What is the fifth wall? What happens if you break it?

Before watching the video below, what do you think the fifth wall is in fiction? I thought maybe it was if the narrator addresses the audience after the character does. So, the character addresses the audience and the narrator, and then the narrator addresses the audience after that.

Breaking the 4th Wall…and the 5th? 20 min video

After watching the video, I think it might go even further beyond the audience… Beyond us, the viewers… But how would one go about writing a story like that? Is it even possible to break the fifth wall in fiction?



So, from what I remember of my studies, breaking the 4th wall is when the character interacts with the audience (e.g., Deadpool, Ferris Bueller). Breaking the 5th wall is when the character interacts with the writer (e.g., a lot of Looney Tunes) or when actors make reference to other roles they’ve played in other medias (e.g., basically all the Ryan Reynolds jokes in Deadpool).

So, yes, it is entirely possible to break the 5th wall in works of fiction and it’s actually quite common.


But not very common in narritive mediums, like books.


It can be done. Breaking the fourth wall happens in some first person books and essentially all second person books. Breaking the fifth wall I’ve never seen in novels or short stories


My characters actually break the fifth wall a lot but you all don’t realise that :wink:


I might have written a story like this, but I’m not sure. The story was about a writer character (first person POV) who was writing a story. In the story that the writer character was writing, there’s a guy character she created and he ends up taking the pen and writing himself and talks to his writer. Then he ends up writing himself out of the story into his writer’s reality so that they can be together.

Not once do I insert myself.

It was a short story. It was actually for a contest on Figment (back in the day) and the prompt was “what if the characters fell in love with you, the writer”?

Would you say that’s a fifth wall breaking story or nothing breaking story?


I’ve seen your personal thread. I know.

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I know right?

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If you want to go further than 5th wall, you have to go with Monty Python.

It’s really good for humor. Really easy.


I see characters yelling at the writer and sometimes the writer crushing them in Isekai. Isekai is where often the audience becomes the character, so it lends well to it…

Ah…I can’t think of the name, but one of them, the writer became the God, and fought against the villain (audience captured in villain’s body) after shedding the great evil’s shape for the writer’s own, because the writer was pissed at the villain for salvaging people in the story, and changing the way the story goes. I’ve seen others where the writer is isekaied into their own story and they suffer their writing tropes.

It’s a really wild, no-holds-barred genre. It lends well to Manga, but it often starts off as a novel without a single picture.


According to this page, this is the fifth wall:

And based on that, I can think of one example that isn’t listed here. In the movie The Seven Year Itch the main character runs into the man he suspects of cheating on his wife. When his neighbor from upstairs comes into the room (played by Marilyn Monroe), the man asks who she is. The main character says something like, “What business if that of yours? Maybe it’s Marilyn Monroe!”


Honestly I’d say thats a first class ticket to a headache :joy: It sounds like it’s right on the line of 4 and 5

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Possible examples…


That is one of my favorite Bugs and Daffy episodes :grin:

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I looked at the article. Not sure if the T-rex one is breaking the fifth wall. Looks more like a cameo to me. But when characters reference their own actors from other films, not sure if that’s fifth wall, because the characters don’t sound like they are aware that they are that actor. I think it would be more fifth wall if Ben Afleck, after being a character praising the actor, turns to the audience and says, “I’m Ben Afleck, I would know” or something like that.

But maybe there are different levels of fifth wall breaking.

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lol XD

I couldn’t find the romance one, but here’s another one. I wrote this, like, ten years ago XD Enjoy my non-edited writing. It was for a flash fiction contest. It’s quite short.


I’m sick and tired of writing cliché. But what else can I do? I’m an inexperienced writer. Can’t help it. So what?

Don’t you want more than that?

Who’s there? In my head there’s only me. Ridiculous.

No, it’s not ridiculous. Look, I’ll help you if you help me.

Who is this?

I don’t know. You’re naming me, right?

Are you my nameless character?


Oh. Ok. Wait, how can you talk to me?

Strange things can happen, you know.

So, do you have any preference?

You’re letting me choose?

Um, well…

Great! Make me a man, dark hair, blue eyes, handsome, make me handsome and, oh, call me…Peter.

Uh…writing it…

Carrie, I love my new deep handsome voice.

I’m gonna make you a humble hero. Not a narcissist.

No changes. You said you would let me choose. I like me this way. Now the story is complete. Come with me! I’ll help you create a story much different from your imagination.

No! I…

Now! …No! Don’t erase your words! Wait, I’m just coming out of the paper… I—

Finally. Back to normal.

“Carrie,” a deep male voice said behind me. I turned around and saw my character, Peter, standing there with a big smile on his face.

“Oh, no…” I could only stare in disbelief.

Then from my paper, all my characters started to pour out. The elves, the leprechauns, the baby dragons, the knights with swords, the king, the queen…luckily we were outdoors in a park. No, wait, this is not lucky at all. What if someone sees us? What if the police think we are a bunch of lunatics thinking we are part of a fictional story? Why am I saying “we”? This is all Peter’s fault.

“Is it really just my fault, Carrie Laurie Green? You gave me a ‘choice’ so it’s all your fault,” Peter said sternly looking into my eyes.

“Now we are out!” said the King Hemfry suddenly. “We shall conquer the world!”

“Wait, wait, wait. I did give Peter choice, but you all have to remember, I can change the story, too,” I said grabbing my pencil and paper.

“Stop her!” cried the King.

Frightened, I got up and ran down the street. People stared as my characters passed them. I couldn’t write while I ran. I needed to find somewhere to pause. I dashed through the streets to my house praying Mom won’t ask any questions. I yanked the door open to find her standing there ready to go out.

“Hi, sweety, what are you doing in such a rush?” she asked in that motherly tone of hers.

“Nothing, just going up to my room. Forgot something. That’s all,” I hurriedly said. Then ignoring her following questions, I went up to my room. When I got there I was panting, completely out of breath, and felt much like I had just run the marathon. With great effort I jotted down a few words in my notebook as I half sat and half kneeled on my chair at my desk.

Outside, I heard screams and shouts but kept on writing. I could hear footsteps outside my bedroom. I felt shaky but I kept on writing. The door burst open and I looked to see Peter, the baby dragons, and the elves standing there. I looked back to my paper. Just a few more words…

“Carrie, you wouldn’t dare!” Peter said, sword in hand ready to leap at me.

I looked at him square in the eye and said, “I would.”

Then quickly I wrote in the last few words. Peter leapt at me and the baby dragons got ready to blow fire into my face. The elves ran to me. I braced myself and shut my eyes. But nothing came. When I opened them, my characters were frozen in space but soon began to slowly disappear, leaving no trace behind. I looked outside and the King, Queen, and leprechauns were also disappearing. Mom was looking at the blank space with terror from inside her car but soon resumed her driving. The police that had gathered went back to their station like nothing had happened.

I smiled, put my pencil down, and looked over the last bit of my story.
“Peter, a handsome narcissist with dark hair and blue eyes,” it said in clean print. “suddenly appeared out of my notebook as did my other characters,” it started in frantic messy handwriting. “They chased me to my room and scared the neighborhood people. Just as Peter and the others were about to attack, suddenly all my characters began to slowly disappear into thin air. No one will remember them except for me. The End.”

I know she rushes home, so where was she before that? :stuck_out_tongue: No idea. Would you call this fifth wall breaking?