Top 10 Fourth Wall Breakers
Your votes once again led us to a tie! We’re shocked and astonished at how well received some of our topic choices have been this year. Now as I cast my eye out towards each and every one of you reading this Top 10, I ponder if you are really there or if you are all a figment of our imaginations, as we look towards our favourite Fourth Wall Breakers.
To break the fourth wall is a theatre trick, to engage with the audience at some level. Sometimes you may turn them into a mob, or you may decide to talk to them such as in pantomime (“Oh no he didn’t!”, “Oh yes he did!”) There are more subtle uses of the Fourth Wall however, some of them are semi-contained below… We couldn’t completely contain them, they reached out of the computer and told us not to.
10) Waiting for Godot
This is a play, thus it’s outside of the normal realms of geekdom and geekery. Nevertheless, this is a story of two men who are waiting around forever. But you might ask: just what are they waiting for?
As the name implies, they are waiting for Godot. It’s implicit that Godot is a man, of some description, but they just end up waiting for him… Forever. The two end up going through an existential crisis and this famous tragicomedy was born. Looking out to the audience, speaking to them and even suggesting they are an angry mob, this is a true example of an early fourth wall breaker in theatre.
9) The Gamers
Between the in-game and out-of-game world there is an accepted boundary, although it gets a little grey at times when player and character almost seem like the same person, or when talk at the table makes the contents in the game world seem weird and clunky. The Gamers throws light across it all, back-pedalling on a bad roll, forgetting character aspects, remembering to include the character of an absentee player, and the cat invading the table in the sequel.
Spoiler alert – It all comes to a grand conclusion when the characters defeat their ultimate nemesis, The Shadow and find a hidden passage in his chambers. Therein they found a band of strange sorcerers pouring over scrolls that bear their names and intricate details of their capabilities. The adventurers butcher the sorcerers and then have to deal with their house-mate coming in livid that those nerds are disturbing her study time!
Now this is a point of some contention, because while the fourth wall hasn’t been broken, a fourth wall has been created to hop over repeatedly. More of a fourth fence really. And it’s one they jump repeatedly:
8) Apollo Justice – Ace Attorney
At the end of Apollo Justice, you are given the choice, as the player and as one of the main characters of the story, as to whether the lady you were defending was Guilty or Not Guilty.
There are two possible outcomes as a direct result of your vote. I won’t explain what happens, but this was an important part of the lore behind the games series. With it, the jurists are in control and it plays an important part of the future of the series and in this title. I won’t give away much spoilers about the story behind this particular trial, but it’s fun to note that either option you choose, that’s the last one you choose in the game… You are now in control of somebodies life.
Two weeks in a row this foul mouthed rodent has made it onto a Top 10 list. Not an easy feat, but did you know that Conker explicitly breaks the fourth wall throughout the game? He does so by constantly addressing elements of the game that a character shouldn’t be aware of. He also likes to communicate with the player, but I guess if I were being controlled, I would too.
Even worse still is during a story driven part of the game when Conker suggests that he knows he’s inside of a game. He asks “Didn’t you see the Prologue?” Clever little squirrel you are, you fuzzy freak! Now if only the story of the game didn’t end up so tragic at the end…
6) Starcraft & Warcraft
Did you ever just keep poking the units in the old -Craft RTS games? May want to reinstall them and start clicking, you’ve missed out on the one thing in them funnier than the secret cow level.
- “Why you poking me again?”
- “Why don’t you lead an army instead of touching me!?”
- “Poke poke poke – is that all you do?”(the poking jokes are references to the infamous “Stop poking me!” quote of Warcraft – Orcs & Humans)
- “Oh, that was kind of nice.”
Y’know what, maybe leave the Orc Grunts alone, they get a little too keen on the clicking, but the rest are full of film references and whatnot.
5) Sonic the Hedgehog
Just about everyone knows about Sonic the Hedgehog, gamer or not. But did you know that he has a chronic condition to break the fourth wall?
In his… Questionable cartoon series, he ran “Sonic Says” segments where he would teach kids some good life lessons by talking to them. But nothing breaks that fourth wall more than when he tells the player in Sonic CD that he’s outta here. He gets impatient of waiting, tells you he’s outta there, then jumps behind the stage, coming with an instant game over! Cranky blue hedgehog.
No game does reference better than any other, to pop-culture, to other games, to itself to no small degree. Eventually that kind of self-awareness will bust through the screen and have a good long look at itself. Like Claptrap telling you about his stash:
“Even though you didn’t bring me what I asked for, I’ve decided to let you use that stash to share weapons between my minions! Specifically the ones that, uh, that you control. (beat) Look, it’s for twinking items between your characters.”
Or Krieg getting into an argument with the Psycho on the cover of the box because he thinks he should be there instead:
“Box cover, box cover! I’m the one who eats the stardom! I’m the hero of all the villains! You can’t swallow my morality like a lollipop pill! I’ll run around your mind and set the world record with my meat sleeves!”
Alright that one gets a bit weird… the point still stands. All this fourth wall breaking comes of self-awareness
3) CM Punk
So I have said before about how geeky the WWE has become and few are truer to that sentiment than this former WWE-superstar and champion, CM Punk.
In 2011, he shocked the world when he was given a microphone to air his grievances… And air them he did! He let everyone have a peace of his mind. From the man laying in the ring at the time, to the chairman of the company, all the way to the fans of the company. Whilst he was dropping his verbal pipe bomb, he made references to certain people… References to Dwane Johnson, who is better known as The Rock. He spoke out of character and addressed people who might be watching the show, such as his friend and indie wrestling star, Colt Cabana.
Oh and did you know that CM Punk is now fighting in the UFC? He’s also a co-writer for the latest Thor annuals? Don’t believe me? He may also be doing other things, but I don’t know… I think it sounds like he’s done enough.
2) Pratchett’s Footnotes
No fantasy series is more real, in fact you may have to double check at times that what you’re reading is actually taking place on the back of a giant turtle floating through space, upon which four elephants stand supporting a world the shape of a disc. The politics are just as dirty, the people are just as stupid, and sometimes the day isn’t saved, mostly because the day wasn’t actually in trouble.
Terry Pratchett practically chats to his audience via the little expositional footnotes that compare the content of his world to that of the regular one.
- One of the most basic rules for survival on any planet is never to upset someone wearing black leather.*
- * This is why protesters against the wearing of animal skins by humans unaccountably fail to throw their paint over Hell’s Angels.
Even better, in the series The Science of the Discworld the wizards of Unseen University create a world the shape of a ball and spend about three books poking it to see what it does. Because while you’re busting down the fourth wall, you may as well invite us in.
Do we really need to discuss this? Did anyone not see this coming? I don’t even think Deadpool knows what the fourth wall is! I am convinced that he started our side and broke in somehow. Or maybe Ryan Reynolds was always Deadpool and has only just worked out how to exist off-paper. Look I can sit here and conjecture for hours, but the point is the fourth wall has not built to withstand the kind of punishment Marvel levelled at it.
We’re not going to dress it up for you. We always come up with a few ideas that come up with the response “Yeah, but does it go on the list? Or do we shove it into the honourables?” Here are the two that made it this far but we just couldn’t slap numbers on. Call them 11 and 12, call them what you like, “Top 12” just isn’t as catchy.
The Fresh Prince of Bel Air
I mean, Will Smith is a fantastic actor. I’ve previously mentioned how I’m excited to see him as Deadshot as I feel he’ll pull it off well. But back when he was just beginning, he had this awesome show which 80s and 90s kids will remember very fondly. It’s humour that transcends the ages though, it’s just downright funny.
And occasionally, Will Smith was aware enough to say things like “If we’re so rich, why we can’t afford no ceiling?” Perhaps Mr Smith knows that every thing he’s in is not real… Perhaps he’s become self-aware and knows that the world around him just isn’t what it seems… Perhaps Mr Smith is actually calling out to us, saying “HELP… Something isn’t right here”. He’s aware he has no roof, even though they’re supposedly rich, he sometimes screams right at us when something awkward happens… And he made one of the catchiest theme tunes ever. Mark my words… Mr Smith is aware that you’re watching him.
Dora the Explorer
Dammit Dora, we know you can’t hear us! Stop asking us to yell at the TV, you’re not listening, you’re just enjoying making people look stupid because you already figured it out ages ago. You’re a bilingual six year old, and you’re telling us you can’t see Swiper back there? Not buying it, not shouting at the TV, not playing your little game.
This concludes our look through our Top 10 Fourth Wall Breakers. No more invasion of your privacy or your persons will occur thanks to these safety net botherers. You don’t have to worry about anyone from GeekOut South-West talking directly to an audience of any kind, no sir-e!
But now, it’s up to you, the audience, to decide our next Top 10 (I’m not breaking the fourth wall, honestly…) Also don’t forget to comment below, over on Facebook or Twitter. Let us know what you thought of this Top 10 list and if you think our decisions are good. Do you know of any better choices for this list? Did The Fresh Prince of Bel Air deserve to actually be on the Top 10 list, not the honourable!? Let us know your thoughts!