'Westworld,' 'Friends' & 9 More of TV's Best Title Sequences (VIDEO)
With some shows, it’s tempting to fast-forward through the opening credits to get to the story faster. After all, not all intro sequences are created equal — but some programs benefit from montages featuring fun songs, hints at the series’ plot, or gorgeous imagery. When it comes to those, it’s pretty darn near impossible to click that “skip intro” button.
Here are 11 shows we’ll always watch the intro for.
Game of Thrones
Because there’s no way to have this list without it. Love or hate the ending, you have to at least admit that the artistry and detail behind Thrones’ title credits was incredible — as was Ramin Djawadi’s iconic score.
Speaking of iconic Ramin Djawadi tunes, this list would also be incomplete without Westworld — which also features music composed by him. The title credits for this sci-fi hit change each season to reflect the show’s characters and themes, and they typically spawn plenty of fan theories by themselves.
Was there any way to have this list without including The Simpsons? No, there wasn’t. There’s a good reason these credits have been beloved for decades: They feature revolving couch gags and chalkboard gags as the characters go about their lives in Springfield, eventually heading home to watch TV. There’s always something humorous to catch and details to dissect.
“So no one told you life was gonna be this way…” Clapclapclapclap! There’s really not a whole lot that separates these intro credits from similar comedy shows like How I Met Your Mother or The Office, but the music — or rather, the music’s staying power over the past two decades — earns it a place on this list.
As the silhouette-man plummets from his office window and lands in an armchair in the Mad Men opening, various advertisements follow him on his fall, encouraging him to buy presents, indulge in his vices, provide for his family, and “enjoy the best America has to offer.” Dramatic, satirical, and unflinchingly dark, these opening credits put on display what the show’s all about; consumerism, family, sex, and booze in the ‘60s.
Sherlock’s opening credits translate Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s characters into the modern age while paying respect to the show’s setting: London. If you look closely, you’ll glimpse hints that point toward the season’s various mysteries; for example, in Season 2, Sherlock’s silhouette is seen atop a building, hinting toward his “fate” at the end of its final episode. Many of these clues are blink-and-you’ll-miss-it kind of stuff, but what else could be expected from a detective show?
One of the most revered opening credits in television, The X-Files' 45-second intro uses creepy images and text that imply the existence of alien life — and that it has, unbeknownst to us, made contact with Earth. The sequence ends with the series’ most memorable phrase: The truth is out there. But the sequence would be far less haunting without the whistling theme music that remains iconic to this day.
The Fresh Prince of Bel Air
Fresh Prince’s opening credits are incredibly creative, telling the story about how Will’s life got “flipped-turned upside down” while also listing the main cast in eye-catching neon print. The music remains well-known, earning parodies and covers by the likes of The Lonely Island, Jimmy Fallon, Ed Sheeran, and more.
The Big Bang Theory
These credits set the tone of the show while also kind of explaining its title. While various historical images flash in the background, “The History of Everything” by the Barenaked Ladies zooms through topics like the Big Bang, the construction of the pyramids, math, science, history… you know. It all ends with the group sitting on the couch, eating dinner. It’s upbeat, humorous, and playfully nerdy, just like the show.
The Walking Dead
As if the first few minutes of “Days Gone Bye” didn’t make it clear this was a horror show, The Walking Dead’s opening credits certainly set the tone with images of crows picking at carcasses, centipedes crawling over Lori’s (Sarah Wayne Callies) picture and several shots of a ruined Atlanta. The music is chilling, too. Over the seasons, this sequence has changed to reflect the changing cast and locations.