Crossover Feedback Loop

OR, The Six Degrees of Scooby-Doo

All fictional worlds intersect now, thanks to fanfic. Odd mixes are often the rule, as in the 90s script by Dana Cory that crosses Xena, South Park, and X-Files. I propose that crossover fanfic is the appropriate folk literature of the Internet, a medium which hypertext-connects everything to everything. But, even in the "official" media, crossovers now link all kinds of fictional worlds.
Batman and Robin encounter Scooby and the gang in an episode of Hanna-Barbara's New Scooby-Doo Movies.
I have no idea who first noted The White Shadow/X-Files crossover (I have read it from one Allan W. Fix online and heard it from a Sarnian librarian). It begins with Byron Stewart, who appeared in the 80s teen show, The White Shadow. Through a variety of in-jokes and script-monkeying, his recurring character on St. Elsewhere became the same character as the one on The White Shadow.

St. Elsewhere was expressly crossed-over with Homicide: Life on the Steet when Elfre Woodard's character, Dr. Roxanne Turner appeared. Although The X-Files has been referred to as a fictional show on Homicide, its its Detective John Munch (Richard Belzer) has appeared on the X-Files. He has also appeared in two versions of Law & Order, and the character has guest-starred on episodes of Arrested Development and Seasame Street.

Law and Order: Special Victims Unit once crossed over with The Practice, a show which has crossed over with Boston Public, Ally McBeal, and Gideon's Crossing.

Beyond that-- a patient from The Bob Newhart Show once appeared on St. Elsewhere, while some of the cast from St. Elsewhere did a cameo on Cheers, a show that also crosses over with Wings, Becker, and, of course, Frasier, the cast of which once crossed into Caroline in the City which has crossed with Friends. Friends crossed with Mad About You; Ursula, from that earlier show, turned up as Phoebe's long-lost twin sister (Lisa Kudrow played both characters). The Cheers gang (no cheating here: the actors were playing their characters from the show) met Mickey Mouse (the helium-voiced Mouse, not the Guy in the costume) on a Disney special, which crosses them over with those animated beings. An animated version of the Cheers gang also appeared on The Simpsons, which arguably crosses them with pretty much everyone else. But Scully and Mulder from the X-Files...." (which crossed over with Strange Luck and, through the character of Jose Chung, Millennium) have already also appeared on The Simpsons. Homer Simpson and characters from King of the Hill have made brief cameos on Family Guy. King...'s Hank Hill, like Daria's titular character, first appeared on Beavis and Butt-head. Although the spin-off shows went in very different directions, all can be legitimately connected.

Various chains link several characters already mentioned with an assortment of comic-book superheroes, but we'll return to those in a minute.

Marvel and DC comic-book heroes have frequently met in crossover comic specials. Some of these present the two corporate entities as alternate universes, while others show the characters as simply co-existing (in the second Superman/Spider-man team-up from the 1970s, Spidey wonders at having only just met Wonder Woman, who lived in New York for many years. "New York's a big city," he muses). In particular, the Batman/Punisher team-ups show these characters as being part of the same universe.

Memorably and hilariously, the Punisher met Archie and the Gang when he tracked a suspect to Riverdale in 1994's Archie Meets the Punisher. Here, Riverdale is on the same Greyhound route as Gotham City, and Josie and the Pussycats make a cameo appearance.

Josie began life an in-house female rip-off of "Archie." Though they did not cross over as casually as other Archie characters, the Pussycats do occasionally show up in Archie's world. And Scooby-doo and the eternal teens of Mystery, Inc. have met both the Pussy-cats and Batman and Robin.

And the Three Stooges, Cass Elliot, the Harlem Globetrotters..... All of this happened on Scooby's first spin-off, The New Scooby-Doo Movies (1972-74). Each week, the gang would have an hour to solve the usual improbable mystery with the help of a meddling celebrity, with whom they would just happen to cross paths. Years later, the reinvented gang (on What's New, Scooby-Doo?) would meet glitter icon Kiss, who in the 1970s were part of the Marvel Universe and faced down the Fantastic Four's arch-enemy, Doctor Doom.

The Harlem Globetrotters also appeared in an early 1980s Gilligan's Island reunion movie. The cast of Gilligan's Island are explicitly referred to, along with characters from Magnum P.I. as sharing a universe with the characters from the second Brady Bunch movie. The first film, of course, showed the Partridge Family bus and featured the Monkees. The Partridges once met Howard Cosell on their show, and he was a good friend of Muhammed Ali, who met Superman in a 1977 comic-book. Davy Jones of the Monkees, of course, also appeared in a Scooby-Doo Movie.

(I recognize that the previous paragraph contains some weak links. The characters from the Brady movie are satiric; Cosell and Ali are real. Nevertheless, the satiric characters have the same names and are more-or-less the same characters as the originals, and Cosell and Ali's relationship became a media phenomenon. Strictly speaking, though, real people are usually excluded, or only permitted when they appear as themselves in a fictional context. I plan to break that rule later on. Sue me).

In any case, the Brady Bunch also folds in through Superman and Wonder Woman, who made guest appearances in episodes of the show's animated spin-off, The Brady Kids. The Lone Ranger and Tonto also turned up in that series. The Green Hornet (who has teamed up with Batman) is a blood-relative of the Ranger.

The Bunch never met Mystery, Inc, though Scooby met nearly every existing Hanna-Barbera character in Scooby's Laff-A-Lympics, later renamed Scooby's All-Stars. I only know this show as a reference; I'm told it didn't feature the other members of Mystery, Inc. and that the characters, according to an acquaintance, "appeared as cartoon characters," whatever that means. In any case, Hanna-Barbera's Limited Animation Universe folds in with the rest here. Hanna-Barbera's Flintstones, however, have linked to a variety of other characters. A version of Bewitched's Samantha and Darren, voiced by Elizabeth Montgomery and Dick York and using their series names (no "rock" or "stone" added), moved into the neighborhood during the original series. (Montgomery also made a gag cameo as her Bewitched character in How To Stuff a Wild Bikini, thus drawing in the Beach Party movies). The Flintstones Comedy Show (1980-1982) paired Fred and Barney, for no good reason, with Al Capp's Shmoo. Curiously, the Shmoo had appeared earlier in Fred and Barney Meet the Shmoo, in which its adventures had been quite separate from Fred and Barney's. In any case, this is one venue for bringing in Al Capp's Li'l Abner, where the Shmoo's sad, satiric story was first told.

Of course, the comic covers of the 1930s-- when most comics reprinted newspaper strips-- often featured scenarios involving many characters from different strips. Tip Top #1 showed a boxing match between Li'l Abner and Tarzan, with various other strip characters watching. Between those covers and various strip crossover events: Sam's Strip's 1962 celebration of International Comics Week, the April 1, 1997 strip crossover event, and Blondie and Dagwood's 75th Anniversary Party, we can pretty much connect any two comic strip characters.

The late 70s saw Fred and Barney meet the Thing, which kept Ben (the Thing) Grimm's adventures clear of the Bedrock segments. However, transitional material had the Marvel superhero dancing with Flintstone and Rubble, and this could be counted as a crossover of sorts. On both the Laff-A-Lympics and the previously mentioned Scooby-Doo Movies, the gang met the Blue Falcon and Dyno-Mutt, who much later crossed into Dexter's Lab.

In the early 1980s, a new Scooby series was proposed, which would have featured the Fonz from Happy Days. It never materialized, but its pre-production work brings those characters (if we tweak the rules a bit) into our happy Crossover Heaven.... or Hell. Happy Days, of course, spawned a number of spin-offs, including Laverne and Shirley, Joannie Loves Chachi, Mork and Mindy, Blanski's Beauties, and Out of the Blue, most about as memorable as the later episodes of the parent show.

Out of the Blue featured a do-gooder angel and so, on that point, let's return to superheroes.

Like Spider-man, Wolverine, and other Marvel heroes, who met Gus and Harley from The Guiding Light in a bizarre autumn '06 crossover.

Marvel's X-Men have time-travelled into the future and met two different crews of two of Star Trek's Enterprises. The original Enterprise crew met Larry Niven's kzinti in an episode of the Animated Series, thereby linking Trek to Niven's Known Space and Ringworld books.

Thor and other Marvel characters met Godzilla during the Japanese monster's tenure as a Marvel character. Godzilla has met nearly every other Japanese Giant Monster, and fought a version of King Kong.

Spider-man once met the Transformers, while the Transformers once met G.I. Joe.

The "edgy" heroes of Gen 13 have crossed over and met characters from Marvel, Bone, and even Archie comics, in licensed crossovers.

The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles have visited Riverdale. One of the turtles met Bugs Bunny in an anti-drug TV special, while the entire group, early in the career (pre-mass-mass-marketing to five-year-olds) crossed with Cerebus the Aardvark. Cerebus has met the Flaming Carrot, who has met the Ninja Turtles and Herbie the Fat Fury in his own comic. Since the Flaming Carrot belongs to the Mystery Men (though he did not appear in the film adaptation), they also connect. The Fat Fury crossed over with American Comics' "serious" super-heroes, and therefore they join their better-known DC and Marvel kin, and everyone else besides.

Plastic Man has become a part of DC's universe and met most of their characters, but he started out at Quality Comics. While there, he met Will Eisner's Spirit a few times, though these were limited to the cover of Police Comics. Their respective worlds were as different as Archie's and the Punisher's; nevertheless, one of their meetings clearly has the pair working a case together. In the twenty-first century, DC acquired the rights to the Spirit. Although they generally keep him in his own world, they once teamed him with Batman.

Superman and Batman have both met the aliens from Alien and those from Predator (image here), and these species have duked it out in Dark Horse Comics. The Predator aliens, meanwhile, have fought Magnus, Robot Fighter. Robot Figher has met Turok, Son of Stone and the Man of the Atom when the heroes of defunct Gold Key/Whitman were revived in the 1980s. Superman has also met the robots from Terminator. Meanwhile, Image Comics heroes The W.I.L.D.Cats have met both DC's Justice League and Marvel's X-men in licensed crossovers. In 2005, a Bank of America commercial teamed several Marvel superheroes with Underdog.

Celebrities often made cameo appearances on the 60s Batman show, when the Caped Crusaders climbed buildings. Sometimes, the celebrities appeared as their characters, creating a crossover. Lurch from the Addams Family was one such guest (but then, Scooby-Doo met both the Adamses and Batman), as was, inexplicably, Colonel Klink from Hogan's Heroes! Why a time-warped Nazi would be wandering around Gotham is anybody's guess, but there he is.

Colonel Hogan was mentioned, more logically, as an actual historical figure (as opposed to a TV character, which would not result in a crossover), on an episode of Green Acres, a show which crossed expressly with Peticoat Junction and The Beverly Hillbillies.

Even stranger is the fact that Superman has teamed up with a number of fluffy bunnies.

No, really. In the year 2000, the DC heroes crossed over to another universe where Bugs Bunny and the other Warner Brothers cartoon characters exist. The premise, alas, was largely wasted here, but better-handled in a 2003 animated special, The Green Loontern, which teamed Daffy Duck and the Green Lantern Corps. Supes has also met the Nestle Quik Bunny in a 1980s rare promo comic, and he appeared in the first issue of Captain Carrot and the Zoo Crew. Presumably inspired by the success of Marvel's Howard the Duck (the 70s cult comic, and not the Lucasfilm adaptation which [all together now] laid a really big egg), "Captain Carrot" was set in an alternate universe where cartoony funny animals ruled. Later, these characters appeared in the bizarre Oz-Wonderland Wars comic, meeting the characters from Baum's Wizard of Oz and Carroll's Alice in Wonderland. Wonderland's citizens include Humpty Dumpty, which many children's books and illustrations fold into some otherworldy "Mother Goose" Universe (ok: I realize that I'm stretching it here, and that last one would likely be inadmissable in a game of "the Six Degrees of Scooby-Doo")

Of course, Bugs and Daffy met the Disney characters in Who Framed Roger Rabbit, which loops them back in via Mickey Mouse to Cheers. ...Roger Rabbit also features Betty Boop, who met a great many characters from newspaper strips in her original career. Bugs also met the U.S. Army's Private Snafu in at least one of those legendary World War II training films, while the Coyote and the Road Runner turned up in an episode of the 1980s sitcom Night Court. The Warner Brothers animals once appeared on a TV special with the "Groovy Goolies," who, on their early 70s show, crossed expressly into Archie's Riverdale. [Sabrina], the Teenage Witch, was a cousin to the Goolies,a and often appeared on their show, as (less frequently) did her high school friends. For her 1990s TV incarnation, Sabrina moved from Riverdale, and also crossed over with You Wish, Boy Meets World, and Teen Angel.

An assortment of Disney characters meet the warriors of Final Fantasy in the licensed videogame, Kingdom Hearts.

In the 1980s, Batman and Elongated Man met the aging Sherlock Holmes, while Holmes has met both Dracula in a novel by Loren D. Estleman and the Count's real-life creator, Bram Stoker, in one by Nicholas Meyer.

Spider-man and other Marvel characters met Dracula; Stoker's vampire existed in the Marvel Universe in the 1970s. Dracula, in other comics, met Zorro. In the movies, he has met Frankenstein's Monster, the Wolf Man, and Abbott and Costello, who have met a number of other characters, including the Invisible Man. Buffy Summers met Dracula in her fifth season, while characters from Buffy passed by Doctor Who in an issue of the "Season Eight" comic book.

Giles, Buffy's mentor, implicitly refers to Lovecraft's Cthulhu Mythos in the Vampire Slayer's pilot episode. But the Frankenstein Monster already encountered Lovecraft's Old Ones, along with worlds and characters created by Herman Melville, Edgar Allan Poe, Jules Verne and Edgar Rice Burroughs, in Steven Utley and Howard Waldrop's "Black as the Pit, from Pole to Pole." The Real Ghostbusters cartoon crossed into Lovecraft's realm with the episode, "The Collect Call of Cthulhu."

Of course, Lovecraft and other writers, including Robert Bloch and Robert E. Howard regularly referenced each other's worlds. Conan the Barbarian apparently shares a universe with Cthulhu and company. It's not a consistent shared universe, but Lovecraft's influential mythos was never entirely consistent anyway. Most recently, Lovecraft's ship Miskatonic made a brief appearance in Michael Chabon's Pulitzer-prize winning The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay.

The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen crossed several characters from Victorian and eighteenth century fiction, from Holmes and Quatermain to Fu Manchu and Miss Flaybum. The comic is set in some kind of alternate steampunk universe. The film connects fewer worlds (though it throws in an incorrectly-aged Tom Sawyer), but is set in a version of our earth. The League's third published adventure.... It is possible to cross the League with most of twentieth century English literature, Shakespeare, French pulps, German Expressionist cinema, and several popular strip comics through The Black Dossier. The Gentlemen's second comic adventure also includes H.G. Wells's Selenites and Martians as well as characters created by Edgar Rice Burroughs.

Batman has met Burrough's Tarzan. Tarzan, as Lord Greystoke, appears in Robert Anton Wilson's Masks of the Illuminati, which features historical figures, including Albert Einstein, James Joyce, and Aleister Crowley.

Tarzan, Joyce's characters from Ulysses, and much of late-nineteenth/ early twentieth-century pulp fiction was crossed over by Philip Jose Farmer in the Wold-Newton Genealogy. This includes Fu Manchu, who, independent of Farmer, met Superman in an early issue and Spider-man in the 1970s.

If we decide to admit the aforementioned "MotherGoose-iverse" and if that world includes Peter Rabbit, then he brings in Timothy Findley's novel, Headhunter, which features Peter (briefly) and other characters from works of western literature romping around 1990s Toronto. Jay Gatsby has an affair with Emma Bovary in a white limo known as Moby Dick; characters from Conrad's Heart of Darkness work at a Psychiatric Hospital, where Findley himself is one of the patients. Postmodernism, when it did not drown in its academic pretentions and armchair radicalism, could be fun. The late T.I.F. Findley's writing proves this, though Headhunter is not his best work. That honor would be spread, I think, among The Wars, a very original account of a young man's battle with inner demons and the reality of World War I, Famous Last Words, an alternate history of World War II that features many of the twentieth century's most celebrated and reviled figures in a conspiratorial tangle, and Not Wanted on the Voyage, a fabulous re-vision of the Biblical Deluge with a Mengelian Noah, an aging, human Yaweh, a gin-drinking, pop-song singing Mrs Noyes (Noah's wife), and a gender-bending Lucifer.

Mrs. Noyes sings Simon and Garfunkel. Who no doubt met Cass Elliot (I know, we've stretched the rules to breaking here). Who met Scooby-Doo. Whose universe crosses over with The White Shadow because one of its graduates worked at St. Elsewhere, some of whose employees know Detective Munch of Homicide, who knows Mulder of the X-Files, who was almost tagged to investigate characters from Star Trek, whose characters know the X-Men, who once met the Teen Titans whose members includes Dick Grayson who once was the ward of the Batman, who has worked with Superman, Spiderman, Sherlock Holmes, Jerry Lewis, and twice teamed up with those meddling kids.

J.D. DeLuzio.

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