With The Simpsons crossing over with both Futurama and Family Guy later this year for two full-length episodes, cartoon crossovers are making a comeback. When The Flintstones first met The Jetsons it was a historic event in animation, and the film Who Framed Roger Rabbit? proved that even rival movie studios can put their differences aside to create a quality product.
Cartoon crossovers are still a controversial practice, however. It can prove at best confusing and at worst off-putting. Seeing a well-loved character from your favourite cartoon pop up in a familiar but entirely separate setting has that not-quite-right sensation of absurdity. As if cartoons weren't absurd enough, a cartoon character crossover seems to break some sort of fourth wall in the viewing experience, turning our suspension of disbelief back on us and shedding stark relief on the surrealism of the whole cartoon world.
Aside from the existential crisis a cartoon crossover might cause in the viewing public, it can be an amusing novelty and a diverting break from the norm. Some of the world's very favourite cartoons have ventured into the cartoon crossover realm, and we're taking a look at 7 of these brief cameos that you might have forgotten about or completely missed.
7 Hank Hill on The Simpsons
In this blink and you’ll miss it appearance, Hank, Peggy, Luanne and Bobby from King of the Hill show up in Springfield to watch a football game in the season nine episode entitled “Bart Star.”
6 The Critic meets The Simpsons
To promote the short-lived and underrated cartoon show The Critic, Fox had the main character, Jay Sherman, appear in the classic season six episode of The Simpsons entitled “A Star is Burns.” Jon Lovitz’s Jay Sherman character was a central part of the story. While there have been cameos by Sherman on The Simpsons since then, another full-on crossover will never happen.
5 Hank Hill on Family Guy
In an extended cameo, viewers are treated to a bizarre sequence where we find out Hank Hill dreams about the Griffins. For this crossover, King of the Hill creator and voice of Hank Hill himself, Mike Judge, guest-starred in the episode. During previous King of the Hill references on Family Guy Hank Hill has been voiced by Seth MacFarlane. Stan Smith from American Dad appeared in the same episode.
4 The time when all of Seth MacFarlane’s shows crossed over
In 2011, Fox aired a special event called “Night of the Hurricane” when a storm threatened the stars of Family Guy, The Cleveland Show and American Dad. The actual meeting of the characters from the three shows was at the end of the American Dad episode as the homes of the families from all three shows ended up being washed up together. The crossover was a parody of a Golden Girls episode where that show crossed over with Empty Nest and Nurses.
3 Futurama and The Simpsons Comic Book Crossover
While both of Groening’s famous cartoon creations will meet later this year in an episode of The Simpsons, there have already been two crossovers in a comic book miniseries. The crossovers of The Simpsons and Futurama were published by Bongo Comics. To date there have been numerous in-jokes which have seen both The Simpsons and Futurama referencing one another; like when Fry finds a pile of old Bart Simpson dolls on a garbage asteroid or when Bender gets run over by a flying car in The Simpsons episode “Future-Drama” in season 16.
2 The Ninja Turtles meet the Ninja Turtles
To celebrate the 25 anniversary of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, a special called Turtles Forever was created where the Ninja Turtles from the classic 80s cartoon met the pumped up Ninja Turtles from the cartoon of the 2000s. The black and white, comic book versions of the Ninja Turtles even made an appearance.
1 South Park rips on The Simpsons and Family Guy
In the season seven episode “The Simpsons Already Did It,” South Park creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker expressed their frustration in thinking of an idea for a South Park episode and then finding out it had already been done on The Simpsons. Bart Simpson appeared on the show years later in the season 10 episode “Cartoon Wars,” which showcased just how much Matt and Trey despise Family Guy. Just one more thing to add to the long list of things South Park hates.