There's a cliche shot used more often on TV than on film (IMHO) where we see the character first in profile. They then turn to look directly at the camera. Does anyone know if there a name for this shot and perhaps when it was first used?

1 Answer 1


TV Tropes calls it "Aside Glance"

A form of fourth wall breakage, an Aside Glance occurs when an actor gives a brief, silent glance to the camera as a way of acknowledging that their current situation, or the person they're speaking to, is stupid, weird or otherwise unusual. Alternatively, it is also utilised as a form of Medium Awareness that the characters know they're in a show.

It's a trope that's really old, being used in silent movies and early talkies that significantly pre-date television. With the considerable explansion of sit-coms (the most likely venue for such a shot) it's not surprising that it's more frequently now seen on TV than in the movies.

The trope has its roots in the "aside", a trope in European dramatic tradition that had characters making one-line comments to one another which are unheard by the other characters. Originally this was used to undercut dramatic tension but was turned around over time to allow for serious usage, in plays such as Hamlet. Characters also began to make remarks to the audience or to themselves rather than to other characters, akin to thought balloons in comics. This was modified into the silent glance, which was used in stage comedy routines and subsequently found its way into the films of Laurel and Hardy and other movie comedians, thus making it Older Than Television at least.

  • Common in Buster Keaton's short films.

  • Oliver Hardy was a master of this. While uproariously funny in itself, it was often used to pad out a gag to give the audience time to finish laughing so they wouldn't miss the next bit of dialog.

  • 2
    I would assume that early theatre also used silent asides, though we have no proof as there wouldn't be any lines in the script.
    – OrangeDog
    Oct 10, 2018 at 12:52
  • Thanks movies.stackexchange.com/users/34317/paulie-d a brilliantly succint reply! I imagined it would be old, but it is just everywhere on TV at the moment. I'm thinking of starting a drinking game based on it!
    – MiguelH
    Oct 11, 2018 at 8:22
  • @OrangeDog Some Shakespeare plays even have verbal asides. I'm pretty sure there's one somewhere in Macbeth.
    – Bob
    Nov 5, 2018 at 20:57

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