The fourth wall is a theatre term referring to the audience. This originates from the idea that there are three walls on a stage, one on the back, one to the left, and one to the right, as well as an imaginary fourth wall in front that contains the players within their play. To break the fourth wall means to show awareness of the audience or other things outside of it.
Season 2 Edit
After Peter is told by Death to kill the kids from Dawson's Creek, he changes his mind and says to Death on the phone, "If they die, I'll have nothing to watch on Wednesdays", he moves his eyes slowly to the viewers saying nervously, "Other than the fine programs on FOX".
In the musical number, Stewie said "FOX will never let us die", and then said "Please?" toward the camera.
In a reality show that the Griffin family was starring in, Meg breaks the fourth wall by telling the cameraman to turn off the camera (Chris even mentions that Meg has broken the fourth wall, although because they were on a Reality Show, its not really breaking the fourth wall).
After Luke Perry reads Meg's story, we zoom out to Peter's face in front of the scene on television, "singing" the sneaky music while looking at us.
Season 4 Edit
While watching Chris dance Herbert raises his eyebrows twice while facing the camera.
Peter looks at the camera twice during his "I can't believe it's not butter" quote.
Stewie, at one point, urges the viewer to look at some of the women of Desperate Housewives on ABC, Family Guy's competition in the same time slot, and even waits for five seconds until the viewer switches back.
Season 5 Edit
In the opening sequence, the fourth wall is broken when we see a camera next to the stairs, and Stewie advises that we cut to the show while Peter rubs his swelling foot.
After shooting Vern and Johnny dead, Stewie turns to the camera and says "OK, they're dead. Alright? We're not gonna be seeing them again."
In Boys Do Cry Edit
During the credits, Peter directs his poor-parenting speech gradually from Lois to the camera "I agree, Lois. Like, for instance, if you're watching a TV show and you decide to take your values from that... you're an idiot. Maybe you should take responsibility for what values your kids are getting. Maybe you shouldn't be letting your kids watch certain shows in the first place if you have such a big problem with them, instead of blaming the shows themselves." ending it and the episode with a simple "Yeah..."
During one of Peter's cutaway gags about how to take out Hitler he looks to the camera and says "See we had a plan for that all along"
After Ghost Johnny plays the piano in Hell, Ghost Vern faces the viewer and says, "You're probably wondering why he's in Hell. Johnny liked little boys."
Brian and Stewie debate whether Loretta can understand Stewie and a director is heard offscreen saying, "We're filming.". Later when Cleveland runs into Loretta apologizing for betraying him, he looks to the viewer saying "Uh, I'm no meteorologist but I'm pretty sure it's raining bitches."
Also, Peter angrily shouts the words of Surfin' Bird to the audience in the end.
When the boys discover they need uranium to return to the present, Brian tells Mort and Stewie that the only place they can go to get the uranium in Europe during WWII is Berlin. When Stewie realizes that Germany was making weapons of mass destruction and asks why America is not doing anything about it, Brian says he does not know. He then slowly turns towards the audience and says "maybe because they don't have any...oil?" and Stewie flinches and claps in support of the burn.
At the end of the first act, when Meg becomes a born-again Christian, Peter disappointingly tells the audience that this will be a Meg episode and that nobody would blame them if they changed the channel.
After Connie is trampled at a party and knocked unconscious, Peter lays on top of her. Annoyed, he looks to the camera and says to the audience, "What are you looking at? It's a cartoon." Then Stewie flies around an outside his bedroom window and lands on the mailbox carefully looking at the camera and says, "And now, here's something we hope you'll really like," in reference to Rocky & Bullwinkle.
Peter is talking to the audience when he told the stories.
Peter breaks the fourth wall when he says, "Since your Black and I'm White, that's make more a-special for the audience." and looks towards the viewers.
King Stewert III sees a promo for 24, a show that use to air on Fox, and gets mad at it for interrupting their show. Later on after seeing Griffin Peterson's act for the talent show, King Stewert III comments that he didn't know that they can rip off a scene from a movie as their act.
Stewie gets knocked senseless and is unable to set up a cutaway. He faces the audience and says "Hey, I wonder what Peter is up to?" to cut to scene to Peter and the guys.
In the beginning of the episode, Peter seems to be briefly unaware that they have started filming, so for about four seconds, everyone is silent until he looks at the camera and then says, "Oh, uh, it sure was nice to invite us over to your yacht, Mr. Pewterschmidt."
The Adult Swim bumpers shown during commercial breaks were parodied. After Brian says "uh-oh", the bumpers clarify that the viewers are still watching FOX.The fake bumpers remark that you should be watching it on Adult Swim, rather than Fox, because Adult Swim airs less censored versions. Confusingly enough, this scene is played on reruns on Adult Swim as well.
Peter reads a copy of this week's TV Guide in order to know the story of the episode.
Stewie discusses a poem by Henry David Thoreau, pointing out the audience's perceived lack of knowledge when they believe most would attribute it to Thorton Melon, a character in the movie Back to School.
After Stewie plays with his action figures, Stewie faces the audience saying that parents who buy children "homoerotic" dolls that the gay son is on the parents.
Stewie tries to tell Brian on a phone that there's an alien in a grass skirt juggling torches in the living room but he doesn't listen and hangs up. Soon as the alien is seen, Stewie faces the audience and says "Ahh? An alien in a grass skirt juggling torches. Yeah."
Peter narrates the story to the audience throughout the episode and also reveals that FOX ruined Cleveland's 'surprise' appearance in their promos.
- Han Solo, played by Peter, says he's gonna kiss Leia played by Lois so hard that the "picture's gonna change into something else" and it does.
- Before Darth Vader, played by Stewie Griffin, tells Luke Skywalker, played by Chris, that he is his father, he looks at the audience and tells them "Spoiler Alert!".
- Near the end, while Chewbacca, played by Brian Griffin and Lando Calrissian, played by Mort Goldman are sitting in the Millenium Falcon, Brian asks Mort why he is wearing Han's clothes. He looks at the camera and states to the audience that in the real movie Lando wears Han's clothes, suggesting the audience sees it.
Peter calls attention to Family Guy being a show when he threatens to blow up the Family Planning Center to stop Lois from having an abortion. Lois attempts to call his bluff and Peter responds with "You've seen Family Guy! You know I would!" Later in the episode, the family is discussing the pros and cons of abortion without reaching a consensus when Peter looks at the camera and says "We had the abortion."
Season 9 Edit
After Brian said that he was moving in with Rush Limbaugh, after Stewie says "Ooh, this is a bad idea. But I guess that FOX has bad ideas, huh?", a promotional bumper for Sons of Tuscon shows up and Stewie says to the viewers pointing at the bumper, "Let's all just sit here for a moment and remember that this was a thing."
At Peter's checkup, Dr. Hartman admits he saw the "Three Weeks Later" caption.
A drunken Peter calls attention to the "Laugh and Cry" urban legend in the show's theme song.
Peter, dressed as Meg, acknowledges to the audience that he is stealing Meg's cutaway gag. In the end, Stewie turns to the camera with yellow eyes in a parody of Michael Jackson's "Thriller" video.
At the very end of the episode, Dr. Hartman asks the Griffins what they do "after the screen goes black".
After Peter sets up a cutaway explaining his other white shirt was ruined while wine tasting at Michael J. Fox's house, he instead appears on a blank screen telling the viewer how they originally wanted to show them the actual scene, but decided not to because "It would make us all sad". He then tells the viewer that they decided to just show the cutaway.
After the music video, Peter looks at the camera and says "That happened, and we let it happen."
When Darth Vader/Stewie sees Roger from American Dad, he mentions that the show has run out of their own characters for the episode. Later in the episode, after killing Palpatine/Carter, Vader/Stewie faces the camera and says "That's the power of please kids." At the end of the episode, the Griffin's are arguing about Seth MacFarlane and how the show is run.
Season 10 Edit
Meg breaks the fourth wall by pointing out, that if Family Guy would be true, Peter would go to prison. Likewise, Stewie notes that everyone is on Twitter with his "Stewie Just Said That!". At the end, Stewie tells us that to learn more about drugs, we should visit the local library as the guy behind the desk may be selling drugs.
After Stewie says "At least I'm not getting stabbed by a random guy on the street" and it starts to rain, he stares directly at the camera and says, "See, it's the exact opposite", then a guy comes and stabs him and says "Aah! It happened anyway."
Peter looks at the camera setting up a cutaway, the cutaway shows Peter facing the camera and says "Matthew McConaughey is terrible."
When Peter's thought process trips up the show directors on a cutaway, they slip in a cutaway of The Cowardly Lion as Lindsay Lohan's gynecologist. Also, when someone dressed as Kevin comes through the door at the end of the episode Peter remarks by looking back saying we don't have time for that.
Peter's ringtone is the theme to The Cleveland Show which Peter acknowledges needs the viewers. During a fantasy of Mardi Gras beads, Quagmire acknowledges that the audience is well aware that his beads are used for anal insertion. While discussing restaurants, the guys make up similar names to avoid actually naming the restaurants, something that Quagmire regards as stupid but necessary since they're on television, but when the guys make up a dumb name for french fries he draws the line claiming they can't copyright the common name. In the end, Peter acknowledges that they've done a wrap-up of what they've learned hundreds of times and just mumbles the cadence, which is picked up by Lois and the family.
When Carter ponders how he'll get around without being able to drive, Peter appears in a chauffeur's uniform only to be told by Lois that they weren't doing that. Later when Carter is playing with the thermostat, Peter looks at the camera and notes that Carter is learning.
When Peter and Lois are stuck in a traffic jam, Lois wonders why the traffic is not moving. Peter looks outside the window and realizes that the road ahead is not finished being colored by the animators yet.
Quagmire gives the audience a thumbs up after claiming his insurance company refused to pay a claim they judged to be an "act of rod."
Stewie sets up a cutaway telling Brian that he is fooling himself like ladies that think their best friends are attractive. When he is proven right he looks at the camera and tells ladies that their friends really are not hot.
When Peter, Joe, Quagmire and Brian were trying to figure out who they are Peter thinks that his name might be Earl, which the ending bit of the theme from My Name Is Earl plays. After they hear it Peter acknowledges that he may have made a reference.
When Carter Pewterschmidt starts laughing maniacally at Tea Party headquarters, Peter shoots nervous glances at the audience.
Season 11 Edit
Peter has to prompt the correct music when celebrating becoming a Nielsen family.
Stewie gets a dig at The Cleveland Show by suggesting they watch the "black version of our show."
After charging television producers to create several shows like The Office where the cast talk to the camera, one producer actually talks to the camera until chased off by Peter. Peter follows with with his own "do you believe what I have to put up with" look to the camera.
When Herbert requests Zack and Cody to be shown in their underwear, he gives the camera a thumbs up.
Stewie says to Meg, "Oh my God, you're Lacey Chabert." referencing Meg's original voice actress.
Peter plays with Cherry Chevapravatdumrong's name in the credits to make it say "Chemotherapy Vanguard vCr".
Peter calls Mike Damone using clips taken from the film Fast Times at Ridgemont High after both he and Lois forget their money on a date. After asking Damone to bring his money, Peter hangs up and notes to the audience that it was the last time they saw Damone.
The camera pans from the left side of the jury box to the right side as Peter tells the audience, "I switched seats."
Arriving to get a farm for the family, Peter tells a farmer that FOX usually calls ahead to help arrange their skits after finding out the price is over $800,000. A few minutes later, the call comes in.
After passing along farming tips laced with sexual innuendo, Peter, Chris and Meg take a bow.