A Title Sequence
using original footage not directly from the series, but composed of graphics designed to give a sense of the nature of the show (or just to look pretty).
Sometimes this will take the form of a cartoon version of the characters
(The Many Loves Of Dobie Gillis
), a flyby of the setting (Stargate Atlantis
) or simply a bunch of special effects. These elements are often used in tandem with a Title Montage
This is the most common form of opening sequence in American dramatic programs and all British series.
The Art of the Title
website has a large collection of these.
Anime & Manga
- Elfen Lied, with its Gustav Klimt-esque paintings.
- Blood+, though only with Colors of the Heart (the third opening sequence).
- Averted in Red Garden. The opening is made of stylized silhouettes of the girls and the city, giving a light cosmopolitan feel akin to Sex and the City. The show has a different mood though.
- Saul Bass was the king of this trope. To describe some of his title sequences:
- The Seven Year Itch has the screen fill with abstract pink and orange rectangles, with the credits popping up from underneath in various quirky ways.
- The Man with the Golden Arm has white line segments moving into position on uneven alignments across a black background.
- Vertigo begins with the camera focusing on a woman's eye, from which Lissajous figures spiral mesmerizingly outward.
- Anatomy of a Murder has modernistic cutouts representing body parts.
- Walk on the Wild Side has a cat's-eye view of a black cat roaming around an alley and getting into a brief fight with another cat.
- It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World has a cartoon globe being transmogrified into a hen's egg, a shell game, a spinning top, paper dolls, a yo-yo, etc.
- The War of the Roses begins with shadows moving across a white background, turning into a billowing white fabric, which turns out to be not a bedsheet but a handkerchief.
- The Age of Innocence uses time-lapse photography of blossoming flowers seen through textures of lace and Victorian calligraphy.
- Casino has a montage of hellish flames and neon light displays.
- The breathtaking title sequence from Watchmen, which combines several of the most iconic images from the second half of 20th century (the Hiroshima bomb, the V-J Day kiss, the JFK assasination, Vietnamese self immolation, "Flower Power", the moon landing, the Son of Sam murders) with the alt-U images of the Watchmen timeline, all to the tune of Bob Dylan's "The Times, They Are a-Changin'".
- The James Bond films always include trippy title montages featuring silhouettes of naked women dancing in thematically appropriate environments (most directed by Maurice Binder). The exceptions are Dr. No (the first film, which uses stylized geometric animation) and Casino Royale, which replaced the babes with surreal sequences of Bond beating the crap out of a brigade of Mooks who burst into playing card symbols as they expired.
- The other Casino Royale had animated titles that could be best called psychedelic medieval illuminations.
- The Pink Panther films, whose animated credits made the titular character into a cartoon star.
- The First Wives Club uses a series of 60's-style images of women, along with a song about being the perfect wife.
- In the first version of Death at a Funeral, they use a title/credit sequence with a map where you're watching the hearse drop the coffin off where it is to be buried as the credits play out.
- El Dorado (1966) has the titles underlaid by a sequence of paintings by Olaf Wieghorst of scenes of cowboys at work, which do not illustrate the story.
- The 1978 Superman film had a terrific title sequence of what was implied to be the baby Kal-El's journey across entire galaxies before reaching Earth. The titles of the following films were considerably less interesting. Superman Returns in 2006, however, would later attempt to visualize its own version.
- Spider-Man 2 and Spider-Man 3 each feature montages of still paintings that approximate the story thus far from previous entries in the series.
- Some of the films from Mystery Science Theater 3000 episodes features this, but many more avert it in strange ways; Cave Dwellers, Pod People, Space Travelers, and others were films re-edited and redistributed by Film Ventures International, strangely presented with opening and closing credit sequences from other, unrelated films. They're presumably intended to convey the feeling of the movies, but manage to fail spectacularly in some instances.
- The American The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo has this. It's dark and beautiful; it feels like the beginning of a James Bond title, if done by Trent Reznor — which fittingly enough, it is.
- Marvel Cinematic Universe movies that lack Creative Closing Credits sequences tend to make up for it with snazzy opening credit reels.
- The Incredible Hulk shows Bruce Banner's gamma exposure and first Hulk Out during the opening credits.
- Iron Man 2 shows Ivan Vanko working in his laboratory.
- Guardians of the Galaxy has a main title sequence that shows Star-Lord exploring planet Morag, while dancing and singing along to "Come and Get Your Love" playing on his Walkman.
- Brain Donors features a claymation animated opening (and ending) sequence.
- Austin & Ally has a kind of stop-motion live action title sequence, with similar cuts being used for breaks during the show.
- Barnaby Jones has an animated opening based around a motif of rectangles suggesting pieces of a jigsaw puzzle being put together.
- BBC News 24
- Black Sails, and it just might be the most awesome thing on television.
- Bron|Broen - It has a title with beautiful cinematography (http://www.youtube.com/watch?gl=GB&v=3qEaG4Dw3FE)
- In its first season, The Bill used an iconic sequence showing the feet of two uniform police officers walking slowly toward camera while on their daily beat. This was reversed in the closing titles, where the officers' feet were seen slowly walking away from camera while the credits rolled. The sequence set out to show that the series was more interested in exploring the more sedate areas of daily police work rather than using a typical action sequence.
- Cannon uses circles of varying sizes, notably to frame star William Conrad and the guest stars and "splotch" all over the screen to introduce each act.
- Desperate Housewives also uses cut-outs, but hasn't varied them from season to season.
- Doctor Who in its first 10 years, from William Hartnell to Jon Pertwee's years used very abstract imagery created by pointing a camera at its own monitor. Then, in Pertwee's final season and all but Tom Baker's season, a tunnel filled with ribbons of light supposedly representing the Time Vortex (made even clearer with Tom Baker's title sequence, the first shot of which showing the TARDIS flying towards the camera). The first seasons of the '80s, starting with Tom Baker's final season and concluding with Colin Baker's final one used a fully animated starfield flythrough. And with Sylvester McCoy era onwards used the TARDIS flying through CGI (with McCoy's title sequence being a galaxy of which the middle evaporates and forms his face, Paul McGann's one from Doctor Who TVM "The TV Movie" and Christopher Eccleston's and David Tennant's were a more traditional time vortex akin to the one featured in the Pertwee and T. Baker eras, and Matt Smith's was a storm cloud-like vortex for the bulk of his tenure, and a mixture of generally all of the above for the second half of his latest season).
- Ed begins with Ed driving to and through the town of Stuckyville (actually Westfield NJ)
- Family Ties (in its first season)
- Game of Thrones
- Growing Pains
- Home Improvement in its final years.
- House uses images from the classic medical text Gray's Anatomy. Grey's Anatomy, on the other hand, does not.
- In Living Color! took this idea rather literally. The first few seasons' title sequences had the actors painting walls, including the fourth one. The last few took place in an animated art gallery.
- All shows in the Law & Order Series Franchise.
- Monty Python's Flying Circus used different cut-out animations for each of its four seasons; all included the famous descending foot.
- The Nanny
- Rescue Me
- Secret Army
- Star Trek
- Teen Wolf has had one since Season 2, using symbolism to foreshadow what the characters' plotlines for the season will be.
- Played with on an episode of Friends titled "The One That Could Have Been". Taking place in an Alternate Universe, the scene's title sequence is shot, not using the cast members as they usually are, but as they are for that one episode.
- Season 3 of Veronica Mars used this, as the show had moved away from the High School setting of the first two seasons and the series was being promoted less as a teen soap and more as a neo-noir. Ergo, the notebook motif of the original credit sequence had to go. The music was changed also: it's still the same song by Dandy Warhols but a more brooding version is used.
- All Ultra Series shows up to and including Ultraman Ace had silhouettes of the various characters and vehicles being shown on a background of colored stuff (created with ink and camera effects). This carried over to other Tsuburaya shows such as Fireman and Kaiki Daisakusen as well.
- The 1985 version of the Twilight Zone opening.
- Digital Kitchen, a design studio in Chicago, has created some fairly well known (and amazing) title sequences including:
- Dexter depicts the morning routine in such a way that breaking eggs, making orange juice and putting on a t-shirt all look like acts of violence, all set to a jazzy tune. Awesome doesn't begin to cover it.
- Six Feet Under
- True Blood has a very creepy opening that includes things like kids eating strawberries cut so that it looks like they're feasting on raw meat. Alan Ball seems to love the studio.
- The first season of Wonder Woman
- Fringe uses creative changes in its title sequence to reflect the theme of particular episodes. When the episode is set back in the '80's and deals with the characters' backstories, the titles use an '80s font and digitised theme music, reminiscent of the period. When the episodes are set in the alternative Fringe universe instead of our own, the titles are set in a red background, as opposed to the normal blue. Perhaps unsurprisingly (you don't expect a TV channel to show that level of detail, do you?), SKY in the UK appears unaware of these conventions and frequently uses the wrong colour background card prior to ad breaks, which can leads to no small confusion.
- American Horror Story: Murder House has a gorgeous title sequence that also has several Chekhov's Guns related to the nature of the house hidden in it.
- The US remake of Shameless.
- The X-Files
- The first three seasons of ReGenesis, the intro showed the travels of a random man as he slowly succumbs to an unknown disease and dies in the street, placing a special emphasis on all the people he interacted with and all the things he touched.
- The intro to Colombian Soap Opera Sin Senos No Hay Paraiso might do Maurice Binder or Danny Kleinman proud. (Warning: Might be NSFW) Watch.
- The Musketeers features the characters posing amongst stylised watercolours.
- Batman: The Animated Series featured a specially made fight scene between Batman and a couple of crooks. Unique in that it had no credits, no title, and no sound effects except for the coordinated Theme Music.
- Superman: The Animated Series was originally going to have a similar stylised opening showing Superman demonstrating all his powers. In the end time constraints meant that only a short sequence of him flying was included, and a more traditionally animated opening showing him growing up was made.
- Justice League had a highly stylised opening that showed all the main characters using their main powers or abilities, with weird lighting effects.