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"Breaking the fourth wall" is a term that refers to a point where a character acknowledges that he or she is in a television show, and therefore, fictional. This term is different from an aside, where a character will seemingly detach for a moment to say something to the audience, then continue on as if nothing had happened.
There are several ways of breaking the fourth wall. They include referring to events that happened in said episode, stopping someone from performing a violent act or swearing by saying something along the lines of it being a children's show, responding to a character who is not physically present (e.g., the narrator), or getting people to buy merchandise of the subject in question.
In the anime
In the anime, the fourth wall has been broken numerous times. The most common characters to do this are Team Rocket.
Episodes in which the fourth wall is broken
- School of Hard Knocks: While breaking up an argument between Ash and Misty, Brock comments that they're running late and have to start the show.
- Mystery at the Lighthouse: The narrator asks Ash to name his Pokémon, which Ash does.
- Electric Shock Showdown: James says "Drat! We spent a whole episode cheering for the good guys!"
- Pokémon Scent-sation: Meowth complains that Gloom's horrible stench must have melted his nose from his face. He then remembers, and points out to the audience, that the show's cartoonists never gave him one.
- Hypno's Naptime: Jessie remarks that their early arrival in the episode is based on the half-hour time constraint involving the show. Misty also orders the narrator not to congratulate her for "capturing" her Psyduck.
- Showdown at Dark City: At the end, when the kids were saying good-bye, Ash thought they were asking for his signature, when they were really wanting Pikachu's. Ash answers with "Well, Pikachu IS the star."
- The Song of Jigglypuff: The last lines of Team Rocket's theme song are, "We want to capture Pikachu we hope to do it soon / and when we do we'll be the new stars of this cartoon!"
- Beach Blank-Out Blastoise: When Jigglypuff draws on Misty's face she says she looks like a cartoon character, to which Ash responds, "Like that could ever happen!"
- To Master the Onixpected!: When Jessie and James start to say the motto, Meowth uses a remote to fast-forward it.
- Pikachu Re-volts: Tracy slides over to Ash and asks him "Who's That Pokémon?"
- The Crystal Onix: Jessie acknowledges the writers' existence.
- Wherefore Art Thou, Pokémon?: Team Rocket acknowledges the narrator's existence.
- The Whistle Stop: When the bridge is about to collapse, Meowth says, "We usually don't wash out this early in the episode!"
- Fowl Play!: While inside Team Rocket's Mecha Noctowl, Meowth exclaims, "We're going to capture that colorful Noctowl right after we get back from the next commercial!"
- The Perfect Match: James says, "For you folks at home, here's a play-by-play."
- The Mystery is History: Jessie and Cassidy are aware that there is a split in the screen between the two of them, as they shove it back and forth.
- Throwing in the Noctowl: Meowth tells Jessie and James to hurry up with the motto, saying, "Just give 'em the short version!" 'Them' refers to the audience.
- As Clear as Crystal: Jessie tells James to explain their mecha to the, "viewing audience."
- Same Old Song and Dance: When Team Rocket interrupts the show and sing their song, they say that they will, "...be the new stars of this cartoon."
- Pop Goes the Sneasel: As Team Rocket escapes with their "Sneasel," Jessie says that "Meowth's striked out for the rest of the season!"
- You Never Can Taillow: Ash and friends fight Team Rocket for control of the larger portion of a split screen, meaning they are aware of its existence.
- The Spheal of Approval: In the European Portuguese dub, James says, "Acham que ao fim de tantos episódios ainda não sabemos o que é a electricidade!?"
- Solid as a Solrock: James says, "this concludes today's episode of Advanced Pokémon Stealing", obviously a spoof of the current season, Pokémon: Advanced Battle.
- Vanity Affair: Jessie states that even if she were to write the script it would not be any better.
- Sweet Baby James: Meowth turns to the audience and says, "...and you guys might want to cover your eyes!"
- May's Egg-Cellent Adventure: Meowth says that James is giving him a pain, but he cannot say where because there are kids watching the show.
- New Plot, Odd Lot!: At the end, Jessie takes over as the narrator and says, "Stay tuned!".
- Grating Spaces: After becoming frustrated in her attempt to explain a plan to James and Meowth, Jessie turns to the audience and says, "I'm sure you're all one step ahead of these clowns, so you know that's exactly what we're going to do!"
- Gathering The Gang of Four!: Team Rocket says they have waited nine seasons to capture Pikachu. Pokémon: Battle Frontier, is the ninth season of the anime, which this episode takes place in. Meowth also says they'll make through the tenth season.
- Home Is Where the Start Is!: James, upon blasting off, asks if Team Rocket will ever learn. Meowth responds that they'll find out next season.
- Two Degrees of Separation!: When Dawn is confronting Team Rocket, Meowth comments "We've been chasing that Pikachu as long as you've been alive!", referencing the length of the anime at that point.
- When Pokémon Worlds Collide!: When Team Rocket blasts off, James says, "aren't we supposed to leave our audience wanting more?" Meowth responds, "You go tell that to the writers!".
- Gymbaliar: Meowth rushes Jessie and James, saying that they, "only have three minutes left!"
- Once There Were Greenfields: Jessie says to start up the season in style with the old get-up-and-go strategy. This is the second episode of Pokémon Diamond & Pearl: Battle Dimension.
- Fighting Fear with Fear!: When Meowth begins to explain his Boss fantasy, Jessie says, "I'm sensing a scene change."
- A Lean Mean Team Rocket Machine: When Team Rocket shows off their mecha, they say "Introduce it to the kids". "The kids" refers to the viewers that are watching the show.
- Dealing With Defensive Types!: As Team Rocket sneaks into the Canalave Gym, Meowth addresses the audience, saying, "Look kids, since you know what comes next, let's cut to the chase, so sing along."
- Noodles! Roamin' Off!: Team Rocket says at the end of the episode after Metagross blasts them off with Gyro Ball, "Hey kids, so dream with us!" Like A Lean Mean Team Rocket Machine and Dealing With Defensive Types!, "Kids" refer to the viewers that are watching the show.
- A Pyramiding Rage!: When Meowth sees the Battle Pyramid he says, "Even flyboys need a scene change!"
- Pillars of Friendship!: When Team Rocket blasts off for the second time in the episode, James comments that it is, "...awfully early for a blast off!"
Movies in which the fourth wall is broken
- The Power of One: Slowking told Team Rocket that lots of people saw them risk their lives to save the world, then all four of them look at the audience and say hi. Earlier, when Team Rocket is saying the motto for the first time, Team Rocket proclaims that they're now on the big screen (since they've forgotten the events of the first movie). Ash then makes the quip of saying he'll "catch the motto on video".
- Spell of the Unown: Team Rocket mentions that they would be "out of show business" if anything happened to Ash while helping to save him near the end of the movie. Meowth also asks Jessie earlier in the movie whether or not she thinks they will get a bigger part in the next one. Ironically, they only had minor roles in that movie.
- Mewtwo Returns: James comments that "this feels like a sequel to a movie I missed". This is the sequel of the first movie, Mewtwo Strikes Back, the events of which were erased from the characters' memories.
- Pokémon Ranger and the Temple of the Sea: The wall is broken twice with Meowth commenting that Diamond and Pearl are "good names for games" and later says, "let's get through this season first." when James says that they would find diamonds and pearls. These are both obvious references to the upcoming games as well as the tenth season.
In the games