Breaking the fourth wall
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"Breaking the fourth wall" refers to a point at which a character acknowledges that they are fictional. In the Pokémon franchise, several characters appear to break the "fourth wall" in the anime, manga, and in the games.
There are several ways of breaking the fourth wall; examples include when characters refer to a particular episode or season, 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), when characters talk to the viewer or player directly rather than to their in-game avatar, or when characters crash into the screen and either slide down from it or cause it to crack from impact.
In the anime
|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 wasted this episode cheering 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 a nose.|
|Hypno's Naptime||Jessie remarks that their early arrival in the episode is based on the half-hour time constraint involving the show.|
|James asks why they didn't just fly away with the Pokémon from the start after their Mirror scheme fails. Jessie responds they have to fill a half hour.|
|Misty orders the narrator not to congratulate her for "capturing" her Psyduck.|
|The Punchy Pokémon||James tells Jessie "I hate to interrupt your internal dream sequence, but...", meaning that he was aware of her fantasy scene.|
|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!"|
|So Near, Yet So Farfetch'd||When Keith tricked Team Rocket by giving them some Voltorb, Meowth said "He tricked us two times in one episode."|
|During the ending, when the narrator credits Psyduck with saving the rest of Misty's Pokémon from Keith, Psyduck, in its own language, happily replies to him.|
|To Master the Onixpected!||When Jessie and James start to say the motto, Meowth uses a remote to fast-forward it.|
|Pikachu Re-Volts||When James gets Butch's name wrong, Butch goes out of his screen split to correct it, meaning he knows it's there.|
|The Crystal Onix||After Team Rocket runs into Crystal Onix's cave, the screen focuses on Jessie and James catching breath. After a second, Meowth calls "Hey! Down here! I'm down here!", followed by the camera panning down to him, indicating that Meowth was aware of the screen focusing on Jessie and James instead of him.|
|When James says that the way they got out of their own traps is a secret, Jessie supports him by saying "The writers can't figure it out, either."|
|Shell Shock!||After pointing out the fact that Ash and company are yet again enjoying pleasant, beautiful, tropical weather on the seas, the narrator says "Announcers never get to have any fun!", thus acknowledging his existence as a narrator.|
|Wherefore Art Thou, Pokémon?||At the end of the episode, Team Rocket responds to the narrator's comment of "All's well that ends well."|
|Bound For Trouble||When Misty tells Ash and Pikachu to come back from the fruit basket, their run towards the basket is simply rewound.|
|Enter The Dragonite||Team Rocket acknowledges the existence of a split screen. Jessie also pushes the split screen away.|
|Viva Las Lapras||When Team Rocket states that they were attacked by the pirates, Meowth says "It's flashback time."|
|The Whistle Stop||When the bridge is about to collapse, Meowth says "We usually don't wash out this early in the episode!"|
|The Totodile Duel||When Ash and Misty are about the throw their Lure Balls to catch Totodile, they both push the split screen that's between them when telling each other to back off.|
|Fowl Play!||While inside Team Rocket's Noctowl mecha, Meowth exclaims "And we're gonna 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 "an intriguing little village", Misty asks the others where they are. Brock quotes the narrator "It's an intriguing 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 Jessie realizes that she is missing an Espeon to complete the set of Eeveelutions, she knocks Meowth into the screen and he slides down from it.|
|For Ho-oh the Bells Toll||Jessie, James, and Meowth are off-screen and appear in speech bubbles right next to Misty, who cowers because of them.|
|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!"|
|You Never Can Taillow||Ash and his 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 eletricidade?"|
|Zig Zag Zangoose!||Jessie shatters an image of Cassidy.|
|All Torkoal, No Play||Early in the episode, instead of the usual "We're blasting off again", Team Rocket cries, "We're blasting off already!"|
|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.|
|Berry, Berry Interesting||Max says "Lucky for Brock this is his fantasy, or he'd be wearing that milk!", meaning that he is aware of Brock's fantasy scene.|
|Hail to the Chef!||Max says that Brock's fantasy is now being closed to make way for reality while intruding into Brock's fantasy and yanking Brock's fantasy chair out from underneath him, meaning that he is aware of Brock's fantasy scene.|
|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.|
|Ka Boom with a View!||Jessie and James ask "We're in reruns already?" when Meowth accidentally trips one of their own traps.|
|Pokémon Ranger - Deoxys' Crisis! (Part 2)||Upon seeing Solana in action, James comments that maybe Solana should have her own 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. This episode takes place in the ninth season of the anime, Pokémon: Battle Frontier. Meowth also says they'll return in 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 respectively say "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!"|
|The Grass-Type is Always Greener!||When Brock suggests that the group rests, the narrator takes over and says that Brock's idea is great.|
|An Angry Combeenation||Meowth speaks directly to the "kids" in the viewing audience.|
|James says "It's not like we're in a cartoon, silly!"|
|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 realizes 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!"|
|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, shouting that 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." Also, when Wobbuffet enters the screen, Meowth tells him to be quiet as "You'll hurt their ears."|
|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" refers 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.|
|Regaining the Home Advantage!||In the Brazilian dub, Meowth says "Melhores amigos, juntos e prontos para começar uma nova temporada!" This is the first episode of Pokémon DP: Sinnoh League Victors.|
|The Fleeing Tower of Sunyshore!||While Team Rocket does the motto, James and Meowth hum along to the background music as Jessie says "Putting the do-gooders in their place!"|
|Dealing With a Fierce Double Ditto Drama!||When Meowth begins to explain his boss fantasy, James says "I smell a fantasy scene."|
|Memories are Made of Bliss!||In the Latin American dub, Team Rocket says during their last line "Salimos volando... ¡Al final de temporada!"|
|Enter Iris and Axew!||In the Latin American dub, after she gets into the hot air balloon, Jessie says "Qué gusto verte en esta nueva temporada."|
|The Bloom Is On Axew!||Ash and Pikachu lean away from the split screen divider when Iris is yelling at them.|
|Minccino - Neat and Tidy!||Bianca waves to the screen after introducing herself.|
|In the Latin American dub, when Bianca struggles to find her Poké Ball, Ash says "¡Deprisa, se nos acaba el capítulo!"|
|Commanding the Clubsplosion Crown!||At the end of the episode, when the narrator pronounces Stephan's name incorrectly, Stephan cuts in, yelling that he's saying it wrong.|
|Beauties Battling for Pride and Prestige!||In a scene in which Moira and Iris are arguing, Moira pushes the split screen divider out to chime in.|
|A Surface to Air Tag Battle Team!||Twice during the episode, Cilan pushes the split screens featuring Soren and Rocko apart from each other.|
|What Lies Beyond Truth and Ideals!||In the Japanese version, while battling Team Plasma, Jessie says "But we're the true main characters!"|
|The Path That Leads To Goodbye!||Meowth and Cilan become narrators, recounting over what happened in the island when they arrived. They sometimes face the viewers both directly and indirectly. At one point, Jessie even asks Meowth who he is talking to.|
|Capacia Island UFO!||When Ash asked what the Beheeyem were doing, Meowth replies "If I knew the answer to that, this show would be over."|
|Kalos, Where Dreams and Adventures Begin!||When Ash tells Team Rocket that he and Pikachu will always stand up to them, Jessie tells him that all he will end up with is reruns, implying that the show will end due to them succeeding in capturing Pikachu.|
|Awakening the Sleeping Giant!||As the narrator prepares to conclude the episode, Serena pipes up, realizing that they hadn't rescued Clemont yet, prompting the others to gasp at her prompt, including the narrator. Upon Clemont's return, the narrator finishes his conclusion, beginning with "As I was saying..."|
|A Slippery Encounter!||When Team Rocket is performing comedy for each other, Meowth mentions that he is "out of material" because "the writers left me high and dry."|
|Rivals: Today and Tomorrow!||When Jessie fantasizes about marrying Steven Stone, James and Meowth tear out Steven and the background respectively.|
|Rotom's Wish!||The episode concludes with Weston's Rotom smirking and winking at the audience.|
|Mending a Broken Spirit!||When James tells Jessie and Meowth how he knows how Serena's Braixen must feel like after having its wand stick broken, he looks at the screen and asks the audience if they know the same feeling too. Jessie and Meowth also turn to look at the screen in confusion of who James is talking to.|
|A Trip Down Memory Train!||As Team Rocket blasts off at the beginning of the episode, Jessie yells that she wants more screen time.|
|Party Dancecapades!||After Ash, Serena, Miette, and James are chosen to participate in the Tag Battle, Monsieur Pierre says "The battle begins next!" right before it goes to the Who's That Pokémon?.|
|A Keeper for Keeps?||In one scene, Bonnie directly talks to the audience.|
|Loading the Dex!||When asked by James to translate what Mimikyu said, Meowth comments that it is a family show.|
|Yo, Ho, Ho! Go, Popplio!||After Rotom criticizes Ash and Mallow's fishing skills, they push in split screens to squish Rotom.|
|Racing to a Big Event!||Jessie pushes apart James and Meowth's split screens to make room for her own.|
|They Might Not Be Giants!||Lana's Popplio opens up the bubble that it is talking in and then hangs on it with its flippers.|
|Crystal-Clear Sleuthing!||A fantasy sequence ends with Ash getting flung at the screen, which breaks on impact, ending the fantasy.|
|Rotom tears through the screen when an outraged Kiawe is about to use his Turtonator's Inferno Overdrive on Ash when he found out the latter had lost his Electrium Z.|
|A Team-on-Team Tussle!||Pikachu looks at the bubble containing Kiawe's bubble as he comments that the pose Ash is doing is not an actual pose.|
|So Long, Sophocles!||When Sophocles thinks about getting some malasadas, Togedemaru looks at Sophocles's thought balloon and reaches out for the malasadas inside it.|
|Pulling Out the Pokémon Base Pepper!||Oluolu splits two sides of the screen apart when Jessie is getting angry with Ash, his classmates, and some of their Pokémon.|
|When Meowth is about to throw his Meowth ball, James speaks directly to the audience to explain it.|
|Lulled to La-La Land!||Mallow cuts off Rotom's detective monologue with a director's clapboard while shouting "Cut!" The clapboard has the number 29 on it, referencing the episode's number.|
|Treasure Hunt, Akala Style!||Sophocles pushes away a split screen featuring Lana to get the whole screen for himself.|
|Alola, Kanto!||Jessie pushes away the thought balloon of Matori when mentioning her.|
|The Professors' New Adventure!||When Professor Kukui and Professor Burnet announce their engagement to Ash and his Pokémon, Rowlet falls out of Professor Kukui's house in shock and hits the screen, which breaks on impact.|
|The Young Flame Strikes Back!||Ash shoos away an image of Viren in the background. Mallow is even looking at the image as Ash shoos it away.|
|A Young Royal Flame Ignites!||James mentions that Ash and the Masked Royal's battle against the Revengers will be back after the upcoming messages, right before the commercial break in the show proper.|
|The Long Vault Home!||When Ash crashes into the vaulting box, and later into Stakataka, his tears stay on the screen both times.|
|I Choose Paradise!||Lillie tells the viewers not to jump into hot springs too quickly after her Ride Altaria forces her to do so.|
|Bright Lights, Big Changes!||In one scene, Ash shoos away Rotom's flashback of himself.|
|Living on the Cutting Edge!||Kartana slices the background in two at the end of Team Rocket's motto.|
|At the end of the episode, as the screen fades to black, Kartana cuts a hole into the black background and appears through it, speaking the line "As the journey continues..." backwards.|
|SM127 (Poké Problem segment)||The Pikipek symbol from Silvally's confusion hits Gladion's Lycanroc on the head.|
|Kicking It from Here Into Tomorrow!||Meowth looks at the audience while explaining the rules of "Evil Things Name Game".|
|Goodbye, Friend!||Goh pushes away a thought bubble of two Beautifly relaxing on a beach, explaining to Ash that they're here to watch the Beautifly migrating, not hydrating.|
|Splash, Dash, and Smash for the Crown!||When James gets a Slowking in the Rocket Prize Master at the beginning of the episode, he speaks to the audience by mentioning that the episode will be a "double-feature", referencing the fact the episode features two segments.|
|Ash reads the closing lines of the first part of the episode from a script and winks at the audience, while Goh gets frustrated that Ash got to read his lines.|
|The Cuteness Quotient!||Chloe squeezes into Ash's split screen to tell him that the Friendship Festival has nothing to do with battling.|
|Pikachu Translation Check...||The Rocket Prize Master gives Team Rocket the episode's two titles, and they realize one of them is for the part of the episode that had just ended.|
|A Pinch of This, a Pinch of That!||Ash and Goh look and speak directly towards the bubble where the Curator was located instead of talking through the Rotom Phone at the end of the episode.|
|Mewtwo Returns||When Mewtwo talks to its clones about the events of the first movie, James comments "This is like the sequel to a movie I missed"', referring to the fact that Mewtwo wiped everyone's memories at the end of the said movie.|
|The Power of One||When Team Rocket is saying the motto for the first time, they proclaim 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 this on video".|
|Slowking tells Team Rocket that lots of people saw them risk their lives to save the world. All four of them then look at the audience, and the Rocket trio realizes that it's true.|
|Spell of the Unown: Entei||Meowth asks Jessie whether or not she thinks they will get a bigger part in the next movie.|
|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.|
|Pokémon Ranger and the Temple of the Sea||When Jessie mentions diamonds and pearls, Meowth says they would be a "good name for a game", a nod to the Generation IV games.|
|When James mentions diamonds and pearls again, Meowth says they should at least get through this season first. The next season starts the Sinnoh arc.|
In the 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.
- In the Generation I games and Pokémon FireRed and LeafGreen, there is a sign on Route 17 that says "Don't throw the game, throw Poké Balls instead!".
- The Game Freak office can be found in Celadon City, Castelia City and Heahea City. The characters there will announce their role in the game when the player speaks to them:
- In the Pokémon Communication Center, a staff member receives an email stating Game Freak's desire of linking at worldwide level without link cable barriers.
- In Diamond, Pearl, and Platinum, a Black Belt on Route 215 mentions real life before giving away a TM66 (Payback).
- In Pokémon Sword and Shield, Game Freak designer and programmer Shigeki Morimoto appears as the NPC GAME FREAK Morimoto in Circhester's Hotel Ionia. A Game Freak director also appears in the hotel room next to Morimoto.
- Upon reaching his maximum level, James will say, "Nothing can stop us now! Not even the writers!"
- In Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Explorers of Time, Darkness, and Sky, both Sunflora and Bidoof break the fourth wall at 4th entry of their diaries, mentioning the Y and A buttons, respectively.
- During the post-game of Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Gates to Infinity, Hydreigon senses something and leans towards the screen, indicating he's sensing the player's presence. This is confirmed later at the Hill of Universal Order, where Hydreigon and player's partner turn to look at the screen, realizing that the player has been watching them the whole time.
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!"
- In the mission that introduces Sven in Pokémon Ranger: Shadows of Almia there are many Team Dim Sun goons taking Dark Shards from Chroma Ruins. Sven explains that to make them leave the place, a Pokémon that produces a horrible stench is needed. Then, he turns to the screen and says "you know what I mean?"
- Also, after capturing the hypnotized Pokémon of a couple of Dim Sun Admins in Almia Castle, said Admins make a comment about how they were not given names, not even "Admin A" or "Admin B".
- 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 manga
In The Electric Tale of Pikachu manga
- In You Gotta Have Friends, there is a footnote explaining, "Ash has been busy since the last comic."
- In the beginning of You Bet Your Wife, Ash is shown with a pen, as if he drew the title page himself. Misty comments, "Since when are you Toshihiro Ono?"
- In Side Story: Ash vs. Gary, as Gary is saying goodbye to the giant Slowpoke, he adds "The End" into his farewell speech. Ash retorts, "This comic isn't over till I say it is!".
In the Magical Pokémon Journey manga
- In The Legendary Articuno, a text box thanks the reader for their "unflagging support in reading this comic."
- In Eevee... Pokémon Genius!, when Coconut appears for the first time with Almond, Hazel exclaims "Who thinks she can share a panel with my Almond?!".
- In Charmander's Peanut, the story so far is explained by "the marketing department" and encourages the reader to buy many copies of Volume 1 to find out what previously happened in the story.
- In the "Bonus Bonus 2" chapter of Magical Pokémon Journey volume 2, Hazel refers to Ash, Misty, and Brock as "the people from Volume 1."
- In the same bonus chapter, Ash's Pikachu shows Pikachu a video of him bouncing a Poké Ball on his head from One Hundred Fifty-One (the lyrics to Pokémon World are used in the English translation).
- Also in the same bonus chapter, Hazel and Misty state that they change their outfits when they aren't appearing in the manga.
- In A Quest of Life or Death, Almond mentions, "it's been a few issues since I got really creamed" after being attacked by a wild Fearow.
- In Vulpix and Cyndaquil, Coconut laments, "Nothing has worked for me since I appeared in this comic."
- In The Exorcist Nurse!!, Charmander tells Peanut that it's been "three years since you've had a starring role."
- In True Identities, Master Ditto says to Walnut, "This comic will never end if you continue to be like this!"