It's no secret that shared cinematic universes are all the craze in the entertainment industry right now. But while many people may credit Marvel Studios with being the first to perfect the ambitious concept, history proves that there were actually multiple animated shows in the same universe decades before the first installment in the MCU was released in theaters. Although, most viewers might not have been aware of the connection between the shows in question during their respective life spans.
But as more time passes and viewers become increasingly adept at spotting Easter eggs and obscure crossover references, it becomes clear just how many shared universe cartoons the TV medium has given. In fact, many viewers and TV addicts are starting to realize that some shows may have existed in the same universe without ever having crossed over with one another.
So without any further ado, here are 11 popular TV cartoons that exist in the same universe, based solely on recurring crossover characters, previously-established connections, and Easter egg appearances you may have never noticed before.
Gravity Falls And Rick & Morty
Fans of Rick and Morty and Gravity Falls spent years trying to get some official confirmation that the shows exist in the same universe – if not an actual crossover episode. Unfortunately, despite the creators of both shows packing in loads of references to the other over the years, neither a confirmation nor a crossover episode ever materialized.
But if there's one piece of evidence that fans always point to as proof that the two series exist within the same world, it's this: There is a moment during the Falls's episode, "Society of the Blind Eye," when Grunkle Stan's notepad, pen, and drink mug are all sucked into a multi-dimensional vortex. During "Close Encounter of the Rick Kind," you can very quickly see all three of those items appear in a portal in Rick and Morty's world.
Dexter's Laboratory And The Powerpuff Girls
Dexter's Laboratory and The Powerpuff Girls are two of the most iconic and beloved Cartoon Network shows of all time. Not only are the programs immensely popular, but both have proven to be equally influential in shaping the modern day view of what the network is.
As has been noted many times before, there were multiple cameo appearances by Dexter made in The Powerpuff Girls episodes throughout the years, including one time in which the boy-genius was seen sleeping in the same kindergarten class as the girls.
Like many of the other connections on this list, however, a shared universe was never officially acknowledged by either creator.
The Powerpuff Girls And Samurai Jack
The proof of this connection is available via an episode of Samurai Jack in which Jack and company walk by a tattered billboard – the exact same tattered billboard seen previously in an episode of The Powerpuff Girls.
This leads some to theorize that Samurai Jack takes place in the future, possibly centuries after Townsville and all of its inhabitants have been destroyed as a part of Aku's apocalyptic plans.
G.I. Joe, Inhumanoids, Jem, And Transformers
Long before shared cinematic universes, Hasbro managed to connect all of their biggest TV shows without ever directly acknowledging it. Indeed, time has proven that Inhumanoids, G.I. Joe, Transformers, and Jem do (or, at the very least, did) all exist within the same fictional universe.
The proof comes thanks to the recurring appearance of one Hector Ramirez, a news reporter and TV show host who was first introduced in G.I. Joe. Hector then went on, however, to reprise that very same role in Inhumanoids, Jem, and Transformers.
The shared universe was even confirmed by Buzz Dixon, a writer for Sunbow Productions (the company that produced all the Hasbro animated shows), when asked on his website if Ramirez's frequent cross-show appearances meant the four series were connected.
Dixon simply replied, "Why, yes. Yes, it does."