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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 fictional. In the Pokémon franchise several characters appear to break the "fourth wall" in both the anime and less commonly in the video games.
There are several ways of breaking the fourth wall. For example, when characters refer to events that happened in a particular episode, when characters stop others from performing an occult or criminal act by referring to the fact that it is a "children's show", when characters respond to a real world person who is not physically present such as the narrator, or when characters within the anime persuade people to buy merchandise of the subject in question.
In the games
Main series games
- Trainer Tips signs and message boards provide advice to the player in using the game's control scheme. Similar instructions are also given by NPCs, such as the player's mother, the regional Pokémon Professor, and NPCs telling the player that they are saving.
- The Game Freak office can be found in Celadon City and Castelia City. The characters there will announce their role in the game when the player speaks to them:
- "I'm the game designer!"
- "I wrote the story!"
- "I'm the graphic artist! I drew you!" or "I'm the graphic designer! I'm a skilled dot artist!"
- "Me? I'm the programmer!".
- In addition, examining the computers gives this message: "It's the game program! Messing with it could bug out the game!"
- In other games, Game Freak employees are seen on vacation. A group stays in the Cove Lily Motel in Lilycove City and a single member stays at the Hotel Grand Lake in Valor Lakefront.
Pokémon Ranger series
- At the beginning of the first Pokémon Ranger game, when explaining the control style of the game, an NPC says that he uses the stylus instead of the D-pad because he is from the "touch generation". This is a reference to Nintendo's Touch! Generations line of games for casual gamers, which were brand new at the time of Pokémon Ranger's release.
- During the ending of the first official mission in the first Pokémon Ranger game, Professor Hastings knows the game options exist by saying, "By options, I don't mean fooling with some text settings, I mean consider what we might do!"
- At the end of the Heatran Mission in Pokémon Ranger: Guardian Signs, the Capture Styler breaks the fourth wall, telling the player themselves to wait a moment during Nema's explanation of how Heatran learned Eruption.
In the anime
In the anime, the fourth wall has been broken numerous times. The most common characters to do this are Team Rocket.
- 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.
- Sparks Fly for Magnemite: When Team Rocket appears with a new mecha without Ash and his friends noticing, Jessie and James introduce their new plan to the audience (Jessie even says, "Tell them, James!"), and Meowth asks who they are talking to.
- Dig Those Diglett!: Team Rocket mentions that their evolved Pokémon are being shown "for the first time on TV".
- Pikachu's Goodbye: After Team Rocket finishes their motto, James says, "We'd like to thank all of our fans for their loyalty and support. This victory is for them".
- 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!"
- The Breeding Center Secret: When James get Butch's name wrong, Butch goes out of his screen split to correct it, meaning he knows it's there.
- To Master the Onixpected!: When Jessie and James start to say the motto, Meowth uses a remote to fast-forward it.
- The Crystal Onix: Jessie acknowledges the writers' existence.
- The Joy of Pokémon: After pointing out the fact that Ash and company are yet again enjoying pleasant, beautiful, tropical weather on the seas, the narrator says, "Narrators never get to have any fun," thus acknowledging his existence as a narrator.
- Wherefore Art Thou, Pokémon?: Team Rocket acknowledges the narrator's existence.
- Bound For Trouble: When Misty tells Ash and Pikachu to come back from the fruit basket, their run at the basket is simply rewound.
- Enter The Dragonite: Team Rocket acknowledges the existence of a split screen. Jessie also pushes the split screen away.
- 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 Stolen Stones: While Jessie is escaping via unicycle, she hums along with a few bars of the chase music.
- Ring Masters: After the narrator introduces Rikishii Town as "a charming little village", Misty asks the others where they are. Brock quotes the narrator: "It's a charming little village, Misty!"
- 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.
- Espeon Not Included: After realizing they haven't stolen the complete set of Eeveelutions (having missed Sakura's Espeon) Jessie lashes out at Meowth, who quite literally hits the fourth wall and slides down the screen.
- A Tyrogue Full of Trouble: When Team Rocket blasts off, they all say, "Cue the blast off lights!".
- 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."
- Beauty is Skin Deep Jessie says to Dratini: "If you don't cool it, the show's over for all of us!"
- 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!?"
- Putting the Air Back in Aerodactyl!: When Crystal states Butch's name wrong, Butch pushes the split screens featuring Professor Oak and Crystal apart to state his name correctly, meaning that he is aware of the existence of the split screens.
- 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!"
- Aipom and Circumstance!: Meowth says, "Save it for another cartoon show!" and "May I remind you it's not like we're watching reruns?"
- 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.
- 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!".
- Different Strokes for Different Blokes: Meowth, Jessie and James say, respectively, "You can't do that!", "The kids are still getting used to our new motto!", and, "Next thing you know they'll think we've been replaced by Butch and Cassidy!"
- Gymbaliar!: Meowth rushes Jessie and James, saying that they "only have three minutes left!"
- An Angry Combeenation: Meowth speaks directly to the "kids" in the viewing audience.
- All Dressed Up With Somewhere To Go: After Meowth gets confused by Teeter Dance, he says "First the Movie Short, then TV, and now this!".
- Steamboat Willies: Team Rocket references the "kids" (viewing audience).
- Top-Down Training!: Meowth speaks directly to the "kids" (viewing audience).
- Mass Hip-Po-Sis: After Jessie realize she's in a blast-off, she demands a script change and James comments she should go with it or the makers might call in Cassidy.
- A Maze-ing Race!: When Team Rocket gets blasted off by an Onix, Jessie says, "But this is only act one!" Also, during their motto, Jessie states that they "blasted off early".
- 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.
- Doc Brock!: Ash interrupts the narrator's closing speech saying he forgot about Gliscor.
- Sleepless In Pre-Battle!: As Team Rocket blasts off in the daytime, Jessie says that if they can't let them sleep, at least they could let them get more air time, with they possibly being those who work on 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.
- 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!"
- Beating the Bustle and Hustle!: When Azure insults Team Rocket, James makes a split in the screen and shoves it at Azure's face.
- Dealing With a Fierce Double Ditto Drama!: When Meowth begins to explain his Boss fantasy, James says, "I smell a fantasy scene."
- The Brockster is in! : While Team Rocket is looking for treasure, they make a reference to several games. They wonder if the treasure will be Gold, Silver, Ruby, Sapphire, Diamond, Pearl, or Platinum. James also makes a reference to the upcoming games by saying, "It's not quite that Black and White."
- Mewtwo Strikes Back: Meowth says "For once a happy ending" as Team Rocket is stranded on an empty New Island but seemed happy about it.
- 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 it (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.
- 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 manga
Electric Tale of Pikachu
Magical Pokémon Journey