Shared Universe
aka: Shared World

http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/shared_universe.jpg

When The Verse is shaped by multiple creators writing independently, such as how many different comic book titles can be set in a collective continuity. This makes it easy to have a Crossover. In contrast, a single TV series with multiple writers is just the Verse with subcontractors. Likewise, when different continuities by the same author are tied together later by an Intercontinuity Crossover, that's Canon Welding.

As a rule, simply having a Crossover is not enough to qualify as a Shared Universe, as those tend to be standalone stories and have no further connections beyond that. Major events should be referenced across the different projects or characters are mentioned as having their own adventures somewhere else.

The nature of the Shared Universe — multiple independent creators creating one continuity — can easily lead to a Continuity Snarl if it lasts a long time and the different creators don't take care to keep things straight. If a Shared Universe starts relying too heavily on continuity, especially if it's obscure or too reliant on each work in the Verse, a Continuity Lock-Out may occur. When creators disagree on the direction the Verse should take, they may fight Armed with Canon. If some corners of the continuity are "off limits" to some characters to avoid theme-drift or plot derailing, then Superman Stays out of Gotham.

When they go back centuries, and even further and further, long before copyrights and trademarks, the Shared Universe turns into one or more actual mythologies. Compare with The Verse, Expanded Universe and Canon. Contrast with Shout-Out.


Examples:

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    Anime & Manga 

    Comic Books 

    Comic Strips 
  • Safe Havens and On The Fastrack, both comics done by Bill Holbrook, take place in the same universe and have on occasion crossed over with each other (the major point being Fastrack funding the mission to Mars Samantha of Safe Havens is planning). It's implied that Kevin & Kell is a parallel universe connected to their universe, but it's unlikely to be confirmed since K&K is under a different syndication, therefore little chance of a Crossover.
  • Little Orphan Annie and Dick Tracy, given how the Fully Absorbed Finale of the first was handled.

    Fan Works 

     Film — Animation 

    Film — Live-Action 

    Literature 
  • The Cthulhu Mythos is a famous and early example of this; professional fanfiction set in his world is not only published, but was also acknowledged and supported by Lovecraft before his death.
  • The Wild Cards Super Hero books were designed as Shared Universe Anthologies from the ground up.
  • Bordertown is a city between the "real world" and Faerie. It was originally created by Terri Windling, but Emma Bull, Will Shetterly, Charles de Lint and several other writers have written stories set there.
  • 1632 was originally to be a one-off novel, but due to favorable fan response went beyond that, later expanding into The Grantville Gazette, one of whose main goals is to give previously unknown authors a way to be published, and paid for their work at professional rates instead of less generous fanzine ones. Unlike with many anthologies, the contributions from other authors affect the "main" story line works. There are very few aspects that are truly forbidden to these authors, primarily those where it would interfere with the prerogatives of Eric Flint, the series creator.
  • Thieves' World was a dark fantasy Shared Universe created by Robert Asprin in the late 1970s. It had contributors like Poul Anderson, John Brunner and Marion Zimmer Bradley and generated 12 anthlogies of short stories, seven official novels and a bunch of roleplaying adaptations before writing stopped in 1989, with a short revival in the early 2000's. It preemptively dealt with Continuity Snarl with a preface framing story about an old timer talking to a new arrival in the city about how one should not believe everything in the stories one hears, as everyone spins the stories to fit their agendas, to make themselves sound more important in a good story, or less to blame in a bad one, and two people telling the same story may have wildly different variations.
  • The universe of the Bolo super-tanks, originally by Keith Laumer, has been shared by everyone from John Ringo to Mercedes Lackey.
  • The Russian Death Zone series is worked on by several known Russian sci-fi authors and is loosely based on the S.T.A.L.K.E.R. games. Unfortunately, this tends to create certain lapses in continuity. For example, in Andrei Livadny's novels, the Order is portrayed as a rational group that believes in the existence of an otherdimentional point known as the Node based purely on empirical evidence. In Roman Glushkov's books, they are fanatics spouting religious nonsense about the Holy Node before sacrificing themselves for the cause. It could be explained that these are different members of the Order interpreting their teachings, if they were not using the same characters.
    • Other major differences involve the very nature of the Zones. For example, in Livadny's novels, there is no plant or animal life in the Zones, as anything exposed to the scorgs gets "upgraded" (i.e. it becomes a weird mix of flesh and metal bearing little resemblance to the original). Rust by Aleksey Kalugin shows the Moscow Zone full of plant and, occasionally, animal life with only a few examples of bio-tech mixes. Kalugin's nanobots (the word "scorgs" is never mentioned) only care about consuming metal and reanimating machines.
  • The Liavek anthology series- stories by several different authors, set in and around the city of Liavek. Apparently the setting started out as a RPG invented by Will Shetterly for his writer's group, The Scribblies; they later fleshed out the setting and produced five volumes of short stories (and a few poems). Two of the authors, John M. Ford and Pamela Dean, later wrote more stories in the same universe.
  • The Midnight Rose collective, a group of British SF writers, published several shared-universe anthologies in the early 1990s, with settings including Temps (tongue-in-cheek superhero stories) and The Weerde (shape-shifting aliens are the source of all the world's myths and conspiracies). Contributors included Stephen Baxter, Neil Gaiman, Mary Gentle, David Langford, Kim Newman, and Charles Stross.
  • Merovingen Nights was an anthology series set on the planet Merovingen, in an islolated corner of C. J. Cherryh's Alliance/Union universe.
  • Heroes in Hell was an anthology series with a concept similar to Riverworld: all the dead wind up together in Hell, where they pick up where they left off when still alive.
  • The universe of the Malazan Book of the Fallen was jointly created by Steven Erikson and Ian Cameron Esselmont, and both authors have written their own novels for the setting. This setting is home to:
    • The Malazan Book of the Fallen: Erikson. The main ten-novel sequence comprised of three major Rotating Arcs that eventually converge into a central Myth Arc dealing with the Crippled God.
    • Tales From the Malazan Empire: Esselmont. Six loosely-connected novels that deal with events not part of the Book of the Fallen's major arcs, though they are very significant to the broader world and sometimes pick up lingering threads from the other series.
    • Bauchelain and Korbal Broach: Erikson. Series of novellas chronicling the misadventures of a pair of eccentric, homicidal necromancers and their put-upon manservant.
    • Kharkanas Trilogy: Erikson. Prequel in the Lost Age trilogy primarily dealing with the Tiste and the civil war that led them to become sundered into the Andii, Edur and Liosan peoples.
    • The Path to Ascendancy: Esselmont. Projected trilogy chronicling the early adventures of Kellanved and Dancer and how they would eventually come to found the Malazan Empire.
  • The '80s Magic in Ithkar anthologies were more of a shared setting; all the stories started with the setting of Ithkar Fair, detailed in the anthology prologues, but other than that each author's stories were free-standing, sharing no characters, events, or settings beyond those established in the prologues. Most notably, one story ended with the Fair being shut down due to plague; this was not reflected in any of the others.
  • The Spore Wiki Fiction Universe began life as a Spore fan fiction continuity but eventually separated itself. It's shared between multiple writers and is open to anyone willing to write for it.
  • Galactic Crucibles, which also originated as Spore fan fiction, is a shared Space Opera universe between numerous authors with a large focus on worldbuilding. Interestingly enough, it is implied to be part of the same multiverse as the Spore Wiki Fiction Universe.
  • As well as the The Infernal Devices prequel series, The Mortal Instruments is said to be set in the same universe as the Modern Faerie Tales by Holly Black. Val and Luis from Valiant are the homeless kids Clary sees in the first book and Simon listens to Stepping Razor, Ellen's band from Tithe.
  • The Ur-Example of a Shared Universe book is The Bible, although it is chiefly notable as an object lesson in the importance of having an editor.
  • The Kane Chronicles contains several hints that it takes place in the same world as Rick Riordan's other series, Percy Jackson and the Olympians. This doesn't effect either series much, mainly because each is subject to the other's Masquerade, but the crossover story The Son of Sobek implies that this is changing.
    • Our Norse hero is confirmed to be related to Annabeth.
  • Philip Jose Farmer's "Doc Savage" books have a number of other writers' fictional characters exist in the same continuum, using the device of a comet that struck a group of people leaving a party, resulting in their offspring becoming many famous characters from fiction. Since many of these creations were still covered by copyright at the time, one wonders how he got away with it!
  • As mentioned below in Multiple Media, the Dungeons & Dragons setting Forgotten Realms is notable for having over 70 novel series all set in the same world with minimal Continuity Snarl. The Other Wiki has a page
  • Stephen King is fairly notorious for this amongst fans of his work, with nearly all of his novels containing either major or minor references to each other and sharing the overall connection of The Dark Tower series. It's recently further expanded to include references to the works of his son Joe Hill.
  • Isaac's Universe is a shared setting created in the 1990s by Isaac Asimov, which resulted in two novels (Fossil by Hal Clement and Murder at the Galactic Writers' Society by Janet Asimov) and three volumes of short stories (edited by Martin H Greenberg and containing stories by Poul Anderson, David Brin, Hal Clement, George Alec Effinger, Karen Haber, Janet Kagan, Rebecca Ore, Robert Sheckley, Robert Silverberg, Allen Steele, Harry Turtledove, and Lawrence Watt-Evans).

    Live-Action TV 

    Multiple Media 

    Radio 

    Video Games 
  • Grand Theft Auto and Manhunt (both developed by Rockstar Games) take place within the same universe, as confirmed by overlapping references like place names, vehicles and fictional brands. Rockstar's Bully is also a possibility though there are not enough references that verify this. Although the HD series exists in a different universe than the Trilogy, both Carcer City and the Bullworth Academy were referenced in GTAV.
  • Portal shares a universe with Half-Life.
  • The Super Mario Bros. and Donkey Kong series exist in the same universe, by virtue of sharing a common first game. Additionally, due to first appearing in Super Mario World and Super Mario Land 2: 6 Golden Coins respectively, the Yoshi, Wario Land, and WarioWare series are also part of the expanded Super Mario universe.
  • Street Fighter, Final Fight, Saturday Night Slam Masters, Captain Commando and Rival Schools take place in the same universe.
    • A few Final Fight characters (namely Guy, Sodom, Rolento, and Cody) have appeared as fighters in the Street Fighter Alpha series, with stages and endings featuring cameos by other characters. Andore appears in Street Fighter III under the name of "Hugo" with Poison acting as his manager. Both, Guy and Cody returned in Super Street Fighter IV. Additionally, Chun-Li makes a cameo in Stage 1 of Final Fight 2, the portable versions of Alpha 3 features Maki from Final Fight 2 as an extra character (based upon her Capcom vs. SNK 2 incarnation), and Cammy is a secret challenger at the Fight Club in (the non-canon) Final Fight: Streetwise. (It's also believed by several fans that The Ghost, another pit fighter, is Joe due to their similar appearances and fighting styles.) Hugo and Rolento later returned in Ultra Street Fighter IV with Poison as a newcomer (all three being ported from Street Fighter X Tekken).
    • Haggar appeared in Slam Masters as a wrestler. The U.S. localization refers to him as the "former mayor of Metro City," although the original Japanese storyline actually places the games before Haggar was elected. A couple of Street Fighter characters have cameos in the Slam Masters series (such as Chun-Li, Honda, and Balrog) and the Slam Masters are referenced in Hugo's ending in 2nd Impact.
    • Captain Commando takes place in a futuristic version of Metro City. A sculpt of Mike Haggar is featured in the game as an bonus item, and Ginzu the Ninja is a future successor of Guy in the Bushin style of Ninjutsu.
    • In Rival Schools, Sakura has a cameo in the first game as an unlockable Guest Fighter while Hinata and Tiffany make background appearances in Street Fighter V. In addition it's implied that Ran may be related to Dan, both sharing the last name of Hibiki and the latter mentioning the existence of a younger sister.
    • There's also Akuma's appearance in Tekken 7
  • There's a few blink-and-you'll-miss-it examples from other Capcom series. In Dino Crisis, one can spot the Umbrella Corporation logo on several boxes found in-game. Light gun shooter Gaiden Game Dino Stalker also features Umbrella Easter Eggs in the form of the "Woman Drawing Water" statue seen in the Spencer Mansion's exhibition room and an abandoned Umbrella building, both seen in the fifth stage. The first game's setting, the Borginian Republic, is reused as a location in the Ace Attorney series (called the Republic of Borginia there). Furthermore, the dog that you can rescue from a bear trap early on in Resident Evil 4 is none other than Hewie from sister Survival Horror game Haunting Ground.
  • Koei's Warriors Orochi was made to confirm that its series Dynasty Warriors and Samurai Warriors take place in the same universe but the second trailer of Warriors Orochi 3 more or less confirms Koei's other games Warriors: Legends Of Troy and Bladestorm The Hundred Years War due to the presence of Achilles and Jeanne D'Arc. It also confirms that its business partner Tecmo's series Ninja Gaiden and Dead or Alive take place there due to the presence of Ryu Hayabusa, Ayane, Momiji and later Kasumi. Also, Naotora Ii makes an appearance in Dead Or Alive 5 Last Round..
  • The Ultima series features references to the Wing Commander series. In Ultima I there were spaceships that in Ultima VII: The Black Gate was explained to be the spaceship of the Kilrathi. As pointed out by Spoony here.
    • Origin seemed to be trying to establish this in all of their mid-90s games- in addition to the connections between Wing Commander and Ultima, the manual for Wing Commander Arena has, among other things, an advertisement for a No Remorse movie.
  • Dig Dug, Baraduke (or Alien Sector if you prefer), and Mr. Driller are set in the same world, by virtue of Taizo Hori and Toby "Kissy" Masuyo being the parents of Susumu, Ataru, and Taiyo Hori (the first of the three being The Hero of the Mr. Driller series) and the events of the first Dig Dug being referenced directly in Mr. Driller (the "Dig Dug incident").
    • Additionally, Pookas often show up in Pac-Man titles, hinting that they might possibly share a universe, although considering the number of elements that overlap in Namco games in general (the Special Flag from Rally-X showing up in several other games for instance), this might not be the case.
    • The United Galactic Space Force links thirty games into the same universe, known as the UGSF Series.
  • EVE Online and the FPS DUST 514 are part of the same universe... literally. Players can accept contracts and do missions for the player-run companies of EVE Online, and even form their own corporations that EVE Online players are able to join.
  • The Dead or Alive and Ninja Gaiden series both take place in the same universe, complete with having characters originating in one becoming plot-integral in the other. Of course, characters will change looks to match the art style of the respective games.
  • The presence of both Seath the Scaleless and Patches the Hyena seem to indicate that Dark Souls shares the same world and universe as the King's Field series and Demon's Souls. With Patches returning as Patches the Spider, Bloodborne seems to be connected as well.
  • Brřderbund Software tried to work the Bungeling Empire into most of its early 1980s action games. Choplifter! and Lode Runner had it All There in the Manual; Raid on Bungeling Bay had it in the title but wasn't really a sequel to anything.
  • Space Harrier is set in the Fantasy Zone; several Fantasy Zone games reference it to various degrees. The culmination of this was the unreleased crossover game Space Fantasy Zone.
  • Marathon takes place in the same universe as Pathways into Darkness, and possibly Halo. There is even a terminal in the first Marathon game (which is a historical record) that talks about the events of Pathways.
  • The entire premise of the Reality-On-The-Norm project. It is a shared universe set around the eponymous City of Adventure.
  • The Tom Clancy series games (Splinter Cell, Ghost Recon, and H.A.W.X.) share a single universe, and often have crossover cameos with each other.
    • This is particular apparent between the Ghost Recon and H.A.W.X. games - multiple missions in the latter have the player supporting Ghost teams, and (plot inconsistencies aside due to them coming out two years apart) Future Soldier depicts the same conflict as in H.A.W.X. 2. There's also Ghost Recon 2's plot kicking off from the sinking of the USS Clarence E. Walsh, an event depicted about halfway through Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory, and both Future Soldier and H.A.W.X. 2 mention Voron, the Russian equivalent of Third Echelon from Conviction.
    • Rainbow Six, the original Tom Clancy game, may also be part of the shared universe - Vegas 2 has one mission in which you receive support from an "NSA Agent" who dresses very similarly to Sam Fisher.
  • This easter egg from Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag heavily suggests that Assassin's Creed and Watch_Dogs share a universe. Considering that ACIV's MacGuffin would be of tremendous use in Watch_Dogs, this is unsurprising.
    • Oliver Garneau from Black Flag's Frame Narrative leaves for Chicago (Where Watch_Dogs is set) during the game. In Watch_Dogs, Aiden kills him as part of an optional side mission under mysterious orders from "The Brotherhood". There are also several references to Abstergo Industries, and, at one point, a child can be found playing Assassin's Creed III: Liberation, which is a video game produced by Abstergo Entertainment in-universe.
    • Far Cry is in on the action, too. One mission in Far Cry 3, which discusses "strange scientists" and "genetic memories", takes you to an abandoned Abstergo laboratory. Far Cry 2 is definitely set in the same universe as its sequel, but whether the original or the fourth entry are still in the universe is yet to be seen.
      • It seems likely, considering a number of Continuity Nods and Mythology Gags referencing the previous games in Far Cry 4, including a few returning characters.
    • Rayman and Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon are also video games in-universe, presumably by Abstergo Entertainment.
  • Mega Man (Classic), X, Zero, ZX, and Legends, all on the same timeline despite the tone reaching further and further away from the original series with each new series.
  • According to a 1982 issue of Electronic Games magazine, Robotron 2084 takes place in the same universe as Defender and Stargate (aka Defender II). The hardly released Blaster is a sequel to Robotron.
  • Harvest Moon has a vague continuity, not helped by the amount of reusing the same characters. It has been proven that some games share a universe though:
  • Downfall and The Cat Lady share a universe. The 2016 remake of Downfall make this even more obvious, having The Cat Lady herself, Susan Ashworth, show up at the end. This indicates that Downfall takes place sometime after the events in The Cat Lady.
  • Although it's a crossover game, Namco × Capcom is a special case. The game itself has a world with the settings and characters of several contemporary Namco(Tekken, Wonder Momo, .Hack, etc...), Capcom(Street Fighter, Resident Evil, Dead Rising, etc...), and as Project X Zone shows up, even Sega(Fighting Vipers, Dynamite Cop, etc...) properties co-existing, and implies that Xenosaga is it's future. Crossover shenanigans involve other universes, then the main characters from the game (and Xenosaga) appeared in the Endless Frontier games, which is a side-realm of the Super Robot Wars Original Generation universe. This came back when characters from the Frontier and OG universes appeared in Project X Zone, then went back to Super Robot Wars OG: The Moon Dwellers discussing their appearance in the previous game.
  • BioShock, which has ties to Gone Home, with one of the SNES game cartridges you can find in Sam's room is Super Spitfire, which references a minigame called Spitfire in Bioshock 2: Minerva's Den, which the developers of Gone Home previously worked on, and from there to Firewatch, with one of the novels you can find in the caches being a copy of The Accidental Savior, the novel written by the protagonist's father in Gone Home. Also implied by this interview with Fullbright co-founder Steve Gaynor.
    Steve Gaynor has previously stated that the developer "very lightly implies" that Gone Home takes place in the same reality as BioShock. Gaynor's team has also inserted a small reference to Firewatch into the console version of its game.

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    Web Original 

    Western Animation 


Alternative Title(s): Shared World

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/SharedUniverse?from=Main.SharedWorld