The Big Picture: Worlds Within Worlds

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Holy shit
the funny thing is I once made a similar chart connecting Video games, Movie, TV, Literature, Comics and several other universe.
It got so massive that it took over ten sheets of printer paper to map it out.

Everything is connected and everything is cannon

Could I see that chart for the video games? And I know you would have had to included the connections of Naughty Dog and Insomniac games, right?

Sweet Jiminy Jesus...

I think I need to lie down for a sec.

I. I have no words. This is the most astounding thing I have ever seen. The moment I saw Sgt. Munch I just went "Oh fuck, this is going to be huge." And huge it was. Thank you, Bob. I will see you next week, when I have put my mind back together.

Anoni Mus:
Maybe I didn't get it, but this just seems stupid.


I'm not into (US) comics so I don't get this stuff.

Don't know if it's part of that map, but some Simpson's characters have appeared in Family Guy and with all its references and cut-outs you might as well stop and just say everything.

As I understood it, Knight Rider is actually a spinoff of the original Battlestar Galactica. Some Cylon tech got sent back in time, and that's why the car has that scanning red light. I never really watched those shows, but that's what I heard. Anyway, does that mean that BSG is also part of this kid's imagination?

I'm glad to hear that crazy theory was essentially meant as satire. As Bob says, some shows that depend on their gravitas to be successful would lose a lot of it if they had to share universe with the Simpsons. Which actually happened in comics, as everyone is supposed to share the same universe with 4th-wall breaking characters like Deadpool and She-Hulk and they're not allowed to have fun without ruining everyone else's, because of the way continuity is set up.

But I'm especially glad to hear it's satire because IT'S FUCKING WRONG.

Why? Because it assumes the relationship is reciprocal, but it's one way.

OK, hear me out. If Show A has Character Z, and Character Z shows up on Show B and makes a reference to his life on Show A, then shows A and B take place in the same fictitious univverse. If Show A was St. Elsewhere, then Show B, whatever it was, would also take place within that kid's head. OK, so far so good. But, if Show B was St. Elsewhere, there would be no evidence that Show A is also St. Elsewhere, because there was no evidence that Show B's reality was true in Show A, that is, there is no evidence of Show B in Show A's plot.

To use a simple analogy: Imagine that I've written Space Janitors fanfiction. (Ugh, I don't even watch it.) My fanfiction aknowledges the Space Janitors canon, so it's part of the reality in my fanfiction. Conversely, there is no reason that Space Janitors should aknowledge my fanfiction as part of their story, so if they don't, in their story the massive orgy that ends my fanfiction never actually happens. So if Space Janitors ends with it being inside a kid's imagination, my fanfiction by extension was; but if my fanfiction ends in the same way, one would have to really reach to conclude that the same is true for all of the Space Janitors canon story.

So to use that in the real show: Bob says that the St. Elsewhere characters appeared in Homicide. OK; those characters don't exist, therefore Homicide has to happen inside St. Elsewhere's imagined continuity. But then he says that there was a character in Homicide that showed up in Law & Order (uh, John Muncher? I couldn't hear it and couldn't find any name that sounds like what Bob said on the list of Law & Order characters from Wikipedia.) And that's where it goes wrong. Unless John mentions something in Law & Order that refers to something that happened in Homicide, Law & Order is not aknowledging Homicide's canon, and therefore is not part of the imaginary canon. John is just a character whose 'real' life is Law & Order but who had an 'imagined' one in Homicide, just like in my Space Janitors fan fiction the characters I'm writing have a 'real' story in the canon show, and if I end with it all being a dream their existence is only fake in my take of the story, not in the real one.

'But The Random One, you charismatic stallion badge haver, how could a little autistic kid imagine a character that just HAPPENED to be idential to a character in another TV show?' Simple. One, there is no indication of the time period the 'real' ending of St. Elsewhere ending takes place. Two, at the very ending, the kid puts the snowglobe on top of the TV. My interpretation of that is: in the real world, the kid existed in the near future, although he imagined St. Elsewhere to take place in what was the current year when the series was aired. He imagined those things while his family was watching TV, and when he saw a character on TV that he liked, he included them in his narratives. So he sees John Muncher in Law and Order, likes his character, and makes him part of the Homicide story he's coming up with. There is an imagined John Muncher whose existence includes both Homicide and whatever episodes of Law & Order the kid saw, and a 'real' John whose existence includes only Law & Order, but they are two separate entities.

That may seem strange, but think about it: how many fictitious works including celebrities and historical personages have you seen? National Treasure and Assassin's Creed 3 set up different personalities and events for Benjamin Franklin. Each of those works has an instance of Benjamin Franklin, for whom the known events of his real life are canon as well as the made up events that took place in their stories. However you wouldn't say that both works share the same universe because they both have Benjamin Franklin, even because they say different things about him! (Probably - I never watched the movie and the game isn't out yet, but I'll be surprised if their universes matches. Nicolas Cage would make a great Desmond though.) Even more insane would be to say that, because Assassin's Creed has Benjamin Franklin and the real world also has Benjamin Franklin, the real world is part of the Assassin's Creed canon! My John Muncher example is the same, except that the 'primary' instance of him that others are based on isn't a real guy, and is just as fictitious as the others, but it's the same principle. (Of course if Homicide is indeed referred to as canon in Law & Order my example is bust, but I'm sure there'll be one example eventually in that chain that will break it.)

The fact that I wrote such a huge post describing it probably means Dwayne's point is totally right.

We actually don't need to go through Red Dwarf via Weyland-Yutani to connect Buffy to Doctor Who. Ten and Rose show up in one of the season eight comics as background characters.

Which, incidentally, makes the entire Slender Man Mythos part of the Buffyverse. The most explicit connection to Doctor Who is obviously the Master's involvement in Dare2Die, but c'mon. Slenderbloggers drop so many little references to Doctor Who all the time that Slendy may as well be one gigantic Who fanfiction.


As entertaining as it is, the connections get a little... flawed... after a while.

I mean, you might as well say that St. Elsewhere takes place in Boston, therefore any show, book, or media that includes Boston is part of Tommy Westphall's imagination.

Well, obviously we could take it to that level if we wanted, though I think the point of the St Elsewhere thing was to link fictional characters/companies. Still, I think you already know how valid the whole thing is, otherwise you wouldn't have posted such a blatant exaggeration to try and disprove it. Still, the point is a bit too simple to have to try and look for flaws by over-analyzing the after-math. All that McDuffy was saying is that comic continuity needs to get a little more lax; Character A appearing in Character B's comic doesn't mean that their comics need to share continuity suddenly, because applying the same logic to any other medium would result in the kind of things like what this video talked about.

The point that I was attempting to make, which I failed to do through exaggeration, is that the original hypothesis was comparing apples to oranges, and the "mind-blowing" nature of the Westphall hypothesis is mostly a load. None of the connections really matter, and the more esoteric that people get, the more they just prove the basic fallacy of the whole thing.

Now, I haven't read McDuffy's original case, so I am mainly just responding to what other people have said about it. My objections may be unrelated to the original argument; it would not be the first time that the Internet Echo Chamber has twisted things around.


Marvel and DC Comics both made a very calculated and developed move away from the sort of fluid continuities that McDuffy discusses, and towards properly entwined mythoses. They did this because they wanted their comics to be parts of a larger world, in a way that, say, all of the Law & Order TV shows are part of a larger world, or Disney's Donald Duck / Duck Tales / Darkwing Duck setting are all the same and reference earlier iterations, or the Whedon Buffyverse is all one world. Upon doing this, they committed themselves to that world having one continuity.

Saying "Well, TV shows don't do that" misses the entire point of that style. TV shows do that all the time. It's just that most TV shows haven't had the kind of budget or market penetration that Marvel and DC managed (and, incidentally, it's not as though every comic produced by those people is in their one world, although the majority certainly are). And frankly, a fluid continuity isn't as much fun. There are problems with shared-world stuff, and the scale of Marvel and DC's superhero universes has gotten kind of out of hand, but the premise is solid.

Was there suppose to be a point in that somewhere ? Something about comic book continuity being strict that got lost some where along the mind dump ?

Well logic needs to be stretched pretty damn far and hard for any of that to make sense but eh still fun stuff. This sort of thing is kinda why I hate licenses and copyright nonsense, imagine all the unbelievably awesome insanity that could be created across all mediums of entertainment if people, characters, places and things were all allowed to show up in each others universes.

As entertaining as it is, the connections get a little... flawed... after a while.

I mean, you might as well say that St. Elsewhere takes place in Boston, therefore any show, book, or media that includes Boston is part of Tommy Westphall's imagination.

In fact, since Boston exists in our world, I assume that anything that takes place in our world or references it is part of Tommy Westphall's imagination. Two degrees of seperation for every piece of media based around Earth, problem solved.

I was thinking the same thing. Some of the connections are pretty flimsy. If someone on St. Elsewhere ate a Snickers bar, that doesn't mean Snickers doesn't exist, it just means Tommy had heard of a Snickers bar.

I mean you could shut the whole thing down if you just said that Tommy had watched Homicide Life on the Street, dug a couple characters he saw and imagined them into his St. Elsewhere fantasy.

I wondered why I'd never heard of the Tommy Westphall Universe before... and now I know why. It's stupid.

Yea but who's to say that Tommy Westphall didn't take aspects from TV shows and insert them into his imaginary world.

A person in his imagination could just be a character he brought over from TV.

Wouldn't including the Simpsons then include all shows?

Hasn't the Simpsons had something from everything in it at least once?

I guess I didn't get this episode, looked cool though.

I started watching this hoping it wouldn't be the usual vapid blockbuster review that The Big Picture usually makes me skip it, but couldn't go on after a minute. What's with the stupid cartoon faces and memes? It could have been an interesting monologue but Americans have serious problems with this game of trying to make everything as entertaining as possible. Christ. And maybe watch/review some foreign movies instead of Hollywood crap for a change hey MovieBob?

So what if Tommy Westphall is in fact an alias for Franklin Richards?
The idea is sound. Similar reality-altering power, so that we might actually be reading about events taking place around our creator and accepting them as fiction. This in turn would help us assimilate should our reality collapse into his.


<-wink, wink.


Upon examination of the map, I find that the map only loops back on itself in Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and Mad About you. The Southern branches and Northern branches of the map are still two distinct entities, and I will not be satisfied until these two groups are connected, to complete the loop.

Bob said he would blow my mind.
Bob delivered

I think I can only say "We need to go deeper."

That's what she said.

Good thing my universe really exists, unlike those poor guys.

You can't see it but I'm coughing right now.

My mind - not blown.
Counter-theory that immediately popped into my head:
Tommy just imagined the characters in his head, interacting with characters HE SAW ON TV.

So if I was asked as an editor to manage continuity, that's exactly what I'd say.

Seriously serious people, don't be so serious. Weren't you allowed to play with toys as a kid or something?

We've got many people on here saying "That's pretty fun to look at!", "I wonder if I can link (my favourite show) into it somehow!", "I can make Justin Beiber disappear!" and "Oh no! We're all imaginary! XD" . Then there's the rest with "There is insufficient evidence to support this hypothesis. You can't use this to prove that Star Trek isn't real!"

Party poopers, just relax. We all already know TV shows aren't real and reality is real(hopefully). It's just a fun experiment to look at, poking fun at the idea of shared continuity. It's not the beginning of a new philosophy about the meaning of life. It's just another version of 6 degrees of Kevin Bacon. No one is suggesting that that game is significant in any way.

No one applauds that you can poke holes in a joke, just as no one applauds the cranky old men who yell at kids who are playing and laughing. Except other cranky old men.

Now, when does the "Avengers"-style linked continuity movie begin production?

Here's a creepy thought: The Mythbusters did a cameo on an episode of CSI. Adam Savage and Jamie Hyneman are real people. Ergo, we are also imaginary.

gj pointing out the logic behind things like this. i salute thee. lol

Fun to think about in passing. Kind of like the 7 6 degrees of Kevin Bacon. If you stretch any coincidence or fact far enough they will inevitably connect in some shape or form.


So I just checked out this chart, and it has a link to Batman. This means this whole mess of TV continuity also connects to the messed up DC continuity. But wait! There was a whole big Marvel vs DC series that connects those two continuities. Now between Marvel vs Capcom and Mortal Kombat vs DC universe, we have links to video games as well.

In other news, there's a direct link between Doctor Who and Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. I am very interested in hearing about this one.

Ah, but what about all the different timelines of the DC continuity that have no direct interaction with each other (the BatNolan trilogy, for instance?).

Ah, the answer to this actually reveals the important "why?" of this entire exercise.

Hypertime. Hypertime was a concept introduced by Mark Waid and entertained by some of DC's more entertaining authors, like Grant Morrison, that postulated that every story ever told with a character in it was "in continuity" to a degree, crossovers and all.

---Also The Coyote Gospel links the DC Universe to Looney Tunes, which had Daleks in one of their movies, which links the cycle back around. Batman also once crossed over with Planetary, which was a series that contained an in-universe retelling of the history of comics in the 20th century acted out by stand-ins for most of the major comic characters from that history---

Hypertime is also extremely similar to the Blazing World from Alan Moore's League of Extraordinary Gentlemen and both in-universe constructs contain several of the same characters. The Blazing World was created with the explicit thesis that all storytelling is worthwhile and has something to teach us about ourselves, that the conflicts that take place in the minds of people are just as important as the physical ones, and storytelling embodies these conflicts, and allowing stories to freely cross-pollinate enriches and strengthens the ideas they represent.

---LOEG: Black Dossier also makes explicit reference to including the Cthulhu Mythos which throws a TON of stuff on the pile, including most anime because of (off the top of my head) the Cthulhu based Haiyore Nyaruko-san which had a character reference Roger from Big O which leads into Super Robot Taisen, which goes everywhere. Cthulhu also ties in to Fate/Zero through Bluebeard, which incorporates the Nasuverse, [there's a rabbit hole if I've ever seen one] which also ties in slightly altered versions of all real-world mythology. Interestingly, the Nasuverse contains an idea called "The Throne of Heroic Spirits" that is very similar to Hypertime and the Blazing World, only slightly less explicitly metaphorical.---

So if you take the idea far enough Mcduffie's Westphall universe example really only SUPPORTS his original thesis. Let things crossover when it's fun or when it allows you to tell a good story, let them be on their own when they need it. When all fiction exists in a big Jungian blob of cross-references, it's no big deal when they crossover, and it's ok when they don't.

---Also, to anyone complaining that the central pillar is a show where "it was all a dream", you're missing the point. The center is arbitrary, the links are the important bit. And go rewatch Inception, sometimes "it was all a dream" is a good point to make. (it means that the catharsis of a good story is just as valid and meaningful as any other positive experience in life)---

okay my question is this. If we use actors everything is connected. are these connections via actors or actors as particular characters? Using characters would make the game work, using actors wouldn't. Well i guess it would but it wouldn't be as fun.

Well this is defiantly the "BIGGEST" Picture I've seen a long time. Now I'm thinking about life and the plain of existence for some odd reason.

That's one big head
But I bet Pokemon isn't part of this continuity :D

Family Guy was featured in the episode of South Park Cartoon Wars along with the Simpsons, meaning that if Simpsons did not exist neither did South Park and Family Guy

mind sadly not blown. if you were to look at the original article, it's actually degrees of separation not continuity. All those shows you mentioned would not take place in his mind but rather by like a fan fick.

I'm not sure if I'm going to be ninja'd by asking this but if that whole thing with Frankie and the snowglobe and the whole Foster's Home For Imaginary Friends is part of her imagination, is that a spin off this? If you want to actually understand what I am making a foolish attempt at trying to tell you check the link here:

I apologize for the massive amount of feels you will incur for viewing this link. )':

I'm not sure if I'm going to be ninja'd by asking this but if that whole thing with Frankie and the snowglobe and the whole Foster's Home For Imaginary Friends is part of her imagination, is that a spin off this? If you want to actually understand what I am making a foolish attempt at trying to tell you check the link here:

I apologize for the massive amount of feels you will incur for viewing this link. )':

Yes, that comic was created as a reference to the ending of St. Elsewhere. I'm honestly kind of surprised that isn't widespread knowledge.


I'm not sure if I'm going to be ninja'd by asking this but if that whole thing with Frankie and the snowglobe and the whole Foster's Home For Imaginary Friends is part of her imagination, is that a spin off this? If you want to actually understand what I am making a foolish attempt at trying to tell you check the link here:

I apologize for the massive amount of feels you will incur for viewing this link. )':

Yes, that comic was created as a reference to the ending of St. Elsewhere. I'm honestly kind of surprised that isn't widespread knowledge.

I didn't know anything about St. Elsewhere when I saw this. In fact, no one I know who showed it to me knew about it. I was just shown it because of the feels. The tremendous, saddening feels.

So, the more interesting question would actually be: What ISN'T part of Tommy Westphall's conjured multi-slash-metaverse? This kind of exercise could technically go on forever, seeing as even citing an integrated show or other cultural product in passing makes you part of that construct.

McDuffie's point stands. People just need to chill over continuities and reboots. These are things that aren't motivated by a love of the medium, they're motivated by cold, hard cash and audience or readership numbers. Marvel and DC will keep piling up Infinite Crises and 52s for as long as they please, until they hit the *one* setup that basically prints money.

Then fast-forward sixty years or so if they're still around by that point, and they realize they've made another tangled clusterfuck out of their respective universes and, well, BOOM. Universe Reset. Again.

As for intertextuality in-between universes, that's not too surprising, usually. Entities like Yoyodyne, Wolfram & Hart or Weyland-Yutani are usually cited as quick, meaningless nods from one show's creator to another.

A games-related example would be id Software and their constant mention of the Mixom and Moxim corporations. They've been cited in virtually every id game ever. Going by the Tommy Westphall theory, this means everything put out by John Carmack's team is part of the same continuity, and everything that's ever shot off from the Doom and Quake standards of the nineties would also count. So on top of Commander Keen and Duke Nukem 3D, you'd have to add Hexen, Heretic *and* from there, shift over to literature because Hexen references Lewis Carrol's Vorpal blade, which is canonically used to kill the Jabberwock...

Then you have to repeat the entire procedure starting from Carrol and the Jabberwock, and we started with id and its fictitious companies!

So... Yeah. That's pretty much an exercise in futility.

Monty McDougal:
My only 2 questions (other than WHY?) is how did you jump from Alien/Predator to Firefly? And any of the direct cross overs in the Original 'St. Elsewhere' would be explainable if the kid had simply seen the shows on tv and put them in there, right?

several things (the aa turret at the begining comes to mind) in firefly are manufactured by Wayland yutani.

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