What are TV Crossovers?

04 February 2016
TV crossovers have been around for ages. We look at ten classics.

For those who don’t know what television crossovers are, they’ll definitely know after watching the Chicago shows Med, Fire and PD on M-Net. But these are hardly the first shows to try out this concept on viewers.

Pulling characters and storylines across multiple shows, crossovers have been happening for decades, and usually take place between an original series and its spinoffs.

Chicago is a good example – just look at the way spin-offs PD and Med interact with their originator, Fire. They’ve also crossed with Law & Order: SVU, which crossed with Homicide: Life on the Street, which crossed with Law & Order, which crossed with…well, you get the point.

Crossovers also happened across the CSIs; between Buffy and Angel, as well as on Cheers and Frasier – to name just a few of the endless examples. There are even times when shows with no real connection – except perhaps genre – cross paths.

Fantasy and animation in particular have a lot of fun with crossovers, not being held back by logic or realism. One of the best examples is when the Jetsons met the Flinstones in a crossover episode, thanks to a time machine. It’s not exactly the kind of plotline you can write into an episode of the Chicago or CSI shows, so the writers have to be careful when planning their crossover capers.

But even if our imaginations are stretched a little too far, it’s worth it to see different characters from different shows interacting, like in these ten classic crossovers.

1. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles & Power Rangers: In Space

For anybody growing up in the ‘90s, nothing could have been cooler than seeing your favourite teams of heroes coming face to face in a crossover. But it’s not all fun and games as the Turtles are placed under a spell by Astronema so they can help sabotage the Rangers’ spaceship. Naturally the spell is broken, giving the Turtles and the Rangers a chance to beat the bad guy together.

2. Phineas and Ferb & the Marvel Universe

Thanks to Disney owning just about everything in entertainment, this cool crossover was possible. Dubbed Mission Marvel, the Phineas and Ferb episode features Spider-Man, Iron Man, Thor and Hulk, along with super villains Red Skull, Whiplash, Venom and M.O.D.O.K. With the superheroes rendered powerless by Dr. Doofenshmirtz, it’s up to the two young stepbrothers to save the world this time.

3. The Fresh Prince of Bel Air & Diff'rent Strokes & The Jeffersons

The final episode of Fresh Prince was a triple whammy of comedy. Having decided to leave California, it’s time for the Banks to sell their magnificent mansion. The prospective buyers? Arnold and Mr. Drummond from Diff'rent Strokes. The eventual lucky homeowners? George and Louise Jefferson from The Jeffersons

4. Full House & Family Matters

When Steve Urkel from Family Matters visits San Francisco to attend a science fair, he finds it only fitting to pop into the Tanners' already full house.

5. Friends & Mad About You

When a twin was written into Friends for Lisa Kudrow’s character Phoebe, there could be no one better for the part than Ursula, the hapless waitress from Mad About You. The latter character is also portrayed by Kudrow, a role she nabbed before starting Friends. The introduction of Ursula into Friends meant inevitable coffee shop encounters between Lisa Kudrow and Mad About You’s Helen Hunt and Leila Kenzle.

6. Mad About You & Seinfeld

Friends wasn’t the only sitcom to cross Mad About You’s path. In an episode of the latter Kramer, from Seinfeld, dropped in for a cameo.

7. Everybody Loves Raymond & The Nanny

NYC is a popular setting for TV shows (even when they’re filmed in Los Angeles). Keeping things uniquely New York was an episode of The Nanny which featured Ray Romano, as Ray Barone from Everybody Loves Raymond, as a former classmate of Fran’s.

8. Roseanne & Absolutely Fabulous

With shows set in the same city, a character collision is almost inevitable. However, being set in two different countries didn’t stop the American Roseanne and English Ab Fab from coming together. Jet-setting to New York, Edina and Patsy meet Roseanne at a Halloween party after the latter and her family win a stack of cash playing the lottery.

9. Family Guy & The Simpsons

Timeless and ageless, The Simpsons have been around since 1989. Ten years later the debut of Family Guy meant a new animated family made their way into the homes of TV fans to wreak hysterical havoc. It was practically preordained that the Griffins and the Simpsons meet. Titled The Simpsons Guy, the two shows came together in 2014, and really upped the ante of awesome by including Fred Flintstone as a judge. 

10. The Simpsons & The X-Files

Since the Simpsons have been around for so long, they’ve witnessed the coming and going of countless TV shows; and incited a few to join the crossover craziness. In The Springfield Files, David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson – who play Mulder and Scully on The X-Files – gamely lent their voices to the show as their famous characters. Why do they come to Springfield in the first place? To investigate an apparent alien encounter they hear about on a TV show, whose host is voiced by none other than Leonard Nimoy.

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