Television crossovers highlight the most bizarre corners of television by smashing together two super successful properties. They can be last ditch efforts to try and save a flailing series, they can be plot-heavy blockbuster-esque milestones (The CW currently has four of their superhero series crossing over this season), or they can just be plain fun.
With FOX airing in favor of the latter method by having their two popular comedies, Brooklyn Nine-Nine and New Girl cross-pollinating each other’s episodes tonight, we thought we’d pull back the curtain on some of the most surprising, must-see television crossovers to date.
Kramer on Mad About You
You might be aware of the more apparent shared universe that exists between Mad About You and Friends, where Phoebe’s sister Ursula was the semi-regular hostess that would wait on Jamie and friends, but the mind reels when you consider that Seinfeld’s universe is also connected to all of this madness.
In a boggling episode of Mad About You, we learn that Paul and Jerry used to be neighbors before Kramer moved into the apartment. Now, Paul and Kramer cross paths as he has unfinished business regarding his former home. This crossover isn’t anything transformative, but just weird that it’s happening in the first place and a prime example of forced network synergy.
Stewie Griffin on Bones
One of the most bewildering crossovers that I’ve ever seen involves the walls collapsing between the worlds of network procedural Bones and animated comedy Family Guy. Yeah, you read that correctly. A situation in the episode, “The Critic and the Cabernet” sees Boreanaz’ Booth injuring his head and experiencing hallucinations, the center of which is seeing Stewie from Family Guy come out of the TV screen. Booth’s character has a baby on the way at the moment, with this cross-promotional nonsense supposed to stand in as a metaphor for his fear towards parenthood. Stewie berates Booth, the whole thing is jaw-dropping strange, and Booth utters out the perfect line, “Go back to Cartoon Land!” I’d wear that on a shirt. Seriously.
Ninja Turtles Versus Power Rangers
So as ridiculous of an idea as this is, it’s also equally brilliant. I mean why not? A lot of this pair-up had to do with both Power Rangers in Space and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Next Mutation (remember that? With the new female Ninja Turtle, Venus De Milo, and in a pre-lady Ghostbusters world, at that) airing on FOX KIDS at the time, so minimal hoops had to be jumped through here with “Shell Shocked.”
Both of these man-in-suit action shows mash up surprisingly well, but this thing never stops being a spectacle. The circumstances that call these heroes together involves Astronema brainwashing the Turtles to take down the Power Rangers and features a memorable battle. We’re getting Ninja Turtles crossing over with Batman currently in the comics, so again, is this really that crazy?
Ace Ventura and The Mask: The Animated Series
This seems like the sort of fever dream that a studio would have pushed out in the early 2000s to go along with fodder like Freddy Vs. Jason and Aliens Vs. Predator, and some insane project that Jim Carrey actually would have gone for. There was a popular trend during the ’90s to turn Jim Carrey comedies into animated kids’ shows (Dumb and Dumber even got the treatment), and it became inevitable that at some point enough drugs or alcohol were consumed by the producers until one thought, let’s put these together! These two worlds collide (in a two-part affair that spans both series and acts as The Mask’s series finale) courtesy of Stanley’s dog Milo getting kidnapped and of a course a pet detective being the best solution.It also helped the crossover out that Ace Ventura and Stanley Ipkiss in these shows were not both voiced by the same Jim Carrey substitute. Listening to that would have been ree-hee-hee-heely difficult.
Mulder and Scully Visit The Simpsons
The Simpsons has become such a cultural touchstone at this point that it’s only natural that other worlds would want to contaminate it. Even the show’s trademark couch gag openings have become a cameo corner of sorts to feature off other artists and animation styles.
Perhaps one of the most thorough, satisfying instances was when the drunken antics of Homer one night end up bringing in Mulder and Scully of the The X-Files to get to the bottom of everything. The Simpsons might have featured crossovers of sorts with series like Cheers and The Prisoner, but there’s just nothing like Homer getting plastered at Moe’s amongst Dana and Fox or watching him blow up that lie detector.
Rugrats and Aaahh!!! Real Monsters
You would think that Nickelodeon fare would be crossing over with each other like crazy, but for whatever reason these shows were largely left to inhabit their own universes (give or take a Rugrats/The Wild Thornberries movie). That being said, certain special circumstances, like a Halloween special, would allow such indulgences to happen and the most insane possibility is certainly having a bunch of monsters play with some babies.
Okay, so organizing something like this might seem a little strange, but the circumstances that make it happen in Rugrats’ “Ghost Story” involve a night of scary stories keeping the children on their nerves when the monsters happen to come visit via closet. As scary as Ickis, Oblina, and Krumm may be, they’re nothing compared to a vengeful Angelica.
X-Files and COPS
Vince Gilligan has been correctly heralded as a genius for his work on Breaking Bad, but it’s easy to see how prolific this guy is all the way back when he was mashing up COPS with The X-Files. On paper this shouldn’t work, but it’s actually one of the best, most creative X-Files out there that actually uses the themes of COPS (yes, it has themes) to tell its monster story. COPS’ trademark cinema verité, reality television format is placed on X-Files and you might not even know this is an X-Files entry if you weren’t watching carefully. Crossovers in structure make experiments like this even more impressive and “X-COPS” is the best kind of experiment that never backs down.
Magnum P.I. and Murder, She Wrote
This should be a dream come true, right? Pairing up the two most prominent over-the-hill detectives to tackle a case together should be a no-brainer and thankfully this crossover delivers at the same time. The crossover which saw a case so mammoth it took up both series to solve it, Magnum P.I.’s “Novel Connection” and Murder, She Wrote’s “Magnum on Ice” are very much aware of the silliness of all of this. Sure, the case in question deals with the attempted murder of fellow writer, Robin Masters, and is hardly the be-all end-all of Magnum and Jessica’s careers, but it’s just damn fun watching these two well defined characters bounce off of each other. The only thing missing here is getting Jessica in the Hawaiian floral shirt.
Gilligan’s Island and ALF
Do I really need to say anything more here? The television landscape of the ’60s and ’70s is a bonkers place that saw the Fonz waterskiing over sharks and a place where anything goes. So why wouldn’t the cast of Gilligan’s Island meet our favorite cat-hungry Melmacian? Other bizarre Gilligan’s Island episodes saw strange bedfellows like the Harlem Globetrotters or shows like Newhart or even Roseanne invading their island, but nothing is quite as absurd and dream-like as ALF’s stay on the island in the ALF entry, “The Ballad of Gilligan’s Island.” Granted, it might be an extended dream sequence that gets ALF over there, but after the alien’s recent appearance on Mr. Robot, the little guy is due for a return.
24 and The Simpsons
While that Simpsons/X-Files crossover manages to coast on charm and a clear love for the other series, the machinations behind getting Jack Bauer from 24 into Springfield are a lot more apparently. Its haphazard nature which sees Jack trying to track down Bart of all people, as a threat to the CTU, and it almost feels like a parody of The Simpsons’ other crossover efforts. This whole thing feels off, but watching Jack yell at Bart as the show’s classic split screen and time code aesthetic adorn it all needs to be seen to be truly believed. Hey, maybe the next few seasons will see Lisa getting possessed with Pazuzu and The Exorcist crew stopping by 742 Evergreen Terrace.
Cosby, King of Queens, and Everybody Loves Raymond Stop by Becker’s Office
If crossing over two shows can work so well, then mashing together four shows and bleeding together your entire night’s schedule can’t be a bad idea, right? This was the impetus of “Shameless Crossover Monday,” and it was exactly that. While all of CBS’ shows played into this game, Becker was hit the hardest. This is more of a “blink and you’ll miss it” cameo or the sort of moment that was made for meme culture, but CBS’s Becker (you remember that other Ted Danson show, right?) had Doug from King of Queens, Ray from Everybody Loves Raymond, and Hilton from Cosby (you remember that other other Cosby show?) all appearing together in the ornery Becker’s waiting room. The mind reels at how they would have pulled this off Becker wasn’t a doctor!
Bones and Sleepy Hollow
This double series event tries to use Bones’ binary “believer/skeptic” structure to fuel this story. Bones would act as the rational, science-based half of this case, with Sleepy Hollow embracing the more supernatural aspects of the crime. While this certainly deserves points for effort, it reeks of network cross-promotion rather than something that anyone actually wanted to happen. Bones also has zero history with the supernatural in its world, so throwing that into the world’s mix could even do more damage to the series with this silly decision. But hey, look how much fun everyone’s having!
Homer Simpson on Duckman
This is more of a brilliant gag that caps off a stunning, intelligent piece or parody, but goddamn if this crazy moment in television just doesn’t make your jaw drop. “Duckman and Cornfed in Haunted Society Plumbers” is one of Duckman’s finest episodes and a pristine send-up of the Laurel and Hardy, Abbott and Costello buddy comedies of yesteryear.
Finally, when the episode’s mystery is about to receive resolution, Homer Simpson of all people shows up as the culprit, complete with Sastellaneta providing the voice and the yellow oaf barking out the yellow duck’s irate catchphrase. This is something that I still have a had time believing that it happened due to how random it is and the fact that Duckman was a USA series and The Simpsons is on FOX.
The St. Elsewhere Gang Visits Cheers
Both Cheers and St. Elsewhere take place in Boston and aired on NBC. Something had to give at some point, right? The mechanic behind this episode is kind of bewildering and reads much more like the St. Elsewhere crew were just big Cheers fans (the episode itself is even named “Cheers”). St. Elsewhere unravels innocently enough with the doctors of St. Eligius blowing off a steam and grabbing some drinks once their shifts are done. Only that bar happens to be Cheers. About half the episode is spent in Boston’s best speakeasy and it simply acts as the background locale for their discussions, as if they were in any bar for the bulk of the episode.
Sam and Diane have the night off we learn, but Carla and Norm keep the St. Elsewhere group company. We even learn that Carla had one of her kids at St. Eligius. This is simultaneously the most subtle and in your face crossover on the list. And of course, because all of St. Elsewhere is actually just going on in some autistic kid’s head, this crossover too means that Cheers, and by proxy, Frasier, are too just part of that child’s imagination.
Sabrina the Teenage Witch and Boy Meets World Go Back In Time
NBC would frequently see success by doing thematic crossovers, like “Blackout Thursday” that would link all of the network’s programming with a certain element, so of course ABC would naturally give a shot at the same idea. TGIF’s “Time Ball” night saw Sabrina from Sabrina the Teenage Witch causing a rift in time and each of the night’s shows being catapulted to a different decade. Salem, the cat, acted as the network’s reference point and popped up in each show trying to solve the problem. It made for an experimental, busy night of television, but it got Boy Meets World to do its best dramatic war parody, “No Guts, No Cory”, which is necessary viewing.