17 Best TV Opening Credits of All Time
Ranking the best title sequences of all time...
In this prime time for prestige television, we've been blessed with some of the most unforgettable opening sequences ever to grace the small screen. From the legendary map tracing of Game of Thrones to th haunting piano melody accompanied by nostalgic home videos in Succession, and the electrifying dance number that kicks off arguably the finest DC content of our time – Peacemaker, there's something about an opening title sequence that just sets the perfect tone for your favorite TV show.
Join us as we dive into our top 17 TV opening credits and ultimately declare the ultimate intro in television history.
17. Shameless (US)
From the gritty streets of Chicago's South Side, the opening credits of Shameless (US) become an instant visual manifesto. Bursting forth with a raw, unapologetic energy, they capture the spirit of the Gallagher family's unrelenting chaos and defiance. The opening sequence, set against the infectious tune of "The Luck You Got" by The High Strung, sets the stage for a rollercoaster ride of a show, blending humor, heartbreak, and recklessness.
The camera takes us on a voyeuristic tour of the Gallagher household, revealing a candid cacophony of bathroom routines and domestic dysfunction. The actors' authenticity and candidness, from William H. Macy's drunken Frank to Emmy Rossum's fearless Fiona, draw us into their world and make us feel like one of the family. The title sequence doesn't shy away from the darker aspects of life in the South Side, but it's the cast's unabashed charisma that keeps us coming back for more.
Shameless' opening credits, like the show itself, are a love letter to the chaotic beauty of life on the edge, and a defiant reminder that sometimes, you've just got to embrace the mess.
16. Fresh Prince of Bel Air
The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air title sequence is a cultural touchstone that instantly sets the stage for the iconic '90s sitcom. Featuring the unforgettable theme song "Yo Home to Bel-Air," performed by Will Smith himself, the sequence takes viewers on a journey from the streets of West Philadelphia to the upscale neighbourhood of Bel-Air.
The energetic, colourful visuals in the sequence mirror the lively and humorous nature of the show. As Will spins on his throne and dances with the show's cast, viewers are introduced to the vibrant characters and the contrasting worlds they inhabit. The sequence's catchy beat and infectious chorus, along with the witty lyrics narrating Will's life-changing move, create an ear worm that resonates with audiences even decades later.
The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air title sequence is a perfect blend of humour, storytelling, and '90s nostalgia that encapsulates the essence of the show. It not only invites viewers to join Will on his journey from humble beginnings to high society, but also remains a memorable and beloved part of television history.
The Dexter title sequence is a dark introduction that perfectly sets the stage for the original run of the critically acclaimed crime drama series. Accompanied by Rolfe Kent's unsettling yet catchy theme music, the sequence offers an intimate and visceral glimpse into the meticulous morning routine of the show's protagonist, Dexter Morgan, a forensic blood spatter analyst and vigilante serial killer.
The sequence takes ordinary, mundane tasks, such as shaving, flossing, and frying an egg, and imbues them with an undercurrent of violence and tension. Through extreme close-ups and clever visual metaphors, it highlights the themes of duality and the hidden darkness lurking beneath the surface of everyday life. The blood orange, for instance, being squeezed and dripping with juice, visually echoes the show's focus on blood and Dexter's secret life.
As viewers watch the protagonist's carefully executed morning routine, they are drawn into the obsessive and methodical world of Dexter. The sequence effectively conveys the sense of precision and control that defines the character, while also hinting at the grisly nature of his extracurricular activities.
The Dexter title sequence uses powerful imagery and symbolism to create an atmosphere of intrigue and unease that perfectly encapsulates the show's exploration of morality, identity, and the dark side of human nature.
14. Crazy Ex Girlfriend
The Crazy Ex-Girlfriend title sequence is a vibrant and playful introduction that perfectly captures the essence of the musical comedy-drama series. As the show's co-creator and star, Rachel Bloom, belts out the catchy theme song, viewers are treated to a colourful and quirky visual journey into the world of the show's main character, Rebecca Bunch.
Each season features a different title sequence, reflecting the evolving storyline and themes of the series. From the animated first season's retro-style sequence, which playfully mocks the show's title and concept, to the fourth season's ensemble-driven number, each iteration offers a fresh and engaging introduction.
The title sequences showcase the show's signature blend of humour, self-awareness, and emotional depth, while highlighting the catchy, original songs that make Crazy Ex-Girlfriend unique among television series. These intros also introduce viewers to the main cast of characters, providing a glimpse into the complicated relationships and personal growth that form the backbone of the series.
The Crazy Ex-Girlfriend title sequences are a delightful blend of whimsy, satire, and emotion that set the stage for the heartfelt and hilarious stories that unfold throughout the show, inviting viewers to join Rebecca on her journey of self-discovery and love.
13. Westworld (Season One)
The Westworld Season 1 title sequence is a captivating introduction that perfectly encapsulates the themes and atmosphere of the groundbreaking sci-fi series. Set to the hauntingly beautiful theme music composed by Ramin Djawadi, the sequence takes viewers on a mesmerising journey through the creation and inner workings of the show's lifelike androids, known as hosts.
The sequence features an elegant combination of CGI and practical effects, depicting the meticulous construction of the hosts and their world. Scenes of synthetic muscles being stretched over bone, the delicate crafting of a horse, and a pair of robotic hands playing the piano evoke the series' core themes of artifice, control, and the blurred line between humanity and technology.
The stark contrast between the cold, mechanical process of creation and the lifelike, human appearance of the hosts adds to the unsettling atmosphere, mirroring the ethical and philosophical questions raised throughout the series. As the sequence comes to a close, the skeletal figure of a host on horseback gallops across an open plain, a powerful symbol of the show's exploration of freedom and the nature of consciousness.
The Westworld Season 1 title sequence is a masterful blend of visual storytelling and thought-provoking imagery that sets the stage for the complex narrative and world that awaits viewers within the series.
The Peacemaker title sequence is a uniquely entertaining and energetic introduction that perfectly captures the show's offbeat and irreverent tone. Set to the infectious song "Do You Wanna Taste It?" by Norwegian glam metal band Wig Wam, the sequence features the cast engaging in a hilariously choreographed dance routine.
What sets this scene apart is director James Gunn's ability to showcase the cast's comedic talents and embrace the absurdity of the moment. John Cena, Danielle Brooks, Jennifer Holland, Freddie Stroma, Steve Agee, Robert Patrick, Nhut Le, and Lochlyn Munro dance with full commitment while maintaining stoic, emotionless expressions, creating a fantastic contrast that only heightens the humor.
As more cast members join in, the title sequence becomes a celebration of the show's quirky, tongue-in-cheek nature. The combination of the catchy 80s-inspired song, deadpan performances, and wild dance moves makes for a memorable and delightful introduction to the world of Peacemaker. The sequence serves as a fitting prelude to the show's blend of action, comedy, and unconventional storytelling.
11. The Simpsons
The Simpsons title sequence is an enduring and instantly recognizable classic that sets the tone for the long-running animated series. Opening with the unforgettable theme by Danny Elfman, the sequence takes viewers on a tour through the town of Springfield, showcasing its quirky inhabitants and landmarks.
As the famous clouds part to reveal the title, we follow each member of the Simpson family as they rush home from their daily activities. From Bart's skateboard escape after writing lines on the chalkboard to Lisa's saxophone-infused exit from band practice, the sequence highlights the characters' distinct personalities. Meanwhile, Marge frantically navigates the grocery store, and Homer flees his workplace with a radioactive rod in tow.
Culminating in the iconic couch gag, which changes with each episode, the sequence injects a sense of humour and anticipation as viewers eagerly await the family's latest antics. The Simpsons title sequence is an essential part of the show's charm, encapsulating the humour, wit, and heart that has kept fans engaged for over three decades.
10. X Files
The X-Files title sequence is an atmospheric and mysterious introduction that brilliantly sets the tone for the iconic sci-fi series. As the eerie theme music by Mark Snow plays, featuring its unmistakable whistling melody, viewers are immersed in the enigmatic world of FBI agents Fox Mulder and Dana Scully.
The sequence combines a series of intriguing and unsettling images, including UFOs, fingerprints, and shadowy figures, evoking a sense of conspiracy and the unknown. Interspersed with these visuals are catchphrases such as "The truth is out there" and "Trust no one," which further emphasise the show's themes of secrecy, paranoia, and the search for truth.
As the names of stars David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson appear on screen, their character portraits are illuminated by stark, dramatic lighting that underscores the tension and intrigue present throughout the series. The X-Files title sequence is a masterclass in creating a sense of mystery and suspense that captures the essence of the show, leaving viewers eager to delve into the unexplained phenomena and conspiracies that lie ahead.
9. True Detective (Season One)
The True Detective Season 1 title sequence is a visually arresting introduction that expertly sets the tone for the acclaimed crime drama series. Accompanied by the eerie and soulful song "Far From Any Road" by The Handsome Family, the sequence takes viewers on a chilling journey through the atmospheric Louisiana landscape, where the series' complex narrative unfolds.
The title sequence features a series of double-exposure images that blend the show's main characters, played by Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson, with evocative visuals of the southern gothic setting. This technique effectively conveys the themes of duality, darkness, and the inescapable past that permeate the series. The striking visuals, such as burning fields, dilapidated structures, and industrial wastelands, hint at the decay and corruption lurking beneath the surface of the story.
As the sequence unfolds, the somber mood and sense of unease intensify, mirroring the psychological and emotional depth explored throughout the series. The interplay of light and shadow, the fractured images of the characters, and the cryptic symbolism all contribute to the sequence's enigmatic and unsettling atmosphere.
The True Detective Season 1 title sequence is a mesmerising blend of evocative visuals and haunting music that creates a palpable sense of tension and mystery, providing the perfect introduction to the show's gripping exploration of crime, human nature, and the blurred lines between good and evil.
8. The Sopranos
The Sopranos title sequence is an evocative and moody introduction that perfectly sets the stage for the groundbreaking crime drama series. As the haunting theme song "Woke Up This Morning" by Alabama 3 plays, viewers are taken on a visual journey through the gritty, industrial landscapes of New Jersey, culminating in the suburban setting of the show.
The sequence follows mob boss Tony Soprano, played by the late James Gandolfini, as he drives from New York City back to his home in North Caldwell, New Jersey. The camera lingers on his face, capturing the mix of determination and introspection that defines his character. Along the way, iconic landmarks and everyday locations, such as the Pulaski Skyway and the Bada Bing strip club, are showcased, grounding the series in its authentic setting.
The Sopranos title sequence masterfully balances the glamour and darkness of Tony's life as a mobster with the mundanity of his suburban existence. It's an iconic and powerful introduction that effectively sets the tone for the gritty, complex narrative that unfolds throughout the series.
7. White Lotus
The White Lotus title sequence serves up a delightful entree to the main course of the series, a satirical look at the lives of wealthy vacationers and resort staff. With a quirky, infectious tune setting the stage, the opening credits showcase a series of beautifully animated tropical vignettes that perfectly capture the show's idyllic yet subtly sinister setting.
As the camera pans across luxurious hotel interiors and lush landscapes, it also reveals subtle hints of the dark comedy that awaits. The sequence expertly balances the contrast between the pristine façade of the resort and the brewing tensions and hidden secrets that bubble beneath the surface.
The White Lotus title sequence is a visual and auditory treat, enticing viewers to dive into the world of high society, privilege, and the deliciously twisted human drama that unfolds within the confines of luxurious resorts around the world.
6. Stranger Things
The opening sequence of Stranger Things is a visual and auditory masterpiece that instantly transports viewers into the eerie world of the beloved series. A dark, synth-laden theme by composers Kyle Dixon and Michael Stein sets the stage as glowing red letters slowly converge to form the iconic logo. The nostalgic aesthetic, reminiscent of 1980s sci-fi classics, captivates audiences and perfectly complements the show's thrilling storylines.
The title sequence's minimalistic approach, designed by Imaginary Forces, leaves viewers with a sense of anticipation and intrigue. It's a testament to the creators' ability to evoke emotions and set the scene without revealing too much. As the sequence comes to a close, the pulsating beat of the music fades, leaving the audience on the edge of their seats, eager for the adventure to begin. The Stranger Things title sequence is a masterclass in crafting an unforgettable introduction that captures the essence of a series and keeps fans coming back for more.
The Pachinko title sequence is an emotionally resonant and visually engaging introduction that effectively captures the essence of the multigenerational, multicultural story portrayed in the Apple TV+ series. The sequence begins with a montage featuring three distinct types of images: historical photographs, images from the show, and photos of the actors with their real-life families. The inclusion of these personal images emphasises the show's central themes of family, identity, and the shared experiences of immigrants across generations.
As the sequence progresses, the actors playing the central character Sunja's family can be seen joyously dancing in a Pachinko parlour. This lively and celebratory dance creates a striking contrast with the more solemn and nostalgic photographs, reflecting the complex emotional tapestry of the series.
The title sequence concludes with the Pachinko logo appearing in the show's three primary languages: Korean, Japanese, and English, reinforcing the series' commitment to authentically representing the diverse cultural and linguistic backgrounds of its characters.
Set to the nostalgic and poignant tune "Let's Live For Today" by The Grass Roots, the Pachinko title sequence is a powerful and evocative introduction that invites viewers to immerse themselves in the rich, multifaceted world of the series.
The Succession opening credits are a brilliant encapsulation of the show's central themes – power, family, and wealth. As viewers are plunged into the ruthless world of the Roy family, the opening credits provide a tantalising glimpse into their lives, underscored by a beautiful piano melody that sets the tone for the series. Intertwining footage of modern-day New York City with nostalgic, grainy home videos, the sequence highlights the contrast between the Roy family's public and private personas.
As the camera lingers on iconic cityscapes and landmarks, it drives home the immense influence wielded by the Roys, while the intimate family moments serve as a reminder of their humanity. The juxtaposition of these elements creates a powerful visual narrative that encapsulates the show's exploration of ambition, loyalty, and betrayal.
The Succession title sequence is a masterstroke in TV intros, artfully inviting viewers to embark on a journey filled with intrigue, drama, and high-stakes family politics.
The Severance title sequence is a captivating and enigmatic experience that perfectly complements the show's mysterious aura. As the show delves into the eerie world of work-life balance taken to the extreme, the opening credits immerse viewers in an unsettling yet mesmerizing journey. Set to a haunting score that sends shivers down your spine, the camera glides through a maze of corridors and office spaces, reflecting the claustrophobic confines of corporate life.
As the sequence progresses, surreal and evocative visuals intermingle with the mundane reality of office life, mirroring the show's exploration of the blurred lines between personal and professional identities. The subtle shifts in color and light, coupled with the mesmerizing motion of the camera, create a hypnotic atmosphere that leaves viewers both intrigued and on edge.
The Severance title sequence is a masterclass in visual storytelling, artfully setting the stage for the gripping psychological drama that unfolds within the series.
2. Game of Thrones
The Game of Thrones title sequence is nothing short of a small-screen sensation, etching itself into the annals of TV history. As much a work of art as it is an intro, the sequence treats viewers to a visual feast right from the get-go. Accompanied by Ramin Djawadi's spine-tingling score, the camera sweeps over a meticulously detailed map of Westeros and Essos, revealing the intricate geographies and shifting power dynamics of the Seven Kingdoms.
The astrolabe encircling the map brings to life key events and house sigils, ensuring each episode's intro remains fresh and captivating. The sequence evolves in tandem with the story, with landmarks rising or falling to mirror the twists and turns of the series. This ever-changing tableau primes viewers for the epic sagas that await, while also symbolising the ruthless power struggle that defines the show.
In all its grandeur and complexity, the Game of Thrones title sequence has left a lasting mark on the memories of millions of devoted fans.
1. Phineas and Ferb
The Phineas and Ferb title sequence is a whirlwind of energy, excitement, and creativity that sets the tone for the beloved animated series. With its catchy theme song, "Today is Gonna Be a Great Day" by Bowling for Soup, the sequence invites viewers to join the adventures of the inventive step brothers and their secret-agent pet platypus, Perry.
Colourful and dynamic animation captures the essence of the show's non-stop fun and endless summer days, showcasing the duo's imaginative escapades in a rapid-fire montage. The title sequence's vibrant visuals, combined with its upbeat tempo and clever lyrics, ensure that it's impossible not to sing along and tap your feet.
The Phineas and Ferb title sequence encapsulates the spirit of the show by highlighting the characters' can-do attitude and boundless imagination. It serves as a perfect introduction to the series, leaving viewers eager to explore the inventive world of Phineas, Ferb, and their unforgettable summer antics. In just under a minute, the Phineas and Ferb title sequence establishes a fun and engaging atmosphere that appeals to audiences of all ages, while providing a glimpse of the show's humour, wit, and heart. The intro's ability to encapsulate the essence of the series and leave viewers humming the theme song long after it's over makes it the best title sequence of all.
What do you think? Agree? Disagree? Let us know in the comments or hit us up on our socials at Facebook, Twitter or Instagram. Stuart Kavanagh is a journalist currently residing in Broken Hill, Australia. He writes for the Barrier Truth newspaper, along with being the owner of the sports and entertainment website thepyrrhic.com, He contributes at edgeofthecrowd.com when time permits. He is also the Media & Communications Director at the Newosis Mental Health Foundation. You can find more about the work Newosis Mental Health Foundation does here.
Football mad, he is always down for debate and discussion at @stueyissickofit on Twitter.
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