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There are some examples in which animated characters look directly at the viewer with or without quotes.

Can we call these "breaking the 4th wall" while the characters are non-living?

Some examples:

Aladdin:

I'm losing to a rug!

The Lion King (1994):

From 1:16 to 1:19

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    Is this a question about movies, or about the expression itself? Why wouldn't it apply to animation? Its as much about a character as an actor seeing or interacting with the audience. If you narrowly define it as the actors in the case of live action content, in animation .. the artists and writers are directly breaking the 4th wall.
    – iandotkelly
    Nov 6 '20 at 15:38
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    @iandotkelly The question is probably hinged on the fact that there's no actual wall in animation. Though, there rarely are in live-action film anyway and it's already metaphorical there, too.
    – Napoleon Wilson
    Nov 6 '20 at 16:24
  • Bugs Bunny did this all the time
    – Paulie_D
    Nov 6 '20 at 16:48
  • As did the Animaniacs Nov 6 '20 at 18:06
  • Of course we can
    – cmp
    Nov 8 '20 at 15:33
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Breaking the 4th wall is not a "character" looking at the audience. It's the acknowledge of the existence of audience by the work thus incorporating it in it's own existence.

Breaking the 4th wall is for that - to break the invisible wall and merge both worlds. It's not the decision of the character to do that (because they don't exist) or an actor himself but the creator.

The director will/can, as a part of artistic decision, to allow it thus expanding their "world represented". For example to reach and use "our" world as tool. You see (for example) a play in theathre can be narrowed to one room. If you brake the wall you suddenly have whole building to use. You don't have to create the world your characters live in because it's the same your audience live in.

In case of animations breaking 4th wall is the acknowledge that they are animation. TO quote Jessica Rabbit

I'm Not Bad, I'm Just Drawn That Way!

The self-consciousness is what does it. Not looking at the camera. Looking at the camera in movies is advised against because it show acknowledge of the camera itself in the "world represented" not the existence of viewer.

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  • The fact that some characters were animated seemed to just be part of the universe, not fourth wall breaking. Nov 11 '20 at 4:35

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