The title sequence to a television show is a fantastic way to get audiences geared up and ready for what is awaiting them during the course of the episode. Sometimes it can feel like something we just need to get through to get to the good stuff, such is the case with say; Family Guy, House of Cards, or Friends – we’ve seen them a million times, and while they are memorable, if we are given the chance to skip it, we normally do it (thank you Netflix for the option, we do really appreciate it). However, a good TV show opening can be almost as enjoyable as the show itself (almost) and sometimes I have found myself excitedly watching it almost rubbing my hands together in anticipation. If an intro is done well, especially in a really good show, then that is the icing on the cake. While we can enjoy a show if the introduction is a little bit naff, I always appreciate a show more if the creators take that little bit of time to make the best possible intro for their series.
Both AMC’s The Walking Dead and Breaking Bad are excellent shows (people might even claim them to be some of the best around), I find both of their title sequences a little dull. Breaking Bad’s short little opening is almost over before we know it. It feels very unenthusiastic, especially given how the show actually is. Another example of this is Ray Donovan, which is just a black screen with his name at the end of the “Previous” from the last episode. Very little effort has been given to it. In a way it could be that these are used to portray ideas and themes featured in the shows (Ray Donovan’s being his very cold and dark uninterested nature), which I can appreciate, it is still quick and over before we know it, making the audience care very little for it.
The Walking Dead, on the other hand, and Better Call Saul for that matter (a running theme with AMC shows) show us a good window into what is to come and some of the main themes of the series, but they are a little bland and we find ourselves fast-forwarding through.
With that in mind, there has been some brilliant TV show intros over the last 10 or 20 years, and where the rise in TV shows has come, with big named Hollywood actors taking the lead in their own hit series, the opening title sequence has become a pivotal point for the show to leave its mark. How many times have you heard a theme and suddenly you remember how good a particular television series was? It happens to me all the time.
One biggest issue with today’s society is when it comes to that classic thing that we are all known for; Binge Watching. Sunday, hungover with a Dominos in bed… what else is better than accompanying it with episode after episode of re-watching an excellent show that you love, or one that you are currently in the middle of. Here we find ourselves skipping over the intro, because once we have seen it once, it can become very very annoying having to listen to the same song every 45 minutes or so.
So what I have decided to do is put together a list (complete with the videos) of my own personal favourite television show title sequences. I am afraid that I have put this in no particular order, as it was difficult to rank ones over others, given that they have given me the same feeling whether the show ran for one season or eight.
You might notice that there are a lot of HBO shows here… so it goes to show that HBO know that a TV show’s opening is part of the very show itself.
- The X-Files
This is the most dated one of the lot, but it is very memorable. Watching it brings back memories of the Black Goo, Tooms, and the Peacock family and the horrifically scary ‘Home’ episode (that still haunts me to this day).
The intro does an excellent job of making the show look mysterious and preparing us for some supernatural goings on.
- True Blood
Although the show did take a bit of a bad turn towards the end, the opening sequence to True Blood is an excellent introduction into the world in which the series is set. The deep south of America can seem like a foreign land the deeper you go, which is a fantastic setting for a tale of Vampires, Werewolves, and everything else.
To me, it looks as if it is through the eyes of a non-human, watching the strange behaviours of people living in these places. It implied sex, violence and horror, which are of course the main themes of the entire show.
- Stranger Things
Having just finished the second season of this, it is still fresh in my mind. There is no denying that when Netflix gave you the option to skip the intro, you did not do it. The retro 80s music is fantastically over the top of the deep red neon letters moving the same manner that 80s films did back in the day. The sequence is also grainy, almost as if we are watching it through a VHS. While not much actually happens during the opening, for me, it is still a very enjoyable part of the show.
- Band of Brothers
This is one of the greatest. There has been so many times when I watched this series and I could feel the hairs standing on end at the sound of the music. It is powerful and shows the hardship that these men faced during the second World War, as well as friendship, and their losses, that they founded along the incredible journey.
While the intro only shows us moments from the show in still photographic images, we still get a sense of what is to come. Some great shots are when characters eventually turn their heads downwards as if to show the suffering and depression that awaits them.
- The Sopranos
For me, this is a very cool title sequence. It simply shows the protagonist of the show; Tony Soprano, heading back home to New Jersey from the city of New York, heading over the toll bridge and driving deeper into the heart of the state in which the show is set in. Here, once again, we are given an insight into the setting of the show as if we are living the lift of Tony Soprano himself.
Dexter’s introduction is fantastically done, as it is something so simple and mundane, that if it done in a certain way or from a certain perspective, can seem so much darker and twisted. The guy is simply waking up and getting washed, dressed, brushing his teeth and having his breakfast, but everything is subtly layered with a dark overtone that helps to imply the gruesome murders that the titular character is known for. Some moments, such as putting the t-shirt over his face (reminiscent of suffocating someone), or tying his shoelaces (as if strangling someone with a rope) are brilliantly portrayed to make the audience instantly think of something entirely different.
- Game of Thrones
This will be remembered as one of the greatest of all time once the series has finished. The title sequence to Game of Thrones is almost as essential as the show itself. It shows us the world of Westeros and beyond, showing us just how important the setting is to the show, as it is just as much a story of the evolving world, as it is about the characters, and the introduction here shows this superbly. We literally see the map changing before our eyes and moving from one key location to another. These locations themselves are a pivotal part of the episode, so watching the intro can always give us an idea of what is to come. The music is also fantastically memorable and one that people will instantly know.
The opening title sequences for Narcos has to be one of my top favourite ones, not because it builds the world in a way that Game of Thrones does, but because the music and imagery is so well suited for each other. While the theme feels like some kind of Spanish love song, we are shown real life news and archive footage of Pablo Escobar. We see him laughing with his friends shortly before we are shown shots of dead bodies in the streets of Medellín. We drugs being made and shipped out of the country, as millions of dollars are coming back in. All through this, we can see CIA style surveillance equipment being used, alongside blacked out documentation, which was used throughout the course of the era.
The whole thing feels real, in my eyes, which, given the darker moments of the show, makes it all the more harrowing.
This title sequence, much like the show itself, is a work of art. It shows us the creation of the androids, from the crafting of their basic framework, to the skin overlays that cover it. We are show various other robotic creatures being made, as well as the androids being taught various human interactions, such as making love and creating music, which are not things we normally associate with androids. We are also shown the world literally through the eyes of the makers. The whole thing is very poetic.
- True Detective
The introduction to the first season of True Detective is probably my own personal favourite from the list (yes, I know I said I wouldn’t choose!), as it does an excellent job of showing us nearly everything mentioned in every title sequence mentioned above, but in a very unique way. It shows us the dark and depressing world in which the season is set, as well as the main characters almost dealing with their own personal hells that they are currently suffering. All of this is accompanied with an amazing song that just fits the theme and sets the tone perfectly.
So these were some of mine, if there are any that I have missed out, then be sure to let us know, as we would love to hear them. I know there are a couple that I have missed off, but I thought I would limit it to just 10.