With Avengers: Infinity War just days away from hitting cinemas, the internet has already labelled it the most ambitious crossover event in history. Well, we’re not so sure.
Crossovers have been happening a long time before Avengers broke the box office, and they’ll still be going when the Marvel reign dies down. And, unlike the current roster of superhero films, many crossovers lack the advantage of a shared fictional universe. They get by with sheer talent and plenty of ambition.
Supernatural/Scooby-Doo – “Scoobynatural”
Supernatural is a gritty and frequently gory show where the end of the world is never more than a few mumbled incantations away. Scooby-Doo is a cheerful little cartoon with a bunch of teenagers and a talking dog investigating mysteries. Trying to mash the two together should have been impossible. But The CW did it anyway.
After years of taking the monster masks off criminals, in the Season 13 Supernatural episode, “Scoobynatural“, the Mystery Inc. gang is faced with taking on an actual ghost and finding shocking proof of the afterlife. Shaggy suffers real injury for the first time, Dean scoffs a tower sandwich, and Castiel evens takes part with his trademark jacket becoming a makeshift parachute. Between goofy physics, ghastly ghouls, and that oh-so-cheesy ending, “Scoobynatural” was a wonderful addition to both series.
Power Rangers In Space/Ninja Turtles: The Next Mutation – “Shell Shocked”
Modern hero shows have the advantage of CGI to smooth out fights scenes and impossible characters. The ’90s had none of that and still managed to pull off a fairly decent hero team-up. And the Power Rangers In Space and Ninja Turtles: The Next Mutation crossover is no exception.
In the episode, “Shell Shocked“, while the Space Rangers are out searching the galaxy for their missing mentor, they encounter a team of brainwashed turtles intent on taking them down. Struck by a convenient lightning storm to free the turtles, the two teams joined forces to take on the typically villainous Astronema.
With more spandex than a bobsleigh team, “Shell Shocked” is possibly the pinnacle of ’90s live-action fiction. It made no sense and was largely considered non-canon, but it plunged on anyway.
The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air/The Jeffersons/Diff’rent Strokes – “I, Done”
In a crossover that spanned not just three shows but three decades, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air managed to set the bar pretty high when it comes to crossovers. After many years of antics, The Fresh Prince decided to gently bow out of the Banks mansion being put up for sale to a pair of interested buyers.
Not only do George and Louise Jefferson from The Jeffersons return (who previously appeared in the fifth season episode “Will Is From Mars”) but rival buyers Mr Drummond and Arnold from Diff’rent Strokes also drop by to consider acquiring the property.
Though the sale eventually goes to the Jeffersons, “I, Done” was a touching goodbye to one concluding show and a tribute to two that had already ended.
Family Guy/The Simpsons – “The Simpsons Guy”
With both shows being far from what most people would call ‘refined’, “The Simpsons Guy” managed to keep a balance between the two comedy styles while throwing out countless references as they went. Managing to include Roger on the Kang/Kodos spaceship and starting a lawsuit between Duff Beer and the Pawtucket Brewery, “The Simpsons Guy” merged the universes enough that there’s still an opportunity for another crossover if the fans and creators should feel so inclined.
The Arrowverse – Crisis on Earth-X
Okay, I know I said most crossovers lack a shared universe but Crisis on Earth-X was an exception. Yes, the DC film universe has gone less than swimmingly, but Greg Berlanti has pushed the boundaries of what modern television shows can handle.
Besides spanning four shows and calling on heroes across different times and universes, the Crisis on Earth-X crossover left resounding changes in all series involved. It broke records, addressed real problems, and wasn’t afraid to face the horrors of humanity’s past or dark possibilities of our present. Really, The Avengers should be taking their cues from these guys.
Magnum, P.I./Murder, She Wrote – “Novel Connection”/”Magnum on Ice”
It’s like some strange cutting room floor romance, a pair of potential star-crossed lovers that never came to be. Magnum, P.I., starring Tom Selleck as a handsome semi-retired private investigator meets Murder, She Wrote, starring Angela Lansbury who finds just one body too many to be convenient. Somehow, these two mismatched shows came together in the episodes “Novel Connection” and “Magnum on Ice“.
When two murders ruin Jessica Fletcher’s holiday, she feels obliged to solve them and she’s swift to clear the accused Thomas Magnum of being the culprit.
Though their writing styles differed and both characters had different methods, the charm and ability of the two lead actors set the episodes – and both shows – above the rest of their genres.
Honourable Mention – Friends/Mad About You
Though never receiving a full-length crossover episode, there had been enough connections drawn between both Friends and Mad About You to put the shows together. The main connection between the two was Lisa Kudrow who plays ditzy Phoebe Buffay in Friends and her ‘evil twin’ Ursula Buffay in Mad About You.
In “The One With Two Parts” (Part 1), Mad About You’s Jamie Buchan (Helen Hunt) and Fran Devanow (Leila Jenzle) drop by Central Perk and mistake Phoebe for Ursula. The shows also bumped borders when a mishap in the Mad About You episode “Pandora’s Box” sparked the lights going out in New York City that crossed over into the Friends episode,”The One With The Blackout”.