TV opening sequences are the lifeblood of television shows -- they can be short or long, but no matter what, they set the mood for a series. Dramas often use more symbolic sequences, while comedies typically utilize humorous material from the show itself to engage viewers.
Opening sequences may be right at the beginning of the episode, right after the cold open, or not present at all for narrative purposes. Shows may also utilize variations of opening sequences in order to best facilitate the storytelling of a show.
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The best of them are pliable and moldable while still servicing the show it's for, and they not only deliver crucial information about a show but also convey important narrative and aesthetic information. If you have the urge to skip them, don't!
There are hundreds of incredible sequences out there. Now, read about 17 of the most memorable sequences selected for their creativity, compelling nature, and how well it serves its show.
Crazy Ex-Girlfriend is known for its kooky musical opening sequences that change each season. Beginning with a half-live-action, half-animated sequence with an extremely catchy ditty in Season 1, the series followed up with two more incredible opening sequences and all new songs for each one. Crazy Ex-Girlfriend will come back for Season 4, and who's to say what they'll come up with next!
The original 1965 TV series Get Smart is a true hidden gem -- a farcical treasure featuring Don Adams and Barbara Feldon -- that is usually overshadowed by the less-than film based on the show. However, it's the opening sequence that has transcended decades and depicts Maxwell Smart walking through multiple layers of doors to get to the CONTROL headquarters. The music is iconic as always, and it's sure to put you in a James Bond-esque mood when you're done -- but hopefully less bumbling than Maxwell.
Sherlock may not have that many episodes, but its opening sequence is certainly one to remember. The instrumental-only orchestral theme music accompanied by cryptic close-up images perfectly prepares the audience for the mystery to be uncovered. The theme also brings about an air of days past -- such as those depicted in the original stories -- even though this series takes place in present day. It's short and sweet but long enough to get enough tonal and aesthetic information across, and it fits the series well.
Game of Thrones
Game of Thrones is known for its thundering and now-iconic theme, but the visuals of the opening sequence are also quite stunning. Eager fans can watch the graphic unfold through a hearty near two-minute theme, long enough to match the depth and breadth of the series and each episode. The music is a great example of genre- and even era-specific music, evoking a certain feel, while the visuals help to craft the fantasy feel.
Trey Lockerbie's opening sequence song for Alphas, "People Like Me," is an unknown rock anthem within itself. However, the song paired with the electrifying visuals, providing glimpses into the lives and powers of each of the Alphas is illustrative, useful, and helps to pique the interest of the audience. The full version of the song is available for Alphas fans, but the short sequence also did the trick.
The Good Fight
The Good Fight's opening sequence is minimalistic but highly effective, hinging upon a viewer's knowledge of The Good Wife, characters, and other contextual information to provide a glimpse into the world of The Good Fight. The orchestral music is grandiose in a way that is reminiscent of palaces, yet draws it back to the contemporary world with its simple images and sleek black background.
Sean Callery won the Emmy for Best Original Main Title Theme Music for Jessica Jones in 2016, giving Marvel its first Emmy win. Inspired by a theme he composed on the melodica, a bizarre and buzzy instrument, the current title theme is also eerily similar in tone to the melodica. It then expands into a rock guitar riff, highlighting the grittiness of the show, which is also echoed in its soundtrack. The accompanying visuals, nominated for an Emmy as well, are mysterious and abstract as well, pairing extraordinarily well with the music. The Jessica Jones theme sets the perfect mood for the dark series and air of secretiveness that the show provides.
The Addams Family
The Addams Family theme is now completely iconic, but the opening sequence of the original show is also priceless. The sequence is more comedic than dramatic in nature, with the bouncing theme and snaps more cheerful than drab. The theme music is accompanied by clips from the show, the character engaged in humorous activities -- prefacing the show as a sitcom over anything else.
Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt
The 2015 breakout hit quickly grew known for its hilarious and inventive opening sequence, which turns a song into a remix -- essentially parodying itself. The fast-paced, brightly colored visuals match the catchy beats and autotuned vocals, and you're bound to never be able to get it out of your head.
Short but sweet, the Orphan Black opening sequence takes on a more symbolic approach, splitting the screen and mirroring the abstract graphics, reminiscent of the clones that the show is famous for. The ethereal sounds and vocals quickly paint the show as a science fiction series as well, accompanied by the green- and blue-heavy graphics depicting nerves, strands of DNA, and more biological themes that are discussed on the show.
The haunting four-note motif that makes the Daredevil so iconic can actually be heard in countless other shows, yet its the pairing of the varying motif with the heartbeat in the back and incessant strings that really makes the sequence click. Coupled with the graphics that emulate blood dripping into beautiful structures and figures, the opening sequence really is a thing of beauty. It's mysterious enough to provide the show enough to work with, but also doesn't give away anything.
For an opening sequence, the Arrested Development sequence is almost too much to handle -- there's music, narration, and a series of complicated visuals that flash in and out of frame. However, it perfectly matches the chaotic, hysterical tone of the show, making each season's variant of the sequence something to look forward to. The lighthearted music also frames the show as a comedy that you know is truly about to go wrong.
Star Trek: The Original Series
"Space, the final frontier" may, in fact, be some of the most famous opening sequence words ever uttered in a time when narrated sequences were trendy. However, they've become words that have lasted generations along with the Star Trek franchise itself. This list wouldn't be complete without the opening sequence of The Original Series, complete with iconic brass theme music and Enterprise shooting through the stars. It's simple, it's brilliant -- it's Star Trek.
Freaks and Geeks
Judd Apatow's short-lived Freaks and Geeks was underrated comedic gold, and the opening sequence matches it. Playing to Joan Jett's booming "Bad Reputation," the cast lines up for and takes photos during picture day, perfectly illustrating each and every one of the characters' personalities in a few seconds. The show truthfully illustrates the painful (or fun!) teenage years, depending on who you were -- and the opening sequence was a spot-on slice of that.
The Night Manager
Like the opening sequence for The Good Fight, the opening sequence for The Night Manager uses more simplistic yet elegant symbolic imagery accompanied by a streamlined orchestral score -- but this time invoking a more mysterious feel rather than a grandiose one. With graphics of pearls, weapons, planes, and more, the sequence gives viewers a feel for what The Night Manager is really all about without giving away too much.
The Big Bang Theory
The theme music for The Big Bang Theory may be iconic, but the visuals themselves for the opening sequence are also iconic. As the music speeds up, the visuals become faster and faster, and it's quite something to try and spot all the historical moments that are recorded in the sequence. However, it's catchy and does the trick for the show, infusing it with a lighthearted but generally "scientific" feel that the show hinges upon, even if it doesn't follow the typical sequence format of other sitcoms.
Sense8 has a very unique format and a very unique opening sequence, utilizing footage from all over the globe to craft a sort of globe-trotting, international experience type of mood, which matches the show. If you enjoy traveling, you'll love the opening sequence, as it gives glimpses into different countries, cultures, and communities around the world. It might make you feel small, but it also gives a taste for how we're all human -- which is exactly what Sense8 is all about.