There is a vast universe with multiple series taking place in different places/time periods/whatever, and a Cross Through is a Story Arc
that starts in one of these series and cycles through several self-contained series (alternating between them), affecting each one, usually with one recurring element or character appearing in all parts. Compare with Shared Universe
The trope's name was coined by comic writer John Jackson Miller
for Star Wars: Vector
, which is an example.
Compare the Crisis Crossover
(a step up in terms of interconnectedness) and the Red Skies Crossover
(a nice big step down.)
- Star Wars: Vector is a Cross Through of four Star Wars comic book series that take place during different time periods, featuring an Artifact of Doom of an ancient Sith Lord that carries a plague of Rakghouls. The plot starts in Knights of the Old Republic (around 4,000 years before the films), then cycles through Dark Times (prequel trilogy era), Rebellion (original trilogy era), and ends in Legacy (over a hundred years after the films).
- The Star Wars books Legacy of the Jedi and Secrets of the Jedi are also apparently this according to their descriptions.
- The book Rogue Planet takes place in the prequel era prior to the Clone Wars, but it directly ties into the New Jedi Order series, concurrently-published but set generations later.
- Millennium Falcon is one of these, following the Falcon's history through the Clone Wars up to Han's ownership of it.
- SHIELD Agent Phil Coulson seems to be working his way through the Marvel Cinematic Universe one film at a time as the Hero of Another Story.
- This culminated for him in The Avengers, which saw him die at Loki's hands. He's still proven to be a pretty popular character, given that he seems to have been invented solely for the films and has since become a Canon Immigrant to the rest of the Marvel Universe, as well as the main character in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
- The events of Captain America: The Winter Soldier cross through very prominently into Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.. Avengers: Age of Ultron also tied into Agents.
- Similarly, there's a storyline about Infinity Stones starting in Captain America: The First Avenger, crossing through The Avengers, Thor: The Dark World, Guardians of the Galaxy, Avengers: Age of Ultron, Doctor Strange, Avengers: Infinity War, and likely other yet-unidentified films, before culminating in the untitled fourth Avengers movie.
- The Defenders subfranchise is similar, with its own interconnected storylines. The most prominent being Claire Temple going between all the involved shows as Coulson did, and the Hand being some of the main villains in both Daredevil and Iron Fist.
- One of the Star Trek games, Star Trek: Legacy, does this.
- There were several series of Star Trek books that did the same thing, with the crews of the original series, TNG, Deep Space Nine and Voyager all facing the same villains.
- Invasion was the first, with the Furies making their first strike in 2267 (Original Series), returning in 2369 (Next Generation), the enemy that originally drove them out of the Alpha Quadrant returning in 2371 (Deep Space Nine), and their final defeat occurring in the Delta Quadrant the same year (Voyager).
- Day Of Honor, which culminated in the Star Trek: Voyager episode of the same name.
- The Captain's Table, a bar from another dimension that only admits captains. Originally six novels, featuring Kirk and Sulu, Picard, Sisko, Janeway, Calhoun, and Pike; a later book, Tales from the Captain's Table, turned this into short story format with more captains (including Riker of the Titan, Picard in his Stargazer years, Chakotay of the Voyager post-ending, Klag of the Gorkon (a decade after the exchange program with Riker), Colonel Kira of Deep Space Nine (whose Bajoran military rank is a captain equivalent), Captain Archer of Star Trek: Enterprise, Demora Sulu forty years after Generations, Captain David Gold of the Starfleet Corps of Engineers e-Book series, and Shelby a decade after "Best of Both Worlds" (and from the New Frontier timeline)).
- Double Helix, in which the "villain" was a virulent disease, featured a mix 'n' match approach, with characters not necessarily appearing in the time period most associated with them: 2364 (Next Gen Season 1); 2366 (Next Gen Season 3/Deep Space Nine during the Occupation); 2369 (very old Spock and McCoy); 2371 (the Maquis: Tom Riker prior to Deep Space Nine Season 3/future Voyager characters); 2375 (Movie-era Next Gen/New Frontier); and 2350 (Prequel: Stargazer/Ensign Tuvok).
- Gateways, wherein the Iconian gateways spring to life again, with disastrous results. Gives the interesting hook of an opening real-time holoconference between many of the principles.
- This is basically the plot of Star Trek: Generations, where Kirk falls into the Nexus and Picard meets him there, with a 78-year long mystery about Kirk's fate in between.
- Star Trek: The Brave and the Bold was a series of novels in which all four crews had to deal with one of four legendary artifacts - with a framing story in which Jonathan Archer (whose first season was still in production) was the first human to hear the legend! Also, much like the DC Comic of the same name (which also gave rise to Batman: The Brave and the Bold), each crew was paired with a lesser-known crew from their timeline (Kirk with Commodore Decker and the Constellation from "The Doomsday Machine", DS9 with the Odyssey crew from "The Jem'Hadar"; Voyager with Captain DeSoto and the Hood, Riker's post prior to the Enterprise (and Chakotay's Maquis cell teaming up with Cal Hudson's Maquis cell), and the Next Gen crew teaming with Captain Klag from the Gorkon, a decade after the exchange program with Riker).
- A two-part episode of Justice League had Batman, Wonder Woman, and Green Lantern chasing a Mad Scientist through time and joining forces first with the Heroes of the Old West, and later with Future Batman, Old Static, and Warhawk (the son of Green Lantern and Hawkgirl).
- The concept is also used in the Doctor Who Expanded Universe.
- Blood Harvest, a Doctor Who New Adventures novel in which the Seventh Doctor fights vampires in 1930s Chicago and on Gallifrey, led into the very first of the Doctor Who Missing Adventures, Goth Opera by Paul Cornell, which had the Fifth Doctor fighting vampires in 1990s Manchester, as a fairly obvious ploy to get new readers interested in the Missing Adventures books. (A short comic in a Doctor Who Annual by Paul Cornell also led into Goth Opera.)
- The later Missing Adventure Cold Fusion by Lance Parkin is a Fifth Doctor novel that also features the Seventh Doctor, and fit into an ongoing New Adventures Story Arc which had, in real world terms, actually concluded some time ago. However in terms of the Seventh Doctor's timeline it fit into between two of the books in that Story Arc.
- BBC Books' Past Doctor Adventures had a Story Arc in which the companions of various Doctors were seemingly killed in Timey-Wimey Ball situations. This tied into the "Sabbath" arc in the Eighth Doctor Adventures. One of these PDAs, Wolfsbane, also featured the Eighth Doctor during the EDAs' "amnesia" arc.
- The Big Finish Doctor Who Destiny of the Doctor 50th anniversary year audio drama series turns the traditional multi-Doctor story into a Cross Through. Each Doctor has an adventure that involves a different powerful technobabble gizmo. During the story, a mysterious message from a future Doctor with a bow-tie and no attention span tells the Doctor he needs to save the gizmo, because that future Doctor needs them for his own plans to fight back an alien invasion.
- The Dalek Time Controller originated in the Big Finish monthly range where it met the Sixth Doctor. Then it gets hurled back in time to become the Big Bad for the Grand Finale of the New Eighth Doctor Adventures and then Dark Eyes. To make things more complicated, it turns out from the Dalek Time Controller's perspective its earliest encounter with the Doctor was in the New Series Adventures novels, where it met the Eleventh Doctor.
- The Excelis saga from Big Finish, in which three Doctors visit the planet Artaris at different points in its history: the Fifth (and Iris Wildthyme) in its Dung Ages (Excelis Rises); the Sixth in a Steampunk and spiritualism period (Excelis Rises) and the Seventh when it's become a futuristic Dystopia (Excelis Decays). And then Bernice Summerfield and Iris visit After the End (Professor Bernice Summerfield and the Plague Herds of Excelis).
- In Big Finish The Eminence were originally created for the third series of "The Fourth Doctor Adventures". However they ended up appearing first in "The Seeds of War", a story in the monthly range featuring the Sixth Doctor. They next appeared in Dark Eyes 2 as major villains and look set to continue in Dark Eyes 3. After Dark Eyes 2 they make their appearance in the Fourth Doctor Adventures.
- The Worlds of Doctor Who storyline in from Big Finish is a Cross Through between the spin-offs. starting in Victorian London with Jago & Lightfoot, then continuing into The '60s with Intrusion Countermeasures, arriving in the Present Day with the Companion Chronicles subseries Tales from the Vault (UNIT) and finishing with a crossover between the Sixth Doctor and the Gallifrey audios.
- Followed up by Worlds of Big Finish, which does the same thing for series with less direct Doctor Who connectionsnote : Bernice Summerfield, Iris Wildthyme, Graceless, Vienna, The Confessions Of Dorian Gray and Sherlock Holmes. (The latter two are loosely tied to Doctor Who via the Bernice Summerfield audio Shades of Gray and Word of God saying it's the same Sherlock Holmes from the Doctor Who New Adventures.)
- In the Doctor Who Magazine comic strip, the Threshold were first introduced during the mid-90s run of past Doctor strips, with Peri, Susan and Sarah Jane having run-ins with them, before they finally faced off against the Seventh Doctor in "Ground Zero".
- Disney Adventures once serialized a five-issue story called The Legend of the Chaos God (no relation to Warhammer 40,000), involving an Artifact of Doom containing a Sealed Evil in a Can; the comics cycled through more or less the entire Disney Afternoon lineup, starting in TaleSpin and continuing decades down the timeline in Chip 'n Dale Rescue Rangers, Goof Troop, DuckTales, and finally Darkwing Duck (which, despite all being in the modern day, never directly crossed each other aside from Scrooge phoning Darkwing to warn him of the threat, and the already shared characters of Launchpad and Gizmoduck), where the unsealed evil is blasted by his own magic bolts reflected off a satellite dish and is safely re-sealed; as it turns out, the legendary hero who sealed the self-proclaimed "Chaos God" away in the first place fought him with a mirrored shield.
- Grant Morrison's Seven Soldiers was this; with seven heroes all individually fighting the same threat. This was in fact enforced by the bad guys, who targetted seven-member enemy teams; if the heroes were to succeed they couldn't meet each other.
- When the USA Network was carrying Saturday morning cartoons, they had one day devoted to a storyline centered around the original character the Warrior King (voiced by Michael Dorn), wandering around each show's universe in search of a powerful MacGuffin. The specific episodes he appears in are, in chronological order, "The Warrior King" (Street Fighter), "Endgame" (The Savage Dragon, the only series out of the four to be based on a comic book series rather than a video game), "Resurrection" (Mortal Kombat: Defenders of the Realm, focusing solely on the MacGuffin; the Warrior King makes only a cameo as a shadow at the end, leaving many Mortal Kombat fans unaware of the Cross Through confused) and "Recreation" (Wing Commander Academy).
- The Fall of the Mutants storyline in the X-Men comics in the mid-1980s. The three titles involved don't directly cross into each other (The New Mutants were the only ones who even knew what the other two teams were up to). Instead, the books are a crossover in the thematic sense of loss and rebuilding: the X-Men's deaths and resurrection, Angel from X-Factor becoming Archangel, the New Mutants losing one of their own and becoming full superheroes, and the subsequent formation of Excalibur.
- After Fall, there was Inferno, where the demons Sym and N'astirh bring Hell on Earth. While this was a X-Men crossover, numerous other titles were involved in the "fighting the evil forces of Hell" bit.
- IDW Publishing has loved Massive Multiplayer Cross Throughs since 2011. The only thing they have in common is that they always involve a Transformers universe (and even then, it's always a different Transformers universe each time):
- 2011: Infestation, in which an attempt by IDW's own Covert Vampiric Operations to contain an interdimensional breach of hive minded zombies from the Zombies vs. Robots universe goes awry, allowing the zombies to infest The Transformers (IDW), the Star Trek Expanded Universe (circa the original series), G.I. Joe (IDW), Ghostbusters and Pocket God Comics, attempting to bolster their strength by assimilating each world's powers. Also qualifies as a Crisis Crossover for some of the series involved, with the Transformers segment heralding the return of Galvatron to the IDW continuity following his rebirth in the The Transformers: All Hail Megatron codas (which is later explored Once More, with Clarity! in the Heart of Darkness miniseries) and having a Transformer be Put on a Bus (which would come back in later Crisis Crossover The Transformers: Dark Cybertron), the Ghostbusters segment serving as the launching point for the ongoing comic and CVO seeing a major status quo change at the end. On the other hand, G.I. Joe is a Bottle Episode in a top-secret isolated setting known only by very few Cobra operatives, Star Trek is never referenced again in Star Trek comic continuity and Pocket God Comics is, being a post-event gag comic and as per the closing issue of the event, non-canon to the Cross Though itself.
- 2012: Infestation 2, this one starring the Elder Gods in place of Zombies, and Transformers: Hearts of Steel (A Victorian era Steam Punk Elseworld), Teenage Mutant NinjaTurtles and the Dungeons & Dragons Eberron campaign in place of the main IDW Transformers continuity, Star Trek and Ghostbusters (CVO and G.I. Joe return for a second round).
- 2013: The Mars Attacks! comics had a month-long non-canon-for-everyone series of five seperate Intercontinuity Crossover one-shots where Mars Attacks Popeye, Kiss (really), The Real Ghostbustersnote , The Transformersnote and Zombies vs. Robots. Given the more (blackly) humorous nature of the Mars Attacks! IP compared to zombies or Eldritch Abominations, there's no multiversal story involving CVO that justifies the Cross Through this time, only Martians invading without any explanation as to how they travel across the multiverse. There were also alternate covers that showed off other oddball crossovers (ranging from potentials like Judge Dredd and Popeye to out there titles like Opus and Strangers in Paradise) and were even plans for sixth entry involving My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic.
- 2014: The X-Files: Conspiracy, where, after receiving a cryptic file from the future, The Lone Gunmen must seek out (X-Files universe incarnations of) the Ghostbusters, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, the Transformers note and The Crow for clues that could help Mulder and Scully stop a virus that threatens to wipe out a large chunk of mankind.
- Salem of Sabrina the Teenage Witch had eaten a time ball and traveled through the other three shows airing on TGIF at the time: Boy Meets World, Teen Angel, and You Wish.
- Cartoon Network ran an event called "Cartoon Network Invaded" in May 2007, which involved cheese-craving aliens from the moon that turn into werewolves. The shows involved were Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends, Ed, Edd n Eddy, My Gym Partner's a Monkey, Camp Lazlo and The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy, with a few cameos from uninvolved Cartoon Network shows thrown in for good measure. The crossover ended with the aliens concluding that the Earthlings were smarter than they thought and proceeding to suck out the intelligence of their five abducted characters. Unfortunately for them, they turn out to be five of the dumbest characters from each of the shows (Cheese, Ed, Slips Python, Skip the dung beetle, and Fred Fredburger). All five of these shows all have alternate endings that sever their connections to the event; for example, instead of the brain-sucking scene described above, the Billy and Mandy episode ends with a Crossover Punchline involving Codename: Kids Next Door.
- Brightest Day wound up being this; all the storylines came out of Blackest Night and many were unified under "people resurrected by the White Entity for a specific task", but each series involved was pretty much self-contained with little overlap.
- Disney Channel did one of this in regards to their SitComs: the main characters of Cory in the House, The Suite Life of Zack and Cody, and Hannah Montana saw a wishing star on the sky and made a wish (which came true and the episodes are Be Careful What You Wish For plots).
- DC Comics' 1990s crossovers like Underworld Unleashed and Day of Judgement were Crisis Crossovers, but some of the secondary books were more Cross Throughs, with characters fighting over-powered villains/ghosts and demons without ever getting involved in the main story, or even learning what was actually going on.
- Marvel Comics had Acts of Vengeance in the late 1980s, where Loki, who after all these years is still bitter for being responsible for The Avengers, has the world's top bad guys band together to pit heroes against villains they haven't faced before. Throughout the titles the heroes face their respective unfamiliar opponents off without any thoughts that a cabal had set up their confrontations, and there are no plot developments for the Cross Through except for a few incidents where certain members of the cabal gets dispatched or caught or just plain leave, just to explain why they're missing or where they are in the finale. As for said finale, it happened in just one regular-sized issue of Avengers West Coast where the title's heroes just declare out of the blue that Loki is the mastermind, let a captured collaborator make his escape so that they can follow him to Loki's hideout, attack said hideout (making the remaining collaborators flee and go back to their own regular businesses), and quickly dispatch Loki, all of these happenings serving just as an interlude between the set up and the cliffhanger for the title's next story-arc! Cross Through to the end!
- Night of the Owls, a Bat-family storyline launching just after the New 52. The idea is that a cadre of rich, influential people have been ruling Gotham ever since its creation. Batman draws their attention by stopping an assassination, finding them, beating their assassin, and escaping from their clutches. In response, they raise an army of quasi-immortal, near super-powered assassins to strike at Batman and everyone associated with him. Every single Bat-family book faces off against a different assassin during the event.
- In 2011, a hurricane storyline ran across Seth MacFarlane's three shows: The Cleveland Show, Family Guy and American Dad!. Each episode of the night featured its main cast trapped in their homes due to a violent hurricane. And the end of American Dad (the last show to air on the block) ended with the homes of all three casts having been ripped free by the hurricane and resulting flooding and dumped in the same place.
- Both the book and movie versions of Cloud Atlas use this as a primary narrative mechanic, slipping between six stories spanning at least four centuries (if not more!). It's especially interesting because each story is a different genre and, while all the protagonists might be connected, it's never made completely clear.
- A subtle version of this trope is employed by the Woody Woodpecker comics and "Gnuff" comics by Freddy Milton. Since the Gnuff stories (in America known primarily from the Critters anthology mag) were originally printed as backup comics for the Scandinavian Woody Woodpecker magazine, Milton would occasionally slip in hints that Woody and the Gnuffs lived in the same city, and though the main characters never met, plot threads would occasionally carry over from one comic to the other, hinting that the separate adventures took place at roughly the same time. The most obvious example, though, is the character J. P. Phrogg, an Affably Evil opportunist who debuted in Milton's Woody stories and would go on to appear in the Gnuff stories.
- On one Friday, The View, The Chew, and The Revolution had episodes focusing on dogs.
- On November 2, 2012, The Walt Disney Company and its assets responded to Hurricane Sandy by coordinating what may be the biggest Cross Through in TV history. They called November 5 a "Day of Giving". Good Morning America started it by dedicating the entire 8:00 a.m. hour to raising money for Sandy Relief efforts. ABC News anchors, reporters and employees all banded together to encourage people to donate to the American Red Cross. LIVE with Kelly and Michael then integrated "Day of Giving" messaging into their highly anticipated Halloween episode (which was delayed due to the impact of the storm). The View, The Chew, and Katie (the latter of which had dedicated its entire hour on Wednesday, October 31 to Hurricane Sandy) also discussed the Day of Giving, and encouraged donations. ABC-owned TV stations and local ABC affiliates integrated "Day of Giving" messaging into their local news throughout the day, calling on their local communities to help those impacted by the storm, as well as World News with Diane Sawyer and Nightline. Dancing with the Stars personalized sections of the live show that night by integrating stories of how Hurricane Sandy has impacted several of the dancers on the show, and Jimmy Kimmel Live, which had been airing from Brooklyn throughout week, encouraging viewers to give to The Red Cross to help rebuild impacted areas, included special messaging and calls to action for Kimmel's viewers. Meanwhile, ESPN ran public service announcements to engage viewers in Hurricane Sandy relief efforts throughout its programming, including coverage of The New York City Marathon note and Monday Night Football, and Disney Channel aired what were called "age-appropriate" messages of the same.
- NBC did a similar gimmick, though to a lesser extent than the Day of Giving, to raise money for the newly-resurrected Comic Relief USA's "Red Nose Day" telethon.
- Beginning in prog 1803, 2000 AD had a file containing the identities of all Wally Squad Judges at the centre of the Judge Dredd, The Simping Detective, and Low Life storylines. This culminated in prog 1812, which consisted of a single story featuring all three Judges.
- In 2012, Marvel Comics ran a ClanDestine story by Alan Davis through the Fantastic Four, Daredevil and Wolverine annuals.
- The New 52 storyline The Black Diamond Probability follows the Heart of Darkness (Eclipso's black Power Crystal) through Demon Knights, All-Star Western, Team 7 and Catwoman before concluding in Sword of Sorcery.
- Archie Comics' Sonic the Hedgehog had one interesting moment that closed out one book and started another. Near the end of the Scourge arc, Shadow the Hedgehog and Metal Sonic are part of the Mêlée à Trois for different reasons and, in the scuffle, disappear from the fight. The two show up in the Sonic X universe during its final issue, leaving everyone there shocked as Shadow had been thought dead in that universe. At the end of that issue, the two blink out again and reappear in the Sol Dimension in the first issue of Sonic Universe, which replaced Sonic X.
- One of the earliest examples is the DC Universe storyline collected in the "Zatanna's Search" trade paperback.
- "The Hooded Ones From The Streets" angle in 2007, where multi promotional Power Stable La Rabia invaded both WWC and IWA Puerto Rico at the same time. It was prevented from being an outright crossover when IWA vacated one of their title belts to keep them from taking it to a WWC event.
- Sammi Callihan's stalking of Daizee Haze in the International Wrestling Cartel ending up crossing through into Ring of Honor when Callihan planted a camera in the promotion's dojo where Haze and Delirious were working. This had no direct effect on ROH's shows but helped enhance Delirious and Haze's connection in the cartel.
- Outside of the occasional columns on its website, WWE prefers not to acknowledge the existence of any promotion they don't own the rights to, so when they used the facilities of say, 5th Avenue Entertainment and American Combat Wrestling in Florida for the purpose of their FCW revival, it's essentially this trope in play. ACW also has friendlier relations with Florida Underground Wrestling, Ring Warriors, the NWA and the WWN Live four(FIP, DG USA, EVOLVE, SHINE), though after the end of DG USA, WWN presence became more pronounced.
- River City Wrestling and The American Pro Wrestling Alliance technically housed members of TNA power stable Aces & Eights but as the group's primary goal was "takeover TNA", this was mostly incidental rather than some important development. There were some murmurings of visiting other chapters for recruitment on Impact but this had no noticeable effect on anyone else. Ring Warriors actually did mention Wes Brisco's Aces & Eights involvement, but didn't actually care beyond "hey look, he's on another TV show!".
- The threat of the Gentry is felt throughout The Multiversity books, which can still be enjoyed individually.
- The "Dawn of X" storyline in Mega Man, which involves the Mega Man (Classic) and Mega Man X characters dealing with the same threat in two different time periods (for the unaware, X is the future of Classic). Interaction between the two casts only happen in the Short Circuits segments.
- The theme of Original Sin was that of Dark Secrets being revealed, mostly ones that had been kept by the Watcher; so most tie-ins ignored the Watcher part and instead featured their heroes dealing with a secret related to them. The X-Men and Guardians of the Galaxy had no ties to the Watcher, as the secrets they coincidentally discovered at the same time came from other sources.