There’s nothing quite like that moment when you’re just relaxing and watching your favourite TV show when, suddenly, your whole perception of reality is challenged by that rarest of things: the crossover episode.
Despite their differences, sometimes TV shows can come together to form one mega-episode, much to our amusement and, occasionally, bafflement. Here are our picks of the most surprising TV crossovers.
20. The Office UK/The Office US
Both The Office UK and The Office US, which respectively began in 2001 and 2005, are the brainchild of funnyman Ricky Gervais.
It’s hardly surprising, then, that we would see Gervais’ David Brent pop up in an episode of The Office US in a chance meeting with Steve Carell’s Michael Scott.
Although perhaps limited in the shock factor, seeing the two characters together somewhat boggles the mind, and Brent’s nasally London tones just do not seem to gel with Scott’s American drawl.
The pair meet when Brent applies for Scott’s job and flies out to the Scranton, Pennsylvania branch of Dunder Mifflin for an interview.
The pair’s encounter is only brief – luckily, as it may have caused an existential crisis had Brent discovered Scott was basically an alternate-universe version of himself.
19. Roseanne/Absolutely Fabulous
In the final season of Roseanne (that is, before Roseanne Barr resurrected the show in 2018 and, not long thereafter, managed to send her career hurtling into extinction by getting herself fired), things took a rather bizarre turn.
As fans of the long-running sitcom may recall, 1996’s season nine radically reworked the show’s set-up by having the working-class Connor family become super-rich from a lottery win.
Then, in an episode entitled Satan, Darling, the cast of the British show Absolutely Fabulous showed up. More specifically, Joanna Lumley’s Patsy and Jennifer Saunders’ Eddie meet (and get drunk with) the newly rich Roseanne on a trip to New York.
Of course, as Roseanne fans will also recall, this episode (directed by Barr, who also co-wrote it with Saunders) was, along with the entirety of season nine, just a dream – and was completely disregarded when the show returned in 2018.
In another strange twist, the real Roseanne Barr had around that time bought the rights to Absolutely Fabulous in the hopes of creating a US version which, luckily for humans across the globe, did not work out.
18. The Simpsons/24
Considering both The Simpsons and 24 are Fox shows, it seems only logical that they might one day cross paths.
Well, ‘logical’ except for the fact that The Simpsons is a cartoon and 24 is not, and that the fusion of these two worlds makes for a crossover that’s utterly bizarre.
Kiefer Sutherland voiced 24’s counter-terrorist hero Jack Bauer in a 2007 episode of The Simpsons, entitled – appropriately enough – 24 Minutes.
Bauer even manages in his Simpsons episode to slip in his iconic catchphrase “dammit”, which isn’t all too dissimilar to Homer’s “doh”. Perhaps those two have more in common than one might think.
This wasn’t the only time characters from a live-action Fox show popped up in The Simpsons; for one, an earlier Simpsons episode features Mulder and Scully of The X-Files (who’ll come up again later).
17. Friends/Mad About You
Fans of 90s sitcoms might have gauged that Friends and Mad About You exist within the same version of NYC.
The clear link between the two is, of course, Lisa Kudrow, who plays Phoebe in Friends and Phoebe’s twin sister Ursula in both Mad About You and Friends.
TV network NBC made a point of exploiting this Kudrow link with a crossover episode in 1994.
In the Friends episode The One with Two Parts, there’s a guest appearance from Mad About You’s Jamie (Helen Hunt) and Fran (Leila Kenzle), with Jamie mistaking Phoebe for Ursula on her visit to Central Perk.
This wasn’t the only time Friends crossed over with another 90s sitcom – but we’ll have more on that later…
16. Sabrina the Teenage Witch/Boy Meets World
The 90s teen sitcoms Sabrina the Teenage Witch and Boy Meets World had not one, but two crossovers.
The first came in a Halloween episode of Boy Meets World, The Witches of Pennbrook, in which Melissa Joan Hart’s Sabrina makes a quick cameo as the date of Eric (Will Friedle).
These two worlds collided a second time in another Boy Meets World episode entitled No Guts, No Cory.
This episode saw Sabrina’s talking cat Salem send the characters back in time to World War II.
The crossover fun captured the hearts of 90s teens across the globe. Now, if they could just find some way to do something similar with Netflix’s Chilling Adventures of Sabrina…
15. The Simpsons/Family Guy
The Simpsons/Family Guy crossover was the animation super-episode that cartoon comedy fans had been waiting for.
The shows always had a lot in common, of course: they both revolve around a family with three kids, slightly dysfunctional parents and a dog (although only one of said dogs can speak).
Also, The Simpsons and Family Guy both hinge on heavily satirical humour, with both shows even having taken swipes at each other over the years.
Happily, the worlds finally came together on a specially extended 2014 Family Guy episode entitled The Simpsons Guy.
The whole core ensemble of The Simpsons joined the cast of Seth MacFarlane’s show for that episode – and just to make things that bit more ‘meta’ it also features cameos from two other cartoon dads: H. Jon Benjamin as Bob from Bob’s Burgers, and Jeff Bergman as Fred Flintstone.
14. Full House/Family Matters
Running from 1987 to 1995, Full House was one of the most popular sitcoms of its time – and has recently returned to our screens with the Netflix sequel series Fuller House.
However, it was the original series that crossed over with Family Matters, another of the most beloved sitcoms of the era.
The 1991 Full House episode Stephanie Gets Framed sees Jodie Sweetin’s Stephanie learn she has to wear glasses, which leaves her distraught.
Luckily, Steve Urkel, the bespectacled star of Family Matters, is there to reassure her, appearing as the visiting cousin of a family friend.
Family Matters ran from 1989 to 1998 on ABC, then CBS – but unlike Full House, there’s been no revival just yet.
13. The Jeffersons/The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air
Two of our favourite TV families crossed paths in an episode of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air entitled Will Is from Mars.
In the episode, Will (Will Smith) attends relationship counselling with his new fiance, where he meets the Jeffersons, who are also there for a session.
Much hilarity ensues, and as we might expect given Will Smith’s involvement there are ‘yo mama’ jokes galore.
Nor did it end there: in the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air’s finale, the Jeffersons returned as potential buyers for the Banks’ home.
We also see some more familiar faces in that final episode, in the form of Mr Drummond and Arnold from Diff’rent Strokes, who are also considering the purchase.
12. Power Rangers in Space/Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
The 90s had more than its fair share of superpower-themed shows, although some landed better than others.
Power Rangers was one of the more popular, and in its sixth series – Power Rangers in Space – we got an unlikely crossover starring everyone’s favourite turtles.
Yes – although you’ll be forgiven for not remembering it existed, there was briefly a live-action Turtles series in the late 90s entitled Ninja Turtles: The Next Mutation (widely regarded the lowest point in TMNT history!).
In the episode Shell Shocked, the evil Astronema brainwashes the turtles into working for her, and tricks the Rangers into allowing them aboard their ship.
Luckily, an electrical storm reverses the mind control, and the two groups are free to enjoy each other’s company in space.
11. The Mask/Ace Ventura
Aside from both being animated TV shows adapted from movies, The Mask and Ace Ventura have another thing in common: Jim Carrey.
OK, so Carrey doesn’t actually feature in either series, but he was in the original movie versions, which must surely count for something.
Despite one show breaking the laws of reality, and the other being grounded in a world not unlike our own, the two came together in a very special crossover episode.
First, Ace Ventura entered the world of The Mask in a 1997 episode entitled The Aceman Cometh; then, The Mask returned the favour by popping up in an Ace Ventura: Pet Detective episode entitled Have Mask, Will Travel.
Young viewers of the two cartoons were doubtless left enthralled – if they got the reference, that is.
10. The X-Files/Cops
As already mentioned, reality-bending detective series The X-Files was one among a number of popular TV shows to have crossed over with The Simpsons.
However, you might not be aware that the mysterious adventures of David Duchovny’s Mulder and Gillian Anderson’s Scully also crossed over with another, even more unlikely TV hit.
Season seven of The X-Files boasts an episode entitled X-Cops, which sees our heroic FBI agents joined on duty by a camera crew from reality TV series Cops.
As bizarre as this sounds, the episode went down a storm with fans, and is often held up as one of the very best X-Files episodes.
In an additional bit of cool trivia, the writer of this particular X-Files episode was Vince Gilligan – who went on to massive success as the creator of another smash hit TV series: Breaking Bad.
9. Archer/Bob’s Burgers
Bob Belcher, the long-suffering grill chef of animated comedy Bob’s Burgers, has made guest appearances (of a sort) in other cartoons, besides the aforementioned Simpsons crossover episode of Family Guy.
Fans of contemporary adult-oriented animated TV shows will doubtless be familiar with the vocal stylings of H. Jon Benjamin, who not only voices the title character of Bob’s Burgers, but also that of spy spoof series Archer.
And in the opening episode of Archer’s fourth season, those two very different worlds are brought together in a suitably idiosyncratic manner.
The Archer episode Fugues and Riffs posits that secret agent Sterling Archer has completely lost his memory, and in the interim has gotten married to single mother Linda and started working in their family seafront burger restaurant.
The episode sports cameo appearances from all the Belcher family, with Bob’s wife Linda voiced by Bob’s Burgers actor John Roberts (yes, in case you didn’t know, the character of Linda is actually voiced by a man).
8. ALF/Gilligan’s Island
80s sitcoms didn’t come much wackier than ALF, the light-hearted tale of a regular family whose peaceful existence is disrupted by the arrival of a hairy, fun-loving Alien Life Form.
Running from 1986 to 1990, ALF never took itself too seriously (aside from its notoriously downbeat cliffhanger ending).
As such, if there was ever a suitable show for an utterly nonsensical crossover with another goofy TV favourite, it was ALF.
Even so, few could have anticipated ALF having a crossover episode with US sitcom Gilligan’s Island – not least because Gilligan’s Island had been cancelled for 20 years at the time.
The Gilligan’s Island cast popped up in 1987 ALF episode Somewhere Over the Rerun, in which our hirsute extra-terrestrial visitor becomes obsessed with watching Gilligan’s Island, and somehow finds himself transported into the show.
7. CSI: Crime Scene Investigation/Without a Trace
When it comes to crossover episodes, the popular CSI franchise had no shortage of them across its four incarnations (the original CSI: Crime Scene Investigation plus spin-offs CSI: Miami, CSI: New York and CSI: Cyber).
Still, forgetting for the moment crossovers between shows with an already-established link, let’s take a look at the time the original CSI crossed over with rival crime drama Without a Trace.
CSI was on its eighth season and Without a Trace on its seventh when the shows crossed over with a two-part storyline in November 2007.
First, CSI episode Who and What saw William Petersen’s Gil Grissom team up with Anthony LaPaglia’s FBI agent Jack Malone to track down a serial killer.
This story was then resolved in the Without a Trace episode Where and Why, broadcast that same evening with almost 22 million Americans tuning in to watch both episodes back-to-back.
6. Bones/Sleepy Hollow
Bridging the worlds of two largely grounded crime shows like CSI and Without a Trace is logical enough; but crossing over one that’s based in reality and another that’s distinctly supernatural is something rather different.
Nonetheless, this is what happened when Bones and Sleepy Hollow decided to crossover just in time for Halloween 2015.
The story began with the Bones season 11 episode The Resurrection in the Remains, which sees the team from the Jeffersonian Institute discover a headless corpse.
And who’s the authority on cases involving headless bodies? Why, Ichabod Crane of course – who, in the Sleepy Hollow TV series, is reborn in the 21st century.
The story was then wrapped up in the Sleepy Hollow episode Dead Men Tell No Tales (part of that show’s third season).
5. Caroline in the City/Friends
Running from 1995 to 1999, sitcom Caroline in the City cast 80s icon Lea Thompson (Back to the Future) in the title role as cartoonist Caroline Duffy.
Given that the ‘city’ of the title was that most celebrated metropolis of New York, it was only fitting that Caroline might cross paths with the characters of certain other NY-based sitcoms of the time.
So it was that November 1995 episode Caroline and the Folks featured a cameo appearance from Matthew Perry, playing his famed Friends role of Chandler Bing.
Thompson’s Caroline returned the favour, appearing in the Friends episode The One with the Baby on the Bus, which was broadcast that very same evening.
Chandler wasn’t the only 90s sitcom character to cameo in Caroline in the City; another episode featured an appearance from David Hyde Pierce’s Niles and Jane Leeves’ Daphne, both of Frasier.
With its 15th and final season still in production at the time of writing, action-horror series Supernatural is the longest-running TV show of its kind.
No series keeps going that long without at least the occasional deviation from the formula – and Supernatural made a pretty significant break from the norm with its own crossover episode in its 13th season.
The 2018 episode Scoobynatural saw Supernatural’s core group of paranormal investigators join forces with another TV team famed for battling the spooky: Mystery Inc., of the long-running Scooby-Doo franchise.
That’s right, the Supernatural team found themselves in an animated world, fighting the other-worldly alongside Scoob and the gang, wolfing down giant Dagwood sandwiches and hiding from ghosts in oversized pots along the way.
The episode featured guest appearances from the voice actors who’ve worked on all the most recent TV incarnations of Scooby-Doo: Matthew Lillard (Shaggy), Grey Griffin (Daphne), Kate Micucci (Velma), and Frank Welker (Fred and Scooby).
3. Brooklyn Nine-Nine/New Girl
Popular contemporary sitcoms Brooklyn Nine-Nine and New Girl did a crossover of their own in 2016.
First off, Zooey Deschanel’s Jess of New Girl made an unlikely appearance in Brooklyn Nine-Nine as the driver of a car commandeered by Andy Samberg’s Detective Jake Peralta.
Part of what made the crossover a little unlikely is that New Girl is set way over on the other side of the US in Los Angeles.
Whilst Jess’s appearance in Brooklyn Nine-Nine was small and vaguely inconsequential, the team of the Nine-Nine proceeded to have a larger role in the episode of New Girl that followed.
The episode in question sees Jess’s LA friends fly out to Brooklyn to join her, and where much interaction with local law enforcement ensues.
2. Batman/The Green Hornet
We’re dialling the clock back a good bit farther now, to a time when TV’s most daring duos crossed paths in a manner so explosive, it caused words signifying the impact to spontaneously appear on screen (i.e. POW! WHAM! etc).
Yes, in what has long since become the stuff of nerd legend, Batman and Robin met The Green Hornet and Kato on a number of occasions.
These meetings have taken on a particularly mythic status as the role of Kato was played by future Kung Fu movie pioneer Bruce Lee.
Following a brief cameo appearance in 1966 Batman episode The Spell of Tut, the Green Hornet and Kato really made their mark in Batman two-parter A Piece of the Action/Batman’s Satisfaction, in which they both fight alongside and against the dynamic duo of Batman and Robin.
Sadly this wasn’t enough to save The Green Hornet at the time, as the show was cancelled after only one season; but thanks to both the Batman connection and the presence of Bruce Lee, the show has long since attained cult status.
1. Magnum, PI/Murder, She Wrote
Two of the most beloved, yet diametrically opposed crime-fighters of the 80s were Tom Selleck’s Magnum, PI, and Angela Lansbury’s Jessica Fletcher of Murder, She Wrote.
Everyone who grew up in the 80s has fond memories of both shows – but did you remember that they once did a crossover?
In November 1986, the seventh season of Magnum, PI featured an episode entitled The Novel Connection, in which Thomas Magnum’s case sees him cross paths with everyone’s favourite mystery writer and amateur sleuth, Jessica Fletcher.
The events of that episode see Magnum accused of murder – and Fletcher seeks to clear the PI’s name in the following Murder, She Wrote season three episode, entitled Magnum on Ice.
This wasn’t the only time Magnum, PI did a crossover: Selleck’s Magnum also teamed up with Simon & Simon, and more recently the rebooted Magnum, PI crossed over with another modern reboot, Hawaii Five-0.