In 1997, The X-Files and Homicide: Life on the Street were established as taking place in the same world. Later on, in 2000, two characters from St. Elsewhere appeared in the Homicide franchise, linking these three series.

However, the ending of St. Elsewhere highly implies that the entire series took place in the mind of an autistic child.

As The X-Files is set in the same world as St. Elsewhere, does that mean that it is also imaginary, in-universe? Or am I missing something here?

[There are also a whole bunch of other science fiction and fantasy shows that apparently link to St Elsewhere in someway, including but not limited to LOST, Firefly and Doctor Who. You don't have to talk to about these other shows in your answer, but feel free to if you can.]

  • One of my favorite universal ties is the Morley brand of cigarettes. This brand has appeared in Film, TV, video games as far back as Hitchcock's Psycho. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Morley_(cigarette)
    – sanpaco
    Commented Sep 15, 2016 at 22:38

2 Answers 2


It is not reasonable to presume that a character crossover necessitates that two shows are taking place in the same world.

Captain America, as embodied by Chris Evans, has crossed over into what we believe to be our existing world, by appearing in hospitals. Tony Stark/Iron Man has appeared in our world, giving a small boy a prosthetic forearm. This does not mean that we are actually living in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

The Mythbusters showed up in CSI. I don't believe that means we're living in the same universe as Horatio Caine of CSI: Miami.

Richard Belzer has appeared as John Munch on Jimmy Kimmel Live! I don't think that indicates that we live in the Tommy Westphall universe.

So I don't think that John Munch appearing in a flashback episode of The X-files establishes that Homicide and The X-Files take place in the same universe, let alone that the chain can be made to the Tommy Westphall universe.

It is reasonable to believe that multiple character crossovers over the course of time could indicate that the continuities of two shows are closely related. For example, Millennium and The X-files have had several crossovers, and seem to be related. The Lone Gunmen is specifically a spinoff of The X-files, and is considered to take place in the same world.

CSI, CSI:Miami, and CSI:NY have mutually crossed over, particularly by having backdoor pilots. Those series are considered to be in the same world.

There are also shows that are specifically stated to be operating in the same world, where the same actor appears as more than one character. The Pattie Duke Show comes to mind, as do Eureka and Warehouse 13.

Also, we can have the same character played by the same actor cross over, and specifically and explicitly end up in different universes and continuities. The Transformers cartoons have the same Optimus Prime voice actor as the movies, who is playing roughly the same character. Still, the movies and the 80's cartoon are clearly in different worlds. The original Spock, Lenard Nimoy, appears in the J. J. Abrams Star Trek movies, where it is explicitly discussed that they are now in a distinct world/continuity from the one in which Nimoy's Spock originated.

All of which makes me think that it takes more than a single character crossing over once in a single episode of a series to force the connection of two media properties into one overarching world/Multiverse.

No matter how clever Tommy is.

  • Didn't the Mythbusters just play scientists in CSI, as opposed to playing themselves?
    – Rogue Jedi
    Commented Apr 12, 2016 at 18:40
  • 2
    I find your argument to be a bit of a non-sequitur. Our universe actually exists. Fiction that is set in our reality can be affected by real world events and people, but no amount of clever writing can make fictional events or people real. President Obama can have dinner with Tony Stark, but then that is a fictional depiction of real Obama that really exists in the Marvel universe. If the "real" John Munch appears in an episode of the X-Files, and it's not just someone in a John Munch costume, that is arguably sufficient to establish two fictional realities as being the same.
    – Mystagogue
    Commented Apr 12, 2016 at 18:54
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    An interesting, fairly recent example is the Doctor Who spin-off Torchwood. Early series of the latter ostensibly take place in the same universe as the former, but Torchwood: Miracle Day most definitely does not. Commented Apr 12, 2016 at 19:28
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    @John Sensebe - How do you know it most definitely does not? Moffat used the "cracks" to explain away why the characters didn't remember a bunch of momentous widely-publicized events that occurred in earlier seasons, couldn't this have applied to Miracle Day? There's some discussion of this and other possible ways of reconciling the two continuities here.
    – Hypnosifl
    Commented Apr 12, 2016 at 19:56
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    @Mystagogue: “Our universe actually exists.” [citation needed] Commented Apr 12, 2016 at 21:04

Not necessarily

Many TV shows have their characters reference other TV shows as fictional within the show. For example, Dean and Sam on Supernatural watch Game of Thrones. It is often the default assumption that a universe is "like reality unless noted," up to and including entertainment.

This being the case, it is not unreasonable to hypothesize that Homicide: Life on the Street is fictional within the St. Elsewhere universe but real within its own.

What this means is that any characters originally appearing on Homicide: Life on the Street can be assumed to have been incorporated into Tommy's dream world after he saw them on television. This is similar to how Sheldon from The Big Bang Theory dreamed that Spock was talking to him, without implying that Star Trek merely exists in Sheldon's imagination.

On the other hand, any characters originally appearing in St. Elsewhere are, from an in-universe perspective, characters who actually originally appeared in Homicide: Life on the Street. They were then later incorporated into Tommy's imaginary world!

The X-Files and Homicide: Life on the Street occur within the same fictional universe. St. Elsewhere occurs in a different fictional universe, in which the previous continuity is fictional, just as in ours.

  • Wait, that means if the Homicide and X-Files are the same universe, that means all the Law & Order series are in there too!
    – CBredlow
    Commented Apr 12, 2016 at 23:57
  • I guess they are. A lot of times writers will do very minor nods, though, without meaning to imply any connection. Was there actually a crossover? Also, I hate crossover events because of precisely how much fridge logic they introduce: i.e. the events of the X-Files miniseries are not noted in L&O:SVU.
    – Adamant
    Commented Apr 12, 2016 at 23:58
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    Dt. Munch was from Homicide: Life in the streets.
    – CBredlow
    Commented Apr 12, 2016 at 23:59

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