Almost all of TV is the imagined universe of an autistic child.

When surfing the net, you come across a lot of geeky theories… such as an analysis of time travel movies… .  Well, I’ve become aware of an interesting theory about a lot of the TV shows out there being in the same universe.

I repeat… The 50s were cool.

I’ve known about this theory for quite some time…  I just never thought that so many shows were connected with each other.  Probably the first time I even thought about it was when I saw an episode of Happy Days which featured Laverne and Shirley.  I didn’t know that the shows were connected until I saw this episode.

Well it turns out that Happy Days and Laverne and Shirley crossed over with other shows, which had characters show up on other shows, which had more characters showing up on other shows… to the point that Star Trek, LOST, Leave it to Beaver, and Dennis he Menace all took place in the same universe.

Here’s a graphic which shows all of the TV shows connected.

So how come the people on Star Trek never found ALFs home planet?

Well, it also turns out that all of this universe is the imagined dream of an autistic boy named Tommy Westphall.

Tommy Westphall… Creator of Worlds.

He was a character on some hospital related TV show called St. Elsewhere.  In the finale of the show, it is revealed that the entire show didn’t really happen.  It was all a fantasy that he had cooked up in his mind.  This now brings up further problems.  If he had dreamed St. Elsewhere, then by extension, any show that those characters from St. Elsewhere ever showed up on, or any shows who’s characters appeared on St. Elsewhere are also part of the dream.  But it doesn’t stop there, all these shows in the graphic above are connected and in the same universe.. therefore it means ALL of those shows are in Tommy’s head.  This is known as the Tommy Westphall Universe theory, and there are about 280 shows within this universe.

(Edit: it appears the original creator of this theory, Dwayne McDuffie has never been credited, while his theory has become immensely popular. None of my sources for this article credited Dwayne, but after a reader pointed it out that I didn’t credit him either, and provided me with a link to Dwayne, I should add the link here. I’m sorry, Dwayne, I didn’t know you created the theory.) 

It was all a dream… within a dream of some kid that Ive never even met.

This theory is interesting, because there are several complications and quirks to this universe that make the theory really mess with your mind… Kind of like inception.

For example, in the 1980’s there was a show called Newhart about an old guy named Dick who ran an inn starring Bob Newhart.  The final episode of that show revealed that the entire series had been the dream of a previous character, Bob Hartley, that Newhart had played in the ’70s on the Bob Newhart Show.

The Bob Newhart Show is connected with St. Elsewhere through a crossover, meaning that Bob Hartley is a figment of Tommy Westphall’s imagination.  This means that Dick the innkeeper exists only in the dream of Bob Hartley, who only exists within the dream of Tommy Westphall.

But it doesn’t stop there.  If you look at the chart, any show that is connected with Newhart is part of Bob Hartley’s dream, and not at all in the same universe as the other shows connected to St. Elsewhere, as they are one step downward.  Happy Days (for example) is not in the same universe as St. Elsewhere, as Happy Days is part of Bob Hartley’s imagined universe, making it a part of a second layer within Tommy Westphall’s mind.  This makes it so that the Star Ship Enterprise cannot possibly find Mork’s home planet of Ork, because Ork is part of Bob Hartley’s imagined universe.  They should be able to go and find ALF’s home planet of Melmac though.

So, is Benny a figment of Tommys imagination or the other way around?

Now that we’ve established that there are different layers of this universe, we come into a much larger problem.  One of the shows connected to this universe, Star Trek Deep Space Nine, had an episode which hinted that Star Trek DS9 (and by extension ALL of Star Trek… and by extension every show connected with it) was all part of a science fiction story written by an author named Benny Russell who lived in the 1950’s.  
We never resolve whether Benjamin Sisko (the captain on DS9) is a character that Benny Russell is writing about, or if Benny Russell is part of some hallucination that Benjamin Sisko has.

If in fact the former were true, then you have Benny Russell’s reality as the top layer, followed by Tommy Westphall’s reality, followed by Bob Hartley’s reality, followed by Dick the Innkeeper’s reality. Tommy’s reality cannot be the top layer if Star Trek is a layer down from Benny Russell’s reality, because it would mean that Tommy’s own reality is two layers down and one layer up from his own reality (explanation Tommy–>Benny—>Sisko = St. Elsewhere<—-Tommy).  It would make Tommy’s reality a part of the first layer Tommy’s imagined universe, which is impossible.

Here’s another problem.  Sometimes shows within this universe are referenced as nothing more than TV shows on other shows.  For example… Different Strokes and Knight Rider are both in this universe, yet there is one episode where Gary Coleman’s character goes to the set of Knight Rider.

This means that in the reality of Different Strokes, Knight Rider is a TV show… but the events of the actual TV show Knight Rider is a part of the reality of Different Strokes. So, that would mean that Knight Rider is real and there is a TV show based on it, OR it means that Knight Rider exists one level down from Different Strokes, and only seems to be on the same level because we have not yet discovered where this step down occurs between the other shows that are connected between Knight Rider and Different Strokes.

Further complications made by this hypothesis are that Star Trek and Battle Star Galactica should be in the same universe, when clearly they are not. The 1960’s Batman show and the 1950’s Adventures of Superman are also “real” according to the theory even though the characters are acknowledged as fictitious in other shows that should be in the same reality. (Example, if the hypothesis is true, then Heroes and The Adventures of Superman should both be real and in the same universe, even though they clearly are not.)

And what of all the pocket universes and time travel that goes on in those science fiction shows? What does this do to the theory?

I have not actually analyzed the entire crossover grid, so there may actually be several layers within it that I am not aware of.  (Afterall, I haven’t seen most of the shows in the grid.)  Anyhow, I go to work on tuesday and geeky posts like this will be few and far between once I have actual work to do.

(Edit:  I’d like to thank all the users of reddit who have flocked here in droves on April 20th and 21st, 2011, making this post, by far, the most popular post on this blog.  And no, I didn’t link myself on reddit. I am not a reddit user)


17 Responses to “Almost all of TV is the imagined universe of an autistic child.”

  1. Christopher Nolan’s got NOTHING on you.

    • I’m not sure who Christopher Nolan is or why he’d be more geeky than I would be.

      Oh… he made Inception… I get it.

      Would be nice, but the Tommy Westphall Universe Theory isn’t my hypothesis. Though I believe I am the first to write about it having different levels like inception.

      • La law can’t be connected to seinfeld because in seinfeld they acknowledge that la law is a tv show in the episode the trip part 1.

  2. shaunistoobig Says:

    Very interesting post.

  3. Skeptical Says:

    Ummm, how are Firefly and Battlestar Galactica connected? Or Angel and Battlestar? And the Vampire episodes of X-files never conclusively showed a REAL vampire, so Buffy couldn’t have crossed over. I see many holes in this theory with just a cursory glance.

    • I’m not really an authority on the theory or any of those shows, but any severe inconsistencies can be explained by having several different levels of ‘reality’ within the universe, as demonstrated with the Bob Hartly universe as a second level below the Tommy Westphall universe.

      In addition, simply because the X-files never found a vampire doesn’t mean that they don’t exist. Buffy’s just better than Sculler and Moldy are at finding them.

      • But if it’s all just in the imagination of some kid then there could be plenty of flaws in his own logic.

        And maybe that’s how all of the plot holes in every TV show ever made can be explained.

        So next time you spot an inconsistency in a show you’re watching, don’t get mad at the writers, just blame it on Tommy.

    • I think I can answer the first one: on the remake of Battlestar Galactica, in one of the first scenes, a ship is seen on the background that is very clearly almost identical to Serenity (i.e. a ship of Firefly class), thus implying a link between both shows.
      I really can’t answer the other ones, but that doesn’t mean they don’t exist…

    • There are other connections besides just characters crossing over that can link the shows together into Tommy Westphall’s universe. Spike smokes Morley cigarettes, which originated as the brand of choice of the villainous Cancer Man in The X-Files. They are also smoked by characters in several other shows: Lois from Malcolm in the Middle, Lt Matt Cavanaugh from Killer Instinct, Warwick Brown in CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, and characters in Jake 2.0, Criminal Minds and Huff.

  4. […] The Case for Korean Ownership of Dokdo 2. Almost all of TV is the imagined universe of an autistic child 3. The Creation of an Asian Major League (baseball) 4. Korean Flower Crab, Maryland Blue Crab, […]

  5. Darth Krueger Says:

    However Tommy Westphall, dreamed of a better version of Tommy Westphall as a patient. And dreamed of Robert Hartley’s patient Elliot Carlin.

    Possibility 1: Tommy Westphall meet Elliot Carlin in a certain doctor’s office (see 2), and incorporated Elliot into his dream. Crossover with the last St Elsewhere episode, but not the same dream.

    Possibility 2: The Robert Hartley Ph.D. Nightmare Universe.

    Doctor Robert Hartley has an active detailed dream life, i.e. Newhart. Robert Hartley dreams of his inn keeper meeting Elliot Carlin. So is St. Elsewhere a Robert Harley nightmare involving Elliot Carlin and off-screen patient Tommy Westphall? Note here the consistency of it being the same type of dream. One where Hartley is dreaming of an actual patient, and one where Hartley is dreaming of someone like an actual patient.

    After all Robert Hartley is a psychologist, and could have or is treating an autistic child. Explains the level of medical, legal, financial, interpersonal, and etal details of St. Elsewhere. The slightly fuzzy nightmare of a doctor who’s seen or knows about hospitals and business first hand. A nightmare involving people he’s treating but can’t cure.

    It’s all about Bob. 🙂

  6. Random Pundit Says:

    The BSG/Star Trek element is easily rectified… BSG takes place in the past ( as the new reimagining clearly shows )

  7. […] its parody of the notorious St. Elsewhere finale.  In other news, you may have heard of the Tommy Westphall Universe Theory, a tongue-in-cheek “fandom” theory that points out all the cross-overs connected […]

  8. Yeah, you should credit the guy who came up with tht theory

    • You’re right. I should… I did say I found this on the net, but I don’t think the source I found it from credited him either. And if I swayed anyone into thinking that I invented the idea, then I am sorry, that was never my intention.

  9. […] of St. Elsewhere By Dwayne McDuffie Six Objections to the Westphall Hypothesis Eugene is Big!: Almost all of TV is the imagined universe of an autistic child. Tommy Westphall’s Mind interview Tommy Westphall live journal Maps of Tommy Westphall […]

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