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5/21/2020 1:17 pm  #1


Evidence of Separate Universes

This is the flip side of the Omniverse thread: Cases where two universes are probably not the same due to characters reading/watching events in the other universe. For now, skip material that doesn't exist in the real world (e.g. Married with Children's Psycho Dad show) as those connections are less interesting than characters from one property reading/watching an actual other property. Note: I consider Mystery Science Theater 3000 to be a grey area as characters sometimes encounter characters from movies they watch, so the appearance of a movie does not necessarily guarantee it's a separate universe for that show.

Examples of what I'm looking for here.

The Shining (1980): Danny watches Road Runner cartoons
Sons of Anarchy: Juice watches an episode of The Shield.
Taxi: Various characters talk about having gone to see ET. Tony mentions the Rocky series.
Amazing Spider-Man #21: Aunt May is upset about missing The Beverly Hillbillies (changed to The Dukes of Hazzard when reprinted in Marvel Tales #159).
Queer as Folk (1999 series): Vince is a huge Doctor Who fan (as was the show's creator Russell Davies, who brought back Doctor Who in 2004).

Borderline case:
Extras: Andy Millman stars as a villain for an episode of Doctor Who, starring David Tennant. The episode of Doctor Who is fictitious but obviously Doctor Who itself is a real show.

Last edited by Andy E. Nystrom (5/21/2020 1:56 pm)


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5/22/2020 1:38 am  #2


Re: Evidence of Separate Universes

Andy E. Nystrom wrote:

This is the flip side of the Omniverse thread: Cases where two universes are probably not the same due to characters reading/watching events in the other universe. For now, skip material that doesn't exist in the real world (e.g. Married with Children's Psycho Dad show) as those connections are less interesting than characters from one property reading/watching an actual other property. Note: I consider Mystery Science Theater 3000 to be a grey area as characters sometimes encounter characters from movies they watch, so the appearance of a movie does not necessarily guarantee it's a separate universe for that show.

Examples of what I'm looking for here.

The Shining (1980): Danny watches Road Runner cartoons
Sons of Anarchy: Juice watches an episode of The Shield.
Taxi: Various characters talk about having gone to see ET. Tony mentions the Rocky series.
Amazing Spider-Man #21: Aunt May is upset about missing The Beverly Hillbillies (changed to The Dukes of Hazzard when reprinted in Marvel Tales #159).
Queer as Folk (1999 series): Vince is a huge Doctor Who fan (as was the show's creator Russell Davies, who brought back Doctor Who in 2004).

Borderline case:
Extras: Andy Millman stars as a villain for an episode of Doctor Who, starring David Tennant. The episode of Doctor Who is fictitious but obviously Doctor Who itself is a real show.

It's worth noting that just because characters in one property view or mention another as a fiction doesn't automatically rule out them sharing a reality.

Look at the example of Doctor Who, which has had its fair share of crossovers. In some cases, such as Star Trek, which was confirmed to be a TV show in the Doctor's reality (companions have commented on it in that context), he then had an encounter with two different Enterprise crews; the Doctor has also twice travelled to a reality/realities where his adventures formed the basis for a TV show (both the fourth and eleventh Doctors have done so). All these cases were reality hops to alternate timelines, examples of the old theory that goes back via Flash of Two Worlds to The Incomplete Enchanter prose tales, which states that one reality's fictional tales are another's real events, with the writers of the fiction subconsciously drawing their inspiration from dreams where they viewed events in the other reality. 

Conversely, the Doctor has encountered Sherlock Holmes, despite having similarly referenced him as fictional. In that instance, the Doctor explained to his companions, who were incredulous at encountering a fictional character, that Holmes was real and that Conan Doyle had merely published slightly modified accounts of a real person's adventures. We see more examples of this in Marvel when we have "real" heroes adventures published as comics - cf. the Thing going to the Marvel offices to complain how John Byrne had portrayed his real encounter with Goody Twoshoes. And again in the real world where real people have their lives dramatized for movies, TV and comics, or appear in reality TV. So if we have a case where one show mentions another show as fictional only to later cross over with it, this option for explaining the apparent contradiction should be considered.
 

 

5/22/2020 6:14 am  #3


Re: Evidence of Separate Universes

Well, first off all, it's important to note the meta, namely that this thread is largely just an excuse to show examples of characters reading/watching stories in other continuities, something I find interesting.

That having been said, evidence is not necessarily the same as proof. Characters reading/watching other fictional characters' adventures does not prove they are in separate universes but it does point in that direction and combined with other evidence can help lead to that conclusion. To use Sons of Anarchy and The Shield for example, despite certain flights of fancy, both are fairly realistic compared to superhero shows, space operas, and the like. Sons has one character who a case could be made is supernatural (the homeless woman) but otherwise both shows veer fairly close to the real world. Both shows also share a lot of the same actors. So when you add Juiice watching The Shield on TV to the mix, the most likely conclusion is that the two shows are not set in the same universe.

Also, a distinction must be made between universe and multiverse. That two characters don't share the same universe does not preclude them from sharing a multiverse. The Flash of Two Earths story is a good example of this. Barry reading about Jay's adventures was not proof that they were in the separate universes (such stuff was hardly unknown in the Golden Age even when the same Earth was involved) but it was certainly evidence pointing in that direction, particularly Barry referring to Jay as a fictional character. As it turns out the evidence proved to be correct in this instance: the two characters certainly share a multiverse, but Pre-Crisis, the Earth that Barry lived on was in a different universe than the one Jay lived on. They shared the same reality in some sense, sure, but I was careful in my wording to only refer to only sharing to the same universe.

The Doctor Who/Sherlock Holmes case is a bit of a grey area here. It could be that Doyle is subconsciously tapping into the events on another Earth. If so, ignoring other continuities, there could be three Sherlock Holmes running around on different Earths: the ones we read about, the one who exists in the Doctor Who continuity, and the one that Doctor Who characters read about, which may or may not be the same one as the one we read about. It's probably still interesting to note such examples, but include a caveat.

So just to be clear, this thread isn't about stating that characters from one show, etc cannot travel to another or tap into another in some sense, just that the evidence of characters reading/watching something points towards them not sharing the same universe.


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5/22/2020 9:57 am  #4


Re: Evidence of Separate Universes

An episode of The Courtship of Eddie's Father (with Bill Bixby) appears on a TV screen in The Incredible Hulk (2008).

In the first episode of Girls, Shoshanna talks about Sex and the City.

Many versions of Batman's origin have the Wayne family leaving a showing of The Mark of Zorro.
 


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6/06/2020 1:59 pm  #5


Re: Evidence of Separate Universes

Some relevant quotes from the Omniverse Map thread:

zuckyd1 wrote:

Seinfeld's Kramer once guested on fellow sitcom Mad About You. Yet in a later episode of Seinfeld, George talks about how he hated the show Mad About You! One inventive explanation I've heard is that, since Paul Reiser's character on Mad About You is a documentary filmmaker, what George was actually referring to was a TV documentary series Paul made about his own married life. (Give that person a No-Prize!)
Another explanation is that there are two parallel universes, one in which both Seinfeld and Mad About You "really exist" and another in which only Seinfeld is real and Mad About You is, as in our universe, merely a TV sitcom. The sitcom creators in the 2nd universe are undoubtedly subconsciously channelling actual events from the 1st universe when they create their "fictional" sitcom episodes.

Stuart V wrote:

Both are valid options. Another is that, since we have evidence of realities shifting in and out of synch with one another (see Shattered Image for one such case), the two shared a reality for a while, then went out of synch, becoming fictional to one another.

captainswift wrote:

The Seinfeld/Mad About You conundrum reminds me of the so-called "Hooterville Trilogy" of late 60s TV shows. It creates an odd shared universe situation in that:

1. Green Acres definitely shares a reality with Petticoat Junction. The regulars from Petticoat appeared frequently in the first season of Acres, and Sam Drucker was a regular on both shows simultaneously.

2. Beverly Hillbillies definitely shares a reality with Petticoat Junction. Several holiday episodes involved the Clampetts going to visit Junction, and Granny was notably smitten with Sam Drucker (which would lead one to conclude all three shows share a reality, since Sam was a regular on Acres, too. However...)

3. Beverly Hillbillies is definitely fictional on Green Acres. Eb mentions it as his favorite show several times, and once the town put on a "play" that was actually them acting out an episode of Hillbillies.

So, in conclusion... jokes are more important than continuity in Hooterville.

Stuart V wrote:

Or else the Beverly Hillbillies was the first reality TV show, and that's what Eb watches. Or the Clampetts' real life rags-to-riches story provided the basis for a fictional series, just like, for example, we have TV series based (loosely) on the real world Untouchables.

 

 

6/06/2020 3:41 pm  #6


Re: Evidence of Separate Universes

More:
The mobsters in The Sopranos are fans of the godfather movies, though it appears that at least in part they see them as unintentional comedies
In The Incredible Hulk (2008), the Bill Bixby comedy The Courtship of Eddie's Father appears on TV.
In one episode of Mad Men, Don and Lane go to see Gamera.
 


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7/08/2020 2:02 am  #7


Re: Evidence of Separate Universes

Revisiting this, with a couple of new examples and setting some ground rules for going forward:

Ground rules first. Two fictional tales, be they films, TV series, books, etc. are considered to be different universes if one of them unambiguously refers to or depicts the other as a fiction within that universe. This holds true even if they at other times cross over with one another. Yes, any such references could in theory be worked round by assuming documentaries or fictionalized accounts of true events, but since that could be applied for almost every case we'll take that option as read and set it aside for this discussion. Similarly we know realities are not shared if the two fictions are in some way obviously incompatible - for example, two different TV shows that depict the current day world suffering a worldwide and open alien invasion. The 1960s Invaders could fit alongside the 1990s War of the Worlds TV show, since both are covert invasions, but the TV shows V and Falling Skies can't, as both invasions are very public. Note that aliens being known to exist doesn't in and of itself make said show incompatible with more "reality-based" show. For example, the movie/show Alien Nation could still fit in a world normally depicted as more mundane since it's established there were only a few thousand of the alien Tektonese and they are virtually all living in the California area. So Lethal Weapon (set in LA) can't fit with Alien Nation easily, but Elementary (set mostly in NYC) could.

Lastly, a passing reference to characters from another show does not automatically make them different realities. I can't remember the specifics because I watched the episodes so long ago, but in Charmed one of the three Halliwell sisters makes a comment along the lines of "Where's Buffy when you need her?" - that's ambiguous enough that it could be her referencing a real world version of Buffy Summers she has met.

Okay, with those baselines set:
First Wave, a 1990s show about a covert alien invasion, cannot share a universe with X-Files. In the second episode a character scoffs at being told of aliens by telling the other person to "stop watching the X-Files."

 

7/08/2020 4:52 pm  #8


Re: Evidence of Separate Universes

Loki wrote:

in Charmed one of the three Halliwell sisters makes a comment along the lines of "Where's Buffy when you need her?" - that's ambiguous enough that it could be her referencing a real world version of Buffy Summers she has met.

The Wold Newton crowd are particularly fond of those sorts of explanation.

 

7/09/2020 1:45 am  #9


Re: Evidence of Separate Universes

zuckyd1 wrote:

Loki wrote:

in Charmed one of the three Halliwell sisters makes a comment along the lines of "Where's Buffy when you need her?" - that's ambiguous enough that it could be her referencing a real world version of Buffy Summers she has met.

The Wold Newton crowd are particularly fond of those sorts of explanation.

I know, and I can understand why - it's a perfectly reasonable way to explain such references. After all, characters who do share a universe reference one another that same way under the right circumstances. 

I have to admit that while I love the idea of characters all sharing a universe so they can interact, I've grown less fond of the Wold Newton version as time has passed. While I don't think it unreasonable revealing that all the different versions of (say) Dr. Frankenstein are actually members of a single family tree, repeating their relative's original experiment, I do balk somewhat at trying to make absolutely every exceptional adventurer, detective, larger-than-life villain, etc. ALL related to one another, nor do I like effectively erasing characters by revealing that the Shadow was also G-8 and the Spider (as Wold Newton originator Philip Jose Farmer originally posited). I feel the first is a step too far, and the second robs us of interesting characters.

 

7/09/2020 5:13 am  #10


Re: Evidence of Separate Universes

More:
Shawshank Redemption: characters watch Gilda.
In an episode of the A-Team, where the characters visit Universal Studios, where people dressed up as fictional characters is common, Face sees someone dressed up as a Cylon; yes you could possibly argue that an actual Cylon just happened to be visiting Universal Studios at the same time, but in context it was pretty clear that that the Cylon was there as one of Universal's fictional characters (as well as to wink at actor Dirk Benedict's past show).
The Return of the Living Dead refers to Night of the Living Dead as fictionalized accounts of real events.


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7/15/2020 1:46 am  #11


Re: Evidence of Separate Universes

Another throwaway reference, and one that doesn't 100% rule out sharing a universe, but it does suggest it. In the 2010s Roswell series (as opposed to the 1990s version), one of the aliens is worried that she might be suffering periods of mental instability, during which there is evidence that she might be using her powers to kill people. She promises another character that she won't go "Dark Willow" on them, a reference to a storyline from Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Given it is established that she's lived her entire life in New Mexico, that she would have been a child sealed in a suspended animation pod at the time when the Dark Willow storyline was set, and that in the Buffyverse the Dark Willow incident isn't public knowledge, it's hard to write that off as a reference to real events she was aware of. 

 

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