10 Amazing TV Opening Sequences You Watch Every Time
The opening titles. (Almost) every show has them. Sometimes they can be quite entertaining.
Other times…not so much.
When done right, the opening title sequence becomes a part of the episode, something you’ll watch with just as much attention as the show itself.
For me, a memorable, enjoyable opening title needs a catchy tune for one. That is paramount. It also needs some good visuals. Whether it be scenic shots of where the show takes place, the cast, quick-cutting or slow moving. If it’s done properly you won’t be tempted to fast forward through it.
There are many fantastic shows I like that have some pretty sub-par opening titles (looking at you, “The Wire” – love the show, opening does nothing for me.) So with that in mind, here are 10 of my favorite opening title sequences (but not necessarily my 10 favorite shows. That will be a list for another day.)
(The list will also be limited to shows that I actually watch, otherwise this would have totally made the cut:
How good is that music??)
CSI: CRIME SCENE INVESTIGATION
“CSI”, like many other shows, has altered it’s opening titles throughout the years. Accounting for new cast members, updating the visuals, they’ve kept it changing. One constant though? “Who Are You” by The Who.
Is it cheating using a classic rock song that’s been around for years as your opening theme song? Perhaps. But good on ’em! With such a great song in your opening title, it’s hard for it not to succeed. Luckily, throughout many incarnations the visuals accompanying the song were pretty good too. Fast moving and quick cutting, lots of “science is cool” visuals…I know *I* never passed up an opportunity to hear that song for 30 seconds.
I really enjoy the opening titles of “Daredevil”. In fact, I’m not ashamed to admit that for the first few episodes it might have been my favorite part of the show. As of this publishing there has only been one season, so who knows if they will change it for season two, but what they had for season one was pretty good.
A very cool idea, using red paint (blood?) to pour over these invisible three dimensional models, letting the liquid reveal the form of each subject. It’s also neat how everything is “floating” in this imaginary space, giving it a very open feeling.
What gets me the most about these titles though is the music. The beginning of the music is good on its own, but once that main theme starts to play it’s darned catchy and I have caught myself humming that tune on numerous occasions.
GAME OF THRONES
Like the show itself, these opening titles are borderline “epic” in their own right.
Where do you begin? Entire kingdoms being “built” from the ground up before our very eyes? The music that has easily risen to one of the most recognizable scores in television? (If you think that is a bit of an exaggeration I’m pretty sure the Queen’s Guard across the pond doesn’t just randomly play ANY television theme.)
In a show with such large scope it makes perfect sense to try and lay out the setting in the opening sequence, in an effort to try and help the audience follow along whereabouts all these story lines are taking place. And be sure to pay close attention, because when they introduce new locations for new seasons – they add it to the opening. All those moving parts and gears and ladders being built and trees growing…it’s just such a cool sequence.
Another way to ensure you’ve “made it”? Have your opening spoofed by one of the most successful animated shows ever.
HOMICIDE: LIFE ON THE STREET
(See it here: Homicide: Life on the Street)
This entry is no doubt a little out of left field for most, but it doesn’t matter; I still enjoy them. They are so 1990’s. The black and white, the EXTREME close ups of the cast, the air of mystery they add to it with the ominous music…and lets not forget that barking dog trying to scare you off. For whatever reason this opening clicked with me, and I perk up every time I hear those first few notes.
HOUSE OF CARDS
Another opening with a great score attached to it. It just seems so….calculating and manipulative. Which fits perfectly, considering the nature of Kevin Spacey’s character.
The shots of the city of Washington D.C., Capitol Hill and monuments all time lapsed is a very basic yet effective idea. Having the opening take place from sunrise to sunset in a subtle manner is a nice touch as well. By all intents and purposes, it looks like just another day. It’s what we don’t see, the decisions and the chess pieces being played in real life behind close doors that is so alluring.
Yes….I know, this opening title doesn’t meet ANY of what I look for in a good opening sequence. In fact it’s quite the opposite. There are no great visuals, and there isn’t really any music. It’s just some floating text with an ominous sound effect under if tor 14 seconds.
BUT THAT’S WHY ITS SO GOOD.
Probably THE most basic opening title ever, “LOST” certainly didn’t make you wait long to get you back to asking “what the heck is going on?” for the next 45 minutes. When you think about it though, what could they have really done? With so many elements involved in that show, flashbacks, cast members coming and going, they couldn’t exactly have had Jack and Co. hanging out on a beach with some guitar riffing in the background.
Big fan of these titles. Simple yet mysterious.
(See it here: The Sopranos)
Whenever I’m watching an HBO show, regardless of what it is, this is the opening sequence I’m expecting immediately after the HBO ID. With the exception of one episode, that was how every show started. They also never changed, with the exception of the removal of a shot of the Twin Towers after 9/11.
The titles follow our main character Tony Soprano as he journeys from New York, over the bridge, and back to his home outside of New Jersey. The skyline, the town streets, the burbs, the McMansions. This is Tony’s ‘hood, this is HIS territory…this is where the majority of the show would take place.
The Sopranos was known to have some amazing music throughout the series. The decision to have all music “source” music, as in there was never an orchestral soundtrack and all music was a produced song, was a great choice. This may have never been more evident than using “Woke Up This Morning” by Alabama 3 as the opening tune. That song will forever be synonymous with The Sopranos, and matches the visuals and the show perfectly.
I consider “The Sopranos” opening one of the best of any tv show.
There was no way this wasn’t making the list.
“The Transformers” had a different opening sequence for every season, and every time it was just as awesome. The music is outstanding, and some of the lyrics are part of pop culture. The guitar riff in the background of the season one opening is classic 80’s, and the different approach to the theme in subsequent seasons gave you multiple versions of a great tune.
The visuals of the Autobots and Decepticons throughout is good old-fashioned animation gold. And lets also give some big ups to the sound effects!
THE WALKING DEAD
(See it here: The Walking Dead)
The opening credit sequence could be 30 seconds of black for all I care, as long as they are still playing the theme music I’ll still watch it.
The visuals are really good too, and they have changed from season to season, but for my money its all in the tune. I’m always waiting for the teaser to end and those strings to slowly creep under the scene and take over.
You can’t escape it. It’s The Dead. Walking.
(See it here: The X-Files)
Another 1990’s staple.
With a theme so recognizable and a title sequence filled with such odd visuals, it would be impossible for this not to be among my favorites. The “Paranormal Activity” and “GOVERNMENT DENIES KNOWLEDGE” text is too good, and introducing Mulder and Scully via their FBI badges is a nice touch. I’m still wondering what the heck that is oozing out of those 2 “orbs”.
The majority of the time the opening would end with the words “The Truth is Out There”, but sometimes there would be another message to end it. You just have to pay attention…which was another reason they were so good. You never knew when they would mix up the message at the end. The credit sequence was essentially the same for the first 7 years, tweaked for the 8th and completely revamped for the 9th season. At this point though, Mulder and Scully were basically removed from the show and the sequence just didn’t have the magic it used to.
We’ll have to wait and see what they do when the show returns in January 2016, but for my money the original show opening sequence is a classic!