While today’s TV crossovers usually involve superheroes or Dick Wolf shows, networks used to be a little more cavalier in what series were thrown together in the name of quirkiness. NBC was all about blending their Must See TV sitcoms together in the 1990s, and the world might have seen characters from Seinfeld and Friends mixing it up, had it not been for the creative iron fist of Larry David.
Former Seinfeld writer Peter Mehlman shared a story about NBC’s attempts to get the two hit comedies to collide, and he offered up what was quite possibly the best stipulation imaginable to sway David into considering it.
There was one time when NBC was suggesting there be a crossover night where the characters from Seinfeld would be on Friends and vice versa. Larry immediately said, ‘No way are we doing that.’ And I said to Larry, ‘You know what would be good, though, if we just tell NBC we will do the crossover but in our show Ross would die.’ I think Larry’s arm twitched towards the phone. We had a big laugh about it.
Oh man, that would have immediately become one of my favorite TV moments of all time. I mean, I didn’t hate Ross with all of my might, but his mopey-mope ways were grating, and seeing him meet some form of demise as crafted by Larry David and Jerry Seinfeld is a concept of epic comedic proportions. Would George have forced him to lick cheap envelope glue? Would Kramer have crushed him beneath dozens of bags full of cans? Would Elaine have gotten Puddy to beat him to death? Okay, that last one seems extreme but is it? Is it?
Honestly, if the episode wouldn’t have a groundbreaking moment like that – whether it come in a dream sequence or something similar – then what would be the point of having the two characters groups meet up? The Seinfeld crew definitely wasn’t one to use a gimmick for the gimmick’s sake, and if the humor wasn’t at the forefront of an idea, then it was generally scrapped. My brain hurts thinking of ideas NBC would have pitched, such as Kramer getting a job at Central Perk, or George and Phoebe going on a calamity-filled date. A caper episode centered on Newman, Bania, Ugly Naked Guy and Gunther robbing a bank and running from cops? That, I’d have watched.
Mehlman also shared with Uproxx the time that NBC came up with their “blackout night” idea, in which all of the Thursday night comedies would feature a New York blackout. As you can imagine, Larry David was quick to say no to that one, too, and it was the only NBC show that night that bypassed the concept.
Happy Festivus, everyone!