When a comic slaps a big, visible "Crisis Crossover" logo on the cover, but has only 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. In some cases, the extent of the crossover is as nothing more than a Continuity Nod.
The name's taken from the original Crisis Crossover, Crisis on Infinite Earths. Almost every comic in The DCU was involved, but in many cases, the "involvement" was just characters looking up and wondering why the skies were red before moving on with whatever they were actually doing.
Since then, most Crisis Crossovers have had at least a few. For example, in Infinite Crisis, a squad of blue cyborgs would rampage through a few panels and then fly off, leaving the characters (and the reader) wondering what the heck that was before going on with the story.
This, generally, is good for the book it appears in, getting it the extra readers from the crossover without having to derail its storyline because of it, but bad for the crossover overall, through dilution of the brand.
In the television world, this is sometimes referred to as a crossover theme night.
- Since Tsubasa -RESERVoir CHRoNiCLE- and ×××HOLiC's stories are somehow running in parallel, and occasionally interconnect with each other, it is no surprise that during both of the movies, there is a scene where the characters from TRC are talking to Yuuko via cute-little-magical-pet. However, the scene only has relevance to the TRC movie plot. For people watching the XxxHOLiC movie, it's just an irrelevant scene.
- In the original Inferno crossover, one of the first that Marvel Comics did involving all series in their universe, most crossover issues not directly connected to the X-titles featured minor content at best, or at worst, totally contradictory writing to the actual central story. One of the more significant tie-ins not directly related to the main story was in The Avengers, as the team had just dissolved in #297. Issue #298 gave us an entire issue of Edwin Jarvis fighting off demonic creatures in Manhattan, and issues #299-300 dealt with a new team being formed to rescue Franklin Richards from N'astirh. It seems odd that once they got Franklin back, the new Avengers didn't do anything further to fight the demons, though their priority was to get Franklin home, and Reed and Sue were living on Long Island at the time (as they'd retired from the Fantastic Four at the time), so it's at least possible that by the time the team got back to Manhattan, the X-Men and X-Factor had already wrapped things up. Oddly enough, Excalibur, despite having a main Inferno header on its tie-in issue covers (unlike Avengers which had a corner tab indicating its lesser tie-in status), didn't have any impact on the main story, and only served to strand the team in New York for a bit with Captain Britain's suit trashed.
- Averted when the Casket of Ancient Winters was opened during The Surtur Saga in The Mighty Thor, many other Marvel titles were smacked with impossible blizzards on top of what they are dealing with at the time. Usually, the characters had little or no knowledge of what exactly was going on in Thor, but on the other hand, none of them were bannered as crossovers - it was just a nod for people reading Thor.
- Subverted during The O.M.A.C. Project, a mini-Crisis Crossover that helped set the stage for Infinite Crisis. One of the key plot points for both crossovers — Wonder Woman killing Max Lord to break his mind control over Superman — took place in Wonder Woman's own title. Despite DC hyping the issue, most believed that it would merely be a Red Skies Crossover. Instead, the only reference to the event during the main Mini Series was an incomplete flashback. Readers truly did need to read Wonder Woman to get the full story, which annoyed many fans. The Wonder Woman issue in question was included in the trade paperback collection of The O.M.A.C. Project, as well as DC's Countdown to Infinite Crisis one-shot.
- Infinite Crisis had many tie-in issues in which either an O.M.A.C. appeared out of nowhere to fight the main character or a few pages were devoted to The Spectre destroying something.
- Acts of Vengeance was a Crossover where Marvel heroes were facing assaults on their lives by villains usually associated with heroes other than themselves. The true storyline was occurring in The Avengers, the heroes there being the primary targets of Loki. The only real lasting consequence of the crossover was that the Mandarin was involved in Psylocke being turned into an Asian assassin. There were moments such as Spider-Man receiving the Captain Universe powers, and Magneto burying the Red Skull alive, but little else of consequence.
- Cable & Deadpool did a really small Crossover with House of M that lasted one issue (they were conveniently out of the universe during most of it). It was so small that if you go back and read the trade you probably won't even realize it was part of House of M.
- There was an event where a Predator took on characters from Dark Horse's Comics' Greatest World line. Apparently the writers of Ghost didn't really want to spend much time with this, so they just included a couple panels with a Predator jumping out, after which the heroine phased her gun through its face plate and fired, killing it instantly. She then simply returned to her own plotline with no further thought given to the strange alien.
- Lampshaded during DC's Joker's Last Laugh storyline, where The Joker, after "jokerizing" most of the worlds villains and cutting them loose on the planet, begins complaining that the sky is perfectly clear and normal, and that he's going to have to "kick it up a notch" in order to achieve the desired sky effect. The crossover also had some traditional Red Skies Crossovers. Pretty much the only tie-ins that were actually important to the main story were written by Last Laugh writer Chuck Dixon (Nightwing, Robin, Birds of Prey, JLA). Most of the other tie-ins were simply "Jokerized villain goes off to tangle with the hero of whatever book this is".
- While Final Crisis: Rage of the Red Lanterns was important to the next crossover, Blackest Night, it didn't have a damn thing to do with Final Crisis.
- Final Crisis: Legion of 3 Worlds is also totally unrelated to Final Crisis. For one thing, almost all of the story takes place a thousand years after the crisis. While a few lines are thrown in to make characters aware of the event, to them it's literally ancient history, and not terribly relevant to them. Indeed, the story originally was meant to be a stand-alone, only labeled a crossover at the last minute to increase sales.
- Blackest Night spread out over nearly every corner of the DC Universe, including a number of Red Skies Crossovers:
- The final issue of the Solomon Grundy miniseries carried a Blackest Night banner, but the alleged crossover only occurred on the last page.
- Between Blackest Night #6 and #7, fully twenty-seven books tied in to it. While the characters did usually spend most of the issue (or more than one) fighting heroes, villains and/or supporting cast members who had come back from the dead, very few of the stories overlapped with the main storyline in any meaningful way.
- The Avengers Disassembled event was a really blatant example — Marvel stuck the "Disassembled" banner on every title they possibly could. The biggest stretches were Spider-Man (Captain America happens to appear) and Fantastic Four (the Avengers are busy and can't help with the problem), but even important Avengers like Cap and Iron Man had only-barely-related stories in their solo books.
- All the original Secret Wars (1984) crossovers simply consisted of a few panels of the character disappearing and reappearing from the miniseries, because the pattern for how to tie a crossover series into a character's own book hadn't been set yet.
- For the Onslaught crossover, the titles displaying the Crossover's logo were separated into two types, with directly affected titles branded "Onslaught: Phase (1, 2, or 3, depending on the month)" while the more Red Sky types were billed as "Onslaught: Impact (1, 2, 3)". Most of the "Impact" issues featured the heroes facing Onslaught-controlled Sentinels. Unfortunately, even that was too much for poor old Spider-Man, who was in the middle of a Continuity Snarl of his own. Two of his "Impact" issues don't even feature sentinels, being a by-the-books Scorpion story, and flashback to an early relationship that was never mentioned before or since.
- Averted following DC Comics' Legends series as a direct reaction to criticism of the Red Skies Crossovers in Crisis on Infinite Earths. Several books spun directly from the events of Legends, but Justice League, and Suicide Squad purposely avoided labels like "From the Pages of Legends".
- Inverted with DC Comics' Crisis Crossover Genesis, to the point where the "main" series in the crossover was incomprehensible due to major elements occurring in other books. The bulk of the actual storyline was in New Gods and Wonder Woman, but with Genesis itself referring to major events only in editor's notes.
- Marvel's Maximum Security was similar, but the main mini-series was just gappy instead of incomprehensible.
- Some series did refer to Genesis in a way that played this straight. In Starman the heroes' powers suddenly and fail at a pivotal moment for reasons not explained in the series itself.
- Subverted three times in Hitman during the Cataclysm, DC One Million, and Final Night events.
- Lampshaded during Cataclysm, as Gotham's massive earthquake occurred during a story arc in Hitman. The main characters woke up one morning and realized their hometown of Gotham City had been leveled and cut off from the rest of the country. For the rest of the event's duration, the cast was either living in the ruins of Gotham or had conveniently escaped it for the duration of the arc.
- The crossover with DC One Million satirized the entire crossover concept, which held that every ongoing series at the time had an influence on the DC Universe over 800 centuries later. Including Hitman, a series about a small-time thug with low-level super powers. In the Hitman crossover, Tommy is brought to the future by fanboys. He roundly insults them all for wasting their time and ability on bothering with him. He also has time to hilariously kill Gunfire, a fellow creation from the Dork Age crossover Bloodlines.
- The Final Night crossover followed an exceptionally depressing arc for Tommy. And then the sun went out. The tie-in involved Tommy and his friends brooding over how this might be the Crisis Crossover that finally kills them all, and discussed their closest brushes with death.
- Many Brightest Day tie-ins were Red Skies Crossovers. Titans and Birds of Prey featured resurrected characters in their casts, but otherwise had little to do with the overall storyline. Green Lantern Corps had nothing to do with Brightest Day outside of dealing with a small amount of Blackest Night fallout, despite the banner, and Green Lantern: Emerald Warriors was launched as a Brightest Day title, but had only an offhand reference to Guy Gardner's breakup with Ice to justify it.
- Eclipse Comics, to celebrate their tenth anniversary, had a mega-crossover called Total Eclipse. It involved, among other things, a total eclipse occurring in every title they published. Some of the tie-ins involved that eclipse alone.
- At first the Green Lantern Zero Hour! crossover issue seemed to be one, with the whole comic dealing with Kyle Rayner's recent tragedy and his first meeting with the Golden Age Green Lantern Alan Scott who gives him a primer about the Green Lantern legacy and about the Silver Age Green Lantern Hal Jordan, who at that time has recently gone crazy, has destroyed the whole Green Lantern Corps, and has disappeared. Alan then informs Kyle that he may be called in to help stop Hal the next time he shows up. It seemed that the only connection to the crossover was the last page where Superman and Metron arrive seeking his help. But later on, it apparently can be regarded as a subversion of this trope when it is revealed near the end that Hal Jordan himself is the Big Bad of the Crisis event, and since the Green Lantern issue is the only comic in the crossover that has really brought him up before The Reveal.
- Not a Crisis crossover, but a crossover nonetheless: in the second House of Mystery annual, there's a series of Vertigo Comics short stories linked by the presence of the same ghoulish trick-or-treaters. While the rest actually feature them, the Hellblazer story merely has John Constantine walk by them at the beginning, going into a plot that has nothing to do with them.
- Invincible Iron Man #503 was branded as a Fear Itself tie-in but only had Fear Itself-related content at the end. Most of the book wrapped up the story that had been running at that point.
- Deadpool's own tie-in also only had a plot marginally related to the overarching story, in which he tried to cash in on it all by decorating an ordinary sledgehammer to make it look like one of those that fell from the sky and dropping it in front of lame Spider-Man foe The Walrus, just so 'Pool can beat him up later and grab the glory for himself. The worldwide calamity caused by the Worthy is completely sidelined for three issues (the only thing that happens is Kuurth - Juggernaut - breaking through a house in the first issue, for a grand total of one page), and Deadpool did his plot-relevant stuff in the X-Force tie-ins published at the same time.
- Robin #52 is labelled as Part 7 of the "Cataclysm" crossover on the cover, but most of it is the conclusion to a totally unrelated story arc; it only ties into "Cataclysm" at the end for a grand total of 5 panels. Even the crossover's paperback collection only included the last four pages. However, issue #53 is much more integral.
- New 52: In Suicide Squad #6, there is a one panel tie-in with Stormwatch #6 where Amanda Waller is looking at a TV screen and stating that the sky is falling.
- Ultimate Spider-Man #129 was labeled as an Ultimatum tie-in, even though the story had nothing to do with it. The only panels which "tied in" with Ultimatum were the final ones, where it started raining (the weather event which preceded the tidal wave which hit New York).
- The first issue of the Cataclysm: Ultimate Spider-Man mini-series tie-in for the event Cataclysm followed the story of Ultimate Comics Spider-Man instead, and tied in with Cataclysm only in the two final pages, a double spread of Galactus arriving to New Jersey.
- Most of the Original Sin tie-ins were actually related to at least one major plot element (the explosion of one of the Watcher's eyes unleashing a wave of secrets across New York), but the tie-ins for Guardians of the Galaxy and Uncanny X-Men were completely unrelated. Both stories did gel with the central theme of secrets being revealed, but neither one had any ties to the Watcher or the conspiracy involving Nick Fury.
- Doctor Strange's second battle with Shuma-Gorath caused destruction throughout the universe and many dimensions, which was referenced vaguely in a few other ongoing comics at the time, such as Fantastic Four.
- Marvel's Realm of Kings event involved all ongoing cosmic series, as well as three miniseries. The idea of the event was to show how the major cosmic players of the Marvel Universe dealt with the main Plot Device (a fault in time and space caused by the events of War of Kings). However, Realm of Kings: Son of Hulk focused solely on the title character's own story and only showed the fault on the last three pages of the final issue. Other than those pages, it had absolutely no connection to the main story.
- Around the time of the "Funeral for a Friend" portion of The Death of Superman, including the lead-up to Knightfall, many of DC's heroes were wearing armbands in memory of Superman.
- The Micronauts (IDW) and ROM (IDW) tie-ins to First Strike, while important to setting up Rom and the Micronauts, didn't have a single damn thing relating to First Strike's Transformer genocide storyline beyond taking place during the same timespan; the sole thing even remotely resembling a tie-in is the Micronauts stating that the Dire Wraiths have more unopposed leeway to execute their evil plans on Earth because every other major player on Earth has high stakes in play off-world on Cybertron.
- International Iron Man #4 was labelled as a Civil War II tie-in. The only connection to the event in the entire issue was a news broadcast in the background of a flashback scene reporting on the events of the first half of Civil War II #1.
- Transformers: More than Meets the Eye and The Transformers: Unicron has an interesting example. Neither book crosses with the other, though characters note that The Stars Are Going Out across the universe. Events in both storylines are separately contributing to this and both sides remain oblivious to each other.
- The second Story Arc of The Pulse has Jessica Jones and Luke Cage get caught in the crossfire of the Secret War series. Little about it is explained (and what explanation we do get comes from a Hydra officer), as the couple are far too busy just trying to survive the week.
- Many Ask a Pony blogs recognized the climax of Ask King Sombra by having their protagonists look to the north and see the pillar of light from the climax.
- Examples from the Marvel Cinematic Universe:
- In Iron Man 2, we see news footage of the Hulk's university fight from The Incredible Hulk on a monitor. In the same movie, Nick Fury mentions a strange event in the Southwest and later, Agent Coulson mentions having to go to New Mexico for a mission. The Stinger reveals Coulson coming upon the hammer from Thor.
- In Ant-Man and the Wasp, a mid-credits scene shows Scott in the Quantum Realm harvesting energy. Meanwhile, in his home dimension, the Pym family suddenly disintegrates (thus rendering the whole movie a case of Shoot the Shaggy Dog). Those who have seen Avengers: Infinity War would recognize what just happened.
- Star Trek: Insurrection took place while the Dominion War was in full swing on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, but very deliberately kept the war offscreen and only referenced it in dialogue a few times usually about how the war is straining the Federation's resources and ability to keep its allies together. Picard grumbles about the Enterprise being stuck on diplomatic duties, and villain Ru'afo references the war as being evidence that the Federation is old and dying; also, the Son'a are said to produce Ketracel White, a drug essential to Dominion soldiers. Screenwriter Michael Piller explained that he didn't want to alienate audience members who didn't watch the show. Another reason was that some countries still hadn't caught up to where Star Trek: Deep Space Nine was in the US and Canada, so hence they kept references small to prevent major spoilers.
- ABC heavily promoted an episode of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. as being a tie-in with the then recently-released Thor: The Dark World. It consisted of a single scene at the beginning of the episode where the team clean up debris from the film's climactic fight before moving on to a wholly unrelated plot (albeit one that ties into general Asgardian mythology). Averted by other episodes that dealt with movie events; the Captain America: The Winter Soldier tie-in did in fact have major ramifications on the series, while Avengers: Age of Ultron and Captain America: Civil War each had some effects on the plot but the episodes also weren't advertised as major tie-ins to begin with.
- The CW proudly advertised a crossover between every show across the entire week as part of the "Invasion" Arc. Supergirl however, being set on a different Earth from the other shows, was an entirely normal episode with Barry Allen only appearing at the end to recruit her. She did go on to play a large role in the crossover, but her show was barely involved.
- The Elseworlds (2018) crossover heavily involved the casts of Arrow, Flash, and Supergirl, but no one from Legends of Tomorrow was even mentioned. In the Legends solo episode, we find out that everyone else did call them for help, but the Legends blew them off because a time travel mishap had turned them all into jerks. At the end of the season, this gets referenced again when the Legends dress up as Supergirl, Green Arrow, and the Flash to advertise a theme park that will save the world.
Zari: Uh, guys, I-I feel like that would've worked a little bit better with the real Trinity...
Sara: Yeah, well, I asked, and they said [pointedly turns to Nate] "Hard pass."
Nate: [resigned] We should've done the crossover.
- And then we get the big one, Crisis on Infinite Earths (2019), which runs through all five major series — Arrow, Flash, Supergirl, Legends of Tomorrow and the brand new Batwoman (2019), drags in Black Lightning (due to that show being filmed in Atlanta, only Jefferson appears elsewhere during the crossover) and drags in just about every possible television series and movie it can possibly fit in, up to and including Batman (1966).
Earth-66 Dick Grayson: Holy Crimson Skies of Death!
- Speaking of Crisis, while the Legends were involved, they had a noticeably smaller impact than the rest of the cast. Sara and Ray were main characters throughout the crossover, but Sara mentions that she promised the rest of the crew "no more crossovers." A version of Rory from another universe shows up, but the main Rory, Ava, and Nate don't show up until the last episode, which is officially a Legends episode. Constantine, Charlie, and other Legends characters don't show up at all. Nate and Ava in particular are annoyed that the other teams kidnapped their captain.
Nate: This is a classic crossover move. We tell 'em we're too busy, they commit a felony.
Ava: [nods in annoyed agreement]
- And as far as the non CW properties themselves, the majority of their appearances are single scenes at best, typically a quick cameo of them reacting to the Multiversal disaster (which much like the comic event that named the trope is the skies turning red) without any interaction with other universe characters. Smallville's Clark Kent does share the scene with others in his single scene, albeit a several minute long one but the only characters that have an extended appearance are classic Superman (played by Brandon Routh who was already a regular in crossover as Legend's Ray Palmer) and Earth-99's Bruce Wayne (played by animated series's VA Kevin Conroy in a live appearance) who are both the major focus of the 2nd episode and Superman also appears in the 3rd.
- Buffy and Angel both cameoed in each other's season premieres. ...kind of. In "City of...", a despondent Angel calls someone, then hangs up as soon as she answers. She doesn't identify herself, but it's Sarah Michelle Gellar on the other end. Buffy's side of the call is shown in "The Freshman".
- In Buffy's last season, The First dispatches her people (The Bringers) across the globe to eradicate the entire Slayer line. By "Salvage", Faith was cooling off in prison for a few years, but after an attempt on her life by a bribed inmate (a very rare Buffy/Angel crossover in the final years) she manages to break free. You wouldn't think it anything but a common jailhouse shanking, if not for the lingering shot of a Bringer knife.
- A shooting star passed through the Stewart family house on Hannah Montana, the Tipton Hotel on The Suite Life of Zack and Cody, and the White House on Cory in the House.
- On one night, NBC attempted a Cross Through of its Thursday sitcoms with "Blackout Thursday". Mad About You, the first sitcom of the night, featured the characters causing a citywide blackout by trying to get free cable TV. The following episodes of Friends and Madman Of The People, also featured the characters dealing with a New York blackout. While the characters didn't explicitly cross over, it was implied that they shared the same universe.note Seinfeld was the only missing link in the Cross Through chain. The script for that week had already been written before the idea was announced, and the Seinfeld writers refused to change it to include a blackout.
- Star Trek: Voyager: When the holographic Doctor from Voyager was transferred to a ship in the Alpha Quadrant (which was empty), he activated the ship's own hologram. The EMH2 mentioned that the ship was engaged in a conflict of the Dominion War, and the Romulans were refusing to help. "The what?"
- Syfy decided to establish a Shared Universe for Eureka, Warehouse 13 and Alphas. Nothing noteworthy was ever done with this, beyond a handful of (ultimately insignificant) crossovers.
- Alphas is about superhuman paranormal abilities. Warehouse 13 has multiple agents with such powers, but they send a relatively minor, and perfectly normal character for the crossover for one scene to investigate if an artifact is involved.
- The futuristic super science of Eureka is never pitted against the magic (or steampunk super science) of the Warehouse. When Warehouse agent Claudia shows up in Eureka, the plot has nothing to do with an artifact though she does take the device that instigated it as a souvenir. The Warehouse 13 and Eureka crossovers are more notable for a chunk of the actors from Eureka having guest starred as characters of the week in season one of Warehouse 13.
- It's especially blatant with the Alphas character. A perfectly normal doctor who never mentions the events of one show to the characters of another, viewers genuinely wondered if it was just actor re-use before we heard her name. Nothing would change if another character had been used; world-building is nice, but nothing was done with her beyond there being one minor character who occasionally popped up in other shows so we could say "Hey, it's that person from that other thing."
- The events of Persona 3: Dancing in Moonlight and Persona 5: Dancing in Starlight are the result of the games respective Velvet Room attendants betting on which of their guests is the better dancer, and having them compete. While both games make references to the presence of another team, the two teams never actually meet, save for a brief text conversation between Fuuka and Futaba.
- Atop the Fourth Wall: When Linkara attempts to escape his review of Lunatik #1, he is captured three months later just outside Molossia. It's not stated outright, but since Linkara takes part in the Nostalgia Critic's invasion of the micronation, that's why he was there.
- The delayed and much hyped The Cleveland Show, American Dad! and Family Guy three-part crossover ended up this. There were some shared characters, but the only thing that tied the stories together was that the main cast for each was trapped in their houses by a hurricane, and the leads of the three shows meet up in the very last minute of American Dad's episode.
- Cartoon Network's 2007 Invaded event featured a group of aliens having encounters with the inhabitants of Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends, the cul-de-sac crew, the student body of Charles Darwin Middle School, the campers of Camp Kidney, and Grim, Billy, and Mandy, who, unsurprisingly, are the ones to ultimately defeat the aliens. Each episode was wholly self-contained, with the only crossover moments being small references to the previous part, such as the My Gym Partner's A Monkey installment having a newspaper article showing a picture of the Eds, and the same aliens that appeared in Camp Lazlo arriving in Grim to begin the invasion proper. At most, there was an alternate credits scene for the Billy and Mandy episode showing kidnapped characters from the previous shows.