From Fanlore
(Redirected from Crossovers)
Jump to: navigation, search
Trope · Genre
Synonyms: xover, cross-universe
Related: Alternate Universe, Alternate Reality, crack, fusion
See Also: crossover pairings
Tropes · Slash Tropes · Tropes by Fandom
Click here for related articles on Fanlore.

A crossover is a fanfic or other fan-created work 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.

Types of Crossovers

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.

A form that is most common in Harry Potter crossovers, but sometimes seen in other fandoms with canon orphans (or characters who can easily be made to be orphans), is the adoption fic, in which someone from another fandom (generally selected for their kick-ass qualities) brings up the orphan.

Many fandoms use canon incidents or devices to facilitate crossovers. Star Trek's canon holodeck can be used to introduce characters from any other fandom, and its time travel allows crossovers with present-day or historical settings. In Buffy fandom the first Halloween episode involved enchanted costumes which made the wearer take on the personality of the person depicted; in the episode these were generic characters - soldiers, ghosts, etc. - and the effects wore off at the end of the spell, but in fanfic the costumes are often used to give Buffyverse characters the personality and sometimes powers of e.g. a superhero, often permanently. This trope has been borrowed by many other fandoms. Doctor Who introduced the "chameleon arch" which turns Time Lords into normal humans with false memories, revealed only when they open a device that contains their memories; this is often used in fanfic to turn characters from other fandoms into Time Lords.

Canon deaths which involve the disappearance of the body are sometimes used as springboards for crossovers; for example, when Sirius Black falls through the Veil of Death some stories have him emerge in the universe of another canon. This trope is also common in Buffy fanfic since Buffy fell into a mysterious portal as she died; although she did not disappear, numerous stories show her as transported to other universes in the period between her death and resurrection.

Another way of crossing two fandoms happens specially in the cases of fandoms that have non-human characters or characters with extra abilities. In this case, a character from Fandom A, while still being themselves, turns out to be (secretly or not) a type of character from Fandom B. An example of this is a character who turns out to be an Immortal from Highlander or a Doctor Who Time Lord as mentioned above.

Some crossovers are almost subliminal, like cinematic Easter Eggs, briefly using e.g. a character or device from one canon in a story set in another, which may go almost unnoticed. They are occasionally seen in canon as well as fan works. For example, The Laughing Fish, an episode of Batman: The Animated Series, has a scene in which Joker tries to kill Batman with a wrench he grabs from a box that appears to have a partially-obscured Binford Tool label, a Home Improvement reference. Buzz Lightyear is imprisoned in a box with the Binford logo in Toy Story. There are numerous Star Wars references in the Indiana Jones films, such as images of the robots among the hieroglyphics found in a tomb.[1] Similar minor crossovers are common in fan works.


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, like The Dark Side, by Astolat) and not interact with Fandom B characters at all, or only very peripherally.

Another type of fusion has a character from one fandom take the place of a character in another while retaining their original back story; for example, a story in which Doctor John Watson, a British doctor newly back from Afghanistan, ends up working in Princeton USA and finds a flat share with Dr. Gregory House, not Sherlock Holmes.

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. 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.[2] In some cases these crossovers even rate their own pairing names, communities and challenges.

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), Michael (Century Hotel)/Nick (Farewell to Harry).[3]

Other examples include the pairing names Chlean and Winsullivan, which name the crossover ship of Dean Winchester (Supernatural)/Chloe Sullivan (Smallville).[4] Another case is the characters played by Aidan Turner and Dean O'Gorman, who played the brothers Kili and Fili in The Hobbit (film series). Pairings include DarkHawk: Ross Poldark (Poldark) / Jim Hawkins (Return to Treasure Island), and Britchell: Bragi (Anders) (The Almighty Johnsons) /Mitchell (Being Human).

In other cases, two characters played by the same actor turn 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. See also the Six Degrees of Jeremy Renner trope, in which all characters played by Jeremy Renner (Hawkeye in The Avengers) are Clint Barton in disguise, siblings, clones, etc. A canon non-crossover example is the case of the vengeance demon Halfrek in Buffy the Vampire Slayer, played by Kali Rocha who had previously played William's (pre-vampiric Spike's) love-interest Cecily. In a later episode it was revealed that Halfrek was Cecily; comics canon says she was already a demon when William was in love with her. One pairing of this type is sufficiently common to be named; "Barneswald" is James "Bucky" Barnes/Clara Oswin Oswald, since the same actress briefly appeared as Barnes' date in Captain America: The First Avenger while Clara is cononically reincarnated in many avatars throughout history.

Stories in which characters played by the same actor are mistaken for each other, or impersonate each other, are also common. For example, Nathan Fillion played the murderous preacher Caleb in Buffy, and author Richard Castle in Castle; a standard trope seen in most crossovers between the shows has Buffy characters attack Castle as soon as they see him, assuming that Caleb has somehow come back to life. In non-crossover canon much of the plot of Orphan Black revolves around repeated cases of same-actress impersonation or mistaken identity.

These themes 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. There is also the canon non-crossover case of the Buffy episode The Replacement, in which two different actors, Nicholas Brenden and his twin brother Kelly Donovan, play Xander Harris so that two versions of him can meet.

Another variant of actor crossover is a crossover between the fictional and "real" worlds, with actors meeting or swapped with the characters they play; for example, Jensen Ackles meeting Dean Winchester, Robert Downey Jr. swapped with Tony Stark, etc.

Same Name Crossovers

A common if somewhat unimaginative trope takes two fandoms which happen to have characters with the same name. "Obviously" they're related! An example is Scott Summers and Buffy Summers, and there are several stories where they are cousins or otherwise related. This can be stretched slightly by ignoring differences in the spelling of the surname - e.g. Jamie Somers (The Bionic Woman) is also related to Buffy, but a different branch of the family that changed the name slightly. There are stories where Samantha Carter (Stargate series) is related to Agent Carter (Marvel) or Sheriff Carter (Eureka). In several stories Sirius Black is related to Bernard Black. It's even occasionally extended to fandoms where characters have common first names, if the name is rare enough; e.g. Xander Cage (the XXX series) and Xander Harris (Buffy), and to names that just "sound right"; e.g. Luna Lovegood (Harry Potter) has a name that "sounds sexy", so she might be written as a Bond girl.

An alternative approach is to treat common names as a coincidence which results in the events of the crossover; e.g., Buffy and Scott happen to reserve rooms at the same hotel and the desk clerk somehow thinks they're married and ends up putting them into the same room (bed-sharing trope); or a message intended for the Watcher Bernard Crowley (Buffy) ends up going to the fallen angel Crowley (Good Omens). This approach is comparatively rare.

Location Crossovers

Another way of combining sources is to build on their use of common locations. For example, The Avengers Movieverse has probably been crossed with every TV show or film that has a contemporary New York setting, and Angel with Six Feet Under and other Los Angeles shows. CSI Miami has been crossed with Burn Notice, Dexter, and other shows with a Florida setting. Another example is Wholock.

Historical Crossovers

Fandoms which draw on the same historical period are another source of crossovers. An example might be a crossover between Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell and the Temeraire novels, since both are set in the Napoleonic wars. World War II crossovers are very common, especially with Captain America. For example, since Wonder Woman is now depicted as active since World War I there are numerous stories which envisage her teaming up with Steve Rogers during World War II, and the parallels between Rogers and Steve Trevor are often mentioned. All time travel fandoms are fair game for such crossovers, of course, as are those involving immortality, especially Highlander.

Same Creator Crossovers

In this type of crossover two or more works by the same creator, or from a common origin, are crossed even though this never occurred in canon. For example, the Sherlock Holmes and Professor Challenger series (The Lost World etc.) were both created by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, but the series have no characters in common. Numerous authors have written stories combining them, both as fanfic and as professionally-written "continuations" of these series.

Using Official Crossovers

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, and crossovers between Batman and Judge Dredd, Predator, etc.

TV shows also do crossovers, especially ones made by the same production company or owned by the same network. Sometimes they are build as a shared universe from the start, even as part of the same franchise, while in others the crossover idea comes when both are already established. They may take the form of double episodes or just run in one of the shows. Some examples are:

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.[5] Doctor Who and Torchwood are so intertwined that many authors and sites consider them to be a single fandom; The Sarah Jane Adventures also derive from the same canon, and stories that mingle canon from all three shows plus spinoff novels etc. are moderately common. The recent spin-off Class (2016) will probably be incorporated into this common fandom too.

Arrow and its spin-offs The Flash, Legends of Tomorrow, and Vixen are often entwined with each other, fans often nicknamed the universe Arrowverse, Flarrow, and Legends of Flarrow. When NBC cancelled Constantine, it allowed the CW to have an official crossover between the two and thus the others. The official crossover episode between The Flash and the CBS Supergirl pleased many fans as did Supergirl's move to the CW; which officially brought more news of more crossovers between all four shows. The Supernatural episode Scoobynatural (2018) was a Supernatural/Scooby-Doo crossover, largely animated, which seems likely to spawn a good deal of crossover fiction.

An episode of the Star Trek animated series was an adaptation of Larry Niven's story The Soft Weapon, and Kzinti (warrior aliens from Niven's work) subsequently became part of the Star Fleet Battles wargame universe.

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,[6] 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.[7]

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.

Crossover Fandoms

Some crossover fanworks become so popular they gain fandoms of their own. Examples are Rise of the Brave Tangled Dragons, Pooh's Adventures, Non/Disney, most Animash and Fallout: Equestria.

Fan Reaction

[1990]: 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.[8]

Examples of Crossover Fanfiction

Thematic Lists for Crossover Fic

Meta/Further Reading

Examples of Crossover Art

Examples of Crossover Videos

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. There is a similar Stargate archive, Wormhole Crossing, but it has been off line since early 2015.

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. ^ When Star Wars and Indiana Jones Collide: Attack of the Easter Eggs
  2. ^ Lucy Gillam. Joxer?! And Other Things I Don't Get. Posted 24 November 1999. Accessed 3 October 2008.
  3. ^ The Hewligan Fiction Archive; The Hewligan Fest community.
  4. ^ Winsullivan and Winchullivan
  5. ^'s Crossover Spin-Offs Master Page
  6. ^ Them Mean Ol', Low-Down, Lando Calrissian Blues - Yahtzee
  7. ^ "Support Group for Fan Fiction Characters: First Meeting, Slash Chapter" by Cousin Shelley
  8. ^ from Psst... Hey Kid, Wanna Buy a Fanzine? #1