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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.
Peter starts to make a joke with Brian, but is forced to wait until the audience stops laughing in order to complete his line.
In Da Boom
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".
Peter becomes annoyed with the live studio audience placed in the middle of the street.
In the musical number, Stewie said "FOX will never let us die", and then said "Please?" toward the camera.
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.
At the end of the episode, Peter, Meg, and Lois walk off of a set of the Griffins living room and stand on a stage with all of the actors in the episode. As the audience applauds them, Peter thanks everyone who participated in making the episode possible.
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.
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
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."
After Peter learns that he his actually a Mexican immigrant, he exclaims, "Holy Crap!". They then immediately cut to Peter laughing while standing in front of a purple back drop. He says, "Looks like I got myself in a bind! How will I get out of this one? Stick around." He then sings, "Cause we've got Cleveland, and Quagmire, and Joe, and Mort, and all your Cartoon Pals!".
Peter and Lois are setting in bed. They turn to each other and say, "I'll start packing!" and start laughing. However, Peter starts laughing in a very exaggerated manner, crawls toward the camera, and laughs directly into it.
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, when the family and Jesus arrive at the Paris Hilton Party on the uncensored version, the bouncer asks Peter who he is, his reply is "Peter Griffin from Family Guy."
Also, Peter angrily shouts the words of "Surfin' Bird" to the audience in the end of the first act.
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.
In Three Kings
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 used 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 Business Guy
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 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."
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.
After Lois is forced out of church, Peter explains that the churchgoers are only "random background people… half of them don't even move; the other half just blink."
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."
In It's A Trap!
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.
During the Theme Song, Peter has to deal with one of the dancers who informs him that she is pregnant and he has been avoiding her. Peter calls for security to have her removed and sheepishly tries to get the theme back on track.
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.
Peter triggers a cutaway gag about Portuguese and cuts away to a porch of geese, then tells the audience "And we're just getting started."
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.
During Stewie and Penelope's fight, Stewie dives at Penelope in slow-motion and yells "Slow motion diving at you!".
In Tea Peter
When Carter Pewterschmidt starts laughing maniacally at Tea Party headquarters, Peter shoots nervous glances at the audience.
In Ratings Guy
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 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.
In Yug Ylimaf
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".
In Chris Cross
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.
In Call Girl
Peter is in the middle of telling the guys about meeting "Classy" when they interrupt him to stop and explain further. Peter apologizes, claiming he thought they were moving ahead a bit to save time.
The camera pans from the left side of the jury box to the right side as Peter tells the audience, "I switched seats."
In Farmer Guy
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.
Members of the family file conflicting reports on the applications for American citizenship of working for Family Guy and The Family Guy.
Stewie's perpetual age of one is made into a meta-joke when Lois notes that it's his first Christmas, to which Stewie asks "Again?"
When the Asian carolers sing "Deck the Harrs", Peter addresses the camera to point out that A Christmas Story was incredibly racist. One of the carolers points out that the movie is "flom not that rong ago."
During a cutaway in which Peter shops for records, sexual wordplay is greeted with cheers and flowers from the audience. Angela hires a studio audience to do Peter's job after he is fired. When she rehires him and they hug, the studio audience shows it's appreciation. Angela looks into the camera and tells the studio audience they are fired.
In Grimm Job
When Stewie and Meg are introduced as the evil stepsisters, Lois comments that Family Guy has quite few female characters to work with.
Peter stops to explain that Joe Pesci was considered a tough guy in the 1990s.
After a line representing a cross-country plane trip explodes in a ball of flame in Kentucky, Peter announces that it wasn't their plane and their line will be along behind it.
Peter calls out the audience after making a pedophile joke by noting that if Modern Family had made the same joke they would have been lauded.
Peter asks for an outside shot of the house when Lois and Brian point out that the damages he's done as a result of his smoking are irreversible, but the re-do doesn't work.
After he pulls out his eye and tosses it toward Stewie while he goes into the Drunken Clam, it rolls back underneath of a woman, faces the audience and blinks. Peter explains to the audience that it was a wink, but no one would really know since it is just an eye.
Peter talks to the audience throughout a cutaway as a carpet cleaner for a lesbian.
In Meg Stinks!
When Peter claims he would have rather have been a podiatrist instead of working at the Happy-Go-Lucky Toy Factory, during a cutaway he looks at the camera and claims it isn't a joke.
Also, during the theme song Cleveland comes to tell Mort that he being replaced by him.
In Chap Stewie
Stewie comments to the audience about blowing their minds when he takes Kermit the Frog's place in the bicycle scene in The Muppet Movie.
Stewie also explains that a joke is intended for a sick member of the staff.
Peter gets snapish with Lois, and blames it from being tired as most of their episodes are only thirty minutes.
Peter acknowledges the Dumb Beaver's occasional contribution to the show.
Chris sets up a mundane cutaway gag and is criticized by Peter and Lois for it.
Peter instructs upset Christians to mail complaints to the "Family Television Council" and provides the mailing address.
A newspaper headline pokes fun at a tasteless Family Guy joke.
As Chris travels to a primitive town to spread the word that Brian failed Meg's SAT test, the townspeople are happy that the show won't be another Meg episode.
Peter sees an animated version of himself and Lois having sex on the internet.
Near the end of the episode, a trivia bubble pops up which reads "Family Guy fans went ballistic when Brian died. But you don't really miss him in this episode, do you?"
In Roasted Guy
Peter reveals that the entire setup of a cutaway is a film project of his enabled by his pull on Family Guy, drugging Quagmire into performing. The cutaway is so long that Peter forgets what his former female friends were insulting him about.
In Take My Wife
Peter interrupts a costly cutaway gag to use stock footage of a vintage plane crash.
Peter says that if he dies in the wrestling match with Karen, he wants Stewie to take over the show for him.
After the fight, Stewie drives up in a limo, dressed as a pimp. He then figures out that Peter didn't die and that it's all a false alarm.
After Peter requests a pheasant to lay an egg on the glass, he looks towards the viewers and defies them to say what's wrong with it.
When Quagmire takes Joe parasailing, he looses his legs as they are dragged through the water. Below, Ariel wishes she had a pair of legs just as his drift to her. Ariel hungrily grabs them and starts eating them, admitting that the fish part of her really wanted the legs for food.
Oliver Platt objects to being the butt of a joke on Family Guy.
After setting up a cutaway in which a kid is the first one in his school to get his driver's license, all of the girls that flirt with him want him to take them grocery shopping. Stewie joins the gag by admitting that the only thing he knows about cars is what his mom does.
Later, Stewie states his intention to become a rich YouTube star. Tapping the FOX logo in the corner of the screen, he announces that the relationship is over.
Stewie acknowledges the audience being aware of the fast-food roast beef restaurant being parodied.
Peter quotes lyrics from the Theme Song. As Lois chuckles at this, he notes he's been paying attention.
The entire episode highlights that the show is a production, with the characters being actors.
In Hot Shots
When Stewie realizes that Lois will have a starring role in the episode, he reminds the audience that Game of Thrones is on. When she continues her actions later, he believes that Sansa finally shows boob in the episode he is watching.
As Lois rants about corporations forcing garbage on children, she eyes a logo for FOX that appears on the screen.
Peter announces the end of a cutaway gag as complete.
As Lois groans about Sean Penn lecture from "liberal" Hollywood, Stewie points out that the entire episode had been a lecture from liberal Hollywood.
As Peter reads literature to those watching, the characters make numerous references to the audience at home as well.