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Top 10 4th Wall Breaks in TV

VO: Rebecca Brayton
Do you ever get that feeling that the characters on TV are watching you? Like when they're talking to you, or they're aware that it's all a TV show, such as Porky Pig's infamous "That's All Folks" or The Fresh Prince of Bel Air realizing they have no ceiling in their set in the studio. These are moments known as breaking the fourth wall, when the characters step beyond the limits of storytelling and have some sort of interaction with the audience or the show itself. Join as we countdown our Top 10 Fourth Wall Breaks in TV.

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Top 10 4th Wall Breaks in TV

Do you ever get the feeling that the characters on TV are watching you? Welcome to, and today we’re counting down our picks for the Top 10 Fourth Wall Breaks in Television.

For this list, we’re focusing on moments in your favorite TV series that address the audience or the fact that the characters are aware they’re on a show. We’re excluding moments that have characters that appear in the “Quote unquote” Real World. And we’re awarding extra points based on a combination of creativity, notability, and how frequently these fourth wall breaks appeared in the show.

#10: Nice Products, Right?
“Angel” (1999-2004)

Let’s start off with the quirky writing of Joss Whedon. In a comedic episode of the Buffy spinoff called “Spin the Bottle,” a spell gone wrong makes everyone think they’re 17-years-old. To throw viewers off even further, Lorne offers up his commentary on the proceedings throughout the episode. But our favorite moment is towards the end of the second act, after 17-year-old Angel learns he’s the vampire; we cut to the usual commercial break… and then we come back to Lorne mentioning this.

#9: Denny Crane
“Boston Legal” (2004-08)

Good old William Shatner finally hung up his Starfleet uniform and stopped fighting Klingons, Yeah we did. Taking on the role of the larger-than-life attorney who likes the sound of his own name, Shatner is constantly using the fourth wall throughout the series to communicate with the audience and to remind us how noteworthy his performance is.

#8: Product Placement
“30 Rock” (2006-13)

Known for their subversive humor and tongue-in-cheek delivery, Tina Fey and the rest of the “30 Rock” gang are not afraid to stray into the territory of product placement. This short scene from the season 2 episode “Somebody to Love” starts off innocently enough, but then ends up doing what we’d call a shameless product plug; but of course, that’s part of the gag.

#7: Naked Doctor Who
“BBC Children in Need” (2011)

The BBC has the annual custom of featuring the iconic Timelord in their charity special “Children in Need.” In keeping with tradition, Matt Smith steps out of the TARIDS in character as the 11th doctor to make a very generous donation. What gets him this slot on our list, though, is how he manages to tempt Doctor Who fangirls everywhere who wanted to see him without his bowtie.

#6: Zack Morris
“Saved by the Bell” (1989-93)

The leading character of this ‘90s sitcom is no stranger to bringing down the fourth wall: starting with the pilot episode and continuing on, Zack sets up the story for the viewer. However, this blond troublemaker has one very special ability that earns him this spot. Yup, Zack uses this gimmick multiple times during the series to address the audience, or to get out of tight situations.

#5: That’s All Folks!
“Looney Tunes” (1930-69)

This one’s a classic, and an iconic staple of Porky Pig that appears at the end of most Looney Tunes episodes. Porky’s catchphrase has gotten so popular that in more recent years, the viewer sometimes gets an unexpected surprise from one of his friends. But probably one of our favorites is after the short “Invasion of the Bunny Snatchers,” where we see a fake-out at first, after which Bugs steps in to set things right.

#4: Rebecca Reads the 4th Wall Entries?
“WatchMojo” (2006-)

In an unexpected occurrence in the clip “Top 10 Fourth Wall Breaks in TV,” the narrator of the video suddenly finds herself in the video, when the script points out that there’s a camera just to her right.

#4: Dilemma of the Middle Child
“Malcolm in the Middle” (2000-06)

This show is one of the few that tackles the harsh reality of a middle-born kid who ends up being a child prodigy in a broken family… Besides that one. One of the main gimmicks on “Malcolm in the Middle” is having the title character constantly address the audience to express his dilemma, or simply what’s going on. These breaks happen so frequently in the show, they’re pretty much one of the series’ main features.

#3: The Dark Thoughts of a Politician
“House of Cards” (2013-)

While every other entry on our list is a lighthearted comedy moment, “House of Cards”’ fourth wall breaks are more sinister. It’s in these moments when Frank Underwood speaks directly to us in his deep southern monotone that we are fully introduced to the show’s politics of power. This menacing Kevin Spacey performance hits the twisted nail on the head right from the start, by showing you he simply doesn’t care about anything else.

#2: Where’s Our Ceiling?
“The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” (1990-96)

This iconic ‘90s sitcom is filled with memorable fourth wall breaks, most of which happen from the fourth season onward. While that one stretches our criteria a bit, there are other memorable scenes in the “Fresh Prince” that take a sledgehammer to the fourth wall. Sorry, did we say Sledgehammer? Better make that a missile.

Before we break out the top pick, here are a few honorable mentions:

#1: Deadpool
“Ultimate Spider-Man” (2012-)

Pretty sure most comic book fans saw him coming, but we couldn’t resist giving him the top spot. It seems this comic book anti-hero’s main power is breaking the fourth wall, and he kicks it off here by attacking the show’s title credits. And the Merc with the Mouth ultimately destroys the reality of TV in this case, leaving the fourth wall pretty much non-existent in the process.

Do you agree with our list? Did you ever get caught off guard by a character talking to you on TV? For more breaking Top 10s published everyday, be sure to subscribe to

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