"If I don't see you there
We'll all know why
And I'll try to find you
Left of the dial"
According to Keith Gow (and, apparently, prolific producer Tom Fontana), the lion's share of American television since 1951 were imagined by St. Elsewhere character Tommy Westphall.
"Here's the thing," Fontana has remarked:
[...] "It's my personal plot that all of television exists in the mind of Tommy Westphall, to this day. So 'Homicide' is still the musings; it's just that instead of looking at a hospital snow globe," as he did in the "St. Elsewhere" finale, "now he's looking at the police headquarters building snow globe.
"And because," Fontana adds, "we did the 'Cheers' crossover" â?? a few "St. Elsewhere" characters visited the Boston bar â?? "it would make all of 'Cheers,' which would then make all of 'Frasier,' also in the mind of Tommy Westphall. It only gets bigger and bigger and bigger."
Another conspiracy Fontana supports, with Richard Belzer, is placing Belzer's character of Munch on as many shows as possible. So far, the wry "Homicide" detective has appeared on "The Beat," "Law & Order," "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit," "The X-Files" and, in cartoon form, "The Simpsons."
Keith Gow and compatriots at places like Crossovers and Spin Off Master List [CSOML] have taken the ramifications of St. Elsewhere [imdb] and Homicide: Life On The Street [imdb] crossovers out to many layers of hierarchy, extending as far back as 1951 [xls] (I Love Lucy), and including (so far) 164 television shows.
The St. Elsewhere/Homicide crossover universe are at the core of "Group 2" in the taxonomy of "shared realities" at the CSOML, and some of the ramifications can get mind-bending. For example, St. Elsewhere crosses over with the original Bob Newhart Show; since Newhart's 'Bob Hartley' actually dreamed an entire series, that made the entire run of Newhart a dream within a dream.
Somehow, I find the idea that we're all the imaginings of a fictional autistic child strangely comforting. It's so much more accessible and sensible than the notion that we're all the creation of an omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent, and yet somehow interested deity... Contra Descartes, the universe suddenly seems to me to make more sense if I assume that God is a deceiver. Or a playful child.