There’s nothing that fans like more than their favorite shows and movies… except when their favorite shows and movies get to share a sandbox every once in a while. Crossover events are one step closer to what actually happens in the imaginations of many a fan the world over — those fan-fic “what if?” scenarios featuring characters from different properties getting a chance to meet. This kind of thing is fairly run-of-the-mill in comic books, but when it comes to television and film, red tape often gets in the way of the stories we want to see.
But luckily, there are plenty of television shows and movies that have managed to make that magic happen, and we’ve gathered together 15 of the very best examples of film and TV crossovers. These entries are simultaneously exciting, well-executed and deliver more than just fan service.
15. POWER RANGERS/TMNT
“The Power Rangers” and “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” were the seminal children’s shows of their day. Yes, we just used the word seminal to refer to a team of mutant, crime-fighting turtles, but you know it’s true. These two teams of teenage martial arts experts were destined to be friends, but when they actually met, it was high drama.
In 1998, in an episode of “Power Rangers in Space” called “Shell Shocked,” Astronema decided to recruit the Turtles to help her defeat those pesky Power Rangers. She brainwashed the Turtles and they attempted to take over the Power Rangers’ Astro Megaship with the cunning use of friendship. Luckily, Astronema’s spell is defeated, and the Rangers and Turtles team up for the cause of righteousness. They obviously become BFFs IRL, and end the episode with the Turtles going space surfing on the Rangers’ DOPE AF space surfboards (without space suits or helmets or anything). Mothers the world over had palpitations.
14. PRETENDER/STAR TREK
This is a weird one, and that’s why it’s getting a spot on this list. For those who might not be in the know, “The Pretender” was an AWESOME show on NBC that followed a genius fugitive named Jarod around the country as he “pretended” to be different people every week in order to hide from the evil shadow corporation that had stolen him from his parents and raised him in captivity (The Centre). It was exactly as fun as it sounds.
“The Pretender” was part of a popular Saturday night block that included “The Profiler” — the two shows crossed over while they were both on the air. But the BEST “Pretender” crossover didn’t see life on the small screen. In “The Eugenics Wars,” a set of two books detailing the life of “Star Trek’s” infamous Khan Noonien Singh, author Greg Cox reveals that Jarod was connected to the Chrysalis Project (responsible for Khan’s creation). In some more fandoms-meeting goodness, the Chrysalis Project was also supposedly responsible for creating Vincent, a man with leonine features, obviously meant to callback to Ron Perlman’s character in “Beauty and the Beast.”
13. BATMAN/GREEN HORNET
Apparently, Britt Reid and Bruce Wayne are like, total besties, but they have a lot of trouble recognizing the bottom half of each other’s faces as evidenced in the two-part crossover episode “A Piece of the Action” and “Batman’s Satisfaction.” Each show had made tongue-in-cheek references to the other in the past (Batman and Robin climb past the Green Hornet and Kato when scaling a skyscraper, the Green Hornet and Kato love to watch “Batman,” it’s a whole thing), but this was the first time the characters ever interacted. It was predictably awesome(ly bad).
The nefarious Colonel Gumm runs a counterfeit stamp ring and it’s undermining the local stamp mogul, a Miss Pinky Pinkston. Bruce and Britt vie for the lady’s attention while Batman and the Green Hornet attempt to stop Colonel Gumm. The catch is, Batman and Robin never realize that the Hornet’s a vigilante just like them, but they DO get to get in some hand-to-hand combat with Bruce Lee. DOPE.
If you are of a certain age, He-Man and She-Ra were the illest sister/brother superhero team around. They were a delicious mix of sci-fi, high fantasy and bitchin’ rides (see: Swift Wind, Battle Cat). What made them especially fun was their tricked-out backstory. He-Man and She-Ra were twins, separated at birth and forced to live in secret on different planets. Okay, so it’s not spectacularly original, but their outfits were.
That said, despite the fact that neither show let us forget for long that we were watching half of a twin set whenever we watched either He-Man or She-Ra, the two didn’t crossover with each other that often. To be honest, it made the episodes when they did super-DUPER exciting. Our favorite is the movie/episode compilation, “He-Man and She-Ra: The Secret of the Sword.” It’s actually the first five episodes of “She-Ra: Princess of Power,” and details the pretty superb retcon that was She-Ra’s existence and the existence of Etheria, the Horde and Hordak. At the beginning, He-Man doesn’t even know Etheria exists and She-Ra is basically a government stooge. By the end, they’re a family reunited, and She-Ra is Etheria’s noble protector. Spin-offs rarely get such killer introductions.
11. STEVE URKEL/FULL HOUSE
Remember TGIF? The TV block that made Friday nights the best night of the week until you got old enough to swipe beer? In its run on ABC, the TGIF lineup included family favorites like “Step By Step,” “Boy Meets World,” “Family Matters,” and, of course, “Full House.” The reigning king and queen of TGIF were, without question, Steve Urkel and Michelle Tanner. That’s why, when Steve Urkel visited San Francisco and paid a visit to the Tanner clan, it was MAJOR.
Stephanie Tanner needs to get glasses, but she doesn’t want to because she thinks she’ll get teased. Damn, remember when online bullying didn’t exist? Those were the days… Luckily, Steve Urkel (a cousin of one of D.J.’s friends), visits and tells her not to let any jerk kids get to her. Somehow, it works. But let’s be honest, no one really tuned in for that. It was way more fun watching Uncle Jesse teach Steve how to pimp walk or Michelle asking Urkel why he talks like Mickey Mouse.
The only thing worse than Aliens or Predators is Aliens AND Predators. How do we know? There are two whole movies proving what a raw deal humanity gets when these two alien races meet. In “Alien vs. Predator,” both franchises’ cannons were merged and it was revealed that the Predators had been vacationing on Earth for millennia, using humans as incubators for Aliens, which the Predators would then use for hunting practice. (P.S. This was totally an episode of “Star Trek: Voyager.”)
This crossover between two epic monster franchises was geek porn at its best. Not only does the match-up make at least 75% sense, it is so, SO sick watching Predators slice and dice facehuggers, battle a queen and make trophies of something else besides humans for a change. Top that off with the Alien/Predator xenomorph that’s eventually created, and the “AVP” crossover is one that exemplifies fan indulgence at its finest.
9. STAR TREK: GENERATIONS
“Generations” is an emotional roller coaster from start to finish. Within the first 20 minutes, Captain James T. Kirk “dies,” as does Picard’s entire family, and by the end of the movie, we’ve seen two great captains meet, we’ve watched one of them die (again) and the Enterprise D is destroyed. It’s a dizzying journey, but one that fans had been clamoring for since “Star Trek: The Next Generation” premiered.
There had been other (and better) crossovers with TOS before this point, but none of them were as momentous as the meeting between Captain Jean-Luc Picard and Captain Kirk. The two meet in the Nexus, a sort of mental holodeck floating through space. Picard convinces Kirk to help defeat mad scientist Dr. Soran (Malcom McDowell), and the two captains manage to save the day together. While this was naked, NAKED fan service, it never stops being just a little thrilling watching these two icons become besties (in our heads) forever.
8. SIMPSONS/FAMILY GUY
Watching the Griffins meet the Simpsons was like watching your best camp friends meet your best school friends and forming a legendary friend supergroup. “Family Guy” and “The Simpsons” are such similar (if very differently executed) concepts that competition between the fans and the shows themselves makes total sense. In the “Family Guy” episode, “The Simpsons Guy,” the two casts unite, at first, in celebration of their similarities and then in a grudge match for cartoon dominance. Who won? Us.
Hans Moleman steals Peter’s car, so the Griffins get stranded in Springfield. They wind up staying with the Simpsons, and oh the hijinks that ensue! Stewie falls deeply in hero worship with Bart only to be rejected when Bart is horrified at the baby’s obvious sociopathy. Peter and Homer get along like peas and carrots until Homer accuses Peter’s favorite beer (and employer) of being a lame rip-off of Duff. The episode features a courtroom scene that’s a veritable buffet of cartoon characters (presiding judge, Fred Flintstone), and a final fight between Peter and Homer that reaches outer space.
Man, Saturday afternoon television used to be the business. “Hercules: The Legendary Journeys” followed by “Xena: Warrior Princess” made for a two-hour block of campy, ancient Greek crime-fighting that has a fervent cult following to this day. Both shows were produced by Sam Raimi, and “Xena” was a spin-off of “Hercules” that’s actually become more popular over time.
If you weren’t one of the many, many fans that shipped Xena with her longtime friend, Gabrielle, odds are you shipped her with Hercules, her male counterpart in the Raimi-verse. In the three episodes of “Hercules: The Legendary Journeys” in which Xena is introduced, the two share a little bit of romance before Xena heads off to redeem herself for her years and years of senseless killing. When Hercules returns in subsequent episodes, the two typically resume their previous dynamic. However, in “God Fearing Child,” Hercules actually kills Zeus, his father, in order to protect Xena and her unborn baby. High drama and intense relationships — two key parts of any good crossover.
6. THE LEGO MOVIE
“The Lego Movie” is a straight miracle of licensing. It’s like the toy version of “The Dark Tower.” Aside from one of the main characters (antagonists) being… Batman, other DC characters show up along with Dumbledore, Gandalf and Shaq. It’s a veritable cornucopia of different characters, real people and properties mixing and matching to hilarious results. It also makes total sense, given that there are Lego versions of basically everything.
The real genius of this movie isn’t that so many different properties crossed over, though. The genius is that “The Lego Movie” brings us this joy by mimicking the way kids (and maybe some of us adults) actually play. In our brains, there are no studios to forbid our imaginations from creating afternoon tea between Wonder Woman and Lando Calrissian. Everything crosses over with everything else, because how legit cool would it be if Wonder Woman and Lando Calrissian actually hung out? By recreating what must have been the wildest dreams of many, “The Lego Movie” brought imagination to life in an unprecedented (AND AWESOME) way.
5. ROGER RABBIT
A bit of a granddaddy when it comes to crossover properties, “Who Framed Roger Rabbit?” was a movie that wound up achieving what some thought was impossible — the intersection of the Warner Bros. and Disney cartoon universes in glorious harmony. Crossing over the two animation juggernauts wasn’t the primary focus of the movie’s plot, but having Toon Town feature all cartoon characters allows “Who Framed Roger Rabbit” a degree of realism that makes it such an enduring classic.
Think about it, if this was just a film about a cartoon rabbit accused of murder, it loses a lot of its relevance. Sure, it’s a funny concept, but the third most enjoyable thing in this movie is its supposition that all cartoons share a common universe and culture (behind Jessica Rabbit and Bob Hoskins as the two most enjoyable things, obviously). It belies something your childhood self probably thought or at least wished was true, and it never fails to satisfy as a brilliant look “behind the scenes” of cartoon life and as a hilarious noir parody.
If you’re a comics fan, it’s kind of a glorious time to be alive. Not only are your favorite stories getting some serious cinematic treatment, they’re constantly playing in the same sandbox, too! Starting with “Iron Man,” the Marvel Cinematic Universe has meticulously brought to life the shared universe of the Marvel Comics and The Avengers. While it might seem like old hat at this point, it’s still a pretty big deal that “The Avengers” franchise is so massive in scope, not to mention incredibly watchable.
Yes, there’ve been missteps, but for the most part, the MCU has become one of the most glorious representations of crossover culture in history. By treating its universe as a cohesive unit (minus the regrettable absence of the “X-Men”), all of their movies are given extra weight because they don’t happen in a vacuum. Building this kind of foundation gives all the stories that happen within the MCU greater significance and longer life. Plus, it is L.I.T. A.F. when Spiderman shows up in “Civil War.”
Perhaps the best and most continuous examples of good television crossovers would be the giant DC universe that has become the CW tentpole. Since 2012 brought us a new adaptation of the Green Arrow, the network has followed up with “The Flash,” “Supergirl” and “Legends of Tomorrow.” And oh, the crossovers, do they ever abound. The Flash and Green Arrow team up on a number of different occasions, both with themselves, Supergirl and the Legends of Tomorrow. But things don’t just begin and end with the CW. Though “Constantine” was on another network (and canceled), Matt Ryan has appeared on “Arrow” in the episode “Haunted.” Oh, and there was that musical episode everyone’s been nattering on about.
It was 2016, however, which saw the great DCTV mashup unfold before our eyes as not one, not two, not three, but FOUR shows merged so The Flash could draft assistance in his fight against the Dominators. Green Arrow, The Legends of Tomorrow and Supergirl join forces with The Flash in “Invasion!” While technically the event didn’t officially include “Supergirl,” it kicked off at the end of the “Supergirl” episode, “Medusa.” The result was essentially the TV version of “The Avengers,” and boy did we ever get hyyyyype.
This first crossover episode between “Buffy” and “Angel” was simultaneously the most wonderful and most depressing crossover on this list. When Angel got his own series after Buffy’s third season, the slayer and her vamp were irrevocably split, and shippers wept the world over. But, since the two shows were on the same network and took place in the same universe, guest appearances between the them were relatively easy. That didn’t mean they weren’t incredibly painful, though. Over the course of both series, characters crossed over fairly frequently, but there was one episode that really stands out.
In “I Will Remember You,” Buffy arrives in Los Angeles to chew out Angel for visiting Sunnydale without telling her. They’re in the same city for roughly four hours before they’re making hypnotic moon-eyes at each other and making us drown in feels. But wait, it gets worse! In a cruel twist of fate, Angel turns human for a day and he and Buffy experience what life could be like for them if they were a normal couple. It’s frigging magical. That is, until Angel realizes it can never work and has the Oracles change time. He and Buffy share the most beautiful tearful goodbye in recorded history and the day is erased.
1. STAR TREK: TNG/TOS (UNIFICATION)
Since the inception of “Star Trek: The Next Generation,” fans of The Original Series were salivating for a connection between the two iconic shows. When news broke that Gene Roddenberry had gotten the okay to develop another “Star Trek,” but he would not be continuing the story of Kirk and the original Enterprise, fans were outraged. So, understandably, the idea of uniting the two series was the next best thing. And while Deforest Kelley did make an appearance at the end of “Encounter at Farpoint,” fans were left wanting something more substantive. Boy did they ever get satisfied.
In “Unification,” Starfleet taps Captain Jean-Luc Picard to find Ambassador Spock, thought to have defected to the Romulans. After spending an entire episode just getting to the damn Romulan Empire, Picard finally comes face-to-face with one of the most legendary “Star Trek” characters of all time. “Unification” marked the first of two times “Star Trek: The Next Generation” would become the highest rated show in syndication, and with good reason. It remains one of the most momentous, yet simultaneously organic crossovers in history. Fans had waited years for this, and it lived up to every expectation.
What was your favorite movie or TV crossover? Let us know in the comments!
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