Throughout the first, second, and newly third season of House of Cards, produced under Netflix, protagonist Francis Underwood often "breaks the fourth wall" and speaks directly to the audience rather frequently. This also famously known to be done in the movie Ferris Bueller's Day Off as well.

Often times in House of Cards, Francis would turn and speak to the audience mid-conversation or after a big event. While he is doing this, does the conversation stop around him and does time stop? This question has been haunting me since I have started watching the series.

Does time stop in other uses of the breaking of the fourth wall in other movies and TV examples as well?

  • 2
    The answer to Part 2 of your question is, "Sometimes". Sometimes they show this by actually stopping the characters/surroundings from moving, and then when the "fourth wall break" is over, everything around the character resumes at its normal speed. It depends on the scene, I guess. In Ferris Bueller, sometimes it did and sometimes it didn't. I can't answer specifically for HoC because I've never seen the show. Commented Mar 10, 2015 at 18:36
  • It is hard to categorize for both TV and movies because there are different time constraints on both. I don't think there are set standards for what a fourth wall break really is. @JohnnyBones
    – shaun
    Commented Mar 10, 2015 at 18:42
  • 2
    @ShaunLoftin Are you asking this for all cases of breaking the fourth wall? If so, the house of cards tag is inappropriate. Also, in that case, the question is a bit on the broad side, I think.
    – Catija
    Commented Mar 10, 2015 at 19:31
  • 5
    There's an episode in season 3 where someone else in the room hears Frank speaking to the camera and says "what?". Frank brushes it off, but it seems to imply the world is still going while he breaks the fourth wall. I'm hoping the series will end with him being put in an insane asylum for speaking to imaginary friends all the time.
    – Austin
    Commented Mar 10, 2015 at 19:54
  • @Catija I was mainly asking concerning HoC, I was asking about all cases wondering if their was a precedent for breaking the fourth wall.
    – shaun
    Commented Mar 10, 2015 at 19:58

1 Answer 1


It's impossible to answer this question in general, because (as already stated in comments) the answer is: it depends on the movie/show.

Regarding the House of Cards: the time doesn't stop. You can see it clearly in the scenes, where Frank looks into camera. Regarding the scenes where he talks it's a bit more tricky to tell because this usually happens when he's alone. However in these two scenes first we hear (the oath scene) and later see (in the car with Doug scene) that the time didn't stop.

  • 1
    There is also a scene in Season 3 where Frank walks behind the Russian president (they are meeting in the White House) and addresses the camera. The Russian president (who is sitting behind Frank with his back to him) reacts when Frank speaks, as if he is being addressed and can't quite hear it (I think he asks Frank to repeat what he said). Commented Mar 12, 2015 at 11:41

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