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Trope · Genre
Synonyms: xover, cross-universe
Related: Alternate Universe, Alternate Reality, crack, fusion
See Also: crossover pairings
Tropes · Slash Tropes · Tropes by Fandom
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A crossover is a fanfiction story in which two or more fandoms are combined in some way. Crossovers are an old story trope of fanfiction; as soon as fans started writing stories in more fandoms than just Star Trek, they started crossing those sources together. In story notes, a crossover is frequently notated with an 'x', so a Star Trek story crossed over with Star Wars is sometimes written as ST/SW and sometimes written ST x SW.

Crossovers may take place in many ways. In the most common form, characters from Fandom A may meet characters from Fandom B (i.e., a Stargate Atlantis story in which The Doctor visits Atlantis, perhaps with a Companion or two in tow). Crossovers can involve as many fandoms as the author(s) can juggle; there's no limit to the potential madness and creativity of the exercise.


Fusions are a kind of crossover or AU where characters from one fandom (Fandom A) may be imported into the setting of another fandom (Fandom B). Fandom A characters may take on the roles of Fandom B characters (i.e., a Stargate Atlantis story in which John Sheppard is a Sith lord and Rodney McKay is a Jedi) (perhaps in a story strangely like this one: The Dark Side, by Astolat) and not interact with Fandom B characters at all, or only very peripherally.

Crossover fusions with romance movies (An Affair to Remember, American Dreamer, You've Got Mail, etc.) have been written in slash forever, but for some reason, they're rarely considered crossovers; they're just considered AUs, perhaps because the romance movies rarely have a fandom following of their own.

Actor crossovers

A special case are crossovers between sources that share the same actor, e.g. between SGA and Traders which both star David Hewlett. These same-actor crossovers sometimes draw criticism for requiring more suspension of disbelief, and in the case of same actor pairings also for blurring the line between character and actor slash, especially in the past when RPS was less widely accepted.[1] In some cases these crossovers even rate their own pairing names, communities and challenges.[2] For instance, in SGA fandom, a common crossover technique is to write a character of David Hewlett's (from a show other than SGA) in a romance with a character of Joe Flanigan's (also from a show other than SGA) - this crossover pairing is known as Hewligan, and can refer to a variety of pairings (i.e., Grant Jansky (Traders)/Pete Sherman (Sherman's March), or Michael (Century Hotel)/Nick (Farewell to Harry).[3] Similarly, characters played by Jeremy Renner (Hawkeye in The Avengers) are often used in crossovers with Mission Impossible etc., and there is a common trope that all characters played by this actor are actually Clint Barton in disguise.

Another variant of actor crossovers would be a crossover between the fictional and "real," worlds, with actors meeting the characters they play; for example, Jensen Ackles meeting Dean Winchester. In other cases, two characters played by the same actor turns out to be the same person, for example Claude Rains from Heroes turns out to be the Ninth Doctor in disguise, or Ducky Mallard from NCIS is actually an older Illya Kuryakin from Man from Uncle.

This theme can be inverted in stories in which different versions of the same character (portrayed by different actors or in different media) meet; for example, versions of Superman from Superman Returns and Lois and Clark: The New Adventures of Superman, Sherlock Holmes from Sherlock and Elementary, etc. Usually the explanation involves Alternate Universes.

Using official crossovers

In some fandoms, it's not unusual for two or more fannish sources to have crossover episodes or events in canon. Typical examples are comic company crossovers between DC and Marvel, like the JLA vs. Avengers mini-series. TV shows (especially ones made by the same production company) also do crossovers. The latter can be double episodes like between CSI: Las Vegas and Without A Trace (or back in the day, between Magnum PI and Simon & Simon) or implied crossovers through character appearances, like of Homicide's John Munch showing up, in character, on the X-Files. In some TV series the official crossover implications are almost byzantine through a series of such overlaps, and tracked on fansites devoted to this phenomenon.[4] Doctor Who and Torchwood are so intertwined that some people don't even consider stories that draw on both sources to be crossovers.

Crackfic crossovers

The genesis of a crackfic crossover: "They're all green, so why not have Spock, Yoda, and Kermit the Frog sing Kermit's song together?" (Art by Suzan Lovett from R & R #16 (1981).)
Some crossovers are motivated by simply trying to find universes that couldn't possibly by crossed over, and then pulling it off. Or not. Purists only cross universes that could possibly exist in each other's reality, and have more or less the same tone. Non-purists admit to no limits.

Crossovers and meta

Sometimes the point of a crossover is a contrast and compare of the fannish sources. A meeting in a bar between Duncan (of Highlander) and Buffy, talking about the pain of being a Champion, or between Methos and Krycek, talking about the fun of being morally ambiguous killing machines. Sometimes the point is even broader, such as commenting on the pain of being a black sidekick, as in Them Mean Ol', Low-Down, Lando Calrissian Blues, by Yahtzee,[5] or the trials of being a fictional character popular in slash fiction, as in Support Group for Fan Fiction Characters: First Meeting, Slash Chapter by Cousin Shelley.[6]

Het and Slash-focused crossovers

Ofttimes crossovers are an answer to the problem of a much-loved character who lacks a shippable partner in his or her source fandom, or else an answer for a writer who only likes one character of a popular pairing -- like Methos, but not Duncan? Write Methos into another universe altogether! Certain characters seem to lend themselves to showing up in other universes; they are sometimes referred to as Little Black Dresses of fandom.

Forever Knight fandom has a small faction, the Nothers, devoted to romantically involving Natalie Lambert with characters from other TV shows.

Fan Reaction

  • "Writing a crossover has its own dangers, the difficulty lying somewhere between single-media and professional writing. I like to write them because they add a bit of spice to a story and provide a challenge. I rarely enjoy reading them, however, because they're often poorly done; the writer or editor can't handle one of the shows involved or doesn't know enough about it, one of the shows is sacrificed for the glorification of another, humorous crosses aren't half as funny to the reader as they seem to the writer and editor, etc. Barring copyright problems, even television has problems with crossovers (does anyone remember the Magnum, P.I. and Murder, She Wrote crossover, where Magnum looked like a raving idiot and Jessica Fletcher came off as a meddlesome old hag?). Crossover fiction can be written and written well, no matter how outrageous the crossover." [7]

Examples of crossover fanfiction

Thematic Lists for crossover fic

External Sources

More information

There is a fannish newsletter for crossovers, crossover_news, and an archive, The Buffy fandom has its own archive for crossover fanfiction, Twisting the Hellmouth.

Crossover Awards

In 2004, the Crossover Awards were established to recognize the crossover genre. The 2004 Winners are archived here and the 2005 nominees are archived here.


  1. Lucy Gillam. Joxer?! And Other Things I Don't Get. Posted 24 November 1999. Accessed 3 October 2008.
  2. For example Dean Winchester (Supernatural)/Chloe Sullivan (Smallville): Winsullivan and Winchullivan, with Chlean being a common pairing name.
  3. The Hewligan Fiction Archive; The Hewligan Fest community.
  4.'s Crossover Spin-Offs Master Page
  5. Them Mean Ol', Low-Down, Lando Calrissian Blues - Yahtzee
  6. "Support Group for Fan Fiction Characters: First Meeting, Slash Chapter" by Cousin Shelley
  7. from Psst... Hey Kid, Wanna Buy a Fanzine? #1
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