In this article, we utilize the Collaborative Governance Databank to empirically explore core theoretical assumptions about collaborative governance in the context of crisis management. By selecting a subset of cases involving episodes or situations characterized by the combination of urgency, threat, and uncertainty, we conduct a plausibility probe to garner insights into a number of central assumptions and dynamics fundamental to understanding collaborative crisis management. Although there is broad agreement among academics and practitioners that collaboration is essential for managing complex risks and events that no single actor can handle alone, in the literature, there are several unresolved claims and uncertainties regarding many critical aspects of collaborative crisis management. Assumptions investigated in the article relate to starting-points and triggers for collaboration, level of collaboration, goal-formulation, adaptation, involvement and role of non-state actors, and the prevalence and impact of political infighting. The results confirm that crises represent rapidly moving and dynamic events that raise the need for adaptation, adjustment, and innovation by diverse sets of participants. We also find examples of successful behaviours where actors managed, despite challenging conditions, to effectively contain conflict, formulate and achieve shared goals, adapt to rapidly changing situations and emergent structures, and innovate in response to unforeseen problems.