here's a fan theory a certain portion of television history took place almost entirely inside the brain of a young autistic boy okay so first things first a couple days ago we released a version of this video that was wrong my understanding of the Tommy westphall universe hypothesis was just completely incorrect if you would like to watch that video for academic purposes you can click here or you can find a link in the description we are going to turn off comments on that video if you did write a comment we saved it we put it in a paste bin there is also a link to that paste bin in the doobly-doo okay now on to a version of this video that is hopefully correct for the next several weeks here on idea channel we're gonna be doing something a little bit different every other week instead of taking a piece of popular culture and smashing it up against some academic or critical theory to see what happens we're gonna talk about fan theories speculations about the ways of some of our favorite pieces of media may work even if it doesn't really appear that way on the surface we're gonna do five of them we're gonna talk about Harry Potter Pokemon Star Wars probably dip at least a little bit into Final Fantasy Legend of Zelda and a few others the first fan theory we're gonna talk about right now is really I think something special it's a little old so it's gonna take some explaining but I think it's important because it's paradigmatic of fan theories it hits all of the fan theory high notes it's called the Tommy Westfall universe or the Tommy westphall universe hypothesis and it states that over 400 television shows and Counting all take place in the same universe the theory is defended thusly in 1988 the American television show st.
elsewhere ended its broadcast run a sort of dark comedic medical dramedy set in a hospital the end of its final episode can be read to suggest that the entire series took place inside the brain of a minor character a young autistic boy named Tommy Westfall in opposed to titled six degrees of st.
elsewhere comic writer Dwayne McDuffie explains that this could mean most if not nearly all of television had taken was taking and would continue to take place in Tommy's brain he writes if saying 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 end quote how so well if Tommy imagined nearly everything about st.
elsewhere including the people and those people show up on other programs doesn't it stand to reason that those programs are also imagined by Tommy Westfall this theory says yep now what you might say is okay sure but how many people meaning characters not actors are going to show up in other TV shows how many crossovers could there possibly be I hope you are watching this in your car but parked safe and completely stationary just so that you can literally buckle in one central and very important crossover takes place when alfre woodard who plays st.
Roxanne Turner reprised that role in a 1998 episode of homicide life on the street titled mercy this means that if the fictional dr.
Turner is a complete Westphal fabrication and she shows up on homicide then homicide must also by extension be a Westfall fabrication but okay hold on because homicide and much of television draws from its surroundings from the past and present of its medium as well as others Tommy Westfall becomes not unlike the breadcrumb trail or contrast medium making visible the extreme intertextuality of popular primetime TV once homicide is part of the Tommy Westfall universe every character crossing from it to other shows draws those shows into the westfall universe even if the characters crossing over aren't in the st.
elsewhere to begin with characters crossing from those shows to a third circle of shows then draw more characters into the universe and the process continues until the complex of TV we normally think of as being comprised of many discrete fictional universes separated by show title is laid out as one continuous fictional landscape unbelievable and as you might imagine that landscape is big just to take you down one pathway source here Eliot Carlin from Newhart visits the psych ward in st.
elsewhere layer old Darrell and Darrell also from Newhart squat in coach Hayden's cabin coach and drew Carey as well as Allen and grace under fire all end up together in Las Vegas during a crossover block Mimi from The Drew Carey Show appears in the key uglies daryl hugely and Nicky Parker from the Parkers crossover onto each other shows the Parkers as I spent off of Moishe who's Niecy and Hakeem go to the prom in clueless whose main character cher was visited by Sabrina the Teenage Witch from Newhart to Sabrina all in Tommy's mind but it doesn't stop at just characters oh no no props work too for example John munch from homicide which remember is part of the Westfall universe because of dr.
Turner questions the lone gunman from the x-files the x-files cancer man smokes Morley cigarettes Morley cigarettes have been in 24 American Horror Story the Americans Breaking Bad Fraser orange is the new black shameless that 70 show up all night Buffy the Vampire Slayer and as you may have guessed many many other shows the ending of st.
elsewhere with its snow globe and slow zoom and exposition suggesting Tommy has imagined six whole seasons of television and perhaps countless others provides the final piece for a puzzle many television fans would like to solve generally how can we imagine all or much of the media we love being somehow related somehow intertwined capable of interacting is there a pathway between Mulder and despite what if someone on the John Larroquette show influenced history in such a way that it made certain portions of Star Trek possible in the way that it's fun to see public figures you like interacting with one another on social media it's fun to consider how your favorite fictional universes may intersect or interact heck it's a whole genre of fan fiction it's even an incredibly popular video game with the point I don't think is that the Tommy westphall universe hypothesis or any other fan theory for that matter is correct is 100% and totally verifiable and we figured out a secret thing that's actually true about television and oppa bow before it's deductive completeness the point is that fan theories provide new ways to think with and act our favorite pieces of media and culture fan theories try to determine what noon or exciting situation can be reasonably wrung out of a story based on what already they're a good fan theory rearranges our reinterprets but doesn't recreate and append they allow us new ways to consider well-known often discussed popular and/or beloved media and they almost always meet whatever that media is on its own terms this approach has its pros and it's cons but most importantly it's fun for me fan theories are kind of like critical thinking popcorn this is why I wanted to start with Tommy Westfall are there people out there who believe unequivocally that the Tommy westphall universe hypothesis proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that over 400 television shows really and truly do exist in exactly the same universe that instead of it being a symptom of intertextuality resulting from purposeful cleverness sure but also a practical convenience actual accident and literal coincidence it proves a fundamental characteristic of Caroline in the city and the wire is that they could in fact be happening a mere train ride from one another inside a young boy's brain maybe and if so that's awesome but even Dwayne McDuffie himself followed his Proclamation that quote the last five minutes of st.
elsewhere is the only television show ever everything else is a daydream with an admission that quote obsessive cross series continuity is silly he was making a point about comic books and maybe fixating on that kind of thing is silly but also novel and as movie bomb points out both fun and something you can go deep on fan theories maybe Tommy Westfall chief amongst them are a way to reconsider stories and universes that you love maybe they've sharpen your thinking bits maybe to gain a little bit more insight into parts of the story not captured on the page or by the camera or maybe because you really honestly do believe that Calvin and Hobbes is a prequel to Fight Club if you don't know about that one you gotta go google it it's very convincing what do you guys think what role do fan theories play in popular culture and do you think the Tommy westphall universe hypothesis holds up at all let us know in the comments and I will respond to some of them in next week's comment response video in this week's comment response video we talk about your thoughts regarding trigger warnings in classrooms if you want to watch that you can click right here or find a link in the doobly-doo we also have one bit of very exciting news idea channel finally has hold on one second t-shirts it was designed by my andrea AKA art sparrow who is a very talented illustrator really really excited that we got to work with her so i'll put some links to her work in the description as well as well as a link to the dftba.
com store where you can buy this idea channel shirt it is the only thing that we have available right now we're working on a couple other t-shirt designs as well as some other fun stuff trying to figure out how to get like stickers and and various and sundry other things but yeah the merch train is finally leaving the station which is very exciting choo choo this week's episode was brought to you by the very hard work of these context Crossing fictional characters we have a facebook an IRC and a subreddit come hang out and the tweet of the week comes from Nick Stoller who points us towards an article about conveying and experiencing existential dread via super mario maker you.