the entire film. When he sees the camera centered on him, he smiles sheepishly and leaves.
  • Clerks II - When Jay is bored, Silent Bob gets his boom box and plays "Goodbye Horses". While the song plays, Jay gets interested and acts like Buffalo Bill from The Silence of the Lambs while staring at the camera and tells the viewers in a sarcastic way that he wants to engage in sexual intercourse with "us".
  • A Christmas Story Ralphie looks right into the camera and smiles when he gets away with the lie he told his mother about the icicle hitting him in the face.
  • Confidence - During the opening credits, Jake Vig (Edward Burns) the main protagonist looks directly at the audience in two separate opening scenes and explains, the rules of Confidence tricks and the slang words used behind it. He also narrates the story for us, not just for the character of Travis (Morris Chestnut), as noted after Travis has left the scene and Jake continues narrating.
  • Crank - At one point, the protagonist reads the onscreen subtitles in order to understand what a Chinese man is saying.
  • Cradle 2 the Grave - During the closing of the film, under the end credits; Archie and Tommy riff on various subjects, including who will star in the movie version of their lives, they mention Anthony Anderson & Tom Arnold and how they hope neither will play them since the collabration of both stars was a negative thing for the film Exit Wounds. The in-joke being that Archie and Tommy are played by none other than Anthony Anderson & Tom Arnold, with Exit Wounds being the previous work of the film makers with most of the cast of that motion picture...being featured in this one.
  • The Creation of the Humanoids - At the film's conclusion, the two major characters learn that they are robots, and are offered the chance to be upgraded with the ability to reproduce. The character of Dr. Raven addresses the camera and tells the audience that of course the "operation" was a success, or the audience "wouldn't be here".
  • Cromwell - After the beheading of Charles I, the film ends with an actor breaking character and speaking to the audience, asking them initially if they're all right after having watched the execution, and then discussing the historical aftermath of the events in the film.

D

  • Demon Knight - The Crypt Keeper in the opening and closing segments of the motion picture speaks directly to the camera (much like in the TV show)
  • The Devil's Advocate (film) - As the film ends John Milton announces to the camera with a sly grin, "Vanity...definitely my favorite sin."
  • Dawn of the Dead - Features a trailer which simulates the film projector reel stopping and starting before suddenly breaking, with a series of shadowy figures, which turn out to be zombies who begin appearing behind the movie screen, to start pawing it. In the closing credits, the zombies appear to be charging directly at the camera.
  • Dickie Roberts: Former Child Star - Near the end of the credits, David Spade tells the audience thanks for watching the film, and it's fine to leave your popcorn behind because that's what the movie theater's employees are for. He also tells you to stop acting like you're reading the credits because they're only there for legal reasons anyhow.
  • Doc Savage: The Man of BronzeDoc Savage (played by Ron Ely) will on occasions grin directly to camera, at which an animated light will flash off of his teeth, accompanied by a musical “ping!”, the more clearly to denote his heroic status. A particularly good example comes in the opening credits, directly after the opening line of the theme song – “Have no fear, the Man of Bronze is here!” – is sung. Also, during the climactic hand-to-hand fight between the antagonists, the differing styles of combat are each introduced by an on-screen subtitle.
  • Dr. Terror's House of Horrors - during Biff (Roy Castle)'s terrified flight from the theatre where his jazz show has become a fiasco in the "Voodoo" story, he runs past a wall on which is posted the actual quad advertising poster for Dr. Terror's House of Horrors (in a neat touch, the names of the cast are replaced by the names of their characters).
  • Dodgeball - Ben Stiller's character, White Goodman, addresses the audience between credit rolls, and makes fun of the "good always triumphs" convention. He then proceeds to give the audience a "special show for the trip home".

E

  • Empire Records - Lucas (and one one occasion, Mark) will occasionally address the audience with comments, such as "Always play with their minds."
  • Europa - The film begins with a narrator that tells us what is going to happened while counting to 10 as hypnotizing us."
  • Explorers - During the credits, alien child Wak states that he can tell the audience is observing him, as he can feel the popcorn being thrown at him.

F

  • Fat Albert - The characters state that they have lines to say, they are cartoons, and that somebody has to write a script for them to do things, early in the movie. Also at the end, Fat Albert (Kenan Thompson) appears to pop out of the screen and tells the audience to watch the end credits.
  • Father of the Bride - The first shot of the movie pans through the party room in the wedding until it ends up on George (Steve Martin), who, while tying his shoes, introduces us to the story of the film, then tells us the story as it happens, even continuing in a voice-over.
  • Ferris Bueller's Day Off - Ferris (Matthew Broderick) addresses the audience directly on several occasions, including a famous scene at the end where Ferris comes out in his bathrobe, looks directly into the camera, and says "You're still here? It's over. Go home."
  • Fiddler on the Roof - At times, the background action freezes, allowing Tevye (Topol) to talk to the audience about "the other hand."
  • Finding Nemo - During the end credits there are three kids and one of them swims through a space in the rolling credits. The next one swims through another space in credits. the last is nervous and slowly makes her way through another space in the credits but then gets bumped by an oncoming credit.
  • The Flintstones in Viva Rock Vegas - In the beggining of the film, we see the Universal Pictures logo, then the camera flies away from it and into the alien spaceship. Then Gazoo looks out the window, sees the logo and says "Did anybody notice those giant letters flying by?"
  • Fight Club - Throughout the film, Edward Norton acts as the narrator. In one point, he and Tyler (Brad Pitt) look directly into the camera and provide character-based exposition. In this scene, Tyler is seen splicing frames from a pornographic movie into a family film. At the very end of the movie, the film appears to flicker and slide around, followed by a split-second shot of a man's genitals, presumably spliced into the film like Tyler would do. At various other points during the movie, the film appears to flicker and almost break. Also, at the start of the final scene of the film, Tyler says "Ah, flashback humor", reminding the audience that the same scene was glimpsed at the start of the film.
  • Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter - One scene simulates the film projector reel suddenly breaking, and a shadowy figure suddenly showing up directly behind the movie "screen".
  • Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives - On discovering Tommy and Co. are going to jason's grave, an elderly character turns to the camera and states "Some kids have a strange idea of entertainment!"
  • Funny Games - When Paul (Arno Frisch) is directing Anna (Susanne Lothar) to locate her dead dog, he turns and winks at the camera. In another scene, after he and Peter have taken the family hostage, Peter turns to the camera and asks the audience whether they will bet on the family's survival. After Anna seizes the rifle and shoots Peter (Frank Giering), Paul uses a remote control to "rewind" the movie and prevent Anna from killing Peter. Paul also occasionally references his attempts to match his actions with standard movie plot developement. The movie ends on Paul looking directly at the camera with a cruel, wicked smile.
  • Funny Man - There are at times during the movie when the Funny Man Speaks directly at the camera or at times just looks in its direction as if his antics are to make those watching sit up and take notice. In one instance he gives a frustrated look after failing to shoot a lady with a blunderbuss, as she keeps unknowingly moving out of his firing line. During the closing credits a song called "Funny Man" is played, during which the Funny Man suddenly starts talking over the top of this song telling the audience to amongst other things, sing along (as well as, amongst other things, challenging the audience to a fight). After the last of the credits have finished, we see Funny Man standing in a garden. He suddenly glares directly into the camera and says something along the lines of, "How many times do I have to tell you? There's NO rest for the bloody wicked!" He then walks off camera.

G

  • Gangster No. 1 - At one point Gangster 55 (Malcolm McDowell) goes the restroom and urinates with his glass of champagne sitting on the floor near the urinal, some of his urine splashing into the glass. He is then about to take a drink from the urine-sprinkled champagne when he changes his mind, looks into the camera, and angrily demands of the viewer "What do you take me for?, A cunt?" before dropping his cigar into the drink and sneering at the camera as he walks away.
  • Garfield - At the end of the film, Garfield talks to the audience about himself.
  • George of the Jungle - The movie's narrator frequently interacts with the characters, particularly late in the film when the poacher Thor interrupts the narrator's lines and starts arguing with him.
  • George of the Jungle 2 - The narrator frequently references that Brendan Fraser did not appear in the sequel, and also removes Lyle from the movie after Lyle begins to argue against him.
  • The Great Muppet Caper - The Muppets completely destroy the fourth wall over the course of the movie: Fozzie Bear makes comments about the opening credits, Kermit speaks directly to the audience about the roles that he, Fozzie, and Gonzo will play, Piggy gets angry at Charles Grodin's character and says "You can't even sing! Your voice was dubbed!", Kermit reminds Peter Falk (a guest star) to get back to the film after a rambling monolouge by the latter, and at one point Kermit and Piggy break character completely and start arguing about her acting skills.
  • Gremlins - Father warns the auidence to check under the beds as there might be a gremlin in their house.
  • Gremlins 2: The New Batch - In one scene, the projector "breaks", causing the current frame of the film to burn up while a pair of gremlins appear "behind" the movie screen, laughing hysterically. Prompting a character to run into the lobby of the movie theatre to find Hulk Hogan, who is then brought into the film to fight the little monsters, who triumphs and then reassures the cinemagoers, "I'm sorry folks...it won't happen again". In its video release, this scene was changed to simulate the Gremlins changing the TV channel to a John Wayne movie, who shoots the gremlins and restores the film, saying "I don't want these little critters in my movie and you don't want 'em in your TV set...let's start that movie up again."

H

  • Happy Feet
    • 1.) After the graduation ceremony, the graduate emperor penguin class began flocking towards the ocean. The camera descends into the crowd of penguins, and they walk by the camera. One of them waves enthusiastically into the camera.
    • 2.) Southern Rockhopper Penguin and guru Lovelace (Robin Williams) was being strangled by the six-pack soda plastic rings around his neck. Unable to speak and revealed to be a fraud, Lovelace began acting out charades to tell Mumble (Elijah Wood) and the Adélie Amigos where he got his "talisman." After the group successfully figured out his charades, Lovelace began to lose his balance and stumble about, eventually colliding with the camera.
    • 3.) Lovelace narrates throughout the movie, occasionally addressing the audience. "Ladies, avert your eyes, because I've been known to hypnotize."
    • 4.) At the end of the final scene, the scene irises out. The iris stops halfway, with the main characters posing for the camera and Ramon mouthing, "I love you!" in the background.
  • Hedwig and the Angry Inch During the musical number "Wig in a Box", Hedwig looks at the camera and says "Ok, now everybody!" as the audience is prompted to sing along with the film.
  • High Anxiety - The characters acknowledge the camera when it breaks a window while zooming in for a closer shot.
  • High Fidelity - Rob (John Cusack) constantly engages in "conversation" with the viewer. For instance, when Rob's ex-girlfriend tells him that she and her new boyfriend haven't had sex "yet", he engages the viewer to try to figure out what she meant and whether she intends to have sex with the new boyfriend.
  • The Holy Mountain - At the very end of the film (when the immortals are revealed to be dummies) the Alchemist tells the group that "Real Life Awaits Us" and the camera crew is shown.
  • Hooper - At the very end of the movie, just before Sonny (Burt Reynolds) punches the director Roger (Robert Klein) he looks over his shoulder at the audience and gives a little knowing look and shrug.
  • How the Grinch Stole Christmas! - When The Grinch is sneaking into a Who house, the narrator tells us what's happening then The Grinch asks the narrator to speak a little softer then the narrator whispers.
  • House of Wax - In this movie, a paddleball man directs his ball towards the audience and invites them to the opening of the wax museum.
  • The House That Dripped Blood - in the closing scene, the estate agent played by John Bryans looks straight to camera and suggests that maybe the titular house may be the ideal one for us, but to think very carefully before deciding...
  • The Hudsucker Proxy - During the climactic sequence, Moses the clockworker (Bill Cobbs) attempts to manipulate events by jamming his broom into the mechanics of the Hudsucker Building's clock, thus causing time to freeze. He then turns to the camera and comments, "Strictly speaking, I'm never supposed to do this, but have you got a better idea?"

I

  • Idlewild - The film closes on a music video style song and dance number performed by Percival (André Benjamin) who ends the song looking directly into the camera pointing his finger like a gun at it, as he speaks the last lyric.
  • INLAND EMPIRE - The film continually toys with perceptions of the fourth wall through a variety of means; the fourth wall is broken not only through various camera movements (the 180 degree rule is broken several times), but by casting choices (the star is Laura Dern; she is a well known star of other Lynch movies, and both her mother and husband pop up in the film), and mise en scene (cameras come into shot on more than one occasion, actors sometimes look directly at the camera)

J

  • Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back - Jay and Silent Bob talk with Holden McNeil (Ben Affleck) about the movie, McNeil says "A Jay and Silent Bob movie? Who'd pay to see that?" and then the three of them glance at the camera with Silent Bob poorly suppressing a giggle. In addition, when Ben Affleck and Matt Damon are reprising their roles from "Good Will Hunting", they make a joke about having to star in a movie because their friend (Kevin Smith) says they owe him a favor, then they both look directly at the audience for a moment. At another point, the wildlife marshall (Will Ferrell) argues with a policeman about a diamond heist, claiming it sounds like something out of a bad movie, at which point they both directly look at the camera.
  • JFK - This film features a very subtle break of the fourth wall. At the end of the film, Jim Garrison (Kevin Costner) gives a speech to a jury about the importance of a society holding its leaders responsible for their actions. As he stares at the jury, the camera dollies sideways and comes to rest in Garrison's line of sight, so that he is looking directly at the viewer for his final line: "It's up to you."
  • Josie and the Pussycats - When Alexandra Cabot (Missi Pyle) is asked by her brother what she was doing on the plane (with the group along with Frame and Fred), she responds with "it's in the comic book". As one of Fiona and Wyatt's superiors states that inserting subliminal messages into motion pictures is a far more successful strategy, a subliminal message flashes up stating that "Josie and the Pussycats is the best movie ever" with "Join The Army" written in smaller letters below.

K

  • Kiss Kiss Bang Bang - The main character narrates throughout, acknowledging he is not doing a good job for a movie narrator. At the end of the movie, the audience is told to stick around for the credits and that the best boy is somebody's nephew.
  • Kuffs - Throughout the film, whenever main character George Kuffs (Christian Slater) is alone, he looks directly at the camera and speaks to the audience, bemoaning the current situations he's got into (with the exception of the final scene where he speaks whilst cradling his baby daughter). In another scene a series of dubbed sound effects suddenly occurs when George is bickering with his demoted cop partner, Ted Bukovsky (Tony Goldwyn) and the argument leads to a swearing match between them both.

L

  • Layer Cake - Towards the very end of the film, when XXXX (Daniel Craig) is leaving with his girlfriend, he turns to the camera and breaks off from narration to regular dialogue, stating, "My name? If you knew that, you'd be as clever as I am."
  • Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events - Snicket, the narrator, keeps telling the people to leave the theater, because the movie is unhappy, and to go see "The Littlest Elf", which he says he thinks they "may be still seating at theater 2".
  • The Libertine - The film opens with Johnny Depp's character addressing the audience as a prologue, and telling them that he doesn't want or expect them to like him. He then closes the film by asking what the audience thought of him.
  • Little Shop of Horrors (1986) - in the closing shot, a bud of Audrey II smiles conspiratorially at the audience from the newly-wed Mushniks' garden. In the original closing sequence, a gigantic Audrey II was to break off its rampage through a major city, notice the camera filming it, and then lunge towards and break it.
  • Looney Tunes: Back in Action - After Bugs puts popcorn in an alien helmet, he persuades moviegoers to get a refreshment at the snack bar. Finally, just before the end credits, Porky does his "That's all, folks!" line, but the studio's about to close, so he just says "Go home, folks." Then, the final light goes out, and the movie ends.

M

  • The Mask (film) - At certain points in the film, The Mask (Jim Carrey) speaks directly to the camera. At one point, he gives a melodramatic "last speech" to two gunmen, until a hand pops up from the side of the screen and gives him an Oscar, at which point the Mask goes "You like me! You really like me!" to the audience.
  • Mary Poppins - The character of Bert greets the audience at the start of the film, and leads them to the house where the Banks family lives. In a later scene as he is working on his sidewalk chalk drawings, he says "'Ello, art lovers!" and sings a song that explains the concept of a "screever".
  • A Matter of Life and Death - In the film, scenes depicting Heaven are presented in black-and-white, while scenes on Earth are in color. When the French character known as "Conductor 71" (Marius Goring) comes down from Heaven to Earth, he feels reinvigorated, looks at the camera, and says "One is starved for Technicolor... up there."
  • Medium Cool - After the fatal car accident which ends the film's story, the camera pans to the other side of road - to director Haskell Wexler, who has been shooting the same scene with his camera. The camera pulls in on Wexler and his camera as the screen fades to black.
  • Men at Work - When a pair of security guards attempt to subdue Keith David and Dean Cameron at the toxic waste facility, David's character looks into the camera and remarks "Rent-a-cops. I hate rent-a-cops, too!" This is a reference to an earlier line spoken by him, in which he remarks to other characters that he hates cops.
  • Monty Python and the Holy Grail - Due to the film's low budget, whenever the script calls for a character to be riding a horse, the character instead play-rides on foot using coconut half-shells to imitate the sound of hooves. In one of the rare extended cuts, Dingo addresses the audience, asking, "Do you think this scene should have been cut?" This spiel continues for a few moments then cuts to other characters who have previously appeared saying why their scene was better and then, finally, to numerous characters (some of whom have not yet at that point appeared in the film) screaming, "Get on with it!" When we meet all of the knights of Camelot (through use of a book), there is a "Sir Not-Appearing-In-This-Film". Later, Sir Galahad (Michael Palin) talks about a man at the Bridge of Death who was also in "scene 24", this scene having been previously introduced by the narrator as "scene twenty-four, which is a smashing scene with some lovely acting." At another point, the Knights escape an animated monster due to a freak heart attack suffered by the cartoonist. At the end of the film a seemingly medieval battle is broken up by police cars and one policeman says, "That's enough, sonny!" and smashes the camera with his hand, whereupon the film "breaks" and the movie ends abruptly.
  • Monty Python's The Meaning of Life - During a sketch in the jungle, a native is revealed to be a white man in a white suit who announces that this is the middle of the film. The next scene is of a woman (Michael Palin) sitting in a room, who introduces a scene where the audience has to shout out where they think the fish is. Throughout the next scene, the audience can be heard, saying that the fish is in ridiculous places. The next scene, in which the fish from the first scene in the film say how terrific the last scene was, also state the film has not had much to do with the meaning of life. During the cleanup from the restaurant scene involving Mr. Creosote, one of the waiters gives the audience his view on the meaning of life (which involved urging the camera to follow him through the city and countryside to his rural childhood home), followed by telling the audience off. At the end of the film, the woman returns, reads the meaning of life, and then goes off on a long diatribe on "the jaded, video-sated public"'s lack of taste. She then gives the direction "cue the theme music" - from Monty Python's Flying Circus, which is played on a television set in space.
  • Monsters Inc. - During the end credits they show animated bloopers where characters screw up as if they were real actors.
  • Monty Python's Life of Brian features Eric Idle, in the end of the film (during the song "Always Look on the Bright Side of Life"), talking to the audience, while the credits appear: "See? The end of the film. Incidentally, a tape of the movie is found on the entrance. Some people have to work to get their money, you know? Who do you think that pays for all this rubbish? They're never get their money back. I told them. I said Bernie, they'll never get their money back".
  • Monty Python's And Now For Something Completely Different features many fourth wall breaks, such as a military man (Graham Chapman) interrupting a sketch to say to the filmmakers it was rather silly, telling them to show a sketch he wrote. As the Monty Pythons ruined the sketch, making it silly, he stops it again and shows a cartoon about the army, who got getting "just silly. And quite suspicious.", then saying "show a cartoon!" He appears many times then, such as John Cleese in many places (such as sitting at a desk or being cooked by old ladies), saying "and now, for something completely different", as they changed from a sketch to other rather different.
  • Murder 101 - After Pierce Brosnan's character finds that one of his students has not only written and published a murder mystery based on his experiences solving a series of murders, but has also sold the movie rights, one of the other characters says "I wonder who'll play me... Myrtle Streep?" before an off-screen voice says "Meryl Streep" and a boom mike drops into frame. The film ends showing a film being made.

N

  • The Nutty Professor - At the very end, Stella (Stella Stevens) winks at the camera, as she steals away with Julius (Jerry Lewis) carrying a bottle of his secret formula which transforms him into the magnetic Buddy Love. At the very end of the movie; Julius is seen walking towards the camera, he suddenly slips and crashes straight into the camera.

O

  • O Lucky Man! - Lindsay Anderson's surreal film contains many instances of the fourth wall being broken. Frequently the camera will cut to a recording studio where Alan Price and his band are recording the film's soundtrack while the director looks on. Later, the film's main character Mick Travis (a role Malcolm McDowell reprised from Anderson's earlier If...) hitches a lift with the band in their bus, and visits the same studio. In the final scenes, Travis attends an open audition for a film after being told to try his luck. Lindsay Anderson is casting and Travis is told to pose with a book and a machine gun, exactly how McDowell was portrayed in the promotional images for If....
  • Ocean's Twelve - Characters frequently remark how Tess Ocean (Julia Roberts) bears a striking resemblance to Julia Roberts, her actor; they later have Tess impersonate Julia Roberts to assist in a heist. During the credits, "Tess Ocean" is credited as having played Julia Roberts.
  • One Week - Buster Keaton's wife is in the bathtub when she drops the soap onto the floor. She is distraught when she realizes that she can't reach it without revealing herself. The cameraman places his hand in front of the lens long enough for her to retrieve it, earning him a look of gratitude.
  • Orlando - The title character frequently looks at the camera to comment to the audience about the situation at hand.

P

  • Persona - Halfway through the film the camera turns away from the characters to reveal the film's director (Ingmar Bergman) and his crew. Later, the "film" appears to burn and melt after one actor breaks character.
  • Pokémon 3: The Movie - When Ash gets pushed of the cliff, Team Rocket helps him. When Ash asks why they helped him Jessie replies that they cannot allow the series's "main character" to be killed.
  • Pretty in Pink - When Duckie (John Cryer) notices one of the girls at the prom (Kristy Swanson) looking and smiling at him, he looks around, points to himself, then looks into the camera with a bemused look on his face before going to dance with her.
  • The Producers (2005) - After Max leaves, Ulla and Leo are alone. When Leo becomes uncomfortable, he moves away from her. She asks why "Bloom go so far camera right." During the song "That Face," Leo is singing directly to the camera during parts of the song as if addressing the audience. Max tells Roger de Bris: "I've seen you at rehearsal always moving your lips along with the actors." While Max is saying this, Roger is moving his lips along with the actor Nathan Lane who plays Max. Max points this out by gesturing at Roger who sniggers. At the end of the credits the entire cast sings "Goodbye" to the audience, including Mel Brooks (the original creator of The Producers) who tells the audience to "get out, it's over!" Also, at the end of the credits, Franz Liebkin (Will Ferrell) reminds the audience to buy Mein Kampf, "available at your local Barnes and Noble, Borders Books, or Amazon.com."
  • The Purple Rose of Cairo breaks the wall in a different way. One of the characters (Mia Farrow) is in love with the lead actor (Jeff Daniels) of the film she is watching in the theater. After watching the film many times, at one point the actor turns and adresses her, and then steps out of the film and into her life.

R

  • The Railway Children - At the end of the film, the cast wave to the camera while the lead character, Roberta, writes "The End" on a chalkboard.
  • Reefer Madness - At the end, Dr. Carroll warns that marijuana addiction could happen "[points to one of the people listening] to your son, [points to another] or yours, [points and speaks directly at the camera] or YOURS!"
  • Repossessed - When Nancy Aglet (Linda Blair) is first introduced and gothic music begins playing, Nancy freezes and looks around, wondering where the music is coming from. Later, to demonstrate her powers, she dares that she will "break the film", at which the "projector" freezes at the current frame and "burns" up.
  • "Road movies" - Bob Hope and Bing Crosby frequently made comic asides to the camera, such as saying, "At our age? Paramount wouldn't dare!" In Road to Utopia, they are traveling across frozen land on dogsled, when a mountain appears. Hope says, "Get a load of that bread and butter!" Crosby remarks, "Bread and butter? That's a mountain!" Then the words "Paramount Pictures" appear on the mountain and Hope comments, "It may be a mountain to you, but it's bread and butter to me!" In Road to Rio, Jerry Colonna appears in a number of quick clips, leading a cavalry charge to "rescue" Hope and Crosby. They finally arrive right at the end of the film after Hope and Crosby's issues have been resolved. Collonna looks in the camera and says, "What do you know? I'm too late! Exciting, though, wasn't it?"
  • Robin Hood: Men in Tights - As a comedy, the film mentions "other Robin Hood films" in general, or in particular, during the archery contest where Robin checks "the script" to see if he gets another shot, causing everyone else to pull out their movie script and do the same. Additionally, the camera is frequently disrupted, for example by crashing through a window or being bumped into with a pole.
  • The Rocky Horror Picture Show - Several times, Dr Frank N Furter (Tim Curry) addresses the camera with passing comments like "how nice!", and "it's not easy having a good time, even smiling makes my face ache!" During the dinner scene, Dr. Scott turns directly to the camera and says "I knew he was in with a bad crowd, but this is worse than I suspected. Aliens!"

S

  • Saving Silverman - Wayne Lefessier (Steve Zahn) addresses the audience at the begining, when a flashback of his birth occurs he appears on the right to point out which woman is pregnant with him.
  • Scary Movie 4 - At the beginning, when George dies, The camera zooms in on Cindy looking down at his body, however the camera begins to veer off to the side, and she runs in front of it again.
  • School of Rock - During a song performed in the end credits by Jack Black and his fellow young cast members, young Caitlin Hale (Marta, aka "Blondie") sings "The movie is over / But we're still onscreen..." And afterwards, Black's character sings, "The movie is over / Credits got to roll / Look at that name there! / I do not know that guy / Now get out, get out now / It's time to go; other people gotta come in for the next show, you're getting in the way / The cleaning guy's coming in to sweep the sticky stuff off the floors."
  • Scrooged - As the credits roll at the end, Frank Cross (Bill Murray) comes forward from the singing crowd and asks theatre audiences to sing along, saying, "All right, everybody start singing. Okay, how 'bout this side of the theatre? No, no, how 'bout this side? Let's hear the men. Okay, the REAL men. Let's try the women. No, the REAL women. All right, YOU, who was making noise throughout the whole movie!"
  • Sesame Street: Follow that Bird - After the Grouch Anthem at the beginning of the film comes to an end, Oscar turns to the audience and says "Well anyway, you've seen the best part of this movie. So sit back, relax, and have a rotten time" before going back into his trashcan.
  • Severance - After consuming some Psychedelic mushrooms Steve (Danny Dyer) starts to hallucinate, during which he suddenly becomes aware of the camera and on catching sight of it jolts backwards in surprise.
  • Shirley Valentine - The title character narrates much of the movie to the audience, describing this to other characters as "talking to the wall".
  • Shriek If You Know What I Did Last Friday the Thirteenth - Martina (Majandra Delfino) remarks that the cast is in a "parody situation", and then recounts the rules for survival. At another point, there is a brief montage showing the entire cast's reaction to a comment, and the movie's crew is shown as well. At the end, Dawson (Harley Cross) says that he and Martina are safe, "At least until the sequel." And finally, the entire post-credit lag is a fourth wall-break.
  • Singin' in the Rain - At the end of the film, the actors sing and dance in front of a billboard for the movie.
  • Singles (film) - Matt Dillon's character frequently looks at the camera to comment to the audience about the situation at hand.
  • Sixteen Candles - Farmer Ted (Anthony Michael Hall) looks at us and says "This is getting good".
  • Sling Blade - Karl Childers (Billy Bob Thornton) often monologues to the audience. When asked about these techniques on Inside the Actors Studio, Thornton said that he was simply attempting to connect with the audience and that he did not understand why some film purists criticize the breaking of the fourth wall.
  • Spaceballs - There are several instances where the actors acknowledge the movie itself, such as Dark Helmet (Rick Moranis) accidentally killing a camera man during a lightsaber duel, crashing into a camera during a close-up, etc. At one point, after a lengthy, obvious piece of plot exposition by Colonel Sandurz (George Wyner), Helmet turns to the camera and says "Everybody got that?" At another, when they have lost track of Lone Starr (Bill Pullman) and Princess Vespa (Daphne Zuniga), Dark Helmet and Colonel Sandurzz borrow "Spaceballs, the Video" from their ship's rental parlor to find out where their quarry has gone, fast-forwarding through previous scenes until they reach the current scene, which depicts them looking at a video of themselves ... looking at a video of themselves (et cetera). Later in the movie, Yogurt (Mel Brooks) reveals the several pieces of (fictional) "merchandise" made for the film to our heroes, including Spaceballs the Cereal, Spaceballs the Coloring Book, and Spaceballs the Flamethrower. Also, as Lone Starr leaves, he asks if they'll ever meet again. Yogurt replies by saying they'd definitely meet again in the sequel Spaceballs II: The Search for More Money. Later, the enemy general discovers and remarks that instead of capturing the protagonists, they have instead captured "their stunt doubles". Finally, Mel Brooks as President Skroob arrives breathless on the bridge of Spaceball One, after having been depicted running through the ship's corridors. As he catches his breath, he says, "This ship is too big. If I walk, the movie will be over."
  • Space Jam - Bill Murray appears late in the film as himself, saying that he got into the movie because the producer was a friend of his. In another scene, Mr. Swackhammer (animated; voiced by Danny DeVito) looks at the camera and says (referring mistakenly to Bill Murray), "I didn't know Dan Aykroyd was in this picture." When Bugs Bunny is chased by Elmer Fudd, he stops and says to the audience "I'll be with you in a minute, folks, after I'm done with nature boy here." At another point, Tweety gives a sly look to the audience when he begs Michael Jordan (playing himself) to help the Looney Tunes characters. Daffy Duck even spits on the camera as he talks into it because of his speech impediment. In one scene, where the monster known as Bang runs to the net to make a slam dunk, he says "Don't try this at home" to the audience. When Bugs kisses Lola Bunny, she acts like Daffy and pulls down the next scene. At the end of the movie, after the credits finish rolling, Bugs delivers the classic "That's all Folks" line, followed by Porky Pig (who usually says it himself), followed by Daffy, then the Nerdlucks. Then Michael Jordan pops up from the bottom from the screen and asks "Can I go home now?".
  • Spiceworld - While the ending credits are rolling, the Spice Girls look at the audience, referring to them as "tiny people" and address an (unspecified) audience member, asking where their clothing was purchased.
  • Spy Hard - When the con artists are torturing a character representing Macaulay Culkin (but played by another child actor), they make several comments about getting back at him for Getting Even With Dad, My Girl, and My Girl 2 (which Culkin wasn't in, but the thugs don't care anyway). In the introduction song, Weird Al Yankovic sings to the viewer that the movie is called Spy Hard and that they are watching Spy Hard.
  • Spy Kids 3D - In the introduction, Floop (Alan Cumming) reads the audience a summary of the original Spy Kids, calling it story about "thumb-thumbs" and asking the audience if they thought they liked the story. He also says to go buy refreshments at the theater, a comment which was not removed for the film's video release.
  • Stark Raving Mad - In the movie's opening, Ben McGewen (Seann William Scott) speaks to those watching about just what exactly is going to occur. While throughout the film, Ben freezes a specfic scenerio to explain to the audience about a certain character's history or the current chain of events.
  • Support Your Local Sheriff! - Jake (Jack Elam) narrates the epilogue of the film direct to camera, and then self-consciously attempts to strike a dashing pose in time for the titles to roll.
  • The Sweetest Thing - An after the credits have rolled scene, shows four of the main members of the cast sitting on a couch, on noticing the camera they speak directly to it, telling the audience that; "[The movie]'s over...go home!"

T

  • Team America: World Police - When Gary Johnson is riding his motorbike, the camera zooms in too far and knocks Gary off the motorbike.
  • That Thing You Do - The Hotel employee Lamar gives us a knowing glance and smile at the end of the film.
  • Thoroughly Modern Millie - When the characters are thinking, they look directly to camera, and their thoughts appear on silent cinema-style caption cards. When Millie Dillmount (Julie Andrews) is undressing for bed, she looks coyly at the camera before closing her dressing room door on the audience.
  • Three Stooges - In the short film "Rhythm and Weep", Larry turns to the camera while hugging his suicidal sweetheart and says, "This I like. And I get paid for it, too." In another short, the Stooges are stuck in prison, breaking rocks off of Curly's head. When Larry reaches for the next rock, Curly suddenly tells him "that's a real rock" (as opposed to a prop).
  • Through the Olive Trees - At several times throughout the film, the camera pulls back to reveal the film crew and director.
  • To Be or Not to Be - At the end of the film, the actors come on stage and take a bow, as if the entire film was a performance.
  • Toy Story 2 - During the end credits they show animated bloopers where characters screw up as if they were real actors. Also during the same bloopers Flik and Heimlich from "A Bugs Life" are talking to each other about A Bug's Life 2 but then discover that there's not really going to be one.
  • Tom Jones - Various characters break off in the middle of their scenes to look into the camera and address the audience. Most famously, Tom Jones (Albert Finney) takes off his hat and hangs it on the camera lens to prevent the audience from seeing his tryst with Mrs. Waters (Joyce Redman).
  • Top Secret! - Nick Rivers (Val Kilmer) spews out an absurd summary of the plot of the movie thus far, to which Hillary Flammond (Lucy Gutteridge) replies "I know. It all sounds like some bad movie"; a long pause follows as both actors look directly at the camera.
  • Trading Places - After his intelligence is insulted by the Duke brothers ("pork bellies are used to make bacon ... such as you might find in a bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwich"), Eddie Murphy's character gives the camera a direct, meaningful stare.
  • Two Can Play That Game - Shante Smith (Vivica A. Fox) routinely addresses the camera as she doles out her daily rules for keeping control of a man. At one point, as she and attorney-boyfriend Keith are starting to become amorous in his office, she reaches out to cover the camera with her hand saying, "You know what? This ain't none of yo' business."

U

  • Up Pompeii - Frankie Howerd as Lurcio frequently directly addresses the audience, both informing them of the plot and characters as well as cracking gags. The "reincarnated" Lurcio (as Lurkalot and Private Lirk, respectively) does much the same in the two sequels, Up The Chastity Belt amd Up The Front.

V

  • Videodrome - After seeing himself commit the same act on his television set, Max Renn (James Woods) gets on his knees, points a gun at his head, looks directly at the viewer and says the now infamous catchphrase "long live the new flesh." As soon as he pulls the trigger, the screen goes blank. Also, some characters (Renn included) will look straight into the camera sometimes.
  • Volunteers - In one scene, At Toon (Gedde Watanabe) and Lawrence (Tom Hanks) lean out to read the on-screen subtitles of otherwise illegible dialogue.

W

  • Wake Up, Ron Burgundy: The Lost Movie - Steve Carell's character Brick acknowledges the camera filming their vehicle through the windshield, though other characters ignore him.
  • Wayne's World and Wayne's World 2 - Wayne Campbell (Mike Myers), Garth Algar (Dana Carvey), and several other characters frequently talk directly to the audience. At one point in Wayne's World, a sadistic baker begins addressing the audience but Wayne breaks in and says, "What do you think you're doing? Only Garth and I get to talk to the camera!" At the end of the first Wayne's World, Wayne and Garth choose three endings.
  • What's Up Doc?- At various points in the film, whenever Judy (Barbara Streisand) is speaking to the bewilderment of Howard (Ryan O'Neal), Ryan looks at the camera with a look of anguish on his face. At one point the camera actually zooms in on Ryan who looks directly at the camera asking the audience for "Help!".
  • What's Up, Tiger Lily? - At the end of the film, while Katie is explaining to Coop that she has no interest in him physically and has decided to be with Andy, Coop looks directly into the camera just once. Halfway through the movie, Woody Allen is interviewed briefly in regards to the film; the interviewers ask if he could explain what the previous scene was about, to which Woody Allen replies "No" before the film resumes.

Y

  • You, Me and Dupree - An after credit scene shows (Lance Armstrong) himself reading Dupree's self-help book (as Dupree had been reading Lance Armstrong's own novel earlier on), while sitting on a grass lawn. He then looks directly at the camera and wonders aloud how to pronounce his "ness" name and begins trying to find a proper way to pronounce it.
  • Young Frankenstein - Igor looks into the camera several times, and even speaks entire lines to the audience.

Z

Other examples

  • Oliver Hardy, in innumerable Laurel and Hardy films, looks directly at the camera in despair, seeking audience sympathy at his ongoing endurance of Stan's antics. It is the 'fourth wall' version of his plea: "Why don't you do something to help me!" Additionally, Stan also frequently sobs directly to camera in moments of apparent hopelessness.
  • Groucho Marx was also responsible for some of the earliest breaking of the fourth wall in cinema, in films such as The Cocoanuts and Animal Crackers. In The Big Store, Groucho comments to the audience that a dress is red although the film cannot show it the because "Technicolor is so expensive." In Horse Feathers, at the beginning of a musical number, Groucho looks towards the camera and says, "I have to stay here, but there's no reason the rest of you folks shouldn't go out into the lobby until this blows over."
  • All Muppet movies have broken the fourth wall in some way, primarily for comedic effect (such as "I hope you appreciate that I'm doing all my own stunts"), or Kermit telling Piggy that she's over-acting.
  • C-3PO may have broken the fourth wall in Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back when he is in Echo Base. After Han Solo yells for him to hurry up, C-3PO becomes stuck behind a door that closes on him. He looks at the camera and says "how typical" although it is unknown if this was addressed to the audience or not.

See also




Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "List of films that break the fourth wall" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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