Truncated Theme Tune
A show's Theme Tune
is the way it gets the attention, and hopefully is good enough to get people Earwormed
and singing it to get others watching the show.
Once a show has gone into syndication or jumped channels, though, the Theme Tune
is one of the first casualties. It will get edited, shortened, or otherwise truncated so as to leave room for more commercials. Occasionally, if the show is on the air on its original channel more than a few years, they'll maim the theme tune for more commercial space while it's still in its original airing. Also, the lyrics of the theme song, where present, may be changed a little.
It is becoming common for remakes and reboots to use their predecessor's iconic Theme Tune
, trimmed down to just the most recognizable part.
The title sequence and opening credits, since they often appear simultaneously with the playing of the theme tune are often collateral damage. Shows dating from The '80s
and The '90s
are the first to display this trope; older shows' ThemeTunes
and I Love Lucy
, for example) tend to be so iconic that they don't usually go under the editing knife.
Related to Credits Pushback
as the end credits usually scroll in the background while the next show or ad for other stuff on the channel plays instead. It comes back full size just in time to hear the last note or two of the closing credits' song and see the studio's Vanity Plate
This is basically a greed-invoked version of the Second Verse Curse
Anime and Manga
- When shown on [adult swim], Fullmetal Alchemist, Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood, Bleach and Code Geass all get shortened openings. Averted with Attack on Titan after Episode 1; after the shortened version of Guren no Yumiya aired on the premiere night in 2014, episodes 2-13 showed the entire 90-second opening.
- The Big O. When it first appeared on [adult swim] it had full opening credits and theme tune, as seen here. When it was run later the opening credits were cut down to a couple of seconds and a brief musical phrase. This is a particularly egregious example, as the opening credits for this show were Homages to Flash Gordon and Space: 1999 respectively, and that is lost when the theme music is chopped.
- Yet another [adult swim] example: when they first started airing Lupin III (Red Jacket), the opening was trimmed down to just the logo appearing with a clip of the show's title being sung, resulting in an opening sequence that was about 2-3 seconds long. Averted later, as the full opening was shown instead.
- Happy Days: when the show dropped off ABC and began showing up on syndicated TV, the song was shortened and the lyrics changed.
- Two and a Half Men: To the point where Neil Patrick Harris made a joke about it while MC'ing the Emmys. He played the show's original themesong. "Men, men, men, men, manly men, men men!" Then he played the shortened version of the song: "Men!" And suggested that the show's theme song in its next season would simply be "Meh—*"
- Superman, the Scrubs theme, is a casualty of this. The full version is 3:40 and goes from already being fairly short at fifteen or so seconds to a mere echo of the theme at about a second. Fortunately, that doesn't last long.
- During its first run, the show briefly got expanded to a 20-second intro, which included The Janitor, but the fans actually preferred the rhythm of the truncated version, so back it went to its original 10-second intro.
- Wings (from the creators of Cheers) used to have a title sequence with a highly abridged version of Franz Schubert's Piano Sonata No. 20, but that later got (ahem) chopped.
- Growing Pains: The standard theme is 1 minute, but in syndication, B.J. Thomas and his partner harmonize on "Don't waste another minute on your crying", and the chorus is shortened.
- The Cheers theme song is generally cut down in syndication, starting right at the chorus.
- Blood Ties has a full theme song and opening sequence, but (at least on Lifetime Real Women where it's currently being rerun), the theme is cut down to a title card and brief musical clip, and the credits are all shown during the next scene.
- In syndicated reruns of Soap both the opening and closing credits were cut off early. In the opening it'd fade out just after the announcer says "and this is...Soap," cutting off the visual joke; and the end credits are faded out either right after the list of actors, or occasionally even before them. (Neither of these are going on right now in the reruns shown on Antenna TV.)
- Syfy is notorious for this.
- Eureka used to have a theme song that lasted about forty-five seconds, and showed Carter walking through town seeing the Mad Science applications to mundane tasks. By its final season, it was five seconds long and had just the Title Card and the names of who created it.
- Warehouse 13 also had shortened opening credits and theme tune as its seasons progressed toward its last.
- For Season 9 of Stargate SG-1 and Season 2 of Stargate Atlantis, the intro credits were cut to a 10-second clip, followed by the credits rolling over the next scene. After the fans rioted, the full intros were replaced halfway through the season. The DVDs even feature the full opening on episodes that were originally aired with none (the SGA season one opening sticks around until the episode after Ronon shows up.) However, the next spinoff, Stargate Universe, had only a brief title card and no theme song of any kind.
- Lampshaded like everything else in one of the Wormhole X-Treme episodes. The answer to a question about the theme tune is that nobody cared about it and to just throw the title up there. We then go to SG-1's opening, which was cut down to the Eye Catch.
- Smallville averted the trope for its entire run, using the same, uncut Theme Tune.
- Fraggle Rock had a much longer theme song and opening credits sequence (in which the titular Fraggles got to introduce themselves by name) than that aired briefly on The Hub.
- The US version of The Office features this in syndication, truncating most of the theme song beyond the first eight bars and the final chord.
- HBO's Curb Your Enthusiasm has had its theme song reduced to a single phrase.
- Charmed's theme tune is cut down to a 10-second clip with a flash of each main cast member's name for its reruns on TNT.
- TBS goes back and forth between airing the full Friends theme including the verse, and a version with just the chorus.
- The Outer Limits (1963) had its title sequence shortened twice during the original series' run on ABC. The first season's theme tune and narration was shortened in mid-run; the second season began with a new theme tune and the shorter narration, both of which were shortened even further by the end.
- When The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air is shown on TBS, it has just the background audio to the theme song played over a sped up version of the opening.
- The full intro theme is about 3 minutes long, with some extra stanzas than what's heard normally. Early episodes had two of them, but they were cut pretty quickly.
- The Golden Girls often has the 'And if you threw a party...' part cut out when it airs on Lifetime, though not every single time. It's easy to tell the difference right away by whether or not the shot of a plane landing is the opening shot of the theme or not.
- Airings of RL Stine's Goosebumps on The Hub go back and forth between the full credits with aging model and theme tune barking dog, to lopping off the model or simply going straight to "viewer beware...".
- Shake It Up Had its theme song shortened to the last chorus in the final season.
- Survivor at one time always aired its full theme tune and opening sequence, but as the series continued, it often dispensed with it almost entirely, or only showing a shortened version with those Survivors still in the game.
- Ironside (2013) has just the signature riff recognizable from Ironside (1967). And that's it.
- So far, Community has proven to be a reversal of the norm with this trope. A Title-Only Opening version of the theme with the single line "I can't count the reasons I should stay" was used in the majority of season 1 episodes (and two episodes from that season omit the theme tune altogether). But most episodes afterwards have either the regular full sequence or a Special Edition Title, with the truncated version only appearing once each in seasons 2 and 4, and not at all in season 3.
- Parks and Recreation did this to itself. After the first season, the opening was cut approximately in half.
- The show seemed to alternate between the short and long versions at random during Seasons 2 and 3, but the shorter intro eventually won out, especially since the cast titles are in rhythm with the song in that version.
- Game show examples:
- The CBS Match Game had its opening introducing the celebrities sped up by the end of 1973.
- Tattletales began in 1974 with the announcer's spiel then announcing the celebrity couples. By May, the celebrity intros were eliminated.
- Now You See It opens with "Every answer to every question is right here before your eyes" to the beat of the theme music (Quincy Jones' "Chump Change"). By late summer, the spiel was sped up and the theme edited to accommodate it.
- Family Feud cut its opening spiel entirely on a Steve Harvey episode featuring an Overly Long Gag in the final round.