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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 and Crossover.

The trope's name was coined by comic writer John Jackson Miller for Star Wars: Vector, which is an example.

Compare the Crisis Crossover and the Red Skies Crossover.


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    Audio Plays 
  • Doctor Who:
    • 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 Dawns); the Sixth in a Steampunk and spiritualism period (Excelis Rising) 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 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.)

    DC Comics 
  • One of the earliest examples is The DCU Zatanna origin storyline collected in the Zatanna's Search trade paperback, told through Hawkman (Vol 1) #4, The Atom (Vol 1) #19, Green Lantern (Vol 2) #42 and Detective Comics (Vol 1) #355.
  • DC's 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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, and even All-Star Western had Jonah Hex encounter the Court to tie-in to the event.
  • 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 targeted seven-member enemy teams; if the heroes were to succeed they couldn't meet each other.
  • The threat of the Gentry is felt throughout The Multiversity books, which can still be enjoyed individually.
  • The Final Days of Superman was told through Action Comics Vol 2, Superman Vol 3, Batman/Superman Vol 1 and Superman/Wonder Woman. The latter two can still be enjoyed as "Superman's last adventure with these characters" stories and don't really advance the plot of the crossover aside from Superman keeping his friends apprised of the situation.

    Marvel Comics 
  • The Fall of the Mutants storyline in the X-Men comics of 1987. 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.
  • During the period Steve Rogers rebranded as “The Captain”, he made an appearance in the Iron Man storyline Armor Wars, wherein he requests a new shield from Tony, and later gets into a fight with Iron Man that results in a prison breakout. The next two issues of his own book had Cap dealing with the escapees and getting into another fight with Tony, that ended with him returning the new shield.
  • The following year, there was Inferno (1988), where the demons Sym and N'astirh bring Hell on Earth. While this was a X-books crossover, numerous other titles were involved in the "fighting the evil forces of Hell" bit.
  • Acts of Vengeance in 1989-90, where Loki, who after all these years is still bitter for being responsible for the creation of The Avengers, has the world's top bad guys band together to pit heroes against villains they haven't faced before. In almost every title published at the time, the heroes face their respective unfamiliar opponents off without any thought that a cabal had set up their confrontations, and there are no plot developments for the Cross Through except for certain members of the cabal getting dispatched or caught or just plain leaving, just to explain why they're missing or where they are in the finale. Said finale happened in just one regular-sized issue of Avengers West Coast where Thor just declares out of the blue that Loki is the mastermind. The Avengers let a captured cabal member make his escape so the two teams can follow him to Loki's hideout, make their attack (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 setup and the cliffhanger for the title's next story-arc! Cross Through to the end!
  • In 2012, Marvel ran a ClanDestine story by Alan Davis through the Fantastic Four, Daredevil and Wolverine annuals.
  • The theme of Original Sin was that of Dark Secrets being revealed to every major hero, mostly ones that had been kept by the Watcher; so most tie-ins ignored the Watcher part and instead featured their heroes dealing with their secret. The X-Men and the Guardians of the Galaxy had no ties to the Watcher, as the secrets they coincidentally discovered at the same time came from other sources.
  • One issue of the The Avengers storyline The Celestial Madonna Saga is given over to the original Thanos storyline from Captain Marvel, and Captain America's then-current storylines, also written by Engelhart, affect his status quo in this story.

    Comic Books 


    Film ― Live Action 

  • 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.
  • Kim Newman's Diogenes Club universe has several separate sub-series, following different teams of occult detectives in the 1890s, 1920s, 1970s, and 1990s. Seven Stars is a series of short stories in which they each in turn encounter the same Artifact of Doom, capped with a story set 20 years in the future and starring the son of the 1990s heroine, Sally Rhodes.
  • 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.
  • 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.
    • 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).
  • The Star Wars books Legacy of the Jedi and Secrets of the Jedi are 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.

    Live-Action TV 
  • The Defenders (2017) has its own interconnected storylines.
    • The most prominent being Claire Temple, who has gone between all the involved shows.
    • The main villains of The Defenders are The Hand, which started as background villains in season 1 of Daredevil (2015), then become more fleshed out in season 2 of Daredevil and season 1 of Iron Fist (2017).
    • Karen Page is an up and coming case, having started out in Daredevil and also having a recurring role in The Defenders and a recurring role in The Punisher (2017) in between the second and third seasons of Daredevil.
    • Jeri Hogarth is a main cast member in season 1 of Jessica Jones (2015), which is followed by a cameo in the season 2 finale of Daredevil and then a small role in season 1 of Iron Fist.
    • Benjamin Donovan crosses back and forth between Daredevil and Luke Cage (2016), functioning in the former as a consigliere to Wilson Fisk, and in the latter show is doing the same for Mariah Dillard.
    • Rosalie Carbone makes her debut in Luke Cage season 2, and then crosses over to Daredevil season 3.
  • 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.
  • Disney Channel did one of this in regards to their sitcoms: the main characters of Cory in the House, The Suite Life of Zack & 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).
  • NBC did this with The Golden Girls, Empty Nest, and Nurses (1991) twice in the same year.
    • First and most famously, was "Hurricane Saturday", wherein all three shows were affected by the same hurricane. Actually, it was more like two hurricanes. Hurricane Gil was the first one, and it only affected The Golden Girls. At the beginning of the Empty Nest episode, it was mentioned on the news that Hurricane Gil had passed, only to be instantly replaced by Hurricane Heidi, which took over for the rest of the cross through.
    • A mere eleven episodes later that same year, all three shows came together for yet another cross through. This time, it was "Moon Over Miami", wherein all three shows were affected by a full moon, which was reported to have caused weird strange phenomena and weird behavior in people, such as werewolves, rising ocean tides, and people acting out of character.
  • On November 3, 1994, NBC did another one entitled "Blackout Thursday", this time incorporating Mad About You, Friends, and Madman of the Peoplenote . It started with Mad About You's Jamie Buchanan accidentally causing a blackout affecting the whole of New York, with the subsequent Friends and Madman of the People episodes taking place during that same blackout.
  • CBS did a four-episode story arc on February 26, 1996, crossing over between their four sitcoms airing that night - The Nanny (episode: "Where's the Pearls?"), Can't Hurry Love (episode: "The Elizabeth Taylor Episode" / "Liz Taylor Show"), Murphy Brown (episode: "Trick or Retreat") and High Society (episode: "The Family Jewels"), all revolving around Elizabeth Taylor as she was promoting her new "Black Pearls" perfume while wearing a $300,000 string of actual black pearls, which Fran Fine accidentally lost in the first episode. The search lasted the rest of the night, ending when they were found in the fourth episode.
  • A year after the CBS example, ABC did the same with a "Viva Las Vegas" in February 1997, with characters from Coach, The Drew Carey Show, Ellen, and Grace Under Fire all going to Las Vegas at the same time and meeting up with each other in a series of cameos.
  • During Port Charles run (1997-2003), the Nurses Ball would start on PC, then pick up on General Hospital (PC's parent show) and vice versa. Although this was a problem for markets that aired PC after GH or didn't air it at all.
  • From 2020 to 2022, the Arrowverse has John Diggle popping up in episodes of The Flash, Supergirl, and Batwoman as he tries to decide what to do with the Mysterious Glowing Box he received in the Arrow finale.

    Mixed Media 
  • 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.
    • ABC tried something similar after hurricane Harvey hit Houston in 2017, but it was less extensive. The branding didn't touch Disney Channel or ESPN, and some of the network's more popular shows were on summer hiatus.
    • 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.
  • On one Friday, The View, The Chew, and The Revolution had episodes focusing on dogs.
  • ABC had a more proper example on November 9, 2017 with the "Day of Grey's", an event promoting the 300th episode of Grey's Anatomy. Throughout the day, Dr. Grey herself, Ellen Pompeo, appeared on Good Morning America, then went over to Live with Kelly and Ryan, then The View and The Chew. After the episode itself aired, Nightline ran an extensive feature on Grey's.

    Professional Wrestling 
  • "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.
  • Sami 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 And 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!".

    Web Video 
  • Several of the Dungeons & Dragons shows produced by Wizards of the Coast — specifically Acquisitions Incorporated (both the main series and the "C" Team spinoff), Dice, Camera, Action! and Force Grey — share a continuity and impact one another.
    • Season 10 of Acquisitions Incorporated and Force Grey: Giant Hunters are both set during the Storm King's Thunder storyline, and cumulatively deal the teams trying to prevent Auspicia Dran of Dran Enterprises from assembling the Rod of Seven Parts. The climax of both shows take place in Count Stratovan's cloud castle, albeit at different times.note 
    • Drizzt Do'urden, and Chris Perkins' rather unique characterisation of him, appears in both Acquisitions Incorporated and Dice, Camera, Action!. In the latter appearance, he still hasn't forgiven Acq Inc for losing his animal companion.
    • Strix, one of the main characters in Dice, Camera, Action!, has become a recurring party member in Acquisitions Incorporated. However, as of yet neither series' storylines are related to one another.

    Western Animation