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TV crossovers you had no idea happened

They're big, they're gimmicky, and above all, they're divisive. That's right, we're talking about crossover episodes, when characters from two or more television shows meet each other as part of a special, often heavily promoted, must-see TV event. From the producers' perspective, the idea is typically that crossover episodes can help introduce the audience of one show to the other, and that the special itself will also attract more viewers. From the audience's perspective, there's just something deeply appealing at a primal level about seeing two of your favorite fictional characters meet each other.

At least, that's how it's supposed to go. Sometimes when you do a crossover episode, things get weird. What follows is a collection of television crossovers that you probably haven't heard of, for one reason or another. Some of these will be deeply unusual pairings that don't seem to belong together, while others will be from slightly older shows that have fallen out of the cultural zeitgeist. But regardless of why these particular crossovers have slipped through the cracks, we've scooped them all up and gathered them together. From animated specials to sci-fi spectacles, here are the TV crossovers that you had no idea happened.

When the Power Rangers met the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

If you want teenagers with attitude, this TV special has you covered. In Power Rangers in Space episode four, "Shell Shocked," the Rangers find themselves fighting against another group of super teens, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, who've been brainwashed by the Rangers' nemesis, Astronema.

If you're wondering why you've never heard of this crossover before, it's probably because neither franchise was exactly at its peak at this time. The live action series Ninja Turtles: Next Mutation was a total flop, and although Power Rangers in Space would eventually become one of the high points for the series, it was still finding its footing at this point, and it still had some lingering stink from Power Rangers' rather disastrous last season: Power Rangers Turbo. Because of all this, what could've been one of the most monumental events in nerd history ended up being a bit of a forgotten footnote in the history of both franchises. Also — and we say this with all the love in the world for both these properties — it doesn't help that the episode in question isn't great.

However, this wasn't the last time these two franchises would cross paths. Power Rangers and Ninja Turtles recently crossed over again in a comic book series that was far better executed than their first encounter. The two teams even switch outfits at one point, and it ends up looking way cooler than you'd think.

Everyone's forgotten about the Boy Meets World/Sabrina the Teenage Witch crossover

In the season five Halloween episode of Boy Meets World, "The Witches of Pennbrook," Jack starts dating a woman named Millie, whom Eric suspects might be an evil witch. Whether or not Millie herself has any real magic powers is never proven, but the existence of real magic is confirmed at the end of that episode when we learn that Eric also now has a new girlfriend. She's played by Melissa Joan Hart, and her name is Sabrina. As in, Sabrina the Teenage Witch.

This little cameo could be dismissed as just a funny joke — one not meant to be taken too seriously — except for the fact that this crossover continues into the next episode, where it has major plot ramifications. In that episode, "No Guts, No Cory," Sabrina's talking cat Salem is hanging around John Adams High School, eavesdropping on a conversation between Cory and Topanga. Since it's the anniversary of Pearl Harbor, the two muse about what it would be like to live in the 1940s. Salem, realizing that he could grant this wish, uses the magic of the time ball that he swallowed back in "Inna-Gadda-Sabrina" to transport the cast of Boy Meets World back in time to the December 7, 1941, where they spent the majority of that episode.

Perhaps strangest of all, after these two episodes, neither Sabrina or Salem are ever mentioned again for the rest of Boy Meets World. What a weird couple of days for the Matthews family.

That time Supernatural teamed up with Scooby-Doo

Some of the crossovers we're discussing feature characters from shows of slightly different genres or with slightly different target audiences. But perhaps one of the most extreme crossovers in history happened when Supernatural, a fairly somber live-action horror series, crossed over with the classic campy cartoon Scooby-Doo.

In the Supernatural episode "Scoobynatural," Sam and Dean are pulled into a television by a ghost with the ability to possess objects. Once inside, the Winchester boys find themselves re-living the Scooby-Doo episode "A Night of Fright is No Delight," helping the Scooby gang solve a mystery that apparently involves a killer ghost. In most Scooby-Doo episodes, the monster ends up being an ordinary person in disguise, but this time, things are a little different. This ghost is real, and it's really killing people, because it followed Sam and Dean in from the "real world." In the end, Sam and Dean manage to exorcise the spirit, but they decide to hide the creature's true nature from Mystery Inc., opting instead to allow their new fictional friends to live in blissful ignorance about the terrors of the night.

Although this was certainly a strange occurrence for Sam and Dean, Scooby and the gang are no stranger to crossovers. Over the years, they've met fictional characters as varied as Batman, the Addams Family, and Godzilla, not to mention some folks from our real world, such as the Harlem Globetrotters, Elvira, and KISS.

Mad About You and those Friends episodes with the crossover

In 1994, Lisa Kudrow was cast as Phoebe in the NBC sitcom Friends. However, she already had a recurring role as the ditsy waitress Ursula on Mad About You. Because both these series were set in New York and both were airing on NBC back to back, the writers of these two shows decided that, rather than ignoring the potential weirdness, they'd lean into it and make Kudrow's two characters estranged twin sisters.

Ursula was a fairly minor character on Mad About You, so Phoebe was rarely mentioned over on that show, but in the storyline of Friends, Ursula made quite a few appearances. In "The One With Two Parts," Ursula and Joey even have a brief romantic relationship. Perhaps the most surprising thing about this unusual recurring crossover is that it doesn't treat Ursula and Phoebe's sisterhood as just a punchline. Through Ursula's interactions with Phoebe, it's arguable that the writers of Friends flesh out her character into being a much more well-rounded and complex human being than in her appearances on Mad About You.

Additionally, Jamie and Fran from Mad About You also make an appearance in "The One With Two Parts," Ursula's first appearance on Friends. While visiting Central Park, they mistake Phoebe for her twin sister. When Phoebe is confused about who these two people are, they take this as all the evidence they need that she is, in fact, the ditsy waitress they know and love.

When Spider-Man met up with the X-Men

Nowadays, we're living in the era of superhero crossovers on TV. But that era actually started a lot further back than most people realize. Decades before The Defenders of the first Arrowverse crossover, Marvel had already created a shared universe of TV shows with its '90s Spider-Man and X-Men animated series.

Although the X-Men cartoon mainly takes place in a self-contained setting wherein the world's biggest problems tend to be mutant-centric, it's also implied to exist within the larger Marvel universe in the episode "The Phoenix Saga, Part 5: Child of Light," when a brief montage shows various non-mutant superheroes around the world, such as Spider-Man and Thor, saving people from danger.

At the time of that episode, there wasn't a Spider-Man animated series yet, but we did get one a few months later, and that show would go on to return the favor in the episodes "The Mutant Agenda" and "Mutants' Revenge," which feature Spider-Man teaming up the characters from the X-Men cartoon, complete with nearly the entire X-Men voice cast.

These weren't the only Marvel characters that the animated Spider-Man crossed paths with. Over the course of the series' five seasons, Spidey met many Marvel characters who've since become mainstream cultural icons, such as Daredevil, Dr. Strange, and Blade. The final season also ended with a re-telling of the "Secret Wars" story arc, which featured characters such as Iron Man, Captain America, and the Fantastic Four.

Most fans have no idea about the Brooklyn Nine-Nine and New Girl crossover

In the Brooklyn Nine-Nine episode "The Night Shift," Detective Jake Peralta, played by Andy Samberg, is chasing down a suspect before the man hops on a motorcycle and takes off. In order to catch him, Jake stops a nearby passing car in classic TV cop fashion and tells the driver he needs to commandeer her vehicle. The driver is played by Zooey Deschanel, and if you weren't watching any other Fox sitcoms at the time, this might just seem like a weird little celebrity cameo, but if you're a fan of New Girl, then you'd instantly recognize this as Jess, the protagonist of that series.

Jake convinces Jess to scoot over into the passenger seat, and after a brief car chase, Jake crashes her car, and the suspect escapes. The rest of the episode deals with Jake moving on and pursuing other leads, but for Jess, the crossover was just beginning.

In the next episode of New Girl, "Homecoming," we see the events that led up to this chase from Jess' perspective, as well as the events that follow. After the car crash, Jess takes a trip down to the 99th Precinct in order to get reimbursed for the damage that Jake did to her car. While she' there, she meets two other Brooklyn Nine-Nine characters, Gina Linetti and Captain Holt. One final note that we'd be remiss if we didn't mention — when Jake refers to Jess' "vehicle," she clarifies for him that her car is, in fact, a crossover.

When The Fresh Prince of Bel Air crossed over with The Jeffersons

Often times, crossovers occur between two shows that are currently airing on the same network, in order to cross-promote each other. The Fresh Prince of Bel Air had a couple of these in its day, but it also had another, far stranger crossover with a show from a different network that had already been off the air for a decade.

In the episode "Will is from Mars," Will and his girlfriend, Lisa, are having some relationship trouble, so they decide to attend a relationship seminar. There, they meet George and Louise Jefferson, the protagonists of the classic sitcom The Jeffersons, played once again by Sherman Hemsley and Isabel Sanford.

During the class, Will and George commiserate over the trials of their respective relationships. However, this good-natured conversation quickly turns ugly once Will makes a tasteless joke about George's partner. This leads to an insult fight, which then escalates into a physical one. Lisa rushes in to defend Will, and Louise jumps in to protect George, and the seminar devolves into an all-out brawl. In the end, Will and Lisa realize that the problems they're having aren't all that bad, relative to some of the other couples they've met, and they also learn that whenever trouble comes, they'll have each others back.

But this isn't the only time these two families cross paths. The Jeffersons return during Fresh Prince's final episode. When Uncle Phil is selling the Banks' house, they're one of the families looking to buy it.

OK K.O., Steven Universe, Ben 10, and Teen Titans Go! were all on the same show

Crossing over two shows is cute and all, but c'mon, we can do better than that. One of the more ambitious crossover events that we've seen in recent years happened in the episode of the Cartoon Network series OK K.O.! Let's Be Heroes, titled "Crossover Nexus."

In it, our young hero K.O. finds himself transported into a mysterious alternate dimension, an abandoned city, where he's being hunted by a villain named Strike. Soon after, K.O. learns that he isn't the only person that Strike is hunting. Strike has been pulling in heroes from across the multiverse in order to defeat them and drain their superpowers. And although most of these heroes have already been defeated, and thus turned to stone, three other heroes are still standing: Garnet from Steven Universe, Raven from Teen Titans Go!, Ben from Ben 10.

By working together, the four heroes are eventually able to defeat Strike and break the curse on all the stone heroes littered around the abandoned city, returning them to life. Along the way, this episode also features cameos from pretty much every Cartoon Network series every, including Adventure Time, The Powerpuff Girls, Dexter's Laboratory, Chowder, Gumball, Uncle Grandpa, and many, many more.

When The X-Files met Cops, things got meta

On February 20, 2000, viewers turned on their televisions expecting the next episode of the game-changing, sci-fi drama The X-Files, but they were most likely quite surprised when instead of the normal X-Files theme song, "Bad Boys" by Inner Circle starting playing, the iconic theme song of the reality TV show Cops. What followed was "X-Cops," one of X-Files most experimental and most memorable episodes ever.

The episode is filmed in the classic handheld documentary style of Cops, as Deputy Keith Wetzel responds to a call about a potential prowler stalking around a residential neighborhood. After Wetzel has a terrifying encounter with a monster that the cameraman doesn't manage to capture and that Wetzel himself refuses to describe, he runs into FBI Agents Fox Mulder and Dana Scully, who are also apparently investigating this potential perp, whom they believe to be a werewolf. Mulder and Scully continue to follow around Wetzel and the camera crew for the rest of the night, attempting to track down this monster. We won't spoil the final reveal of what's going on in this neighborhood, but it ends up being, without question, one of the best episodes in X-Files history, a genuinely gripping found-footage horror story.

In addition to its unusual structure, one reason why the episode is so good is that it's written by Vince Gilligan, one of the main writers on X-Files who would go on to create his own series a few years later ... one known as Breaking Bad.

Your entire childhood crossed over for this cartoon special

Given how many different companies were involved in this particular crossover, it's certainly one of the most impressive ones from a legal perspective, if nothing else. It's called Cartoon All-Stars to the Rescue, an animated television special which aired on April 21, 1990, on all four major American television networks.

Our protagonist is Michael, a teenager who's recently begun experimenting with marijuana. At the beginning of the story, he steals his sister's piggy bank so that he can buy drugs, potentially the first step down a dark path towards a life of addiction. Suddenly, all his little sister's various toys, each made in the image of a different cartoon character, come to life to help teach Michael about the dangers of drug abuse. Included among these many characters are the Smurfs, Alf, Alvin and the Chipmunks, Garfield, Bugs Bunny, Winnie the Pooh, the Muppets, Slimer from Ghostbusters, Huey, Dewey and Louie from DuckTales, and Michelangelo from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

Looking back on the special with 30 years of hindsight, it's certainly a cheesy production and perhaps not well-informed, but it's also undeniably well-crafted, with top-notch animation by Wang Film Productions and original music by Alan Menken and Howard Ashman. With that much talent behind the scenes and that many iconic characters crammed into one place, if you have a single nostalgic bone in your body, you're going to feel something at some point when you're giving it a watch.

St. Elsewhere was the ultimate crossover show

While it was still airing, St. Elsewhere was a fairly well-regarded medical drama, praised for its complex and realistic writing. Since then, however, much of it has faded from popular consciousness, with the exception of the show's truly bizarre ending, a cultural meme that will most likely be St. Elsewhere's biggest legacy in pop culture.

The final episode ends with Tommy Westphall, the son of Dr. Donald Westphall, gazing into a snow globe that contains a model of St. Elgius, the hospital that serves as the show's primary setting. We then see Tommy's father enter, dressed as a construction worker. This strange ending implies that the events of the show we just watched actually all occurred within Tommy Westphall's mind, a story that he was imagining while starting into a snow globe.

Yeah, the entire TV show was just a dream.

Sure, that's weird, but it gets weirder. You see, St. Elsewhere was involved in quite a few crossovers of the course of its six-year run, with shows such as Cheers, M*A*S*H, and Oz. Thus, one interpretation is that all of these series also exist only within Tommy Westphall's mind. If you then assume that every series that those series crossed over with are also figments of Tommy's imagination, eventually most of pop culture gets eaten up by this massive crossover blob, including shows like The Flash, The Walking Dead, It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, Battlestar Galactica, and nearly every show on this list. Now that's one creative kid.