When TV worlds collide and characters travel to other shows, the results can lead to some truly outstanding episodes, as evidenced by TVLine’s ranking of the best small-screen crossovers.
Our list includes classic TV fare like Superman’s visit to I Love Lucy and a pop-in from Family Matters‘ Steve Urkel on Full House, as well as major crossover events from the biggest franchises (the NCISes, #OneChicago, Law & Order). Speaking of tentpoles, the Arrowverse’s annual crossovers were so impressive and ambitious that the CW juggernaut is represented not once but twice, with a pair of wildly different installments.
Then there are the shows that you wouldn’t think go together — Supernatural and Scooby-Doo?! The Simpsons and The X-Files?! — but somehow made the overlap work with ingenious creativity. These strange combos were so effective that they made our roundup of Best TV Crossovers and Weirdest TV Crossovers. But there’s also plenty of new additions in the below rankings, including a Batman/Green Hornet team-up and an appearance from Buffy on Angel that still has us crying.
Note: We did not include amusing but brief crossover cameos like Community‘s Abed popping up on Cougar Town or the Newhart series finale, which found Bob Newhart’s character waking up to his Bob Newhart Show wife.
Review TVLine’s ranking of the best TV crossovers, then hit the comments to share your favorites and any others that didn’t make the cut!
The Carol Burnett Show / The Gong Show
Feelings, indeed. In a February 1977 installment of The Carol Burnett Show‘s recurring “Family” sketch, Eunice (played by Burnett) excitedly — but with mild support from Mama and Ed — readied for an appearance on The Gong Show, hosted by Chuck Barris. Alas, Eunice’s warbled “Whoa, whoa, whoa” refrain proved woeful, as judges Jamie Farr, Jaye P. Morgan and Allen Ludden let loose with the mallet, and the spotlight literally dimmed on a defeated Eunice. (The Carol Burnett Show Season 10, Episode 19)
Full House / Family Matters
Jaleel White’s iconic nerd Steve Urkel crossed over to several other series — including fellow TGIF staple Step by Step — but his brief appearance on Full House‘s fourth season remains a classic. During the episode “Stephanie Gets Framed,” Urkel’s true purpose was to comfort Stephanie Tanner about her new, confidence-shaking reading glasses. As anyone could guess, Urkel’s advice didn’t make Stephanie feel much better… but the crossover did gift us with a scene in which Uncle Jesse tries to teach Urkel how to walk with swagger, allowing White to showcase physical comedy chops that still make us laugh decades later. (Full House Season 4, Episode 16)
All My Children / One Life to Live
In a convoluted 2004 crossover that ultimately tried the patience of the ABC soaps’ viewers, One Life to Live‘s Paul Cramer just happened to be on hand when All My Children BFFs Babe Chandler and Bianca Montgomery gave birth. Needing a newborn to save his sister’s marriage — just go with it — he ‘napped Babe’s kid to be his nephew, gave Babe Bianca’s daughter and let poor Bianca think that her baby had perished. (Watch a clip.)
NCIS / NCIS: Hawai'i / NCIS: Los Angeles
While previous two-show crossovers within the NCIS universe were fun and all, the January 2023 event that mixed-and-matched characters from the OG series with the Los Angeles and Hawai’i spinoffs was akin, as some put it, to an Avengers team forming, Quips were traded, “turf” (and coffee mugs) were humorously fought over, and in the end the three teams felt like one big, badass family. (NCIS Season 20, Episode 10 / NCIS: Hawai’i Season 2, Episode 10 / NCIS: Los Angeles Season 14, Episode 10)
I Love Lucy / Adventures of Superman
In the I Love Lucy episode “Lucy and Superman,” Lucy boasts to a rival mom that TV’s Superman will be at Little Ricky’s fifth birthday party — but husband Ricky is unable to seal the celebrity deal. Lucy plots to dress up as Superman and bound through the living room window from the high ledge outside, but thankfully the real Superman (played by George Reeves) had a change of heart and made it to the party after all. Capping the sweet and unlikely sitcom/superhero crossover was Reeves’ character quipping that Ricky was the real Superman, having been wed to wacky Lucy for so long! (I Love Lucy Season 6, Episode 12)
NBC’s #OneChicago franchise had staged crossovers before, but with “Infection,” it truly blended the worlds of Chicago Fire, Med and P.D., with characters seamlessly threading through all three hours as they dealt with a deadly flesh-eating bacteria. Between the eerie visual of an empty Chicago street amid an outbreak, the major story developments (Burgess and Ruzek hooked up!) and the dire situation facing a quarantined Hailey, “Infection” felt like a true event. (Chicago Fire Season 8, Episode 4 / Chicago Med Season 5, Episode 4 / Chicago P.D. Season 7, Episode 4)
Batman / The Green Hornet
In the late Season 2 Batman episode “A Piece of the Action,” the Green Hornet and sidekick Kato (played by Van Williams and Bruce Lee) came to Gotham to help bust a counterfeit stamp ring. Batman and Robin, however — in a famous continuity error, since the two duos had briefly met in early Season 2! — mistook the masked visitors for villains, and costumed hijinks ensued. (Batman Season 2, Episode 51)
The Vampire Diaries / The Originals
Between Elena and the Mikaelsons, The Vampire Diaries had parted with its fair share of beloved characters by the time the supernatural drama reached its seventh season, making Stefan’s journey from Mystic Falls to New Orleans — the setting of TVD spinoff The Originals — all the more satisfying. And while we appreciated watching Paul Wesley fighting alongside his former co-stars one last time, we got even more enjoyment out of Stefan’s face-to-face chat with Klaus about his intentions with Caroline. Whether you were on Team #Steroline or Team #Klaroline, their exchange was a nice reminder of everything these characters have been through across both shows. (The Vampire Diaries Season 7, Episode 14 / The Originals Season 3, Episode 14)
The Simpsons / The X-Files
Animated shows rarely do a crossover with live-action shows, but this was a delightfully spooky exception, with Mulder and Scully visiting Springfield to investigate Homer’s close encounter with an extraterrestrial. Sure, the alien turned out to be a drug-addled and radioactive Mr. Burns, but David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson still got to poke fun at their X-Files personas — and we just wish Chief Wiggum had shown up on The X-Files to return the favor. (The Simpsons Season 8, Episode 10)
The Arrowverse / Lucifer (via 'Crisis on Infinite Earths')
It was a Hell of a fun moment when Legends of Tomorrow‘s John Constantine asked his old friend, Earth-666’s Lucifer Morningstar (played by Tom Ellis), for a favor to help make a freshly resurrected Oliver Queen as right as rain. (Lucifer co-showrunner Joe Henderson would later make clear that the sequence was “a prequel to our show,” as confirmed by a reference to a former LUX employee.) (The Flash Season 6, Episode 9)
Law & Order: SVU / Law & Order: Organized Crime
Elliot Stabler’s return to the Law & Orderverse was a two-hour affair that encompassed Season 22, Episode 9 of SVU and the series premiere of Organized Crime. And what a return it was! We got an explanation for El’s decade-long absence, a tearful reckoning between Liv and the partner who’d left her, Kathy Stabler’s untimely death and a new, New York-based job for the prodigal detective. Chung-chung! (Law & Order: SVU Season 22, Episode 9 / Law & Order: Organized Crime Season 1, Episode 1)
Family Guy: 'The Simpsons Guy'
We’re still a little surprised Fox managed to pull this one off, even if it also seemed like something that was at least a decade overdue. Watching the residents of Quahog and Springfield interact, taking every opportunity to poke fun at their obvious similarities, deepened our appreciation for both long-running animated comedies. We’ll also never forget seeing Peter Griffin and Homer Simpson doing a sexy slow-motion car wash in Daisy Dukes. Like, we couldn’t forget even if we tried — and we have. (Family Guy Season 13, Episode 1)
Angel / Buffy the Vampire Slayer
It wasn’t long into Angel‘s debut season when the vampire’s ex-girlfriend came to Los Angeles for a visit that left viewers emotionally devastated. After a fight with a demon transformed Angel into a human, he and Buffy basked in the glow of actually being able to be together. In the sun. Naked in bed. With all the food. But just as quickly as they reunited, they were torn apart when Angel sacrificed his human state to protect Buffy. The final, angsty stab in the heart? Angel would remember the perfect day they shared, but Buffy would have no memory of it. (Angel Season 1, Episode 8)
Supernatural / Scooby-Doo
Supernatural is no stranger to out-of-the-box episodes, but the series truly pushed itself creatively and delivered the goods with this wildly inventive and darkly hilarious crossover with Scooby, Shaggy & Co. The installment finds Dean, Sam and Castiel transported into the world of the cartoon, where they team up with the Scooby gang to solve a case — and to break the Scoobies’ brains with the revelation that ghosts are real. Every moment during the hour, from Dean’s initial dislike of Fred to Cas’ deadpan reaction upon seeing a talking dog, is a delight that cements “Scoobynatural” as one of the show’s most memorable episodes. (Supernatural Season 13, Episode 16)
The Arrowverse: 'Crisis on Earth-X'
Although maybe not quite as big as “Crisis on Infinite Earths,” the scope of this earlier Arrowverse crossover, in which the heroes must battle their Nazi doppelgängers, is still incredibly ambitious and just as game-changing. The spectacle of seeing Green Arrow and Supergirl go up against their evil (and coupled up!) dupes would have been enough to entertain, but it’s truly impressive when you think about all the hugely significant moments and tee-ups included in “Crisis on Earth-X”: the heartbreaking death of Martin Stein, a double wedding for Iris/Barry and Oliver/Felicity, the first appearance of Nora West-Allen, and the introduction of The Ray and his boyfriend Leo Snart. Plus, there was the fun of Colin Donnell’s cameo (as Earth-X’s evil Tommy) and a Sara Lance/Alex Danvers hookup. Nazis are very, very bad, but this crossover was very, very good. (Supergirl Season 3, Episode 8 / Arrow Season 6, Episode 8 / The Flash Season 4, Episode 8 / Legends of Tomorrow Season 3, Episode 8)