For many years, it was very rare for a show to have no theme tune whatsoever. However, in recent years (beginning in the 1990s for some), an increasing number of productions, especially TV series and films, have chosen to forgo a proper theme tune.
In the case of TV series, this is due to increased commercial time reducing the amount of available storytelling time; therefore, an opening credits sequence lasting 2 minutes with a full-fledged theme playing every week takes away from valuable storytelling time. Examples include LOST
and 2 Broke Girls
. As for films, the recent trend - especially with sci-fi and fantasy films - has been to not have any credits or theme music, and sometimes not even an on-screen title, until the end
of the picture. Some anime
series have left out the OP in the first or last episode (or both).
See also Title-Only Opening
, Special Edition Title
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- There is no opening theme in Armored Troopers J-Pheonix PF Lips Team, just the logo in front of a screen of static for one second before the show begins.
- Episode 1 of Popotan, although we do see some flashy subtitles of various people who worked on it as it begins.
- TV airings of the 2004 Italian redub of Mobile Suit Gundam have no theme song as requested from Yoshiyuki Tomino himself, just some seconds of low, ominous sound and then the sound effect of a Beam Rifle shooting.
- One of the earliest examples is Pearl, the opening credits of which consisted of a hand writing the show's name on a chalkboard, with no other sound audible.
- Until the 1980s, network newscasts in the U.S. had no opening theme songs. Then each network started using its own bombastic fanfare (NBC's was written by John Williams). Some consider this the point where newscasts started becoming more entertainment than news.
- LOST has no distinct theme song, just some sound effects and a few notes playing over a flying graphic of the show's title. Particularly amusing is that on the Soundtrack, this is cited as being "Composed by J.J. Abrams". 16 seconds of sound effects is composing, is it?
- Murphy Brown did not have a consistent theme, but would frequently open with a Motown song in which the lyrics would be relevant to the events of the episode. However, "Rescue Me" is the "official" theme song.
- Seinfeld also had no real theme song, only the music stings heard at the beginning and throughout any given episode. Although it was used in the ending credits, this song is considered the "theme song" of the show (the musical stings are basically snippets and variations of it).
- Surreal/downright weird UK comedy series Jam had no theme, only a bizarre monologue from creator Chris Morris, always ending in "Then Welcome... In Jaaaam".
- The Aussie cop drama Scales of Justice didn't have a theme tune... because it couldn't afford one (article from The Age).
- The second season of My Name Is Earl has taken to just using the final chord from the original theme tune with the final shot of the original opening sequence, with Jason Lee (who plays Earl) saying in voiceover, "My name is Earl."
- Jericho shows the show's name with the sound of a radio tuning amid static. With brief messages given in morse code.
- Breaking Bad has a title sequence that lasts about five seconds, consisting mostly of an animated title card accompanied by a short musical clip.
- The Britcom Porridge, set in a prison, is unusual in having no opening theme. Instead the opening title shows a montage of prison cell doors banging shut, accompanied by the voice of the judge (voiced by Ronnie Barker) passing sentence on prisoner Norman Stanley Fletcher (played by Ronnie Barker).
- Burn Notice uses an Opening Monologue.
- Castle has a sort of introductory musical sting, but no real theme. The credits play over the first act.
- Both Stargate SG-1 and Stargate Atlantis originally had cool orchestral theme tunes, for the ninth and second seasons respectively this was done away with in favour of a very short snippet of if in front of the show's name. After Fan Outcry the theme tunes were very quickly restored. However, Stargate Universe goes the Lost route of just having a brief music sting over the show's name.
- Grey's Anatomy, which once had a theme tune by Psapp, no longer has a theme tune, instead showing the white background with the title in black show up for a few musical blips from the former theme.
- The title for 24 is the number 24 blinking into view on a digital display with sound effects, followed by a rundown of the plot thus far composed of clips from previous episodes. (There actually is a 24 theme that was used in the beginning of the pilot and serves as a sort of leitmotif throughout the entire series' score.)
- As noted in the trope description, Supernatural. The title is thrown up on the screen and a short sound plays, differing between seasons.
- 60 Minutes. But the ticking stopwatch is sufficiently iconic, it seems.
- My Wife and Kids would jump right into the episode, with the title of the show and a short musical sting that changed frequently.
- Glee, interestingly, has no theme song, despite being a musical show. Just the title in lowercase on a black background with the crescendo of the music from the previous scene over it. Once, it was Mr. Shuester's license plate, despite being done normally later in the episode.
- The later seasons of Everybody Loves Raymond didn't have an intro sequence; they would just superimpose the title of the show over the action, already in progress.
- Columbo was the only mystery movie element to get by without a theme tune (the end credits for each episode usually featured music from that story's score; not until the '90s instalments did Universal try — and fail — to have "This Old Man" as a theme).
- Being Human usually just slips the Title Card in when it's reached an appropriate point.
- The only music in The Middle aside from Musical Nods is the random stingers.
- Conversed in Community: when Abed is asked about the world by a man who's hidden underground since the 70s, one of the few things he says is that they never give time for opening credits in TV shows anymore.
- When the New Age Outlaws started teaming in WWE, one thing that made them stand out from the other wrestlers were their lack of an entrance theme. The only thing heard as they walked to the ring was Road Dogg talking trash about their opponents. They got a theme after a few months though.
- Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons opens with a voiceover followed by gunshots and a vaguely comic sound of someone getting shot offscreen. The nearest thing to a theme tune was in the end credits. There was a musical "sting" and harp glissando at the beginning of the title intro, followed by quiet electronic tones not unlike the "Mysteron" theme used in the episodes, over the stalk through the alley. Not to mention the drum-beat scene-change to the episode beginning.
- The Goon Show is an unusual example of a Radio comedy show with no opening theme. After the opening announcement ("This is the BBC Light Programme") the show launches straight into this week's absurd plot. The show did have a variety of closing themes over the years, though.
- Most Broadway musicals begin with an overture, a song or at least a few bars of opening music. Lady in the Dark begins with no music whatsoever.
- The first Mega Man game features no music at all to complement its title screen.