Franchise / DCLAU

The Disney Channel Live-Action Universe.

That's So Raven was Disney's most popular show since Lizzie McGuire. This directly led to the creation of more Standard-WITH A TWIST! Disney Kid Coms, including The Suite Life of Zack and Cody (it and then-newcomer Hannah Montana would be the most-renewednote  shows in all of Disney Channel History). As That's So Raven ended (and its Spin-Off, Cory in the House, came onto the air), a gap was made in Disney's live-action entertainment and thus, with the popularity of High School Musical, further live-action Kid Coms were punched out.

The Verse in which the shows exist was first established with 2006's crossover event That's So Suite Life of Hannah Montana, followed by 2007's and 2009's Wish Gone Amiss Weekend and Wizards On Deck with Hannah Montana, respectively. The I'm in the Band episode "Weasels On Deck" placed it into the DCLAU and showed that Disney XD shows could be in the DCLAU as well. With the Zeke and Luther crossover with Peter Punk, the DCLAU now extends to internationally-produced series, and with Jessie's crossover with Ultimate Spider-Man, it can even be linked to animated series (specifically the Marvel Universe). When Girl Meets World officially crossed over with Austin & Ally and Best Friends Whenever during Monstober 2015, then the universe became part of an even larger Shared Universe, since parent series Boy Meets World (and its accompanying TGIF-verse) is part of the St. Elsewhere universe theory, and thus the DCLAU now stretches across fellow Disney-owned network ABC, several rival broadcast networks, cable, and even Netflix and Hulu - and given the Gainax Ending of Elsewhere, it could be said that the DCLAU exists within the mind of an autistic boy staring at a snowglobe!

It used to be that major crossover events (crossovers where each participating show got its own episode) received both a title referring to the event itself and titles for each individual episodes. For example, the event that started it all, "That's So Suite Life of Hannah Montana" is broken down into "Checkin' Out" (the That's So Raven episode), the Suite Life of Zack and Cody episode (also titled "That's So Suite Life of Hannah Montana") and "On the Road Again?" (the Hannah Montana episode). All three parts were produced and aired (consecutively) as separate episodes, with each part being written and produced by the production staff of the show that episode respectively belongs to, and are aired both consecutively or completely separately in syndication (apparently at the whim of the network, though they're typically aired consecutively as part of the Disney Replay block). This is likewise true for the next major crossover event, "Wizards On Deck With Hannah Montana" (consisting of Wizards's "Cast Away (To Another Show)", On Deck's "Star-Crossed" and Hannah's "Super(stitious) Girl"). This practice ended with the last major crossover event to follow this convention, "Austin & JESSIE & Ally's All-Star New Year" (with Austin & Allys "Big Dreams and Big Apples" and JESSIEs "Nanny in Miami" which so far has always been aired as a single episode in syndication, with the former part on Hulu and the latter part on Netflix, if you count streaming services).

With the JESSIE/Good Luck Charlie crossover event "Good Luck JESSIE: NYC Christmas" both halves for each series were still produced separately by each series' production staff (with the credits for the second half running halfway through the episode during the obvious transition), but the entire event is considered a single episode, and listed as such in its entirety as the single episode "Good Luck JESSIE: NYC Christmas" simultaneously for the production orders for JESSIE and Good Luck Charlie (i.e., there are no separately-titled parts making up the whole). Future major crossover events will likely follow this new convention. Also note that smaller crossover episodes where characters from one show crossover into a single episode of another show count as being an episode for the host show only (i.e., the Good Luck Charlie/Shake it Up crossover "Charlie Shakes it Up" is just a standard-length Good Luck Charlie episode with Shake it Up characters guest-starring, and likewise the JESSIE episode "Aloha Holidays With Parker and Joey" is just a JESSIE one-hour special with Liv and Maddie characters guest-starring).

A particularly notable crossover event happened in October 2015 for Disney Channel's "Monstober" event where virtually all of the network's shows had a crossover with each other, almost thoroughly connecting the entire network and creating an almost completely comprehensive shared universe while finally connecting the DCLAU to the larger shared universe of Boy Meets World as noted above. While being a massive inter-connected event, the episodes of each show featured guest stars from other shows so as to remain stand-alone as opposed to having interwoven plotlines.

For those keeping score, JESSIE is the most "connected" series within the DCLAU itself by far, with no less than ten connecting events including five direct crossovers (six if you consider Mr. Moseby's appearance to be a "crossover" event). Outside of the DCLAU and within the TGIF 'verse, unless one were to count Boy Meets World/Girl Meets World as a continuous crossover, Sabrina the Teenage Witch is the most connected show to either 'verse, and if the larger Tommy Westphall universe was to be counted, then St. Elsewhere would be the most connected show.

Compare Disney Channel Animated Universe for Disney's animated equivalent and Nick Verse for Nickelodeon's equivalent. Not to be confused with the DCAU. An article examining the DCLAU can also be found here.

Series confirmed to be in the Disney Channel Live-Action Universe:

Series on non-Disney Channel/XD US networks connected to the DCLAU (mostly connected through Girl Meets World/Boy Meets World):

The Disney Channel Live-Action Universe links:

Boy Meets World links the TGIF and DCLAU universes together through the following:
  • Most of the shows on TGIF during the late 80's to the early 2000's, which were already linked to each other via some crossovers (many involving Steve Urkel) are now officially linked to the DCLAU via Girl Meets World. If anything, the TGIF verse is the predecessor to the DCLAU; since it's part of the St. Elsewhere Shared Universe theory, the DCLAU now potentially shares a universe with hundreds of other shows from all of the Big Five networks as well as several cable channels and streaming services. Since the sheer number of crossovers involving these shows would bloat the page, a breakdown/guide to all the crossovers can be found here.

Shows which may be in the Disney Channel Live-Action Universe but have yet to be confirmed:
  • Crash And Bernstein - after ending in its second season, there are no longer any opportunities to link it into the DCLAU unless another show were to reference it or through Word of God.
  • Ugly Betty: If so, would be the only series in the DCLAU not associated with any other show through actual production even if the TGIF/St. Elsewhere universe is included (though still airing on Disney sister network ABC); apparently, some of the characters of Ugly Betty follow London Tipton's Yay Me! vlog. It may also be connected through the St. Elsewhere Tommy Westphall-verse.
  • Gamer's Guide To Pretty Much Everything: Another new series that has yet to establish any connection.
  • Other, non-Disney Channel shows: Since Girl Meets World is confirmed to be in the same universe as the rest of the DCLAU (and consequently Boy Meets World) other shows of the St. Elsewhere-verse may be an official or unofficial part of the universe as well (see notes above).
  • The Muppets: Appeared in an episode of Good Luck Charlie and got a few mentions on other DCLAU-linked shows. Since the Charlie appearance was mostly through fantasy it remains to be seen if the "real" Muppets exist in the DCLAU, or even the larger Tommy Westphall hypothesis.
  • Shaun of the Dead - the main characters Shaun and Ed show up in the Phineas and Ferb episode "Night of the Living Pharmacists" but it's unknown if this should be treated as canon or as just a cameo.
  • Stuck in the Middle: Has yet to establish any connection, having premiered at the beginning of 2016.

Shows linked to the DCLAU through Recursive Canon only:
  • Sonny with a Chance (and by extension, So Random!): The shows in the DCLAU are consistently referred to as fictional.
  • High School Musical: Suite Life of Zack and Cody confirms it exists as a fictional movie series only within the DCLAU; their school puts on High School Musical as their actual high school musical, and Maddie refers to HSM star Ashley Tisdale:
    Maddie: Some people even say I look like Ashley Tisdale!
    Zack: I don't see it!
  • Madison High (an unaired pilot starring Dog With a Blog's G. Hannelius) explicitly exists in the High School Musical universe and thus would have been fictional in the main DCLAU as well.

Shows which are not in the DCLAU (aka Disney Channel independents):
  • Lizzie McGuire: The spiritual predecessor to the DCLAU, it has not been referenced in modern shows and was produced in a different format (a one camera setup as opposed to multi-camera) than the majority of DCLAU shows.
  • Even Stevens: Like Lizzie McGuire, it has not been referenced and has a different format.
  • Phil of the Future: Same as Lizzie McGuire and Even Stevens.
  • JONAS: In the series, the main trio is known as the Lucas Brothers and portray only expies of their real-world selves. This is in contrast to their appearance on Hannah Montana, where the explicitly named Jonas Brothers act as they would in real life.
  • My Babysitter's a Vampire: Though it airs on the same channel, it is a Canadian import, not produced by Disney.
  • Mr. Young: Another Canadian import made by a non-Disney house.
  • Backstage: Same as Mr Young, also it's a tween drama.
  • It's generally accepted that any Canadian production or co-production on Disney Channel and Disney XD, as well as other foreign imports such as H2O: Just Add Water, thus far exists in a completely separate canon from the DCLAU. The main exception in this regard is Doctor Who, as the Whoniverse is linked to the DCLAU through the Tommy Westphall hypothesis alongside three other foreign series: the Degrassi franchise from Canada, The Office (UK), and the French show Paris Section Criminelle.
  • Thus far, no series produced prior to That's So Raven (excluding those connected through the Tommy Westphall-verse, such as the TGIF shows) have been connected to the DCLAU. Likewise, no DCOMs that aren't directly adapted from DCLAU shows have been included in the universe (and it's possible even some of the DCLAU-adapted DCOMs might exist only on a quasi-canon status, or even in a complete non-canon status, including the Wizards of Waverly Place movie).
  • Although animated shows are now free game to be included into the DCLAU, it's generally accepted that animated shows are either in the Disney Channel Animated Universe, in the canon of their parent material only (as is specifically the case of TRON: Uprising and Star Wars Rebels) or are completely standalone unless established otherwise.


Tropes constant across the DCLAU:

  • All There in the Manual: While not necessary to enjoy the shows, the information hosted on Disney Channel's website fills in a lot of the backstory behind the plots and characters. Is useful if you're dropping into the middle of something both plot- and continuity-heavy like Wizards.
  • Alternate History: Apparently, President Martinez takes the place of George W. Bush in the DCLAU, since by the Hannah Montana episode "Hannah Montana to the Principal's Office", Barack Obama is president.
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall: Done in kind of a weird manner in that often the characters will deliver a punch line and look directly at the camera while doing so, but not quite acknowledge that there is a fourth wall. It's just very weird.
  • California Doubling: Averted with surprising frequency, in that a few of the series actually take place in California but, outside of The Movie, filming virtually never leaves a Burbank soundstage.
  • Canon Welding: The three main founding shows of the universe (That's So Raven, The Suite Life of Zack and Cody, and Hannah Montana) were initially not connected at all. However, when Disney Channel got the idea for That's So Suite Life of Hannah Montana, the shows were connected to be in the same universe (which itself had then been immediately established). As of this writing, Disney Channel continues to use this tactic to connect more shows to the universe.
  • Celebrity Paradox: Subverted. Alyson Stoner and Ashley Tisdale all coexist with their characters in the DCLAU.
    • Played with as well. In The Suite Life of Zack and Cody, Cody tells Max that she's a better dancer than the girl in the Missy Eliot video; both are portrayed by Alyson Stoner. Also in The Suite Life of Zack and Cody, Maddie believes that she looks exactly like Ashley Tisdale as Sharpay, to which everyone else replies with "I don't see it."
  • Comedic Sociopathy: Pretty common in most Disney Channel live action comedies, actually, though some shows have more of it than others. On the more sociopathic side of the scale you have Wizards of Waverly Place and A.N.T. Farm, and on the other side you have Good Luck Charlie.
  • Cowboy Be Bop At His Computer: As children's programming has always been a hot topic, there will be frequent "experts" who have much to opine without actually having basic knowledge of the shows they're talking about. Take these two articles—whatever the validity of their argument, namely too much corruption and Getting Crap Past the Radar, their points are not helped with some very basic factual errors. Misspelling series names ("iCarly" is simply "Carly", "JESSIE" is "JESSE"—and, to boot, a screenshot from that show is attributed to Wizards of Waverly Place), much attention has been given over to shows that have been canceled, etc. Much of this would have been avoided if only they visited the shows' IMDb pages.
  • Crossover: The series in the DCLAU constantly crossover with each other, usually placing a new series into the DCLAU. "Take This Job and Love It!" was a crossover between Hannah Montana and Cory in the House and "Weasels On Deck" was a crossover between I'm in the Band and The Suite Life on Deck.
    • Crisis Crossover: The specials That's So Suite Life of Hannah Montana and Wizards On Deck with Hannah Montana.
    • Red Skies Crossover/Cross Through: The Wish Gone Amiss Weekend, in which, rather than interact, three shows were impacted by the same event (a magic shooting star). There were also the Lunar Eclipse episodes of Kickin' It ("Invasion of the Ghost Pirates"), Lab Rats ("Principal from Another Planet"), and Mighty Med ("Night of the Living Nightmare"), which all aired on the night of an actual lunar eclipse and featured paranormal occurrences thanks to the eclipse.
    • The "Monster Spooktacular" Halloween event of 2015 is one of the largest Crisis Crossovers in the DCLAU, as all of the major shows in the universe at the time are crossed over with each other and many characters are attending the same Halloween Party within the same few hours.
    • Common Crossover:
  • Continuity Overlap: The single episodes in each series' that are a part of the Crisis Crossovers usually have an impact on other episodes in the crossovers, so much that it becomes downright confusing if you miss part of a crossover. Examples of this are Raven missing her flight in "Checkin' Out", causing her to stay in Boston in "That's So Suite Life Of Hannah Montana", and Bailey and Alex cheating in the Hannah Montana tug-of-war challenge in "Cast-Away (To Another Show)", which leads to Bailey trying to find another way to get concert tickets in "Double-Crossed".
  • "Do It Yourself" Theme Tune: A solid Disney tradition, given how many shows promote musical talent, though there are notable exceptions (both Suite Life series and Shake It Up being some of the most prominent subversions, though the latter's is still sung by Selena Gomez).
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar: It's almost a proud tradition. JESSIE takes it in ways almost too far, see above.
  • Gorgeous Period Dress: Everyone's always well-styled in bright, new clothes that fit well even though they're growing kids. Stuff that's too big, washed-out, or half-outgrown is conspicuously absent. An Enforced Trope for the girl protagonists—Disney markets character-wardrobe-based clothes—but even supposedly-nerdy boys look like they put a lot of effort into dressing the way they do (maybe even more than the "cool" guys, since that clothing would be easier to find in stores).
  • Greater Scope Villain: Almost all DCLAU Show's have a Big Bad, but on Wizards of Waverly Place, Gorog seems to be the devil of the universe.
  • High Concept: With only a few exceptions (Good Luck Charlie, Liv and Maddie, I Didn't Do It, and Girl Meets World), all of the shows in the DCLAU have followed the high concept formula, and a few (That's So Raven, Wizards of Waverly Place, Dog With A Blog, Lab Rats, Crash & Bernstein, Mighty Med, and Best Friends Whenever) are completely fantastical.
  • Hollywood Nerd: Every series has its' designated nerd main character; while an Urkel-like Extraverted Nerd has long been favored, the nearly Always Male characters seem to be getting toned down. Compare post- Girl Meets Yearbook Farkle with Season 1 Farkle; Barry from Best Friends Whenever is the first character conceived the "new" way from the start.
  • Loads and Loads of Characters: Obviously for the DCLAU as a whole (and regarding the combined rosters of crossover events), but many individual shows in the DCLAU tend to have large casts as well, at least when including recurring roles.
  • Laugh Track
  • The Movie: Wizards, Suite Life on Deck, and Good Luck Charlie all got a television movie. A Jessie movie has been approved. Good Luck Charlie also got two hour-long specials, as did A.N.T. Farm. Shake it Up: Made in Japan is somewhere in between, with a 90-minute air time; although not promoted as such, it's effectively a television movie too. And in at least one case (Hannah Montana), The Movie was an actual theatrical release.
  • Our Presidents Are Different: President Martinez in Cory in the House, to fit into the standard sitcom mold, is both a President Personable and a President Buffoon.
    • He was butted out of office by an Expy of a certain black man, or, according to Hannah Montana and Austin & Ally (I Didn't Do It as well, if they make an official connection to the DCLAU), Obama himself.
      • Who the president is (and consequently overall continuity) is somewhat complicated. As mentioned above most of the shows other than Cory in the House have someone who at least is an obvious physical Expy of Obama without being explicitly named so. JESSIE on the other hand actually has First Lady Michelle Obama (not an actress playing the role, the actual, real First Lady Michelle Obama playing herself ala iCarly, including referencing her daughters and pets). K.C. Undercover however introduces yet a different president (indirectly through his daughter, who in the show is old enough to go to college).
  • Recursive Canon: Guest appearances and shout-outs confirm that every show in the DCLAU is a fictional show in Sonny with a Chance.
    • Guest appearances shouldn't mean anything. After all, Maddie Fitzpatrick and Ashley Tisdale apparently both exist in the DCLAU (and, apparently, only Maddie herself ever noticed any resemblance between herself and the High School Musical star).
  • Running Gag: Offering fruit juice-sweetened cupcakes (mostly in the more recent shows).
    • Running Gags in general: after all (and excluding the crossovers), running gags are what link the universe together in the first place. And, of course, each show will have its own set of running gags.
  • Secret Identity: For the Wizards, the Lab Rats, Raven, Hannah/Miley, almost everyone in Mighty Med, and Perry.
  • Shouldn't We Be in School Right Now?: For the most part, played straight in most series, but many shows (Wizards of Waverly Place, Shake It Up, the second season of Austin & Ally), the school setting actually features very prominently, if not factoring into the plot in some fashion roughly Once an Episode. A.N.T. Farm is the most notable and largest Aversion, as the high school and its social dynamics are the main focus.
  • Sliding Scale of Beauty: (In-Universe). Most of the protagonists are considered common beauty or special average, because usually they are cute and losers.
  • Studio Audience

Alternative Title(s): Disney Live Action Universe

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Franchise/DCLAU?from=Main.DCLAU