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Crossover is fan work trope in which two or more discrete franchises, characters or universes are put into the same work. One version of the Rules of the Internet states that “a crossover, even improbable ones, will eventually happen in fan art, fan fiction, or official content. No exceptions.”
Crossovers have been present in fiction work for decades, with one of the earliest known examples published in the French magazine Je Sais Tout in June 1906. Penned by French author Maurice Leblanc “Sherlock Holmes Arrives Too Late,” was an unofficial crossover, pitting Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s famous detective against Leblanc’s well-known character Arsène Lupin, the gentleman thief. When Doyle found out about the use of his character, he requested that the name in the story be changed to Herlock Sholmes in future publications to avoid a legal situation.
Crossovers that are either artist-sanctioned or unofficial have continued to be found in mass media, including works of literature, movies, comics, television series and video games. Fandoms have used crossovers in their fiction since as early as 1979 when a story featuring characters from Star Trek and The Man from U.N.C.L.E. was published in a zine.The trope became incredibly popular in zines throughout the 1980s, with no constraints on the fandoms that would mix together. This zine work bled into Usenet groups, where crossover work was discussed as early as October 1994.
By April 1995, a rec.arts.sf.fandom poster known by the handle Krikket began compiling an archive of crossover science fiction stories posted online, but it no longer exists. Another sci-fi crossover archive was established in 1997, but has also since been removed. Throughout the 1990s, works of crossover fiction were discussed on alt.startrek, alt.tv.dawsons-creek and alt.tv.x-files among many others. In September 2004, Fanfiction.net launched a group dedicated to Crossovers, which has archived moer than 700 stories as of April 2013.
One of the earliest LiveJournal communities dedicated to crossover work was created on September 22nd, 2003 and is still active as of April 2013. In approximately 10 years, the journal has made more than 5,800 posts and maintains more than 1,400 viewers. In 2006, an LJ recommendation community for crossover work was established, but it ceased updating in 2008. As of April 2013, Fanfiction.net has nearly 50,000 search results for “crossover” while Archive of Our Own has an additional 21,000 search results. Fanlore lists a number of well-known crossover fan works. TV Tropes also lists a large number of crossover works, both in mass media as well as notable fan works.
In Fan Art
Crossovers are also commonly found in fan art. In May 2011, the deviantART community #Crossover-Kingdom launched, gaining more than 67,000 views and 2,400 members in slightly less than two years. In 2011 and 2012 respectively, collections of crossover art were featured on IO09 and Buzzfeed. This type of fan art can be found on Tumblr, Pinterest and deviantART, which hosts more than 232,000 crossover works.
The concept of crossovers often draws heavy criticism, with some viewing the practice as a cop-out or a way to cash in on the success of two different series. Critics also argue that crossovers do not allow the author to fully develop each of the characters, with writers wishing to achieve the novelty of putting the characters together instead of actually characterizing them, as suggested in a post on alt.drwho.creative in 1998. However, others view it as a creative opportunity to not only see how different franchises work with one another, but to introduce readers to characters from franchises they normally wouldn’t interact with.
Fan Fiction and Fan Communities in the Age of the Internet – A Brief History of Media Fandom: Late 1980s: Crossovers
alt.startrek.tos.trekmuse – Another update@The sci-fi & fantasy crossover site! v1.00
alt.tv.x-files – The mother of all sci-fi x file crossover stories!