When it comes to TV shows, the cherry on top of the sundae of awesomeness that is a great series has to be the opening credit sequence. A flashy intro with a catchy theme tune can get you excited for a show instantly, and some of the best series out there have both incredible opening sequences and theme music that I find myself humming even when I haven’t watched the show in ages.
Of course, this isn’t to say that only good TV shows have good opening sequences, or that I don’t consider shows without opening sequences worthwhile. All I know is that a quality intro sequence is something I always look forward to while watching a TV series. What follows is a showcase of my 5 favourite TV series opening sequences.
5. Mystery Science Theater 3000
Here’s an opening sequence that tells us exactly what to expect from the show. An upbeat song explains the show’s premise to us in the form of easily memorized lyrics as an ultra-low-budget series of models depicts the story. Besides just being a lot of fun, the ease with which one can memorize the lyrics to the MST3K theme song means that when watching the show with friends (by far the best way to enjoy it), everyone can chime in and sing along to the opening credits! This is one of those intros that changes from season to season, as well, so it never grows stale. In the not too distant future…
4. The X-Files
This intro sequence is a classic! I was only 10 when The X-Files began to air on TV, and at that point I was still extremely susceptible to scary noises and images. I’m not going to mince words: this opening sequence scared the shit out of me. The weird pictures and video of paranormal phenomenon and the eerie theme tune by Mark Snow combined to perfectly represent the creepy show that followed it. Even though it doesn’t scare me anymore, I still feel a twinge of paranoia when this sequence starts to play. The sequence itself never changed much over the course of the show, with the exception of adding Robert Patrick to the cast list in season 8, and the occasional changing of the “The Truth is Out There” tag line at the end, but there was an alternate X-Files credits sequence that was shown along with the behind-the-scenes documentary The Secrets of the X-Files, which was pretty cool too.
3. The Simpsons
The Simpsons opening sequence has to be one of the most famous in the history of television. The creative team behind the show had the brilliant idea to keep things fresh by featuring new gags in the sequence with every episode – Bart writing on the chalk board, Lisa playing the sax, and of course the couch gag at the end – meaning that every opener was unique! After seeing most opening sequences a few times, even the good ones, I’ve been known to excuse myself to get a snack or use the bathroom during the opening credits. But not so with The Simpsons. This is an opening sequence that forces you to watch it if you want to see all the jokes in an episode. Plus, Danny Elfman wrote the music! The overall opening sequence didn’t change much for most of the series’ run, but when the show began airing in high definition, a new intro was created! You can see the old intro and the new one compared side-by-side in the video above.
2. Game of Thrones
The opening sequence for Game of Thrones is what inspired this list. Even though, at the time of this writing, the series has only been on for one season, I’ve fallen completely in love with the opening sequence. The clockwork board game imagery is beautifully rendered, the theme song is extremely catchy, and the whole sequence subtly changes to reflect which realms will be featured in the episode that follows! Of all the theme music featured on this list, the theme to Game of Thrones is the one that I find myself humming the most often.
1. Batman: The Animated Series
I consider this opening sequence to be nothing short of perfection. Showing us what is basically a short Batman adventure wherein the Dark Knight takes down some bank robbers, the sequence sets the mood for the show while at the same time telling us very little – the name of the show isn’t even featured! It’s this minimalism that makes the Batman: TAS intro wonderful. You could watch this without knowing anything about Batman and walk away with all the knowledge you need. The shot of Batman illuminated by lightning at the end is always the first image that comes to mind when I think of Batman.
The Addams Family
Masters of Horror
The Muppet Show
Flight of the Conchords
The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air
Monty Python’s Flying Circus
The Twilight Zone
Big Love (4th Season intro)