According to The Tommy Westphall Universe Hypothesis, nearly all of American television takes place in the mind of an autistic child. The theory first appeared in 2002, when writer Dwayne McDuffie wrote Six Degrees of St. Elsewhere for the Slush Factory.
For those of you don’t know, St. Elsewhere was a slick, well written and acted drama series about the doctors, administrators and patients of the fictional Boston hospital, St. Eligius (nicknamed St. Elsewhere by the staff). After a long, award-winning run, in the very last moments of the show's final episode, it was revealed that all of the events of the show were merely the prolonged daydream of an autistic child. None of it "really" happened. Whether you like this final twist (for what it’s worth, I didn’t), it’s a legitimate ending to a self-contained show. But if St. Elsewhere played by the rules of comics, either they wouldn’t have been allowed to do it, or they would have precipitated a crisis in TV Land far bloodier than DC Comics' Crisis On Infinite Earths. Why? Because crossover-wise, St. Elsewhere is the Kevin Bacon of TV shows.
Stay with me now, this is complicated but kind of fun.
Characters from St. Elsewhere have appeared on Homicide, which means that show is part of the autistic child’s daydream and likewise doesn’t exist. It gets worse. The omnipresent Detective John Munch from Homicide has appeared on X-Files, Law & Order and Law & Order: SVU. Law & Order characters have appeared on Law & Order: Criminal Intent. X-Files characters have appeared on The Lone Gunmen and Millennium. Characters from Chicago Hope have appeared on Homicide. Characters from Picket Fences have appeared on Chicago Hope. All those shows are gone (if you count cartoons, which makes this game much too easy, the X-Files characters have appeared on The Simpsons. The Critic has also appeared on The Simpsons. Dead).
Characters from Picket Fences have appeared on Ally McBeal. Ally McBeal has appeared on The Practice. Characters from The Practice have appeared on Boston Public. Autistic daydreams, every one.
But that's not all. St Elsewhere characters have appeared on Cheers, so Fraiser doesn’t exist. Neither do Wings, Caroline In The City or The Tortellis but who cares? Well, maybe you do, because Caroline In The City once crossed over with Friends, which crossed over with Mad About You, which crossed over with Seinfeld and The Dick Van Dyke show. None of them happened in our new, shared continuity.
St. Elsewhere also shared characters with The White Shadow and It’s Gary Shandling’s Show. Garry Shandling crossed over with The Andy Griffith show (no, really!). So Gomer Pyle, Mayberry RFD, and Make Room for Daddy/The Danny Thomas Show are gone. Make Room For Daddy takes out I love Lucy.
And there’s more, St. Elsewhere also shares continuity with M*A*S*H, so Aftermash and Trapper John MD are out of there.
Now here’s a good one, St. Elsewhere shared a patient with The Bob Newhart Show, so the Bob Newhart Show is part of the grand daydream. The Bob Newhart Show crossed over with Murphy Brown, which in turn links to, among many others: Julia, The Nanny, Everybody Loves Raymond and I Dream of Jeannie! Meanwhile, the series Newhart was revealed to be a nightmare had by Bob Newhart’s character on the Bob Newhart Show. Newhart crossed over with Coach, which connects it to Grace Under Fire, Ellen, and Drew Carey. Drew Carey takes out Home Improvement and NYPD Blue.
All of these shows (and many more that I left out or missed) are daydreams of St. Elsewhere’s autistic kid.
That's forty-seven shows, by my count, that exist in this shared universe. You can also add Boston Legal, which shares many characters with The Practice, and both The Single Guy and Hope and Gloria for their crossovers with Friends to bring the count to an even fifty. Wait, no. Joey makes fifty-one. (We can keep adding to the list, since many shows that came out after 2002 cross over with shows already mentioned.)