Talk:Fourth Wall Breaks

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Ding! Fourth Wall Breaks is a featured article, which means it showcases an important part of the Homestar Runner body of work and/or highlights the fine work of this wiki. We also might just think it's cool. If you see a way this page can be updated or improved without compromising previous work, feel free to contribute.


Article title

This answers my question, I guess we are going to be tracking all 4th wall breaks. - Dr Haggis - Talk 16:36, 29 Nov 2004 (MST)

Can we at least be grammatical and call this something like "Fourth Wall Violations"?

I was going for [The] Fourth Wall Breaks, actually, as in "Fourth Wall Breaks! Details at 11." But if you think it's confusing, by all means change it. I'm just not going to go through the effort. :) --Vannav

I think this should at the very least be separated into two categories: "Audience Acknowledgement" in which the characters talk about the audience, and "Total Breakage", which consists of e-mails like "virus" that make fun of them being on a website. It's important to realize that somebody could theoretically make a real website in which they read e-mails sent in to them, so acknowledgement of an audience is not necessarily the same as acknowledgement of "cartoondom". So audience acknowledgement might not even qualify. --Tom H.

I argee, since "audience acknowledgement" could refer to all the emails. "Fourth Wall Breaks" should be limited to "Total Breakage".--Hysterical Woman 15:33, 30 Nov 2004 (MST)

"Total breakage"... don't know what I was thinking with that one. As with "cartoondom." --Tom H. (I actually signed up for the wiki but forgot my username.)

I don't think this page is necessary. --Upsilon

For Homestar Runner dot com, breaking the fourth wall is the rule rather than the exception. Except during the main toons (and even at times during them) the characters all seem to be fairly aware of an audience. Many references are made to the site, to sending Strong Bad emails, and there are few instances of characters being concerned that others are talking to the audience. Therefore, I don't think this page should exist. --Tim333

Hey: Is there a reason this page has initial caps on all the words? It's not the title of a 'toon. Wikipedia caps the first letter of the first word of all articles without exception; our policy seems to be to do the same except on sbemails. (Perhaps page-naming conventions could be added to HRWiki:Standards? —AbdiViklas 02:52, 18 November 2005 (UTC)

Are these really fourth-wall breaks?

To quote Wikipedia:

"The term breaking the fourth wall is used in film, theater, television, and literary works; it refers to a character directly addressing an audience, or actively acknowledging (through breaking character or through dialogue) that the characters and action going on is not real."

This page should not exist if one's definition of fourth wall breakage includes audience awareness through participation. It should exist (in some form or another) if one only counts the complete breakages (i.e. references to "the black").

In my opinion, this should only list total breakages. However, just implying that you're essentially watching a cartoon is NOT breakage in my opinion (they never say it really IS fake, just that it's not a live broadcast), so to me, only flashback (Homestar says he's usually behind the black) and virus (if you need THAT one explained, you need to go watch it) is breakage.

I'll gladly detail WHY I don't think the rest are breakages if anyone requests it for a particular e-mail. -- 13:21, 6 Dec 2004 (MST)

  • I concur. If we refer to every time Strong Bad recognizes he's being watched in a Strong Bad e-mail, we have to list every single last Strong-Bad e-mail!!! --Jay 11:17, 7 Dec 2004 (MST)
  • One could assume he's doing a Jennycam style live webcam show. Featuring him. Answering emails.


  • That seems to be the most likely scenario. -Clever Ben

You know, this is a very interesting question, and I'm happy to see so many people debating it. As a major in film and a minor in drama, however, I can certainly attest to the fact that "breaking the fourth wall" is an important concept to at least TRY to point out. For folks in the trade and in the scholarly-studies, it basically translates to "acknowledging the 'real' world outside of the filmworld or playworld." In film, this rule is hardly ever broken -- actors are rarely directed to look directly into the camera. 99% of the time, they're often looking just to the side of it. When an actor DOES directly address the audience, because breaking the rule is SO strange and SO "not done," it's usually used for kooky humor, as in Ferris Bueller's Day Off, or for jarring psychological effect, as in Psycho. H*R being a cartoon only makes this page more interesting, because it's taking a pretty intellectual concept and putting it to use for the masses. Voila. -- Queenie-C

I say point out that the whole concept of SBEmails points out that Strong Bad knows he's on a cartoon, and then delete all the boring ones where he mentions the viewers and stuff. The only exceptions should be the really interesting ones which go beyond simple dialogue, like The Cheat watching an Email on his computer. Besides that, I think all the other mentionings of fourth wall breakage are fine. --Joshua 18:01, 17 Mar 2005 (MST)
I may have a way out of all this: Strong Bad is running a small operation inside the homestar-verse for the benefit of those within it. That is to say, Strong Bad is an internet star inside the world of Homestar and Friends, which is why The Cheat can watch on his computer (or Strong Bad do the show from The Cheat's computer). In this context, we are not watching Strong Bad answer email for our benefit, but for those inside; we just get to watch, explaining why we can follow Strong Bad around when he leaves his computer. -- The Real Zajac 10:08, 11 May 2005 (PDT)

I don't know if 2 years neccessarily breaks the fourth wall, since Homestar's Website is not --GregHosting 06:43, 14 May 2005 (UTC)

Closed STUFF

These were on the STUFF page and declined. If you wish to contest these, leave a note here, but don't allow it to be confused with any of the original votes.

Strong Bad wants a cartoon (Declined)

In the King of Town DVD comentary, Strong Bad complains about the King of Town having his own cartoon while he dosen't have his own.

  • Decline. The fact that he's doing a commentary seems to point he knows they have cartoons.--Joshua 18:17, 17 Mar 2005 (MST)
    • Second. --Eujensc 05:35, 18 Mar 2005 (MST)
  • Decline. What is it with these obvious Fun Facts showing up all over the place? This one ought to be in the transcript, if it isn't already... which means this one doesn't even warrant voting. --TheEggman 20:30, 17 Mar 2005 (MST)
  • I'm the one who STUFF'd this, and it was mentioned in Fourth Wall Breaks, not The King of Town DVD. This fact is supposed to apply to a fourth wall breakage. --Joshua 07:19, 18 Mar 2005 (MST)
    • And it still deserves a Decline, because it's a pointless fun fact. ISlayedTheKerrek 10:53, 18 Mar 2005 (MST)
  • Decline with a vengence The entire idea of the characters doing commentaries is a fourth wall breaking excercise. Donny vs Universe
  • Decline I'm ready to "decline" the entire idea of logging "fourth wall breaks"... Strong Bad is constantly making it clear that he knows he's performing for an audience (e.g. "So, until next week, keep sending me those emails...") - Dingell
  • Decline But then, I think the whole "Fourth Wall Breaks" page is a waste of webspace for reasons I think are probably mentioned on its Talk page. --Jay 03:21, 5 Apr 2005 (MDT)
    • I don't think its bad, it just needs a clean up... badly. --Trogga 14:50, 5 Apr 2005 (MDT)
  • DECLINED! How about Homestar saying "What happened to my website?" in The System is Down or the fact that Strong Bad getting 400,000+ viruses caused everything in the Homestar Runner world to go haywire in virus? I'm sure there are several other instances of fourth wall breaking too. Comedies tend to do that a lot. -Upset_Your_Balance

Hello, Viewers! (Declined)

In [insert Strong Bad Email here], Strong Bad says [insert speech here], which hints that he knows he's being watched by an audience.

  • Decline. There are too many of these out there, and they're almost all boring. --Joshua 05:21, 24 Mar 2005 (MST)
  • Strong Decline. I agree. This fun fact can not be placed anywhere. Could it be that he is so self-esteemed that he believes that he will have an audience for anything he does? Pop_tire 24 Mar 2005
  • Decline See vote for "Strong Bad wants a cartoon" --Jay 03:21, 5 Apr 2005 (MDT)
  • DECLINE In addition to the poor spelling, this fact doesn't even say anything! "[insert Strong Bad Email here]"??? Is this some kind of a joke?
    • Second this unsigned vote. So whoever, sign your vote next time. Fizz123, who is not logged in
    • You don't get it. This is a general fact - the Fourth Wall page used to have a LOT of Fun Facts in this style, so this is a vote on ALL the facts of this sort. Though I do agree with your vote, I don't with your reasoning. --Jay 14:46, 10 Apr 2005 (MDT)

Toons! Games! Island

The first break on island is subtle, but it's there. Strong Bad doesn't say, "I suspect it would be like most cartoons," but rather, "I suspect it would be like most cartoons." Why would Strong Bad suggest it as an appropriate analogy? Because he himself is a cartoon. Later, when Homestar makes the effects from the Main Page 3 happen, it too is obviously a break. — It's dot com 21:31, 22 Jul 2005 (UTC)

Err, maybe if Strong Bad said "I suspect it would be like other cartoons," I'll believe you. And how does Homestar break the fourth wall? Are the Main Pages breaks? --TROGGA! 00:31, 23 Jul 2005 (UTC)
Strong Bad's emphasis is the key. Let's put it in different terms:
  • Consider the human brain, which is like a personal computer but is not one. In describing it, one could say: "The human brain is like most computers. It takes in information, processes it, and signals the body to respond." Note that the emphasis in the first sentence is on the last word.
  • Now consider my desktop computer. If someone asked me to describe it, I could say: "Well, it's like most personal computers; it's got a monitor and a keyboard and a mouse and it lets me run programs and access the Internet." Notice that "most other" is strongly implied by stressing the word "most".
Strong Bad's emphasis in the sentence, again while subtle, matches the second example here.
As for Homestar's wall break, this one is more clear-cut. Even if you take the stance that exists in their world and that Homestar posed for each of the main pages, he still shouldn't be able to make the effects occur at will. If he could, why wouldn't he just summon the ship to come pick them up off the island? Even if he didn't want to, surely Strong Bad would make him. — It's dot com 01:40, 23 Jul 2005 (UTC)

Homestar's Theme

Would Homestar singing his theme song be a fourth wall break? Rogue Leader / (my talk)

Dicuss Amongst Yourselves!

It seems to me like we need to nail down some official policy about what will be considered 4th-Wall-breaks and what won't, and then bring this page up to speed. For instance, I don't think huttah!, monument, or part-time job should be there, but I think geddup noise should, and Main Page 23 definitely should. I didn't want to go in deleting and adding recklessly until some kind of official consensus is reached, though. --notstrongorbad 20:25, 2 Oct 2005 (UTC)

Quick note: part-time job should be there. Strong Bad peers around the black before walking into frame. There's no corresponding object in his world for him to be looking around. — It's dot com 06:25, 6 Oct 2005 (UTC)


Is Homestar singing "The Thnikkaman" song at the end really a fourth wall break? Isn't it implied that the song that's triggered upon his entrance & exit (as well as calling and hangups) is heard by the characters and just a part of the Thnikkaman's story? --Come back, chocolates! 15:21 2 Nov 2005 (EST)

It's the fact that he puts his head back into the frame to say it, indicating he had to get himself in view of the audience. small_logo.pngUsername-talk 20:24, 2 November 2005 (UTC)

Why is it called the "Fourth" Wall?

What happened to the first three walls? Ian911299

You might check the Wikipedia article for that. --DorianGray

It's just a general expression, mainly. It's not just here. --SaltyTalk! 03:57, 28 November 2005 (UTC)

Should we add an explination? — talk Bubsty edits 03:03, 10 December 2005 (UTC)
No, that's what the Wikipedia article is for. — It's dot com 03:06, 10 December 2005 (UTC)

Big Problem

  • Strong Bad actually recieves real emails.
  • He is appearantly aware that the video of his replies are seen by people on the web site.
  • This implies that Strong Bad thinks that he has a webcam that follows him around.
  • Therefore, the times when Strong Bad addreses the viewer(s) are not breaking the fourth wall. Only references to "being in a cartoon" would be breaking the fourth wall.
  • I have emailed Strong Bad about this issue, (see my user page) and I hope that the Bros Chaps will someday make a cool cartoon with my email in it. --NERD42  email  talk   h²g²  pedia  uncyc  18:54, 26 January 2006 (UTC)
And the big, previously unaddressed problem is...? - Joshua 18:57, 26 January 2006 (UTC)
The page currently says that every time the characters talk to the viewer, they are breaking the fourth wall. I was just trying to explain that this is not nessicarily the case. --NERD42  email  talk   h²g²  pedia  uncyc  19:01, 26 January 2006 (UTC)
Do you even know what breaking the fourth wall is? Even if it's common, it's still a breakage. You better go to the Wikipedia article. - Joshua 19:13, 26 January 2006 (UTC)
Yeah, I know what breaking the fourth wall is. I'm saying that if Strong Bad believes he has a (fictional) webcam following him around or some such thing then he's not breaking the fourth wall when he talks to the audience any more than Homestar does when he says "seriously folks they're the best". There are other explanations for many of the supposed fourth wall breaks. Not that there aren't fourth wall breaks in Homestar Runner, but there aren't nearly as many as this article indicates. -NERD42  email  talk   h²g²  pedia  uncyc  19:45, 26 January 2006 (UTC)

Cheat Comandos

I think we should take off the one about "Buy our playsets and toys". It's supposed to be an ad. User:Dacheaatbot/sig 01:20, 5 March 2006 (UTC)


According to my view, saying "It's been three emails in a row" isn't specifically breaking the fourth wall. Plus, I'm adding one about candy product. Strong Bad says "I'll surely have a candy product at the end of this email.

I agree about the "three emails in a row". Retromaniac 17:09, 16 August 2006 (UTC)
I second that, completely. It's not as if he doesn't know he's answering emails! You have to consider the fact that they know what they're doing inside the Homestar Universe - fourth wall breaks are when they acknowledge that there are people watching them (Strong Bad appears to have constant awareness of his "viewers," so I presume that he's aware of it within the HR Universe, but that's another argument...). Anyway, I agree. Whatever it was. ;) Michelle Mabelle 19 August 2006

Thing about the "Island" Email

It states in the page that saying that the situation will be like "most cartoons" is somehow a reference to the fact that is a website of cartoons. This is simply not the case; the events about which Strong Bad speaks happens in classic cartoons, specifically starring Bugs Bunny, etc. I vote for "Island"'s removal.

Reference the eighth discussion above this one. So makey outy 07:15, 2 August 2006 (UTC)

senior prom

At the end of senior prom, after leaving his computer, Strong bad is seen on-screen slightly from the black, then jumps over behind it, like he knows that you can't see him there. Would that count? - User:Young Roy/Young Roy

You know what? You're right. I guess it should be included. Besides, Strong Bad does appear surprised when he sees the camera.

keep cool

In "keep cool", Strong Bad emerges from the bottom of the screen and addresses to the viewers what Strong Badia is. In the article for keep cool, it says that this is one of the most "abrupt" fourth wall breaks to date. But is it technically a fourth wall break anyway? Strong Bad might be talking to the viewers on this "webcam" I keep hearing so much about.

Should that part be kept or DELETED? Jimmy91 15:15, 21 September 2006 (UTC)

It's kind of like there's two fourth walls

A lot of even the complete 4th wall breaks couldn't technically be called such, depending on which 4th wall we're talking about. The characters have acknowledged that they are "cartoon characters," but in a universe which is nothing but cartoons, being a character in a "cartoon" is probably not that different from being a character in a "movie," in the real world. Do we count real commentaries as 4th wall breakages when an actor says "oh, yeah, in one take of this scene I pooped my pants," or whatever? No, because that's completely outside of the movie, and inside what the actor considers to be real life.

In other words, there's a difference between the "real" characters admitting they're actors in a bunch of cartoons, and them acknowledging that they are completely fictional. Some of the DVD commentaries seem to indicate that all the characters fully believe that they are "real," and that they're just actors. And some comments like "Little known fact: Homestar gained a hundred pounds and shrank two feet for this role" also strongly imply that the characters believe themselves to be real people. Thus, breaks of the "first" 4th wall are quite common, but the real 4th wall have yet to happen as far as I can recall.

A breach of the real 4th wall would require a character to distinguish between their cartoon world, and the "real" world, and to admit that their world is less real in comparison. Just the former doesn't cut it. So for instance, if a character were to complain about how poorly drawn they are, that could be considered a "real" 4th wall breach, depending on how it's argued. There are a bunch of unknowns.

Like whether or not they're aware of any differences between their cartoon universe, and the real world. They may think that all their viewers are cartoons, and thus operate under the same wacky laws of physics. Being poorly drawn may be as fundamental a quality as being ugly or transparent or whatever, to us.

Yes, this is looking into it way too much, but it's not like any of us have anything better to do.

Well, let's first explore what the fourth wall really is. In theater, it is a dramatic device which involves the actor suddenly stopping relating to the box of the stage-world and begins addressing the audience, often with meta-commentary on the action, conditions, or other facts of the proceedings beyond the "facts of the scene". One could rightly call Strong Bad's description of what Strong Bad actually is (from keep cool) is a classic fourth wall break. A character referring to himself as a "cartoon character" should not limit the definition of a fourth wall break - in fact, it is in itself a fourth wall break!
I think the qualification that the real world be better than the cartoon world is not necessary for a fourth wall break. A simple comment saying "I am in a cartoon you're watching, and here's some info that is not plot-related and is kinda behind-the-scenes" is enough. The fourth wall, after all, is the imaginary barrier between the action and the audience - betwen the play and the players, if you will - and no further qualification is needed.
That said, I think some are too liberal with "fourth wall" attribution. In a Strong Bad Email, SB is so clearly playing to an audience that his actions and speech cannot be considered a break. However, Homestar's might be ("See you after the flashback" (flashback) might be considered a break if we assume he's addressing the viewer, not SB), or any other characters', and even his own might be if it transcends both the context of a toon and the context of a toon presented as a toon.
Great topic for discussion. Please sign up and continue these observations. Qermaq - (T/C) Image:Qermaqsigpic.png 00:13, 22 September 2006 (UTC)
That's the classical definition of the 4th wall, but it seems like in modern usage, it refers to absolutely any instance where a character acts as if they know that they are part of a work of fiction (or that they, themselves, are entirely fictional); that's also the definition used on the page itself. One thing I was thinking of when I wrote the above, was the comic strip One Over Zero, which really explores the concept of a fourth wall from the perspective of a fictional character (among other things).
It should probably be decided, then, exactly which definition of 4th wall is to be used for the article. -Arrkhal 20:26, 24 September 2006 (UTC)

I think the above is indeed a very interesting observation, but when I was writing my comment about the Yello Dello cartoon, I was thinking of another problem of essentially locating where the fourth wall is. In particular, there's the question of cartoons within cartoons. The mention of fourth wall breaks in Cheat Commandos cartoons are indeed fourth wall breaks, but in my opinion they only break the fourth wall of that cartoon, not the website. I'm not sure whether this means it should be removed or even commented, I only note it as interesting. -Brucker
Fairly similar is the problem of whether the commentaries for the Yello Dello and King of Town DVD should be mentioned. Commentaries are completely outside of the 4th wall of the tune itself as well, but within the 4th wall of the website. Many are even worse offenders though, like the "more fan costumes" toon. That one can't even be considered a toon proper, so there really is no "internal" 4th wall to be broken. -Arrkhal 20:26, 24 September 2006 (UTC)

Yello Dello narrator

I notice that it lists the narrator referring to "this cartoon" as a fourth wall break. I'm finding myself doubting that. Can a narrator break the fourth wall? I think narrators are, for lack of a better way to phrase it, already on the other side of the fourth wall. A fourth wall breaking involving a narrator seems to me to have to involve characters in a cartoon/movie/play/whatever interacting with the narrator in an unnatural way. (For those who have seen the play "Into the Woods", there is a point in the play when the characters drag the narrator onto the stage and bring him into the plot. *That's* breaking the fourth wall.)

Actually, if people agree, it might call into question a number of other items on this page, such as characters speaking in DVD commentaries, but that's more of a grey area.-Brucker

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