With the definition of television expanding to include streaming content, and whole new platforms developing shows to entice people to subscribe, in 2015 there were 409 scripted series across broadcast, network and online services. It will be higher in 2016.
When we started this project around 15 years ago, the crossovers were between shows that fit a demographic or appeared in neighboring time-slots or had a creator in common. Now networks are looking for franchises, embracing spin-offs and resurrecting shows from two decades ago.
This years’ connections come from expected franchise building, like Supergirl connecting with The Flash and its spin-off DC’s Legends of Tomorrow debuting. Someone pointed out a traditional old-school crossover between Without A Trace and CSI, which we’d previously missed. And our inclusion of Girl Meets World last year, brought in another seven shows as part of the Disney Network Live Action Universe – which was something we had no idea even existed until this week.
There are now 441 shows on the list/grid/key – stretching from I Love Lucy (1951) to three shows that debuted this year (DC’s Legends of Tomorrow, Fuller House and Degrassi: The Next Class). There are 49 shows on the list that are still airing; over ten percent of the entire list is a current show. We’ve hit peak television and peak Tommy.
Edit: Another update made August 21, 2016 to add in more Disney Channel shows
When John Munch retired in 2013, we became nostalgic and looked back at the Tommy Westphall Universe, which we created as a simple excel spreadsheet and key back in the early 2000s. We moved the Grid and the Key here, and we also updated the Master List of shows that were somehow connected to St Elsewhere and Homicide: Life on the Street.
We didn’t go to the trouble of updating the Grid or the Key in 2013, because by then we hadn’t done any research on the subject for six years.
Interest in finding connections to little Tommy’s Universe never dies – it comes in waves. People discover it every day. People find links every week. We loved watching the universe expand, without feeling the need to chart it every step of the way.
Just recently, though, we spent a full weekend in a concerted effort to update the Grid and the Key – eight years after we last properly updated it. In the meantime, more than a hundred shows crossed over with other shows already in the Master List.
The Law & Order universe met the Chicago Fire/P.D./Med universe; not surprising, since they are all Executive Produced by Dick Wolf. More characters picked up the bad habit of smoking Morley cigarettes. And while fans who have become writers since the 1990s still love referencing The X-Files, a lot of recent showrunners like to tip their hats to Lost. And all of JJ Abrams shows have small nods to each other. Except Felicity.
So here we are, 419 shows in all, including two from France, a handful from the UK and a little Canadian universe called Degrassi are all a part of little Tommy Westphall’s imagination. Have fun exploring his mind.
With the reigning king of crossovers, John Munch, retiring from Law & Order: Special Victims Unit – after twenty years on television – we thought it might be best to bring you up-to-date on the Tommy Westphall Universe.
John Munch first appeared in the pilot episode of Homicide: Life on the Street in 1993. Since then, Munch has appeared in Arrested Development, Law & Order, Law & Order: Trial by Jury, The X-Files, The Wire and The Beat drawing all of these series into the same fictional universe.
Belzer also appeared playing the character on 30 Rock and the character of Munch exists in the BBC series, Luther.
We’ve been archiving the Tommy Westphall universe for nearly 15 years. It grew from a list of crossovers from Homicide and St. Elsewhere – which had direct character crossovers to at least a dozen different series – to a list of nearly 400 different television shows.
We stopped updating the grid and the key six or seven years ago. It had grown so large we had to stop and let it keep going all by itself. No longer did we need to archive the Tommy Westphall Universe to prove that it was real – it was a meme and something to be objected to.
Here’s the legacy of our work:
– The Grid (jpeg, last updated: 2007)
– The Key (PDF, last updated: 2007)
– The List (Excel, last updated: Oct 28, 2013)
The earliest show is I Love Lucy (1951-1962) and there are currently twenty-six shows still on the air that connect to the Tommy Westphall universe in some way: whether by characters, by fictional companies, fictional brands or fictional universities.