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Unique Pilot Title Sequence
Often a pilot episode will have a different title credit sequence than the resulting show. This can be the result of many factors - Sometimes a pilot is presented as a TV movie with movie style credits, sometimes an element that will become common knowledge during the show is kept hidden to keep the surprise; sometimes an actor will be replaced between filming of the pilot and the series.


Shows with unique pilot title sequences:

  • The Greatest American Hero shows the murder of Bill's partner by skinheads, then leads into the credits over a number of night shots of (presumably) LA.
  • Charlie's Angels started as a T.V. Movie with a different opening, as well as different bumpers showing the three Angels standing side by side.
  • The Flying Nun shows Sister Bertrille walking with her welcoming party back to the convent.
  • M*A*S*H starts with the title "Korea 1950 - 100 Years Ago" as Hawkeye and Trapper John play golf with "My Blue Heaven" playing in the background. Radar gets tossed a football and stops as he hears the choppers coming, which then leads into the standard opening.
  • Remington Steele has Laura tell a slightly different story since at this point she hasn't met the man who would take over Remington Steele's persona.
  • Star Trek: The Original Series second pilot "Where No Man Has Gone Before" didn't have William Shatner's "Space, the final frontier" voiceover. This was 'corrected' for the HD remastered version of the episode.
    • It could have been worse. The original concept for the titles lacked the typographic appearance now associated with this particular incarnation.
    • The opening of the first pilot is also completely different: the shots are solely the Enterprise on a starfield, Leonard Nimoy's name doesn't appear (although he plays a major part in the episode), the special guest's name does appear, and the credits themselves lack the typographic appearance of the later series.
  • Star Trek: Enterprise - not the pilot, but the two parter "In A Mirror, Darkly" from Season 4 featured a much darker opening credits sequence that represented the evolution of the mirror universe.
  • The 2 hour pilot to Star Trek: Deep Space Nine doesn't feature the wormhole opening as it hadn't been introduced in the story yet. The syndicated two part version has no wormhole in the first half and the regular opening for the second.
  • The opening credits of the first 30 Rock episode feature Liz in a That Girl/The Mary Tyler Moore Show-type opening, but this ends up as a Left the Background Music On gag and actually they're singing about the Show Within The Show character "Pam, the Overly-Confident Morbidly Obese Woman". The second episode introduces the regular opening credits.
    • Oddly enough, an instrumental version of the song from the pilot is occasionally used as a Leitmotif for Liz.
  • The original pilot for Buck Rogers in the 25th Century was originally released as a theatrical film. The opening credits featured not only a unique version of the theme music with lyrics, but also Fanservice images of the female leads lounging about in swimsuits! The televised version of the pilot ditches the swimsuits, but retains the vocal version of the theme for the closing credits.
  • The opening credits for the first episode of Downton Abbey follow the news of the Titanic sinking toward the main characters; all the other episodes use a more domestic credit sequence.
  • The opening credits for the reimagined Battlestar Galactica pilot begin with music by Richard Gibbs. The second episode, "33", begins with the now-familiar Bear McCreary theme. It also has the quick cuts of upcoming scenes from the episode after the theme music.
  • The pilot episode of The X-Files has no title or end credits and is the only X-Files episode (including the two movies) not to include the iconic theme song. The episode opens with a title card stating that the plot is based on real events and that's all.
  • The pilot of Seinfeld originally had a very different tune than later episodes and the rest of the series. The pilot was rescored a few weeks later and resindicated. The pilot in its original form is no longer aired.
  • Trapper John MD opened with a title sequence in the font of The Greatest American Hero style type and Pernell Roberts dreaming via clips of M*A*S*H
  • South Park's unaired pilot had Les Claypool walking across town as he sings a slow-tempo version of the theme song (in fact, the version played during the credits of almost every episode), with the boys popping up from the bottom of the screen long enough to sing their verses. The aired version is the same as the Season 1 opening, but the instrumentation of the music has inferior quality — this version is replaced with the more standard version a few episodes in.
  • The first episode of the 1990s Iron Man animated series lacked the green wire bits in the beginning seen in the other episodes of the first season.
  • For its pilot episode "Children of the Gods", Stargate SG-1 used a variation on the title sequence of the movie: A long pan over Ra's mask, then zooming out to show the whole thing, followed by fade-out. The rest of the series uses cut-together clips.
    • Although oddly enough, the DVD versions of seasons 4 and 5 used the "Children of the Gods" title. This was probably a mistake.
      • Actually, that's the credits it had in the TV show, at least when those seasons first aired in Australia.
    • The Stargate Universe pilot didn't use what little of a title sequence the show had.
  • Doctor Who's first episode in 1963 features an extended version of the opening theme which runs over the first scene of the episode (normally it gets faded out). The rejected pilot version of the first episode, which was not aired until the 1990s, adds a thunderclap sound effect to the opening credits, which is not heard thereafter.
  • The Six Million Dollar Man had three pilot movies before the weekly series began. The first had no real title sequence, just the credits played out over the opening scenes. The second and third films featured a recounting of Steve's accident (which differed completely from the first pilot!) and a theme song performed by Dusty Springfield. The famous "Steve Austin...astronaut" opening wasn't introduced until the weekly series began.
  • The first episode of Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons features a unique opening monologue by Captain Blue which begins with the phrase "The finger is on the trigger..." and ends by introducing Scarlet with "This will be our hero for fate will make him indestructible."
  • The intros for the first episode of Avatar: The Last Airbender has a slight variant in Katara's exposition, since she had yet to meet Aang.
  • Its sequel, The Legend of Korra, has Tenzin relate to the audience the basics of what has happened since the end of the original series, providing the necessary backstory. All other episodes have him simply recite the basic lore of the Avatar.
  • Victorious forgoes the theme song altogether, since Tori has yet to actually perform it.
  • Elementary's pilot uses a splashscreen and a few bars from the theme song. The rest of the series goes with a Rube Goldberg Device that ends with dropping a cage on a figurine.
  • The 2004-05 series Jack & Bobby had simple on-screen titles for the pilot, because it wasn't until late in the episode that it was revealed which brother would grow up to be President. Bobby.
  • JAG: The Pilot Movie only has standard text credits and does not feature the Title Sequence with the Instrumental Theme Tune as in all other episodes.
  • Charmed's title sequence for its pilot episode omits the footage if the girls using their powers so as not to spoil it for first time viewers as to what exact abilities each of them. The pilot was also the only episode in which only the original set of Charmed Ones / Halliwell Sisters appear in the episode opening.
  • The West Wing : The Pilot features a long single-take of Leo arriving at work in the morning, introducing most of the rest of the cast.
  • The pilot episode of Sliders uses a completely different title sequence to the rest of the series, presumably to avoid explaining the premise they spend most of the episode introducing.
  • Farscape left out the opening narration that usually runs over the title sequence, to avoid spoiling the entire plot of the pilot.
  • The first episode of Inspector Gadget—"Winter Olympics"—had at least three variations, each with its own unique "edit" of the main title sequence. Also, the episode had unique closing credits!
  • If you listen closely in the opening of the pilot of American Dad!, you can hear that the main theme has a flute added during the newspaper Couch Gag that gets dropped in the second episode.
  • During the Five-Episode Pilot of She-Ra: Princess of Power, before Adora does her Heel-Face Turn and becomes the titular herione, a male announcer reads the Opening Narration. After Adora becomes She-Ra, she reads a new version of the narration.
  • GEOWeasel's pilot has a theme song accompanied by polaroid-style photographs of the main characters and framed pictures of the supporting characters, while the main episodes of the first season have a different theme song accompanied by scenes that never occur in the series itself.

Title Sequence ReplacementShow PartsEpisode Title Card
Title Sequence ReplacementTitle SequenceVariations On A Theme Song
Through-the-Years CreditsCredits TropesVariations On A Theme Song
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