Expository Theme Tune

aka: Expository Theme Song
"I'm sure viewership would triple if I had one of those crappy cartoon theme songs that bludgeons you over the head with the blunt end of the show's premise."
Strong Bad, sbemail #155

A Theme Tune which explains, fairly specifically, the premise of the show. An Opening Narration in verse. It might also throw in an Introdump for the central characters during the middle 10 seconds.

This was fairly standard for the early sitcom. Later sitcoms moved away from this form in favor of the Thematic Theme Tune, and then toward the Surreal Theme Tune. Today, the Expository Theme Tune is limited mostly to children's programs. Gilligan's Island, the most famous, used it specifically due to Executive Meddling, so that people who tuned in after the pilot wouldn't get lost. Many kids' shows that use it don't even have a pilot, or air episodes out of order. (Animaniacs and Freakazoid! are the big examples.)

Some shows might use the Expository Theme Tune as an excuse to dump you into the action right away, since you already know the premise. Conversely, if the Expository Theme Tune would spoil the premise of the premiere, you might not see it on the first episode.

This style of Theme Tune is also the most common for a Show Within a Show, and is practically universal when the fictional show is meant to be mocked.

A common Subtrope is the Bragging Theme Tune and Theme Tune Roll Call.

Compare with the Anime Theme Song and the Theme Tune Rap.

Example Subpages:

Other Examples:

    open/close all folders 

  • Despite appearing in a non-audio medium, the Blackhawks gained their own theme tune, complete with sheet music, in a 1942 comic. A modern recording of "The Song of the Blackhawks" can be heard here.

  • The children's horror series Vampirates has a theme tune of sorts. It's on the back of the book, and characters sing it in story. It describes the title creatures.

  • Supermarioglitchy4s Super Mario 64 Bloopers has one, heard only in "Ssenmodnar 4".
    Oh, my God
    Here we go again
    Come on, watch this video 'till the very end
    With Mario the Retard and SMG4 the Idiot
    Come on everybody it's Mario Bloopers!

  • "Hey, Hey, we're The Monkees / and people say we monkey around / but we're too busy singing / to put anybody down..." (also fits into the category above)
  • The Aquabats!:
    • Technically this trope but with no actual show to expose at the time, "Theme Song" tells a rather intricate backstory for the band before mentioning that they're the Aquabats a few times.
    • "The Wild Sea!" is done in the style of one, about a fictional adventure show staring a young man, his father, and their Viking sidekick.
    Sailing on and on and on and on
    Into the ocean, into the sun
    Our boat, a Viking, my dad, and me
    On the Wild Sea!
  • "Cartoon Heroes" by Aqua is an expository theme of this type for a completely fictional TV show (the video does a good job of being the title sequence).

  • Time Machine from Data East plays one during the end-of-game karaoke mode.
    "Time Machine, where you go back in time..."

    Puppet Shows 
  • Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons. The opening titles have spoken narration. The original closing theme was instrumental, but a group was later recruited to record a vocal version:
    Captain Scarlet / He's the one who knows the Mysteron game / and things they plan
  • And then there is the theme tune to The Muppet Show (you know the words).

    Web Animation 
  • Limozeen: but they're in space! from the Homestar Runner universe.
    • Strong Bad also demonstrates what it would be like if he had one of these in the Sbemail "Theme Song" (Which also provides the page quote).
    Strong bad, he's a wrestleman/ He's the email-checkin'-est guy in the land...
  • Baman Piderman: "I'm Baman!" "I'm Piderman!" "I come over da house!" "WE'RE BEST FWIENDS!"
    • Actually, the theme song wasn't present in the first two episodes, and the third episode actually involves them creating the theme song.
  • WGJ4K "Mickey was a small time crook on the streets of NYC, he was stolen from the streets by an evil corporation called VGV, he is forced to write direct and star in a video game comedy show broadcasted in the net.."
  • Cat Face: Cat Face, he's got a big cat's face, he's got the body of a cat, and the face of a cat, and he flies through the air, 'cause he's got a cat face, Cat Face!
  • Bojack Horseman's closing theme: "Back in the 90s, I was in a very famous TV show...".

    Web Original 
  • "Lee likes playing videogames/And when you really think about it, that's not really so strange/But you would wonder if it's why the man was put on this Earth/it's time to reevaluate how much a picture is worth/You can be informed and entertained/No need to explain, watch the review of a game/Lee is Still Gaming!/And I'm pretty sure that is something that won't ever change/Lee is Still Gaming/and it won't just as long as he lives/as long as there are games."
  • The Angry Video Game Nerd: "He's gonna take you back to the past/To play the shitty games that suck ass..."
  • The Doc Mock's Movie Mausoleum theme starts out this way, before switching over to heavy metal screaming of the title halfway through; "Doc! Mock's! Movie Mausoleum!"
  • Atop the Fourth Wall has a theme song that lists off Linkara's name, possessions, and mission, along with some of the stuff he reviews.
    • For his anniversary show, the extended version of the theme appeared, including a verse which focuses on Linkara's pet peeves ("They made Watchmen without the slimy squid") and At4W's supporting characters ("He'll have you know that's pretty low / But not like the standards of the 90's Kid")
  • MarzGurl counted down 10 of them from various studios.
  • The Legend of Neil's theme song explains exactly how Neil ended up inside the game, then has a very hurried follow-up summarising events up to the beginning of the episode.
  • "WE BOUGHT TOO MANY GAMES!/Now we gotta play them all.../SO ALL ABOARD THE STEAM TRAIN!" ("Choo-choo!")

Alternative Title(s):

Expository Theme Song