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Crisis Cross Over
The Mini Marvels sum it up.
A company-wide Massive Multiplayer Crossover which sweeps all the "mainstream" characters in a ficton into a single storyline and, often, takes their own series along for the ride.

The original was Crisis on Infinite Earths, the event which changed The DCU so much that its history is permanently defined as "Pre Crisis" and "Post-Crisis". It went from April 1985 to March 1986, tying in almost every other series DC published at the time.

After this, it became more and more popular, with not just Marvel and DC but other companies — Malibu, Wildstorm, etc. — getting into the act. Eventually, though, readers were sick of it, and it tapered off, before returning to the scene in 2004 when DC and Marvel both launched new Crisis Crossovers that started Metaplots that are still running today. Time will tell how long it takes for readers to get sick of it this time (if they aren't already).

The advantage of a Crisis Crossover to a publisher is that people reading the main story will want to read the various crossovers, thus increasing sales. The disadvantage is that people who only want to read one of the titles that cross over may be turned off by having to buy all the tie-ins to understand it, thus decreasing sales. In practice, it can go either way, but there's a reason the technique was abandoned for awhile.

In comics, there are several subtypes:
  • The classic is a single mini- or maxi-series, with other titles having a couple issues branded with the crossover's title. Crisis on Infinite Earths itself and Secret Wars II are of this type.
  • A second kind is the all-annuals crossover. Many comic series have, in addition to their twelve monthly titles per year, a thirteenth plus-sized annual. An all-annuals crossover takes place entirely in one year's annuals (plus, perhaps, a special bookending issue or two). Armageddon 2001 and Atlantis Attacks! are examples.
  • Fifth Week Events. Most comics come out monthly, most comics come out on Wednesday, and most months have four Wednesdays. Four times a year, however, there will be a month with a fifth Wednesday. Instead of moving titles around so that (for example) some comics that usually come out on the fourth Wednesday are pushed to the fifth, the publisher may just schedule an event for that week. Example: Sins of Youth
  • Self-contained: A crossover that doesn't crossover. The heroes take a break from their own books to participate in a mini-series, then return to their own books. Examples: Secret Wars and Cosmic Odyssey.
  • The opposite is the crossover without a self-titled mini-series; the whole crossover takes place in extant books. Marvel used to do this a lot, as with Inferno and Acts Of Vengeance.
  • The current format is a expansion of the first type: There will be a core series, one or more spinoff series, probably some one-shots, and crossover into regular titles. Blackest Night, for example, had a core mini-series, seven multi-issue spinoffs, a slew of one-shots (nominally numbered as "new" issues of long-dead series), and heavy crossover into both Green Lantern titles, among others.

When a comic slaps a big, visible "Crisis Crossover" logo on the cover, but only has a token Shout-Out to the Big Event that only peripherally affects the plot of the issue in question, that's a Red Skies Crossover. When a Crossover occurs that involves a couple of characters and their support, but doesn't necessarily affect the large universe, it's a Bat Family Crossover. When the various sets of characters do not interact with each other but still deal with an universal threat, it's a Cross Through.

Examples

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    DC Comics 
  • Crisis on Infinite Earths, of course. Also the trope namer. Before CoIE, there were two major and nearly a dozen minor separate DCU "Earths" (read: realities), each with its own continuity. They didn't cross over, except when they did (or when a DC writer forgot who was supposed to be on which Earth and a DC editor didn't catch the goof). Afterwards: one Earth, one reality, and the biggest retconning of past events ever. Let one example serve for all: Pre-Crisis, there was Kara Zor-El, better known as Supergirl. During Crisis, she died. Post-Crisis, she had never existed due to the edict that, following the Man of Steel reboot, Superman was to the only surviving Kryptonian (although she did appear in the final arc of Pater David's Supergirl, "Many Happy Returns"). To this day, nobody (save for a few people, namely Donna Troy and The Spectre) remembers her as she was then, though a new version of the character returned in Batman/Superman: Supergirl in 2005. The first act of the "Multiverse Saga" dealing with the "Death of the Multiverse".
  • A year after Crisis on Infinite Earths, (1987) DC published Legends, a crossover in which the evil god Darkseid tries to turn humanity against all its superheroes; it doesn't take. Looking back, Legends was most notable for launching the semi-humorous Justice League International (the one with Blue Beetle) and the perennially popular supervillains-doing-espionage title Suicide Squad, as well as starting the career of third The Flash, Wally West. It also marked the post-Crisis debuts of Wonder Woman (after she was rebooted from scratch by George Perez and Greg Potter) and Captain Marvel.
  • There were three in 1988!
    • In Cosmic Odyssey (ironically the only one that was self-contained), Darkseid, the New Gods, and a group of super-heroes fight a giant shadow that Metron claims is the Anti-Life Equation's true form. Outside of John Stewart (no, not that one) acting like a rookie and causing an entire planet to explode due to his hubris, no one likes to talk about this story since making the Anti-Life Equation a giant shadow monster was a stupid idea.
    • In Millennium, the robotic Manhunters try to stop the Guardians of the Universe from giving a group of really bad ethnic stereotypes virtual Godhood; it doesn't work out. By contractual obligation, at least one secondary character from most of DC's titles turned out to be the Manhunters' molesnote , which was never mentioned again afterwords.
    • In Invasion!, a whole mess of alien planets get together and try to take over Earth to keep all the superbeings we keep producing under control; yet again, it doesn't work out. This crossover also introduced the Metagene Meta Origin concept in the DCU, as well as led to the launching of Justice League Europe and L.E.G.I.O.N., a 20th Century Legion of Super-Heroes spin-off title known mainly for having Lobo and Brainiac 2 on the roster.
  • 1991's War of the Gods wasn't a bad idea in theory: All the different godly pantheons in The DCU (the New Gods, plus the Olympians, the Asgardians, etc.) have at it and the various divinely-powered superheroes (Wonder Woman, Captain Marvel, etc.) get caught up in it. Unfortunately, writer George Perez made the mistake of double-booking himself drawing Marvel's Infinity Gauntlet and writing/drawing War of the Gods at the same time, leading to War of the Gods suffering from bad writing.
  • Armageddon 2001: (Again in 1991!) One of DC's top super-heroes will become the uber-villain "Monarch"! Except the ending (it was Captain Atom) gets leaked, meaning a third string character Hawk became Monarch instead. Monarch promptly disappeared until three years later, when he was retooled as Extant and became a flunky for A-List hero Hal Jordan, who went evil in the wake of The Death of Superman.
  • 1992's Eclipso: The Darkness Within. Over the summer, DC retconned a B-List villain from the '60s into a serious threat capable of possessing anyone — up to and including Superman. Very little changes, other than the Heroic Sacrifice of Starman IV — whose book had been canceled anyway (and it apparently didn't take). Eclipso himself got a series out of it for about two years, notable as one of the few mainstream comic series with a villain as its protagonist at the time.
  • 1993's Bloodlines. Whether you like this or not all depends on if you're a fan of the Dark Age. This was a Cross Through of all of DC's Annual series for 1993. A race of Xenomorph-like parasites invade and start killing people by draining their spinal fluid. A small percentage of people, however, gained superpowers by this, leading to the creation of a new bunch of Nineties Anti Heroes. Nothing really changed and these new heroes were eventually reduced to cannon fodder for Infinite Crisis, or else ending up in Comic Book Limbo. The only notable result from this crossover being Garth Ennis' Hitman.
  • DC ended up pressing the reset button again Zero Hour: Crisis in Time in 1994. Well-Intentioned Extremist Parallax (a.k.a. Hal Jordan) plans to destroy the entire DC Universe and remake it in his image. Unlike Crisis on Infinite Earths, Zero Hour ended up changing relatively little (aside from completely rebooting The Legion Of Super-Heroes and making Hawkman's continuity even more confusing) and a massive bus being dropped onto the Justice Society of America. And unlike Crisis on Infinite Earths, Zero Hour was met with mixed reviews.
  • 1995's Underworld Unleashed saw Mark Waid killing off 90% of The Flash's rogue's gallery who he felt were too silly even for his masturbatory Silver Age tastes (though this didn't last long and Waid was proven wrong in a BIG way later on) and introducing Neron, the de facto Satan of the DC Universe proper. It also saw a ton of DC villains selling their souls for grim and gritty revamps, of which only a small handful actually stuck.
    • In the afterword to the collected edition, Waid claims that killing and resurrecting the Rogues was the plan all along in order to protect them from unnecessary Darker and Edgier revision:
      Brian and I arranged for them to lie low in hell for a little while, if only to keep some knuckleheaded creator from, oh, say, turning Heat Wave into a living pillar of fire.
  • Final Night (Not to be confused with either Final Crisis or Blackest Night), from 1996, is probably the most fondly-remembered crossover from the 1990s, most likely because the whole thing became one huge Author's Saving Throw/Last Hurrah for Hal Jordan (writer Karl Kessel agreed to write the story for DC on the condition that he could give Hal a mercy killing/heroic sacrifice death). An alien weapon called a Sun-Eater arrives in the solar system and, surprisingly enough, eats the sun. After Earth's heroes try to keep their sunless world alive, Hal Jordan make a Heroic Sacrifice to rekindle the sun and redeem himself (of course, Redemption Equals Death). Also, the Post-Zero Hour Legion meets everyone in the DC Universe proper for the first time — and before his death, Hal resurrects Green Arrow off-panel.
    • Green Arrow's resurrection wasn't so much as off-panel as shoehorned in retroactively in-panel by Kevin Smith about three years later. Realtime, of course.
  • In Genesis (1997), John Byrne "kills off" Darkseid in a lame plot where the Source Wall breaks and everyone's powers start acting wonky. Nobody cares. Moving on...
  • DC One Million (1998) All DCU books stopped and became "<Title> #1,000,000" as the JLA and the rest of the DC Universe go into the future to fight Solaris the Sentient Sun, who wants to kill his creator Superman. As Grant Morrison stories go, you'll either love it or hate it. This crossover is certainly part of the main DCU canon (Hourman One Million becomes a major player in JLA, JSA and his own book). (The final issue of Morrison's later All-Star Superman features the present-day Solaris, and acts as a kind of origin story for the future society depicted in One Million — or rather, presumably an alternative version of that future society, since All-Star Superman is definitely not part of the main DCU canon.)
  • 1999's Day of Judgment featured a then unknown Geoff Johns writing a story where the demons Neron and Etrigan steal the nigh-omnipotent powers of the Spectre. Hilarity Ensues, and the ghost of Hal Jordan ends up becoming the new Spectre. Led to the creation of the Sentinels of Magic - a group of DC's mystic heroes who then appeared absolutely nowhere.
  • In 2000, in an effort to promote Young Justice, DC produced "Sins of Youth," a special Crisis Crossover in which Young Justice, the JLA, the JSA, the Titans and as many others as the pencilers could cram into frame descended on the White House lawn for a rally, only to face the mother of all Fountain of Youth plots wherein nearly every character present was aged or de-aged. It only interrupted the monthly run of YJ and crossed over into Superboy, and was over within a month real-time, but the scale of the story and the villains' plot was worthy of this trope.
  • 2001 was the year of Our Worlds At War and Joker's Last Laugh, occurring back to back much to the disdain of comic fans. Our Worlds featured an Omnicidal Maniac trying to destroy the universe via destroying Earth (with Brainiac-13 pulling up the rear to exploit the madness) and the entire universe teaming up in a galactic alliance to save the universe. Infamous for it's massive number of deaths (Guy Gardner, Martha and Johnathan Kent, Aquaman, Sam Lane, and Wonder Woman's mom Hippolyta), just about all of which were overturned, with Gardner and the Kents being upgraded to living within months of the storyline ending.
  • Joker's Last Laugh was yet another crossover in 2001 (almost literally starting after Our Worlds At War had ended). This story had Joker infect all of the DC Universe's villains with chemicals turning them into Joker-lite mass murderers, after Joker is falsely told he has terminal cancer. Two notable scenes are when Joker Lampshades previous crises by desiring red skies for his plan, and Chuck Dixon spending the entire storyline effectively cursing out readers for asking why no one kills the Joker.
  • Identity Crisis, in 2004, was the first book to use "Crisis" in its title since Zero Hour. It was a crossover, but not necessarily a crisis crossover — in fact, it was a very low-key murder mystery far more concerned with buried secrets and the personal lives of heroes than with blowing stuff up — but it did end up changing things, due to the nature of the secrets revealed rather than any cosmic shenanigans. It's also notable as it deretconed back into existence many Pre Crisis story lines from the Silver and Bronze ages, but at the same time made them Darker and Edgier. It turned B-list Teen Titans Villain Dr. Light into a rapist; revealing that his "bumbling" and "pathetic" status was the result of a magically induced lobotomy. The story was eventually revealed to be the first part of a trilogy to "explore the DC heroes" in which they were put up against "a very personal threat". Its repercussions were felt throughout The DCU (leading to mini-Crisis Crossovers such as Villains United and the Day of Judgement sequel Day of Vengeance) until they coalesced in:
  • Infinite Crisis, released in 2005-2006. Refugees from the original Crisis, who had been watching the DCU since, had decided that the events of Identity Crisis and the things that followed were the last straw, and returned to the universe to "set things right". As their version of setting things right involved destroying reality and replacing it with a "better" one, the current inhabitants of the DCU were less than pleased with the plan. Fighting ensued, and in the end a "soft reset" occurred — some things were changed but by and large, continuity remained the same (except for the Legion of Super-Heroes, which received its second complete reboot) — and the multiverse, gone since the Pre Crisis days, returned. Served as the second act of the "Multiverse Trilogy" as the "rebuild of the Multiverse" and the second act of the "Exploration Trilogy" by "putting the greatest odds against the heroes". Was immediately followed by:
  • 52: Basically the final act of the storyline of Identity Crisis and Infinite Crisis (story-wise). Innovative for its use of real time continuity, tossing Comic Book Time out the window in favor of the 24 approach, published weekly, from May 2006 to May 2007, each issue represents a week of time in-universe, covering the "missing year" of the DCU, as after Infinite Crisis, all books were jumped forward "One year later". Writen by a "dream team" of four writers (Geoff Johns, Greg Rucka, Mark Waid, and Grant Morrison each of whom contributed something to each issue.) it also followed the lives of minor characters of the DCU while the "Big Three" Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman took the year off for various reasons, Widely considered to be one of the greatest story lines of the Modern Age. It also introduced the Modern Batwoman, and Renee Montoya as The Question.
  • Countdown to Final Crisis (2007-2008): Meant to act as a bridge between 52 and Final Crisis. It's remembered as "one of the worst comic storylines of all time" riddled with plotholes and bad art.
  • Final Crisis (2008): Picking up at the end of the year-long weekly series Countdown to Final Crisis and a mounting sense of crossover fatigue among fans, it faced an uphill battle, but the strength of its writer and artist (Grant Morrison and J. G. Jones) saw it through to sales success. The newly reincarnated Darkseid accomplishes his goal of ruling the human race as he unleashes the Anti-Life Equation on Earth, plunging Earth into a black hole that threatens to destroy the Multiverse. The heroes save all of existence, but at the high cost of several high profile casualties (including Martian Manhunter and Batman) and lots of dead civilians who died while Darkseid reigned. Served as the final acts of the "Multiverse Trilogy" ("the Final Crisis of the Multiverse") and the "Exploration Trilogy" ("the day that evil won").
    • Final Crisis itself is a huge crossover dealing with multiple stories. In addition to the event proper, there was Final Crisis: Rogues' Revenge where the Flash's Rogues Gallery reject Libra's invitation to the new Secret Society and kill the murderous speedster Inertia just before the events of Final Crisis begins; Final Crisis: Revelations which takes place during Darkseid's siege of a controlled Earth as seen by the Spectre and the Question; and Final Crisis: Legion of Three Worlds (taking place after all the previously listed ) which has the titular 3 Legions fighting against Superboy-Prime and a new Time Trapper and his army of villains before being revealed as an older version of Prime, which ultimately lead to Prime returning powerless to his reconstructed Earth (but having to face the sins of his actions while in the Multiverse).
  • 2009 brought us Blackest Night, (following the events of the epic Sinestro Corps War storyline that proved to be infinitely more popular than the Countdown event that was happening at the same time.) the culmination of a prophecy first mentioned in an Alan Moore penned back-up strip in "Tales of the Green Lantern Corps" back during the 80s. The best way to describe it is as Space Opera meets Zombie Apocalypse. As dead super heroes, super villains, and their families and friends are brought back to life by Nekron, the various color corps from Geoff Johns' run on Green Lantern must put aside their differences and fight to protect all life in the universe. While being heavily Green Lantern-centric, it crosses over with the entire DCU. Most books had at least one issue involved with the event.
    • The whole thing was initially conceived as a Bat Family Crossover in the Green Lantern books, along the lines of Sinestro Corps War. As mentioned, the absolute success of SCW has lead DC to expand it into a full blown crossover. Even a few canceled books were temporary brought "back to life" for one shot issues just to add to this event. It now seems hard to imagine the relatively simple origins of this event given the hugeness it eventually grew to.
  • Blackest Night was followed up with Brightest Day, a year-long event dealing with the newly resurrected characters' attempts to rebuild their lives after being dead, and the quest for the newly created White Light Battery on Earth. In many ways it was more of a Cross Through; the books involved shared a feeling of making a fresh start but each one mostly followed their own story that was only tangentially connected to the main series.
  • 2011's crossover is Flashpoint, which is to The Flash what Blackest Night was to Green Lantern. Barry Allen has woken up to find reality changed around him; now he needs to find out what the heck happened? His discovery of the truth behind the altered world quickly leads to a line-wide reboot on a scale not seen since the original Crisis.
  • 2013-2014 is marked by Forever Evil. Continuing off where Trinity War left off, the Crime Syndicate has arrived to the prime Earth and knocked the three Justice Leagues out cold in a bid to Take Over the World. Not every supervillain is happy about this new development, least of which is Lex Luthor.
  • Worlds Collide was a major DC Comics / Milestone Comics crossover, which had to be handled carefully, since the DC characters were comics in the Milestone universe. It was a scintillating series in that the differences between similar characters such as Superman and Icon were examined. Perhaps the most entertaining was the relationship between Hardware and Steel, who had the same abilities and skills, but were on opposite sides of the Sliding Scale of Idealism Versus Cynicism. Since then, Milestone was folded into the DC universe, which seems even more poignant after the passing of Dwayne McDuffie.

    Marvel Comics 
  • Contest of Champions, the first crossover done as a Mini Series.
  • Secret Wars was rushed onto the stands a year before Crisis. Essentially twelve issues of good guys and bad guys beating each other up in various and creative ways in order to promote a toy line. Still, while Secret Wars wasn't the metafictional masterpiece that Crisis was, it was a blast. Sometimes you buy a comic to read good guys fighting bad guys. Relatively little impact on the larger Marvel universe. A few things did change following it:
  • The sequel, Secret Wars II, was less successful. The Beyonder, the omnipotent being behind Secret Wars, took on human form and wandered around doing stuff, with the heroes making mostly-futile attempts to interfere with him and Mephisto trying to kill him. Generally considered a failure, partially due to its inescapable nature, with nearly every comic Marvel published at the time tying in somehow, and partly because the concept of the Beyonder trying to get used to being a human led to lots of Narm. A good example of what not to do.
  • The 1986 storyline "Mutant Massacre" involved the mass murder of the underground mutant community known as the Morlocks at the hands of the Marauders, a group of mercenaries loyal to Mr Sinister. This series mainly affected the X-books and their characters (at the time, Uncanny X-Men, X-Factor and New Mutants) but it also crossed over into Daredevil, The Mighty Thor and, of all places, Power Pack. It may well be the first crossover which required readers to get every book involved if they wanted to have the full story, a template which almost every crisis crossover has followed since.
  • Also worth mentioning are 1988's Atlantis Attacks, which made its way through Marvel's summer annuals for that year to celebrate the Sub-Mariner's 50th anniversary, as heroes fought off an Atlantean invasion; Fall of the Mutants, earlier that year, which was mostly confined to the X-Books; Evolutionary War, in 1989, again running through the Marvel summer annuals and featuring the High Evolutionary; and other X-Book X-Overs like X-Cutioner's Song and X-Tinction Agenda, each of which made significant, if not always lasting, changes to the X-Status-Quo.
  • In 1989 came the Inferno crossover, in which demons from Limbo staged an invasion of New York City. The storyline was mainly an X-Book storyline, as Inferno resolved longstanding plotlines involving Jean Grey's doppleganger Madelyne Pryor, the Madelyne/Cyclops/Jean Grey love triangle, and Illyana Rasputin's Apocalypse Maiden, but the effects of the X-Over was felt in just about every Marvel book published at the time, leading to the introduction of a new Avengers roster, the Thing being restored to human formnote , and the Jason Macendale Hobgoblin becoming half-demon (after getting his ass kicked by Harry Osborn, while dressed as Green Goblin).
  • Late 1989 and Early 1990 brought the Acts of Vengeance. Loki secretly organized a veritable army of supervillains in what was ultimately a poorly written plotline that suffered from a massive case of writer revolt. Most notable for the storylines that ignored the main plot, where: Spider-Man temporarily gets used to his new Captain Universe cosmic powers, the Fantastic Four testify before Congress against the proposed Super Power Registration Act, Psylocke becomes an ninja, and Magneto takes down the Red Skull in a Crowning Moment Of Awesome.
  • During 1991-1993, Marvel ran what has since become known as "The Infinity Trilogy"; three X-Overs written by Jim Starlin, involving Thanos, Adam Warlock, Magus, and the Infinity Gems.
    • The first installment, Infinity Gauntlet, did the idea of a crossover right; only a few books were part of the crossover and almost all of them were books with a good reason to be part of the crossover, mainly those that dealt with things of a magical or cosmic bent (Doctor Strange, Quasar, etc) that the main mini-series was about to begin with. There were only a few anomalies that didn't quite fit, like the Hulk or Cloak & Dagger. Unfortunately, the sequels Infinity War and Infinity Crusade, roped-in practically every single other Marvel title whether it worked or not.
  • 1992 saw the Avengers crossover Operation Galactic Storm, in which the team was drawn into an all-out war between the Kree and Shi'Ar galactic empires. It turns out the whole thing was engineered by the Kree Supreme Intelligence, who manipulated the Shi'Ar into detonating a nega bomb to spur the stalled Kree evolutionary process, at the cost of billions of Kree lives. Led to a split in the Avengers' ranks when an Iron Man-led team killed the Supreme Intelligence in retaliation (though they only destroyed a shell), much to Captain America's dismay.
  • The Age of Apocalypse crossover ran from 1995, halted the X-Men books for six months to tell the story of an Alternate Universe where Legion accidentally kills Professor X before he could found the X-Men, leading to an apocalyptic world where Apocalypse rules everything and Magneto formed the X-Men instead.
  • The Crossing ran through the Avengers books in 1995 as well. The premise was that Iron Man had been under the mental influence of Kang the Conqueror for years, and had now turned against the Avengers outright; the only way the Avengers could defeat him was to pluck a younger Tony Stark, untouched by Kang, from an alternate timeline, and in the end, "evil" Tony was killed off. This turn of events was not well-received, to say the least.
  • There's also the Onslaught saga in 1996, which was famously hijacked by editorial to set up Avengers and Fantastic Four's continuities being rebooted from scratch outside the Marvel Universe via Heroes Reborn. However, this reboot was short-lived, and the subsequent Heroes Return storyline not only brought everybody back, but undid the damage done by The Crossing. Thank you, Franklin Richards.
  • 2001 brought Maximum Security, in which a whole mess of alien planets get together to keep all the superbeings we keep producing under control; however, instead of completely borrowing DC's plot for Invasion!, they simply designate Earth as a penal colony, drop off the scum of the universe to keep the superheroes busy, and have a ship in orbit keep everyone from leaving. The plot sickens when Ego the Living Planet begins assimilating Earth as his new body. Yet again, it doesn't work out — but the Kree are given a new Voluntary Shapeshifting gimmick... until the next Cosmic Retcon.
  • The later 2000s brought a whole series of crossovers, collectively tearing down and then rebuilding the superhero community:
    • First the Bat Family Crossover Avengers Disassembled, where The Avengers start getting attacked on all sides out of nowhere. It's eventually revealed that the assault came from the Scarlet Witch, whose powers had grown to Reality Warper levels and driven her mad. She's stopped and placed in the care of her family (Magneto and Quicksilver), but the losses are so great that the Avengers disband (though a new team forms shortly afterward after a mass supervillain breakout).
    • 2005 followed up with House of M, in which Quicksilver manipulates Scarlet Witch to create "a perfect world", which gets over-ridden by Magneto's concept of a "perfect world" being one ruled by mutants. After much fighting, Scarlet Witch comes to the decision that mutantkind still would create a world of violence and hate, and she promptly depowers 90% of the mutant community. At a stroke, mutant-kind is reduced from a population of millions with strong political and economic support to less than 200 frightened heroes on the verge of extinction.
    • Civil War, in 2006. The deaths of the New Warriors and the city of Stamford, Connecticut at the hands of Nitro leads to a backlash against all heroes and a political push to get heroes to register their secret identities with the US Government, via the Superhuman Registration Act. Iron Man and Mr. Fantastic decide to back the new law and lead the charge to do so, while Captain America leads the anti-registration side of the super-hero community, as he sees the whole Registration Act as a bad idea. Needless to say, it all ends in horror as Captain America is defeated, denounced as unpatriotic, and assassinated, and Iron Man being handed full-control over SHIELD.
    • This is followed by World War Hulk, the follow-up to the Incredible Hulk storyline Planet Hulk where, days before Civil War happened, Iron Man and Mr. Fantastic shoot Hulk into outer space (because, frankly, the conflict was gonna have enough problems without having to deal with the Hulk). He ends up on a hellish gladiator planet, which soon explodes due to the ship Hulk was sent on blowing up. Needless to say, Hulk is pissed and fans get five issues of Hulk delivering karmic beatdowns towards Iron Man, Mr. Fantastic, and just about anyone else who gets in his way, as well as crossover issues in or with The Avengers, Ghost Rider, Heroes For Hire, Iron Man, Ant-Man, The Punisher, and the X-Men, not to mention a Prologue issue with a story that features the Mini Marvels filling in the background.
    • Secret Invasion, 2008: After the ninja assassin Elektra is killed (again), the Avengers discover that it's actually an alien impostor pretending to be Elektra. Both characters and fans quickly started wondering who else could be a fake, fueled by Word of God explaining that the infiltration went back for years. On top of all the problems from the last few Crisis Crossovers (Captain America dead, the Avengers fractured and preoccupied with fighting each other rather than actual threats, and the X-Men have had their power drastically reduced), throw in the paranoia of double agents and it sure would be trouble if the aliens decided to invade now that every force that could be expected to stand up to them has been crippled... Ultimately, while Earth wins, Iron Man is still blamed for FUBARing the superhuman response, S.H.I.E.L.D. is dissolved, and control of the rest is handed over to the media darling who killed the Skrull queen; the leader of the Boxed Crook team the Thunderbolts: Norman Osborn. That's right, the Green Goblin is head of the government's superheroes. Yikes.
      • Humorously, Warren Ellis, the author of Nextwave, predicted online almost a year before the Elektra/Skrull reveal that everything that had gone wrong in Civil War was the fault of "Anal Skrulls!", which has become a catch phrase of sorts in certain 'net communities. He also joked that Nextwave was the only canonical book Marvel published, with all the other titles featuring the aforementioned anal Skrulls.
    • This led to a pseudo-example called Dark Reign, which details Osborns tenure as the leader of the Darker and Edgier SHIELD called HAMMER, during which time he sets up and leads his own Evil Counterpart to The Avengers (as well as the X-Men and a couple of others), dressing up psychotic supervillains to disguise themselves as the heroes, whilst pursuing an agressive domestic and foreign policy and consolidating his power by allying with major players like Loki Namor, Emma Frost and Doctor Doom (and the Hood), whilst once again starting to descend back into Goblin-related madness. Word of God is this was not an "event" like the previous examples but it did lead to many mini-crossovers as pretty much every Earth-bound hero found themselves in conflict with the maniac plus it ticks most of the boxes anyway (save that its longer), and its worth mentioning because the conclusion to it was...
    • And finally in 2010, we have Siege. Thor had previously moved Asgard to Earth, and Osborn and Loki aren't happy (Osborn because it's foreign territory on US soil, Loki because Asgard isn't in its own realm where it belongs). So Loki convinces Osborn it would be a wonderful idea to take his army and attack gods. Naturally, Thor and everyone connected with the Avengers goes "Oh No You Didn't!" and goes to kick his ass. But the real problem wound up being the Sentry: immeasurably powerful, mentally unstable (to put it mildly), and Osborn's no longer holding his leash. In the end, Osborn is ousted and the resurrected Steve Rogers (no longer Captain America) takes his place, beginning "The Heroic Age" by ending Superhuman Registration, formally reuniting the fractured Avengers teams, and bringing the Big Three (himself, Thor, and Iron Man) together on the same side for the first time since before Avengers Disassembled.
  • The big crossover of 2011 was Fear Itself. While the world is in a state of underlying fear and paranoia (from events both in-universe and in the real world), the Red Skull (II, aka Sin, daughter of the original) frees a Norse god that scares even Odin called the Serpent. The Serpent then summons hammers that turn selected superhumans into his followers "the Worthy", causing the powder keg of fear to explode among the people.
    • Also, in 2011 has a smaller example in the form of Spider-Island which will see everyone in New York receive spider powers. While this would normally be a Bat Family Crossover or just a regular storyline in Amazing Spider-Man, a multitude of tie in mini series and one shots focusing on everyone from the Avengers to the Kung Fu heroes as well as tie in issues running in the monthly titles of both Venom and The Incredible Hercules.
  • 2012 brings us Avengers Vs X-Men, where the Phoenix Force is returning to Earth and has chosen Hope Summers as its new avatar, leading the two major Super Teams of the Marvel Universe to clash over whether this will mean the resurgence of mutantkind (for the X-Men) or the destruction of humans and mutants alike (for the Avengers). Epic Conflict Ball ensues. The series ended with Cyclops, Emma Frost, Magik and Colossus becoming fugitives, while Captain America formed the Avengers Unity Squad to keep something like AVX from ever happening again.
  • Marvel had two Crisis events 2013.
    • The first debuted in Spring of 2013 was Age Of Ultron, bringing Ultron back, and the end of humanity with it. Interestingly, the storyline already starts off with Ultron succeeding in taking over, with the surviving heroes attempting to mount a resistance to stop the robotic villain's rule. Then it quickly turns into Timey-Wimey Ball nuttiness, with no real impact on the other titles. Any tie-ins in other books were labeled "AU", and had no impact on their respective running storylines. The major impact came at the end of the story, with Angela from the Spawn universe entering the Marvel Universe, and Galactus being teleported to the Ultimate Marvel universe.
    • The second debuting at the end of Summer in 2013 is Infinity. Building off a storyline from The Avengers main book, it centers around heroes dealing with two major cosmic threats, one a new cosmic enemy called the Builders and the other Thanos leading a new invasion army, hitting the planet Earth at nearly the same time. Despite the name and use of Thanos, Word of God says that the event is not intended to be a sequel to the similarly named The Infinity Gauntlet and its sequels.
  • The Marvel Event for 2014 will be Original Sin by Jason Aaron and Mike Deodato Jr. It'll follow the aftermath of the murder of Uatu the Watcher.
  • Outside of the grand arc stretching back to 2004 (that sounds familiar), Marvel also releasing Crisis Crossovers for its cosmic properties (i.e. alien races and space-borne heroes who can't be expected to care about the political squabbles on Earth):
    • The first one came in 2006 during the Civil War, titled Annihilation. Annihilation featured Annihilus, ruler of the Negative Zone, making a grand and destructive invasion into the regular universe that left a great deal of heroes dead, utterly destroyed the Nova Corps, dealt a harsh blow to the Kree Empire, and utterly shattered the Skrull Empire, going so far as to destroy the Skrull homeworld. It took the power of Galactus himself, in an all-consuming rage, to end the threat.
    • Annihilation got a sequel in 2007 titled Annihilation: Conquest, in which Ultron, leading a vast army of robot warriors, is taking advantage of the weakened and confused state of the Kree Empire to attempt to conquer it. He doesn't succeed, but he makes a very good try of it and drives the Kree further into isolation and general impotence.
    • While not directly related, this is now being followed in 2009 by War of Kings. Part-way spun out from Secret Invasion, one of the people replaced by a Skrull was Black Bolt, leader of the Inhumans. In response, the Inhumans decide they can't live in hiding any more, so their giant city on the moon blasts off for outer space, and after picking off several leftover Skrulls they conquer the remains of the Kree Empire, who created them in the first place. This sets up a war between the Kree Empire and the Shi'ar Empire, itself now under the heel of the psychopathic X-Men villain Vulcan, with the Nova Corps, the Starjammers and the Guardians of the Galaxy caught in the middle.
    • 2010 now has The Thanos Imperative. A superweapon detonated at the end of the war has opened a rift in space known as the Fault. On the other side is a parallel universe that has been taken over by Eldritch Abominations (called the "Cancerverse", after how the monsters spread and corrupt). The heroes will have to join forces with Thanos, who had been granted the death he wished in Annihilation and was resurrected against his will in order to fight a universe where life has won over death.
  • In the same vein, the Marvel Ultimate Alliance video game has the heroes banding together to stop villains under Dr. Doom and Loki from pulling off an Evil Plan that would allow Doom to steal the power of a god from Odin. The sequel is an adaptation of the Secret War and Civil War, minus the second half of Civil War as the game diverges at the end of the third issue of that storyline for a different, original ending.
  • Ultimate Marvel had one with Ultimatum, meant to be the last title in the Ultimate Universe before it got relaunched as Ultimate Comics in 2009. The plot involves Magneto plotting revenge on the Ultimates for the murder of the Scarlet Witch, killing absolutely everybody in the process.
    • In 2011, Ultimate Marvel had The Death of Spider-Man where, well, Spider-Man died. It's running through Ultimate Spider-Man and Avengers vs. New Ultimates, but is something of an odd case as thus far the series have only intersected once (Spidey got injured in an Avengers/Ultimates fight) and have since remained separate, but it serves as an explanation as to why Spider-Man has to fight the Sinister Six with no back-up beyond an ill-prepared Iceman & Human Torch. Nonetheless, it'll prompt a second linewide relaunch.
    • In 2012, Ultimate Marvel had Divided We Fall/United We Stand which involved all three ongoing titles at the time - Ultimate Comics Spider-Man, Ultimates and X-Men - dealing with a fractured United States. It notably culminated with Captain America being voted in as President of the United States.
    • In 2013, the Ultimate line had Cataclysm: The Ultimates Last Stand, which deals with the aftermath of Age Of Ultron and the Ultimate heroes banding together to fight off Galactus.

    Other Comic Books 
  • Of bizarre note is the JLA/Avengers crossover that happened around 2004ish. Although these cross-company crossovers usually end up either being non-canon or forgotten, this one actually led to some small changes: the universe of the Crime Syndicate of Amerika (an evil JLA) was rebooted as a result of the defeat of Krona (who had, destroyed that entire universe in the prologue). This led to vague (and therefore non-copyright breaking) references to the events of the crossover the next time that the JLA met the CSA. Some people also say that the events of House of M may also have stemmed from the events of JLA/Avengers as well, since the Scarlet Witch started to lose her sense of reality and judgment after tapping into the chaotic (read: evil) chaos magic of the DCU. This is just Fanon, but it's too cool a possibility not to mention.
    • Marvel has officially accepted JLA/Avengers as canon, since references to it are made in the Marvel Universe Handbooks, without actually naming the DC characters, of course.
    • The actual crossover itself was integrated fully (as in, no denying it anymore) into DC continuity with the release of Trinity #7, with the Avengers being referred to as the "Others"; you can even see what seems to be a silhouette of Captain America in one panel (though it's just as believable to think that was The Flash - it's left rather vague).
    • And we're also forgetting Krona's fate at the end of the crossover, which stuck around for a while.
  • And as long as we're being complete, there was the Amalgam Universe story, in which both the Marvel and the DC multiverses face annihilation — and so the two multiverses were forcibly merged for a short time to keep their worlds alive. (Amalgam Dark Claw = DC Batman + Marvel Wolverine; Amalgam Super Soldier = DC Superman + Marvel Captain America; Amalgam Amazon = DC Wonder Woman + Marvel Storm; Amalgam Lobo The Duck = DC Lobo + Marvel Howard the Duck; Amalgam Captain Marvel = DC Captain Marvel + Marvel Captain Mar-Vell; et multiple cetera.)
  • Subversion: New England Comics ran a Crisis on Finite Tick Crossovers, which featured all 3 titles in the Tickverse. The editors explained that having only 3 comics severely limited the number of money-making crossovers they could do.
  • Parodied in Top 10, where a character has an Ultra-Mouse infestation in his mother's apartment. So, he hires the EX-VERMINATOR, who releases Atom Cats to deal with them, but with so many super-powered creatures in such a confined space, it turned into a "Whole Secret Crisis-War Crossover Thing" which eventually rewrote the time line so the Ultra-Mouse infestation never happened, and nobody even remembers it — except the EX-VERMINATOR, who is thus pissed nobody will pay him.
  • Though Astro City is the only series in its continuity and thus incapable of crossovers, they still managed to play with this one. In "The Nearness of You", a man becomes increasingly obsessed about a woman who keeps appearing in his dreams. It turns out it's because a minor villain caused a Temporal Paradox that threatened the universe and required all of the heroes to stop it — and the woman is his wife who ceased to exist in the repaired timestream. Yes, the Crisis Crossover is relegated to a background reference.
    • Also appears in the ending of the "Confession" arc, which is basically a Crisis Crossover as seen from the sidelines.
  • Valiant Comics had the "Unity" Crossover early in its history, in which the 41st century heros and the 20th century heros had to join come together to face a woman with the power to destroy all history.
  • When Bongos Collide was a crossover of Bongo Comics, which publish comics based on The Simpsons. It included Itchy & Scratchy #3, The Simpsons #5, and Bartman #3. It can be read in Bartman: The Best of the Best collection. Also, there were two series of Simpsons/Futurama crossover comics — which reaffirm the Mutually Fictional nature of the two shows in the other's universe (though the crossovers take place in the Futurama universe, because it'd be easier to use its sci-fi nature to use the Trapped in TV Land and Refugee from TV Land plots to allow the meetings).
  • In 2008, the Star Wars Expanded Universe got in on the act with Vector, which told a single story starting in Knights of the Old Republic, then moving in chronological order through Dark Horse's four Star Wars titles, before ending in a Wham Episode in Star Wars: Legacy. And it was really good, too.
    • Legacy also crossed the prequel era with Tatooine's Sand People and the NJO era.
  • The now-defunct Eclipse Comics got into the act with Total Eclipse, written by Marv Wolfman. The story involved a villain named Zzed[sic], who was born many millenia ago during an event called the Total Eclipse (all the planets and moons of the Solar System aligned with thousands of planets, moons and stars across the galaxy). As a result, he has been cursed with immortality, and seeks only his own death, which he can only achieve by destroying all creation. He has no problem with that at first. Unique in being the only Crisis Crossover to feature appearances by Miracle Man, Airboy, Ms. Tree and Beanish of Tales of the Beanworld.
  • The long awaited War Of The Independents mini-series brings together creator-own characters as diverse as Gumby, The Tick, Scud The Disposable Assassin, Cerebus, Shi, Bone and Hack/Slash. Some of the same characters also appeared previously in the normalman/Megaton Man special, Gen 13 ABC, and Shi / Cyblade: The Battle for Independents.
  • Image United, a series which brings together not only Image's iconic characters, but also their creators to personally draw them in each appearance.
  • Zenescope is currently in the middle of it's first ever Crisis Crossover, The Dream Eater Saga. A threat so major that even Belinda and The Queen of Hearts are fighting against it.
  • Boom! Comics was losing the license to the Disney Afternoon comics, so they went out with a bang. As such, Darkwing Duck and DuckTales are crossed over for the last arc of the respective series.
  • Sonic The Hedgehog Mega Man Worlds Collide, a large 12-part crossover flowing through Archie Comics' three video game licenses: Mega Man #24-27note , Sonic the Hedgehog #248-251note , and Sonic Universe #51-54note . The gist is that following the Sonic Genesis arc in the Archie Sonic comics, a Chaos Emerald has landed in the Mega Man universe, leading to a chance meeting between Doctor Wily and Doctor Eggman as they team up to cosmically conquer their universes. The ramifications are that Mega Man hits the Reset Button on his universe, making the crossover never happen in the Mega Man universe to begin with, whereas Eggman inadvertently causes a cosmic retconning of Mobius on a scale the Archie Sonic comics have never faced before in its 20-year history.
  • Transformers: More than Meets the Eye and Transformers: Robots In Disguise are crossing over in Dark Cybertron, a multi-part storyline involving Shockwave launching his Evil Plan on Cybertron. The two series are set in the same universe and have intersected and referenced each other multiple times, but this will be the first real crossover between the two.

    Anime 

    Fan Works 

    Film 

    Literature 

    Live Action TV 
  • CSI: Crime Scene Investigation has been known to cross storylines and characters between its various incarnations, as has the Law & Order series. This most commonly takes place during sweeps.
    • There was in fact a Law & Order massive crossover in the works, involving a terrorist plot to attack NYC and several teams of detectives from different squads all working the case together. The idea got shelved after 9/11.
  • Doctor Who had the two-part Series 4 finale crossing over with spinoffs Torchwood and The Sarah Jane Adventures, and also brings in almost all of the Doctor's companions to appear in the revived series to date.
    • Jack would have appeared in "A Good Man Goes To War", if not for scheduling conflicts.
    • "Day of the Doctor" sees All 13 Doctors (including a 'lost' incarnation and the 12th, yet to debut Doctor) come together to end the Time War and prevent the destruction of the Time Lords.
  • The 'Proof of Life' crossover between The Bill and SOKO Leipzig.
  • Ten years of Kamen Rider's Heisei era (and much later on, the franchise's 38 years up to that point) were celebrated in Kamen Rider Decade, where Decade (obviously the tenth) must travel across the Kamen Rider multiverse to save it from total destruction.
  • The shows Las Vegas and Crossing Jordan would have charaters cross over at least once every season while both shows were on the air.
  • Super Sentai. In the seasonal crossovers (themselves non-canon to the seperate series, which are all set in their own universes), the series from Bakuryuu Sentai Abaranger to Engine Sentai Go-onger are nominally connected by mentions of the Dino House where one character from series A met a character from series B.
    • Anniversary series Kaizoku Sentai Gokaiger is explicitly shown through Time Travel in episode 40 to take place in the universe where the seasonal crossovers are set.
    • Kamen Rider X Super Sentai Superhero Taisen is starting to look like this as well, with Decade's Dai-Shocker being ressurected, with their opposite number being the similarly-structured Dai-Zangyack Fleet led by GokaiRed of the Gokaigers. Both the Super Sentai 199 and the All Riders are at the very middle, wondering just what is going on.
  • A rather famous "Hurricane Saturday" event that happened on The Golden Girls and its spinoffs Empty Nest and Nurses (Nurses was technically a spinoff of Empty Nest, but go with it.) A hurricane hit during The Golden Girls and Empty Nest and the hospital of Nurses dealt with the aftermath. A similar even happened with a full moon, but that better fit as a Cross Through.

    Mythology and Religion 

    Tabletop Games 
  • The Abyssal Plague, an upcoming series of Dungeons & Dragons Tie In Novels which starts out in the Points Of Light setting but will involve other D&D worlds too, of which Forgotten Realms has already been confirmed.
    • The D&D settings Planescape and Spelljammer are made of this trope, explicitly designed to allow travel and storylines across D&D's other universes. While it was implied for years that all D&D games belonged to the same multiverse, these were two official company lines that supported it.
  • The Old World of Darkness had a few thematic ones toward the end of its line, but an official one with the Time of Judgment series of books, officially ending the old settings. And another, almost a decade later, in Exalted vs. the World of Darkness.
  • Rifts is this to the Palladium systems of games. The setting is of Earth a couple hundred years in the future, after having been transformed into a multidimensional hub, with beings from all over time and space arriving, either by choice or forcibly.
    • More specifically, Palladium ran a series of Sourcebooks called "Minion Wars," detailing a conflict between two different versions of Hell that spilled out across the Megaverse. Sourcebooks were written for several Palladium titles, describing how those specific settings were affected by the war.
  • Reality Storm: When Worlds Collide, a crossover between Silver Age Sentinels and Champions.

    Video Games 

    Webcomics 

    Web Original 

    Western Animation 


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