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Bookish Delight

Aiming for your heart: target locked!

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On Crossovers: A Hypothesis and A Dilemma · 5:10am Sep 1st, 2014

I would read the living crap out of this. If it were actually well-done, that'd be a plus, too!

This blog post is the product of several months of idle thought. As with most things that come from idle thought, it's not very good, but it's the best I've got.

As I'm sure many of us have observed over the years, attention is the currency of fandom. We may say we write for ourselves, but if we truly did, we wouldn't post our stuff on the Internet, silently hoping that complete strangers notice us.

Anecdotally, I've seen a good number of people complaining about "shitty crossovers" on this site. I'm not sure what series these stories usually cross over, but I can hazard some guesses.

Anecdotally, I have also seen dozens of well-written crossovers from quality authors over the years get sent out to die. These crossovers tend to very much be passion projects, crossing over with something the author tends to care deeply about. Trouble is, these are series that aren't the usual uber-popular fare. They might be old, they might be obscure, they might not be something Fimfic's userbase is all that into, or they might have been posted slightly past the crossed-over-series's 15 minutes of fame. But they wanted to write it anyway, and on principle, that's great. Therein, however, also lies the snag.

Don't worry, I'm going somewhere (terrible) with this, I promise.

If you're writing a crossover with something that's (a) ingrained in internet language, (Doctor Who, anything that Valve makes) or (b) something that a large vertical slice of 18-25-year-old males love (Halo, Grand Theft Auto... anything that Valve makes), you're sitting pretty. Type away, my friend (and if your Halo crossover dares to include Linda-058, tell me so that I might actually care enough to read it!) But if you're crossing over with, I dunno, Death's Head, then you're SOL unless you can get that sucker posted on EQD or something. :trollestia:

Or take my last foray into crossovers. Mighty Rescue Mares! isn't, like, the best thing ever, and a recent reread shows that it's got some problems. I consider myself a good crossover writer in as much as I know for a fact that I'm a wizard at making any two universes work, but the actual writing execution of that story could use a redo, and hard. Especially given what I know of the unfinished second part on my hard drive. >_< Still, for all the story's faults, what's up so far is the product of a ton of research on how to make those two series and their sets of characters gel together, as well as contains what I still feel is the best thing I've ever written regarding Princess Twilight as a character, before Lulamoon's Castle happened. (It's the latter half of Chapter 2, if you're interested.)

But it's a crossover with god damned Mighty Switch Force. No one knows what the heck Mighty Switch Force is.

Which is absolutely no problem but my own, as well as the crux of my dilemma.

I have tons of crossover ideas in my mind, most stemming from a single premise or meeting of a couple to few characters between MLP and the series in question. The snag is that I know that every single one of these series would have maybe thirty people interested in reading a crossover between them and ponies. My main jams are Western Cartoons from the last two decades, old-school anime, tokusatsu, video games that are Japanese in origin and may not have gotten the best of print runs or sales numbers, and Saints Row. I'm working with a few weights here.

So I'm gonna go ahead and throw it out: the reason there are "no good crossovers" is that no one reads them when they're written, simply because they're crossovers. Thus, outside of a few absolutely crazy people who I will forever respect, the ones who can write good crossovers conclude (and rightly so, IMO) that it's not worth it, in a medium where attention is currency, to spend hours upon days upon weeks creating something that will only be read by crickets.

You would say that my priorities are wrong. I would say that you are absolutely right, and there used to be a time that I would care more. That time was, ironically, when the fandom was smaller, for reasons I'm sure you can ascertain.

The people who write crappy crossovers, however, don't give a hoot about any of this. Nothing stops them because, well, just writing the darn thing is enjoyment in the first place. And thus, here we are.

The question now, is: in this scenario, who is having more fun?

If you do find a good crossover, cherish it and pimp it. Seriously. However, that means that you'll actually have to take a chance at reading crossovers, even if you don't know the series being crossed over. So try that too once in a while! Take a chance, and take a plunge. :twilightsmile: You might get turned on to a series you knew nothing about! Believe me, that's how it worked in Web 1.0.

Anyway, I've been thinking of a way to have my cake and eat it too -- that is, be able to write the cross-series character interactions I crave, even though I know no one will read them, and still have it be worth my time.

I think I might have something.

As always, stay tuned. G'night, all. Oh, yeah -- and there's still time to ask me stuff.


Report Bookish Delight · 543 views · Story: Mighty Rescue Mares! ·
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Comments ( 47 )

My view on crossovers is that it's better to write for a single fandom than for two fandoms. Assume that your audience knows nothing of the series being crossed-over into, and don't advertise the crossed-over series. Instead, just sort of work it into the plot, giving every necessary detail of the crossed-over universe as the completely uninformed reader needs it.

I once had to review a Dragon Ball Z crossover. Since I live under a rock, I was completely lost by the author's casual use of DBZ terms as if I already knew what those meant. I could not help wishing that the writer had just decided to write for a general MLP audience, and made the effort to handhold readers like me through the intricacies of the DBZ universe.

If a story looks like an interesting pony story, and advertises itself as such, but just has a little inconspicuous [Crossover] tag, I will still read it. But I certainly don't want to have to break my back doing research on an entire intellectual property just to be able to follow along with a story.


Got it in one!

There's a big finesse factor with making these work -- you need to provide more exposition than normal to the reader (for both series), but you also don't want to get infodumpy because story flow will be important forever.

Fortunately it helps that one of the fun things about crossovers is seeing characters introduce themselves to each other and find out what they have in common in terms of traits and goals. Which is why I do believe it's fine -- suggested, even -- to cover for both series even though we're on a pony site. You get leeway in that respect. At the same time, doing a crossover for an MLP site? Might want to skew the story's attention sightly in favor of MLP unless the story absolutely demand sotherwise. Just sayin'.

But yeah, jumping into a story and crafting it as if your reader will be a scholar of both series is a good way to get your audience lost, and then lose your audience. I'm guessing that happens often enough to make people wary.


But yeah, jumping into a story and crafting it as if your reader will be a scholar of both series is a good way to get your audience lost, and then lose your audience. I'm guessing that happens often enough to make people wary.

That's one of the reasons I'm reluctant to read crossovers. The other is that, to be any good, the author has to mimic the styles of two different fictions. Not an easy task. Plus getting anything "dark and gritty" to play well with MLP isn't easy either.

Though I've also read some unexpected MLP crossovers that worked, and worked well. Who would have thought you could cross MLP with Harry Dresden, Sherlock Holmes, or freakin' Bolos of all things?:pinkiegasp:

The worst are stories with the crossover tag that give no clear indication of what they're crossed over with. I usually just assume that I would recognize it if I was familiar with the second source, therefore I must not be, therefore I shouldn't bother reading it. Because like most people, I probably won't bother with a crossover, no matter how good it might look or how much I like the author, if I'm not familiar with or don't care for the second source.
But if I see ponies crossed over with something I do like, I'll usually at least give it a chance (or sometimes just toss it into the bottomless pit that is my "Read Later" list, from which it may or may not ever emerge).

Well, I’m gonna write a crossover, just to show you!

I don’t know what I’m going to show you, exactly. But I’ll show you!

Ooh, Sherlock Holmes!

I think you can make something gritty work with MLP, the key would to just be to find something, anything, that both worlds or even just one character from each world have in common with each other. I see too many crossovers bring in the gritty series at the expense of MLP and going about it like that can have... dubious results outside of an over-the-top comedy.

One of my favorite crossovers from the fandom's early days was with House, M.D. The author just made House and his assistants ponies and went from there. Both worlds fit like a glove. Hilariously simple, yet effective. I need to track that back down.

What's funny is, the one Pony Crossover I have posted*, "The Visitor", is to my mind far and away one of the weakest things I've ever done, and even now a huge reason why I'm so hesitant to get back to work on it is because I find myself doubting that the core narrative I originally meant to explore with it is actually all that interesting or worthwhile...and yet, because it's a "Transformers" crossover, it is also easily one of my most popular stories.

I almost feel guilty about it, because I would pick your "Mighty Switch Force" crossover over my or indeed any other Pony/TF crossover I've ever read (with the possible exception of tumbleweed's hilariously wonderful and wonderfully hilarious "Friendship is More Than Meets the Eye"); indeed, your 'fic turned me on to the "Switch Force" games, and made me consciously recognize WayForward as a studio to follow. It's this peculiar side-effect of the Crossover as an animal, I guess, where the quality of the story is almost immaterial next to the popularity of the franchises being crossed together in terms of finding and holding an audience.

But as you say, it's all about the Fun, so I can't get too grumpy about it. There are some lovely crossovers out there, and some of them have managed to find the audience they deserve, and that makes me pretty happy, in the end. ^_^

Also, I find it interesting that you'd be down for a Pony/Valkryia Chronicles crossover; I know you love VC, but I also know you're pretty cool on the whole Militarized Ponies thing. Guess I know which emotion's stronger in you now, though I can't say I'm surprised. :heart:

*I have another one in progress which, thus far, I'm much happier with, but you won't be hearing from it for a little while longer.

I think I got a crossover allergy from the old "Ranma x everything under the sun" crossover fanfics. :twistnerd:
Thus, I find myself preferring mash-ups, where another setting is ponified or merged into MLP, rather than two different fiction streams crossing openly.

But yes, good crossovers can be really good, Unfortunately, we seem to be getting way too many Badass Human in Equestria crossoverse... :unsuresweetie:

Now that is a crossover I would read!

And I now just realise that EVERY single one of my stories are crossovers...

Maybe I should write something else?

I don't mind crossovers, but a lot of the ones on this site seem to focus more on advertising the universe being crossed over with the ponies rather than it being a pony fanfiction. Nine times out of ten it's the characters from the other franchise having to be wheeled in as the entirely unimaginatively-designated Warriors of Truth and Virtue to save Equestria from some arbitrary evil and I really, really hate that. It doesn't much help when they're from one of those edgy as shit games where everything's all brown and grey and everyone has fifty guns and spouts hardcore military-ese.

Then again, I do like some crossovers on here. I liked that one you wrote, though I must admit I'd never heard of that game before, and in particular I really enjoyed those Dr. Robotnik ones TwilightSnarkle wrote because those stories were about realistic personalities, character growth and redemption, and they were so lovely to read. And the ponies weren't pushed off to the side to advertise the dudes with guns.

This is all actually really helpful and I'll be taking it into account as I consider future crossover projects. Thanks!

Also while I'm technically fine with pony fusions/mashups, I tend to see the "x but with PONIES" concept get used way way too much as a tool for laziness, thus I've cooled on them somewhat. Not entirely, though!

(Those Robotnik crossovers are on my Read Later list, though I'm almost afraid to look. Seriously, they appear to be the epitome of tryhard on the surface, even though by all accounts they're actually works of mild genius! Ah well, one of these days...)

Personally, I prefer MLP/X crossovers of the type "Ponies replace characters in universe X" over "Characters from universe X end up in Equestria". It's fun to see them fill new roles. I'm currently working on three:

MLP/Ultima 4: Quest of the Avatar. Twilight gets summoned to a Britannia populated by familiar ponies, with friends and acquaintances in curious roles.

MLP/JoJo's Bizarre Adventure. Currently on ice because the Stardust Crusaders arc has five protagonists, so either Applejack or Rarity doesn't get a role. But Rainbow Dash makes for a great Jotaro.

MLP/Makai Kingdom.

They're not extremely popular fandoms, but I still want to write them.


Take a chance, and take a plunge.

No. :rainbowdetermined2:

I would definitely read a Saints Row crossover.

There's one more property to consider for a crossover: series longevity. That's part of why Doctor Who works so well. Aside from Time Turner acting as a preloaded Doctor expy, everyone knows the series simply because it's been on the air for so darn long. Decades of exposure turns something into an ingrained cultural phenomenon, rather than a flash in the pan that will be dated in a matter of months. (Five Days at Freddie's, I'm looking at you.)

Hence my preferred crossover fodder, Magic: the Gathering. More than twenty years of collectable cardboard lend themselves well to overall reader familiarity, especially the subset that's likely to be reading pony fanfiction. (Well, that, and I like Magic: the Gathering. But I think the sheer bulk of its existence helped bring in the initial audience.)

Interesting thoughts on the subject, Bookie, and I agree with pretty much all of it. It's really sad when a talented author would write a crossover, only for it to not take off and just die. For example, RainbowBob once wrote a very promising crossover between MLP and Judge Dredd, only for it to pretty much die out after two or three chapters. As a huge fan of Judge Dredd, I'm crushed.

But the comments here have also been informative. I'm glad to see that others share my opinion that a crossover is still a story, not some fandom's big circlejerk. What I mean by that is, in stories, you have to write each character as if the reader is being introduced to them for the very first time. This eases in readers who aren't fans of one of the two sources.

I mean, my story Equestrylvania is a crossover between MLP and Castlevania. So when I introduce characters like, say, Actrise (who was only in one game, but so memorable I decided she'd make a great arch-enemy for Twilight), I suppose I could have just written

And then Actrise showed up.

But you don't want your readers to ask, "Who the fuck is this guy?" So instead, I write it as

The Ghostly Dog and This Man together trudged, their feet scritching and scratching against the dirt as they searched for the rib. Some distance behind them, a pale woman, another Homo sapien seemingly untouched by time (although young and pretty instead of old and gnarled like This Man), walked in impatient silence.

Her slim hips swayed attractively as she went along, ghostlike and quiet. Her short white hair curled about the base of her neck. She had in her hand a long, curiously crafted staff whose head was stuffed with feathers (like the plumage of her hat), and the skirt of her dark dress billowed with her movement.

The gaze of her red eyes bore a hole in the back of This Man's head. "Have you located it yet?" she asked. Her voice was deceptively sweet, colored by her slight French accent.

Ah, there we go. Now she feels like a character and less like a name.

I'd think this same rule applies to things like environments. And everything in crossovers, really. Just treat it all as if it's the reader's very first experience with the non-MLP source and you'll do fine -- I managed to enthrall even non-Castlevania fans with this rule.

So I've ranted and self-advertised for long enough. Fingers crossed for a return of Mighty Rescue Mares, which I was actually terrified would end up in the big pile of unfinished works.

You had me at old-school anime. :duck:

I wonder what idea you have...:pinkiehappy:

I once had an idea for using the Might and Magic 'verse as a base...

So, is "Celestia Chronicles" supposed to be "Valkyria Chronicles?"

God, I remember when I used to do crossovers all the time. But now, my muse has faded. Or moved out. The bastard never paid the rent anyhow. The only crossovers I think I can actually do now if I pushed myself hard enough would be... either Hellboy or Lobo. Lobo because he's been crossovered with so many things in the actual comics already it would just be another piece added to the collection (and also because I totally rocked an awesome cosplay of him at comic con oh so long ago). Hellyboy because I am the biggest Hellboy fangirl ever and I will straight up cut a bitch if they think they can out fangirl me (plus he's had to deal with talking equines before so it would make sense).

Also, I am sorry to say I only know Mighty Switch Force from all the hentai I see of it floating on the internet. :V

My favorite crossover on this site is easily Invictus's Magic and Mayhem and Murder... Oh My! (I can't link 'cause mobile Fimfiction sucks.) http://www.fimfiction.net/story/4631/magic-and-mayhem-and-murder-oh-my It's a crossover where Shawn Spencer from Psych comes to equestria and is forced to team up with celestia to take Down a reinvigorated Nightmare Moon, and holy cow it's just so beautifully well done, from the humor to the character development to the action to the world building to the plot to the SQUEEEEE!


That's all I had to day. Nothing constructive. :rainbowwild:

2419418 I've been meaning to read TwilightSnarkle's series for some time. I understand (according to Present Perfect) it's amazing.

I think that Crossovers get a bad rap.

I'm actually the pre-reader for a Batman crossover which I think is pretty good. But theirs a stigma to them. Its easy to find a Halo crossover. Its hard to find a GOOD halo crossover.

Mmm... now I want to start looking for the MLP/Three Kingdoms group that has to be out there. Personally, my story would hug a little too close to Dynasty Warrior over the source material, or a film like Red Cliff. Hey, a Romance of the Three Tribes...:trixieshiftright:

I actually have the oddest crossover idea, I'm probably not going to write it, but who knows. It starts with a mashup of the ponies and every other character from the show and making them into robots on Cybertrot. But it doesn't end there. No, that's too simple. See Optimus Twilight then chases Discotron to earth (or whatever planet Equestria is on) specifically a city called Detrot. There they meet the first of many soft fleshy little ponies. She has delusions of grandeur and a loud somewhat annoying voice. Her name is of course Star Screamer.

So yea, double mashup crossover.

2419177 Hm, that third one looks familiar :twilightsmile:

I've seen some pretty good Stargate crossovers, an excellent X-Com story or twelve (this one in particular), several Star Trek (of which I had to contribute in some small way), but I haven't been able to work up the courage to try one of my own for a large story. I'll have to work on that. Maybe X-Com. That just screams out for crossover.


but I haven't been able to work up the courage to try one of my own for a large story. I'll have to work on that. Maybe X-Com. That just screams out for crossover.

Mente Materia proves it can work. Go for it!

2419274 One thing I liked about Mente Materia was that pony optimism influenced XCOM just as much as XCOM's grit influenced ponydom.

Hey, Bookie? I just wanted to let you know that I am apparently taking this a lot more seriously than I initially anticipated, and have actually started writing that crossover that I threatened to write two days ago.

I also wanted you to know that this is obviously your fault, and I blame you for it entirely.


Valkyria Chronicles is one of my favorite series, period, for largely the same reasons Advance Wars is.

I have a soft spot for military-themed things that are more upbeat, concentrate less on the whole the RARGH WAR IS HELL AND SO HARDCORE thing and more so on the camaraderie between (likeable) characters with differing personalities who are made to work as a unit.

Your TF crossover was fun and I'd like to see you do more. :twilightsmile:

Oooh! Most intriguing!

Okay, so I tried to check but can't tell -- does this cross over with old-school XCOM or new-school? I'l check it out either way but if it's the new stuff then I will gladly use this as an excuse to finally crack open this copy of Enemy Unknown that's been sitting on my hard drive for over a year now :raritystarry:


I remember when Ranma and Sailor Moon were the only fandoms on the Internet.
Things were a lot less complicated back then. :twilightsmile:

(*shrug*) I say do what works for you. Hell, you seem to have cornered the market on shipping Pokemon with ponies. :rainbowlaugh:

> Ultima
> Jojo
...I knew there was a reason I was glad you joined up. I just couldn't place my finger on it until now. :raritywink:

Awwww, c'mon, Dashie! :pinkiehappy: Crossovers are just another one of those new and exciting things! Like when you kissed girls for the first time! Soon you'll wonder how you ever lived without it!


So would I. Someone should do one. ^_^

Futari wa Pretty Cure counts as old-school in 2014, Starlight! Follow your heart. :scootangel:

You realize I never stopped holding you to that Lobo crossover, right? I will wait until Gen 5 if I have to.

you probably shouldn't make me wait until gen 5 tho

Oh, you bitch, tricking me into writing a crossover fic was your keikaku since I first commented on one of your stories, wasn’t it?

Wasn’t it?!!

Wasn’t it?

Whoever does a Minecraft crossover of actual substance will own Fimfiction.

This is an excellent example. Thanks for sharing it. It really makes me want to give My Little Castlevania a shot now.

Whatever happened to that story, anyway? I can't find it anywhere.


Hmm. Psych keeps showing up on my Netflix queue. Maybe...

Indeed. A big part of that is because, as has been established all throughout this highly informative thread, it's harder than it looks.
Link to this Batman crossover, maybe perhaps? :twilightsmile:


So I'm not sure you might be aware of the extent to which I would utterly devour an MLP/Dynasty Warriors fic.

I have thus procured this visual aid which should sufficiently get the point across.

...the above goes for you too.


Let me answer that question with another question.

Could I interest you in some fruit? Like, how about a banana? Do you like bananas?

I don't know MUCH about Valkyrie Chronicles...but I'm not sure I could get into a story where the premise is - Okay, all your favorite characters are dead as the story starts. :fluttercry::fluttershbad::pinkiesad2::raritycry::fluttershysad:

I've never started reading Fallout:Equestria, either. It's a bit funny - I have no problem with the Fallout concept (not that I've played it - I just haven't bought any Fallout games). Apocalyptic earth where the majority of the human race is dead? Fine. Apocalyptic Equestria where cute colorful ponies were killed on a massive scale? TOTALLY NOT OKAY.

2421811 *strokes non-existent beard* Iiiiiiiiiiiiiinteresting. That makes an awful lot of sense, but it's actually genuinely fascinating to me to see you put it explicitly into words. Now I kind of wish I knew more about VC so I could make that crossover for you. XD

And thanks, sincerely, for the vote of confidence. I do ultimately plan to finish "The Visitor", and I may even end up doing more TF/Pony stuff beyond that, so it's nice to know you'll be following along when I do. ^_^

Oh, go and buck some apples!


Well, you can't find it under My Little Castlevania because I changed the title. Bit late for that, I know, but it had to happen eventually -- because, come on, that title is lame.

You can find it under Equestrylvania... or heck, here's a link. :rainbowwild:

2421813 Yes its the new XCOM: Enemy Unknown. Though if you're familiar with the original following along shouldn't be any trouble - XCOM hasn't changed much. Plus hey, it got me to buy the new one too. :rainbowhuh:

God, I remember when I used to do crossovers all the time. Nowadays I just do it when I want and whenever the idea can come to me. I mean look at when I thought that this was any good or the best fic in the world. But I kind of grew from that. Though, I still kind of do crazy ones (I have a Gatchaman/Voltron/Power Rangers crossover that is unwritten but told to my brother) but I have been sticking to mostly normal adventure or heartwarming fics.

What you are talking about here, reminds me of a msting that I once read dealing with crosovers "Crossovers don't work." I laugh about that then, and I still do. I mainly think that one of the reasons they don't read is because that they don't trust those other show or like you said-so obscure that no one cares about it. Heck, I advoided FOE for a few years because I bearly had a connection to Fallout and I hated the "post apocolyptic" feel of it (Now, its my favorite fanfic) and I think several times its the same.

I also believe there is a tiny stigma of what certain crossovers do. Well, from me. Take a look at a Sailor moon Crossover (a bad one) and tell me the first thing you see? Yeah, the senshi are getting their butt handed to them, treated like dirt, while the show that they are crossing over with is treated like the second coming! The same fear can come from pony fics. Heck, I was shocked when I got a compliment for my own Sailor Moon crossover when I had the mane 6 and the senshi fight as equals.

Nothing stops them because, well, just writing the darn thing is enjoyment in the first place.

That is what it is always with me. Yeah, I still crave and love the comments and reads that I've got. I love getting those notifications that said, "Hey, we love it enough to hit that star." But, I am still having a blast. When I started "Heart of Worlds" I knew that it wouldn't get much reads becaue of how little people know of W.I.T.C.H. Bt I didn't care, I wanted to make a W.I.T.C.H and pony crossover and have it out there for that small audience. The same goes for the small crowd on Supernatural pony tales. I know it isn't excatly my most popular or best...but I am having the time of my life bringing this stuff to the ones who DO read it.

I guess that is why I am amazed by the fame and love of FOE-it is a crossover and sad thing to say, but...crossovers seem to be the low rung of the fanfic ladder.

But...its still fn for me. To write a scenario that aint happening ever.

2421827 Link? Didn't I put one . . . hehe . . . oops. :twilightblush:

Here you go.

Uh kinda late to this conversation, but thought I'd add this:twilightblush:
Minecraftian crossover I thought is well done.

I have nothing against crossovers, so long as the crossovers are written well. If the two fictional properties make sense together, huzzah. If everyone is in-character, huzzah. If both, double huzzah. If neither, anti-huzzah.

Seriously, there's a 'fic here that crosses MLP:FiM over with 'The Big Bang Theory'. I have nothing against that, but the setup? The explanation for how the two universes are interacting? It's horrible, despite the fact that there's enough seeds in both programs that a crossover could easily be put together. I'm almost tempted to write one myself, but alas, I lack time, energy, and motivation to do so.

That said, I am very much tempted to write up MLP:FiM crossovers with both Doctor Who and Harry Potter. The former's more likely than the latter at this point, however, given the latter is a horribly ambitious thing.

I know this was written awhile ago but the main reason I don't read crossover fic is because I don't read as often as I used to. When I do I focus on stuff my brother Silver-Linings points out to me and that's about it. I've been thinking about giving Fallout: Equestria a try but the sheer amount of story makes the prospect more than a bit daunting. I think I'll stick with 'pure' fimfic for the time being but I wanted to thank you for giving me something to think about.

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