What exactly is a shared universe on television? It’s basically when two or more independent television programs exist within the same world. For example, the character Ursula Buffay appeared in the sitcom Friends as Phoebe’s estranged sister. But before she was on Friends, she also made several appearances as a rather rude waitress at Riff’s on Mad About You. Therefore, we can surmise that Friends and Mad About You exist within the same universe. Since both shows take place in New York City, it’s not really hard to imagine a scenario where Chandler and Joey bump into Paul and Jamie Buchman while taking a stroll down Fifth Avenue. But these sitcoms aren't the only shows that fit this bill - this list is full of TV Shows in the same universe.
There is a same universe TV conspiracy theory called “The Tommy Westphall Universe” that contends every popular American television show exists in the same universe. The theory is based on the finale of the 1980s hospital drama St. Elsewhere, which revealed at the end of the show’s finale that the entire six season series had actually taken place within Dr. Westphall’s dream. Because St. Elsewhere had crossover episodes with several other shows like Cheers, M*A*S*H, and The Bob Newhart Show, and those shows have crossed over with other shows, a connection can be made that links every one of those programs together.
That same universe television theory may or may not hold water. However, due to television’s fondness for crossover episodes that are produced to boost ratings and bring in a demo audience from one program over to another program, combined with spin-off series, there are several really interesting shows that exist in the same universe. Some are rather obvious like the CSI franchise, while others, like Magnum P.I. and Murder, She Wrote, are more unexpected.Make your voice heard. Vote up the shared universe theories you think are most likely to be true.
Cheers, Frasier, Wings
The hit sitcom Cheers made its last call in 1993 and spawned the extremely successful spin-off, Frasier, which originally aired later that same year. Frasier lasted for 11 seasons on NBC. That's all pretty obvious, but what most people forget is that those shows share the same universe as Wings, a program created by three former Cheers showrunners.Wings takes place in an airport that charters flights out to Nantucket and is often referred to as "Cheers in an airport." The Cheers cast pops up in a couple of Wings episodes. One of the most memorable is when Norm and Cliff fly out of Boston to Nantucket for a fishing trip. The bar buds, however, never make it out of the airport, and instead plant themselves on a couple stools and just chew the scenery.
Thank goodness it's Friday! In the 1990s, ABC started its TGIF programming block, aimed to get young viewers to watch not just one of their Friday night programs, but to watch all of them. The TGIF universe includes: Family Matters, Boy Meets World, Perfect Strangers, Step by Step, and Full House.It all starts with Family Matters - a spin-off of Perfect Strangers. From there, the great Steve Urkel, from Family Matters, links up the rest of the sitcoms. Urkel popped up in an episode of Full House, when young Stephanie needed a pep talk about having to wear glasses. We can also link Urkel to an episode of Boy Meets World, after Urkel sends Corey a chain letter and they become pals. Then, you may remember the episode of Step by Step, when Urkel crash lands at a Lambert family picnic after he strapped on a jet pack that he couldn't quite control.
The Simpsons and Family Guy
It was really just a matter of time before these two mega Fox animated series officially had a crossover episode. It finally happened in a hilarious hour-long special, "The Simpsons Guy." The crossover first aired on September 28, 2014, as the Season 13 premiere of Family Guy. In the episode, Peter's car breaks down outside of Springfield, and he, of course, becomes pals with Homer, after meeting him in the Quickie Mart. The men initially bond over their love of beer until an epic all-out "chicken fight" erupts over which beer is better, Homer's Duff or Peter's Pawtucket Ale.
Mad About You, Friends, and Seinfeld
Mad About You, Friends, and Seinfeld were all massive hit sitcoms for NBC in the 1990s - all three set in New York City. Linking two of the shows is Phoebe Buffay's not-so-nice estranged twin sister Ursula. Audiences first met Ursula as an rude/aloof waitress at Riff's in Mad About You. NBC then linked Mad About You to Friends when we found out that Phoebe had a long-lost twin sister, Ursula, who would sometimes pop up in subplots. Both characters were played by Lisa Kudrow.Kramer from Seinfeld makes a guest appearance in an episode of Mad About You, when it's revealed that he is the buyer of Paul's old apartment. Of course, we sort of have to gloss over a few things. Like the time George unhappily watched an episode of Mad About You on television when he was in bed with Susan. And that time Courteney Cox played Jerry's girlfriend on Seinfeld.