A short sequence played at the very end of a program's Closing Credits to identify the production company that created the series. Sometimes also called "vanity cards," "taglines", "sign-offs", "closing/production logos" or an "endboard", these brief sequences display the production company's trademark/logo. They can occur at the beginning, which is usually done in movies to the opening beats of the theme music. Rising production costs have increased the number of collaborative efforts between studios in recent years, which has the unfortunate side-effect of multiplying the number of vanity plates that open a film.
If you were wanting to read about literal vanity plates, see Vanity License Plate.
Some companies put a great deal of effort into creating a memorable vanity plate, as this is really the only advertising the production company receives. This has led to famous examples such as the MTM Kitten and the Mutant Enemy Zombie, or infamous examples, such as the Screen Gems "Filmstrip S," also known as "The S from Hell." See more at the NightmareFuel.Vanity Plates page.
CGI in recent years has made these considerably snazzier. A combination of the increase in quality and number of film vanity plates has increasingly led to viewer confusion over when they end and the movie proper begins. Peter Griffin elaborates here.
The Closing Logo Group Wiki has information on these and practically every vanity plate EVER. Logopedia includes vanity plates in its database.
If a Vanity Plate becomes known the world over, then it's also an Iconic Logo. See also Logo Joke for vanity plate variants made for specific movies. Compare Station Ident.
Film and television studios
20th Century Fox: The 20th Century Fox "logo statue", complete with its moving searchlights, usually with a shortened version of the 20th Century Fox Fanfare.
AKA Cartoon: Ed, Edd n Eddy and a few others. The company logo, a caricatured Danny Antonucci (company founder) being skewered by a pencil, accompanied by a generic car-crash sound and a saxophone riff. The logo is remarkably different in every season, special (excluding the Cartoon Network Invaded special) and even The Movie of Ed, Edd n Eddy.
Bad Robot Productions: LOST, Alias, ...anything J. J. Abrams. An animated logo of a boxy, brightly-colored robot running through tall grass as a chorus of children call out, "bad robot!" (In movies, there is no voiceover.)
The BBC: Old videos from the BBC used to have one of these on them at the start and finish of a program. It featured a 3D blue and gold flat map that turned into a spinning globe and back again (based off the BBC1 COW (Computer Originated World) ident). They have had various different ones before and since.
The Bedford Falls Company: Production company responsible for the late 1980s ABC show Thirtysomething and mid-'90s Teen DramaMy So-Called Life. Snow falls on a Victorian house as the line "...and dance by the light of the moon..." from the song "Buffalo Gals" is sung. Shout-Out to the movie It's a Wonderful Life. The film was set in the town of Bedford Falls, NY, and there is a scene where Jimmy Stewart and Donna Reed sing "Buffalo Girls" before stopping to throw stones through the windows of the abandoned house they would later renovate and live in.
Belisarius Productions: Donald P. Bellisario's plate. Starts with a stone with sand on it, which blows off to reveal "BELISARIVS". The screen flashes several times, leaving us with "BELISARIUS PRODUCTIONS". Has been used in its original form for over 25 years without a High Definition upgrade, with the only real changes being that CBS tends to speed it up and drown out its original soundtrack with generic jingles and promotional announcements, and the image stretched out to fit the 16:9 screen.
Best Brains Incorporated: Not having a standard-issue logo, the creators of Mystery Science Theater 3000 chose to invent The Stinger — a five-second clip from the episode itself, run behind the BBI name.
Big Dog Productions uses a logo with a caricature of Jay Leno.
One Ho Productions has an arguably creepy Al Hirschfeld caricature of Whoopi Goldberg
Braniff: Trey Parker and Matt Stone's "company" credited for South Park. Actually an old commercial for Braniff Airlines that Trey and Matt stuck on the end of early South Park episodes when they realized they didn't have a production company logo to put on the end. It stuck.
In the uncut, unaired version of Cartman Gets an Anal Probe, there is a variant that has six pantsless guys dancing (the "Braniff Airlines" text works as the censor bar) singing, "Bra-Niff Air-Lines!" off-key.
The "pah PAH-PAH PAH! Pah pah-pah pah-pah-pah! pah-PAH!" jingle came from "Shpadoinkle Day", a song in Cannibal! The Musical
For most shows, a "pencil test" of characters from the preceeding show perform a simple action, in a rectangular box. The top and bottom of the box are the two text lines of the Cartoon Network logo. The sides collapse, sometimes as a result of the characters' actions, and the box closes. For the first two seasons of The Life and Times of Juniper Lee (as well as the Pilot Movie for the aborted Party Wagon), the "Studios" portion of the logo is added to the CN logo via a "scanning" effect which was generally used as generically. A few used snippets of dialog from the episode as the audio. As of 2010, this has been replaced by an entirely different vanity plate with a change in logo but it's very rarely if ever seen on air.
Also, the former vanity plate used at the beginning of Cartoon Cartoons, which featured a bunch of squiggly lines going around the screen to very cartoony music, culminating with the logo and one of the stars of the show about to air popping out of one of the Os saying "Cartoon Cartoons". A similar but distinct one was used during the Friday night "Cartoon Cartoon Fridays" block.
Castle Rock Entertainment, which was behind Seinfeld and many movies, featured a logo of a lighthouse in the distance which briefly shone its light at the camera. This was accompanied by a five note melody, which was given a full orchestra remix starting in 1997.
Chuck Lorre Productions: At the end of Dharma and Greg, Two and a Half Men, and The Big Bang Theory, Chuck Lorre would put a plate up for two seconds which consisted of a blank background, a heading which read "Chuck Lorre Productions #(no. of vanity plate)" and a great big Wall of Text, accompanied by a burst of angelic choir. Viewers had to tape the show and pause the plate to read Lorre's latest humorous discussion of his beliefs and observations. At first the plate was white text on black, but it was changed to black text on white because it was easier to read. Eventually Lorre came up with a standard placeholder message (which pretty much described itself as a placeholder message) for the times when he was running low on material. All of Lorre's Vanity Plates can be seen on his website.
The famous image of a woman in a tunic standing on a daïs holding a torch. Updated from time to time, but the theme is virtually unchanged since the black-and-white era.
From 1975 to 1981 they were apparently trying to transition to a stylized torch logo that resembled a sunburst. Unlike Warner Bros., however (see below), they never got as far as dropping their iconic plate entirely, and after Coca-Cola bought Columbia in 1982, the Torch Burst (just like all of the flat, abstract logos of the era) was retired.
The technology to do this by computer didn't exist in 1976; the Torch Burst logo is all backlit cel animation and rostrum camera tricks (specifically the slit-scanned "light ray sparkles" and the zoom up on the torch). The 1982 logo recycles the sparkles and part of the animation.
The abstract logo was resurrected in Superbad, but additional text has been added reading "A Sony Pictures Entertainment Company", and the background becomes yellow instead of black when the Torch Burst appears.
A more recent variation shows a vacant beach, with a worried voice-over saying "Where's Paul?"
DiC: Producers of children's programming, including the North American dub of Sailor Moon. (DIC is an abbreviation of Diffusion, Information et Communication.)
Their most famous signoff is popularly known as "The Kid in Bed." Used from 1987-2001, this animated logo starts with a kid and his dog sleeping in a bed and then transitions to a starry sky in which the logo appears with a bright shining star transitioning to the dot in the I.
For Inspector Gadget, it would show Gadget skating by the logo (sans the dot on the I); he'd stumble, and the gadget mallet would pop out of his hat, slam into the wall behind him as he flailed away, with the impact of the mallet becoming the dot on the I.
For The Littles, it would show Dinky running by the logo and dotting the I with a button before stumbling off the screen.
The acronym of the company was pronounced as in French; i.e., "deek". Sure to get a "hunh?" from monolingual English-speakers. It was also a shout out to DiC co-founder Andy Heyward's father, Louis "Deke" Heyward, who himself worked in the television business as vice president in charge of development for Barry & Enright Productions.
Several different signoffs were used. The best-known of these, used between 1961 and 1978, features a horizontally-stretched globe against a starfield, with "A Filmways Television Presentation" paralleling the top and bottom of the globe. A voiceover stating "This has been a Filmways presentation" usually accompanied the logo, spoken by one of the stars of the show that preceded it. The most famous examples came from The Beverly Hillbillies, spoken by Donna Douglas as Elly May, and Green Acres with Eva Gabor saying: "This has been a Filmways presentation, dahling."
The original vanity plate featured the different shapes of the FUNimation logo (a star, a rectangle, and a circle) slowly falling into place, creating the logo. This was only seen in the 1994 release of the first Dragon Ball movie. It was replaced afterwords with a new vanity featuring the different shapes moving on their own (including the rectangle jiggling into place), before the shapes were properly arranged, creating the logo. Both of these vanities used the same music and sound effects, and lasted about 10 seconds each.
A new vanity (arguably the one fans are most familiar with) was introduced in about 1998, and was only about 3 seconds long. It featured all the different shapes quickly flying into place. It was used on all FUNimation video releases, and after every showing of Dragon Ball Z.
A new one was used beginning in around 2004. It had a static FUNimation logo sitting in place behind bubbles (also bearing the logo) while a voice from behind whispered "FUNimation" against the sounds of children laughing.
This one was replaced with a new one in 2006 with a slightly different logo (The words "FUNimation", and the ball and star within a big blue rectangle) flying into place against a black background while a whispering voice said "FUNimation", before a light flashed, and the logo disappeared (some uses cut this part out). Another version of this vanity was used in around 2008, and featured modified graphics.
Another vanity was introduced in 2009, and featured a white background while the FUNimation logo was quickly drawn (with audible pencil strokes) while paint slowly filled the logo with it's proper colors. A man and a woman's voices are heard saying "FUNimation", while the logo disappeared and another voice (presumably Christopher Sabat) whispered the text "You Should Be Watching". An abbreviated version of this vanity was used for TV broadcasts.
Lastly, the current vanity was introduced in 2012. It drops the shapes altogether, and features the FUNimation logo against a quickly changing background representing different genres of anime (with a very "modern" flair). It ends with the logo sitting static against a plain white background.
Georges Méliès: This French pioneer of Early Films registered a trademark for his studio, featuring a simple star logo and the words "Star Film" (yes, in English), back in 1897. In an attempt to protect his films from being illegally copied, he often put the trademark somewhere on the film set in an important scene in the film, so that it would be considerably harder for film pirates to hide where they had stolen it from.
The "Shush Lady", first seen on The Tracey Ullman Show and later on The Simpsons, The Critic, Phenom and other series. A female theatergoer in silhouette, who silences the rest of the audience before a short music sting (thought by some to be based on Go West's hit "The King of Wishful Thinking", but the logo actually came first) and logo is shown. (This logo does not appear on cinema productions made by Gracie Films - with the exception, appropriately enough, of The Simpsons Movie.) In the Treehouse of Horror eps, the shush is replaced by a scream, and a horror-organ version of the music sting is played. Occasionally someone, such as Abraham Simpson, would be rambling on at length throughout the whole credits sequence, and when the vanity plate came on, the woman would shush at the appointed time, and the rambling voice finally cut off, audibly contrite.
Other musical variants have included a marching band ("Lisa The Greek"), a mariachi combo followed by a shout of "Ole!" ("Kamp Krusty"), a single, loud gunshot (Who Shot Mr. Burns?, Part One), a series of gunshots followed by the thud of a body hitting the ground ("Marge Simpson In 'Screaming Yellow Honkers'"), and a digeridoo ("Bart Vs. Australia").
"The Old Man And The Key" parodied the Filmways logo (cf.) by having Lisa say (a la Ellie May Clampett) "This has been a Gracie Films pray-sen-tay-shun."
"The Mansion Family" had Homer crying over the end credits due to how rich the people named in the credits are. When the lady shushes him, he responds with "Don't shush me, you rich bastard!" (On UK broadcasts, the last three words have a tendency to be cut - at least on Sky. As of recent airings of the episode on Sky, the entire line is cut.)
"Brother's Little Helper" had a wimpy sounding army cadet who after the shush responds "Aw, why'd you have to shush? You ruined the whole show!"
On one of the later Halloween episodes, the dark, somber tone of the organ music is ruined by having a Wilhelm Scream start it up.
The episode "The Blunder Years" ends with Homer screaming over the logo. His screaming carries onto the 20th Century Fox Television logo.
The Gracie Films logo was used at the end of the Family Guy episode The Simpsons Guy (the crossover with The Simpsons), with Peter Griffin singing to the tune of the logo, "And now the show is over now."
David Greenwalt Productions from David Greenwalt of Buffy, Angel, Jake 2.0 and others, uses a literal vanity license plate on a motorhome and a kid saying "Dad, let's go!" as its vanity plate.
Guntzelman Sullivan Marshall: The producers of Growing Pains and Just the Ten of Us used a logo depicting a man falling off the roof of a house at night and screaming.
Founded in 1957 by William Hanna and Joseph Barbera after MGM's animation studios closed, the creators of many fondly remembered cartoons such as The Flintstones, The Jetsons and Wacky Races. One of their first closing logos following the purchase of the studio by Taft Broadcasting was 1968's "Zooming HB", a rapidly zooming HB in screen-filling letters, which, in 1974, was replaced with the silent "Rainbow HB", a bunch of lines reading "HANNA-BARBERA" that disappeared and became a big, rainbow-colored HB. In 1979, this was replaced by the famous "Swirling Star" logo designed by Saul Bass, later reworked as the "Swirling Star" in 1986.
In the early '90s, they dropped the Star altogether (at least in Vanity Plate form) after the studio's purchase by Turner Broadcasting. It was replaced by a script "Hanna-Barbera" (introduced in 1988), which was combined with pictures of H-B characters in rectangles (usually the ones from the preceding show), along with H-B sound effects in the background. They took this a step further in 1994, with CG animated logos with Hanna-Barbera characters in motion. There were two versions, comedy and action, the latter best known for its accidental presence at the end of Scooby-Doo, Where Are You!'s mid-'90s prints. When Hanna-Barbera was wound down to little more than Cartoon Network's original programming unit in the late '90s, the early '90s static logos were revisited, except with ovals instead of rectangles. There are versions of these where the logo irises out and the Cartoon Network logo zooms up in its place.
During the production run of The Powerpuff Girls at H-B, the Swirling Star logo was retained. It was replaced by the Cartoon Network pencil test when H-B closed its doors for good and production moved to CN's Burbank studios.
For the shows made in the 1990 season (Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventures, Rick Moranis In Gravedale High and Wake, Rattle & Roll), a special ending vanity plate with Fred Flintstone was used to denote the 30th anniversary of The Flintstones.
Harpo Studios is the company formed by television personality and entrepreneur Oprah Winfrey, which is her first name spelled backwards. In the first version of the logo, which debuted in 1986, a cartoon version of Oprah wearing a lavender jacket and a yellow shirt pulls in a wagon with the text "HARPO PRODUCTIONS INC." with the "O" in "HARPO" slanted and "PRODUCTIONS INC." appearing below it. She stops and the wagon bumps into her shaking the word "HARPO" and she takes a bow afterwards. The logo was accompanied by an 11-note violin fanfare.
Hughes Entertainment: A stylized capital H with a five-point star in place of the horizontal connecting stroke, with "HUGHES" in small letters directly underneath. Known among fans as the "Star of Boredom".
Imagine Entertainment: Production company founded by Ron Howard and Brian Grazer. The company's logo shows a pond with a reflection of the word "IMAGINE" to an orchestrated theme.
ITC Entertainment went through four iterations featuring modifications of its "stacked diamonds" logo:
The first iteration zoomed in on a compass rose, flipped it over to reveal a sinusoidal projection map of the world, which then zoomed out and duplicated to form three stacked "diamonds", with the letters I, T, and C, from top to bottom, inside.
The second version featured spinning "flowers" (or pinwheels), from which the diamond-shaped "petals" would spin off and rearrange themselves until they became the ITC logo, which was revised to add depth. A different theme was used for this version.
The third version had the ITC logo (in white) zoom in from the center of a spinning object composed of the logo's diamond shapes, one each in red, green, and blue, on a space background. The first version's theme was used. This version is familiar to those of us who grew up with The Muppet Show.
The final version had the letters ITC, rendered in gold, slide into place on a back background one at a time from behind a revised stacked-diamond logo that spun in place until the C stopped. The music was simplified, reduced to a short synthesized piece ending with a "CLANG!".
The logo originally showed a goofy animated donkey situated in the "O" of the title and yelling "hee haw!" but later version played a few notes from "La Cucaracha" as the donkey jumped down into the crook of the "J" and yelled "Yokozuna!" In a later season of The Man Show, Jimmy and Adam introduced an idea concocted by one of their friends: sitting on the face of a sleeping buddy, giving him the rudest of awakenings. The friend who did that screamed "Yokozuna!" as he made the face-plant, thus coining the name.
In closing for Jimmy Kimmel Live, the donkey was branded on the butt, causing it to jump into the O before falling with the letter around his neck, then it brays.
Jim Henson Company: Used to have a laser writing something that flipped up to reveal it was a metallic 2-D Kermit head that filled with color and then shrunk into a buzzing point of light which produced Henson's signature logo. This was replaced by one of Kermit operating a movie camera (with the logo on the side), which zoomed out on a camera platform. Then the platform slammed to a halt and Animal's voice said "Sorry!" Sadly, they can't use these any more because the Muppets are now Disney properties.
John Charles Walters Company: Founded by former MTM writers, this company's only product of note was the sitcom Taxi. "Walters" didn't actually existnote The "Charles Walters" name was a Line-of-Sight Name, with "John" tacked on because a Charles Walters existed in real life, but the plate shows the back of a man (portrayed by series producer Eb. Weinberger) leaving his office for the night. His off-screen female secretary cheerfully says "Goodnight, Mr. Walters!" and he just grunts in reply.
One in use from 1991-1998, which had various objects forming the letters in "KLASKY" and scribbles writing in "CSUPO". It was retired as of The Rugrats Movie for a new vanity plate. Another one made its only appearance on Rugrats Go Wild: a city skyline with a green sky has a rooster who wakes up, screaming "WAKE... UP!!!", before the Sun gets brighter and brings forth the Klasky-Csupo logo (it looks different than it does in the other logos; it's an off-kilter print version which dates to at least 1999).
The new vanity plate was rather surreal. Ink splattered on the screen, revealing a Nightmare Face saying the company name and having the logo blocks shoot out of its mouth, then that sequence switches off like a TV and we see the Klasky-Csupo logo with an assortment of cartoon sounds in the background. Despite scaring several kids in the 1990s and the early 2000s, it was a Long Runner and was used from 1998 to 2008, but was recently revived on some of K-C's internet shorts.
Langley Productions: 3 variants exist: the first was the early '80s Barbour/Langley Logo which featured the names in hot pink sliding in from the sides of the screen with an accompanying tune that creeped many of us for years. Fortunately, once Langley took over the graphics changed to where "Langley" would either slide or form in with a much moreawesomeBlues-Rockriff. Currently, it's a different but still awesome riff with a flash revealing the logo.
Mark VII Limited: Jack Webb's company, made his Police Procedural shows such as Dragnet, Adam-12 and Emergency! (which was actually a Fire Department Procedural). The logo consisted of a pair of hands holding a hammer and chisel; the hammer strikes the chisel producing roman numeral VII, with logo showing Mark VII Limited. The hands were actually those of Jack Webb himself.
The company's logo was parodied in The Simpsons in the opening to "Treehouse of Horror XV", with the tentacles of Kang (or possibly Kodos) hammering "XV" on the screen. It was done to reflect the credits sequence for the made-up sitcom Keepin' It Kodos.
MGM: Studio mascot Leo the Lion became so famous that he eventually got his own animated sitcom, The Lionhearts.
Michael Sloan Productions: As seen on his various TV projects, the actual logos vary but they all have the same basic layout - a still picture of writer-producer Sloan posing with the star(s) of the show/TV movie (Lee Van Cleef for The Master, Robert Vaughn and David McCallum for The Return Of The Man from U.N.C.L.E., etc), with "Michael Sloan Productions" written across the screen in Sloan's handwriting. Even the Canadian-produced episodes of Alfred Hitchcock Presents weren't immune, with Sloan posing in profile alongside the one of Hitch. Talk about a Vanity Plate...
MTM Productions/Enterprises: Company founded by Grant Tinker and Mary Tyler Moore (for whom it was named), it produced a vast outpouring of quality television, starting with the classic The Mary Tyler Moore Show.
Its logo, well-known to several generations of TV viewers, was Mimsie the MTM kitten, a parody of Leo the MGM lion. In Mimsie's initial appearances at the end of The Mary Tyler Moore Show she simply meowed, but other MTM productions often added animated overlays and/or new sound tracks that were specific to the show. See the long list of such variants at Logo Joke.
The signoff is comprised of the words "Mutant Enemy" obviously hand-drawn in magic marker with a cardboard cut-out of a lurching zombie, also done in magic marker, crossing in front of it as Joss Whedon's voice intones "Grrr... argh."
The phrase "Mutant Enemy" comes from the song "And You And I" by Yes, and was the name Joss Whedon gave his first manual typewriter. The signoff itself was, according to Whedon, improvised at the last minute when he and his crew were told they needed one — hence its crude and simple appearance, which has only contributed to its popularity.
Robot Chicken also parodied this once when, after the regular Vanity Plate, the Mutant Enemy zombie starts attacking various people, and then it pulled out to show it was just Joss Whedon screwing around.
NBC: Originally just the letters NBC being lit up one-by-one to the network's three-tone jingle. When it switched to color, it switched to a flamboyant, rainbow-tailed peacock (which later became simplified so it would be easier to draw.) During the 1960s, they experimented with what is referred to as the "NBC Snake" — the letters "NBC"spelled using a continuous line. In the late '70s and early '80s they usedabig"N". The three-note jingle, by the way, is "G-E-C" — funny in hindsight, since for a while they were owned by General Electric Corporation.
Paramount Pictures: A mountain surrounded by stars (usually 24, in reference to the number of big movie actors they had signed in the Silent Age of Hollywood), also known as "Majestic Mountain" or "Paramountain". During the Gulf & Western era, the mountain faded into a simplified dark-blue-and-white icon on a light blue background; this version of the logo was retired in 1987, replaced with an udpated version of the "Majestic Mountain" which continued to be used following Viacom's acquisition of Paramount. The modern version usually features animated stars as they fly into the scene and take their place in formation around the mountain.
This company started out from the shadows of Desilu Productions, which had a reasonably pleasant vanity plate featuring several colored circles coming together to combine the studio logo. However, that all changed when Gulf & Western purchased Desilu in 1967 and turned it into a television branch of its film studio Paramount. The old Desilu logo was abandoned shortly thereafter and replaced with a simplified blue and white version of the classic Paramount "Majestic Mountain" signature. That placeholder lasted a good 9 months before being replaced with a segmented blue and white rectangle wrapped inside a yellow border. The camera then zooms toward the right side of the rectangle, which contains the simplified Paramount logo. In 1969, there was a slight tweak in the logo. The border became scarlet red and the logo frame blue over white. This variation was accompanied by a brief Dominic Frontiere theme and is nicknamed the "Closet Killer".
By 1987, the Gulf & Western version of the logo was retired in favor of an updated full-color logo, much as with the film division, with a new theme. After the Viacom-CBS split at the end of 2005, it was retired as Paramount Television was folded into CBS Television Studios/CBS Productions (just as Touchstone Television is now ABC Studios).
Public TV For East Tennessee: Until the mid-1990s, the logo for WSJK (now WETP) was a stylized Two known as the "Ugly TWO" and the logo for WKOP was a 3-D number 15 known as the "'70s-style 15". The Ugly TWO was used as a station ID by itself in the late '80s as well as with the '70s-style 15 in the early to mid '90s. Both logos were used in the sign-on and sign-off screen until late 2002.
The studio's mascot, Luxo Jr., hops across the stage, then jumps onto the letter I in the name, flattens it, then looks at the audience in embarrassment. Taken from Pixar's first short, in which Luxo Jr. jumps onto and deflates a ball in the same way. At the end of each film, the sequence is repeated, with the light snapping off or fading out after Luxo Jr. faces the camera.
A variation comes after the closing credits of WALL•E: after Luxo Jr. squashes the I and turns to the camera, its light bulb burns out. WALL-E rolls into view, changes the bulb, pats Luxo Jr. on the "head", and starts to roll away. However, WALL-E then knocks over the letter R in Pixar, and is forced to take its place by bending his body into the shape of an R. Luxo then turns once more to the camera and the lights go out.
Revised as of Up and the Toy Story rereleases (although possibly just for the 3D versions). The same basic scene but starting with the camera facing from the left on the letters which are now shown to have depth. The camera rotates around back to the front as Luxo hops in.
R&D TV: Company formed to produce the new Battlestar Galactica, its only show as of this writing. Its signoff features versions of Ron Moore and David Eick ("R" and "D") animated in a style reminiscent of Monty Python's Terry Gilliam, taking turns mutilating each other. Thanks to some twisted soul somewhere on the Net, you can see a collected set of these clips here, or check out this article from Wired magazine.
Rankin/Bass Productions: Creators of numerous well-remembered animated Christmas specials in the '60s and '70s (Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer being the first and arguably most popular of these.) Their classic '60s-'70s logo has an upright rectangle and two circles popping up to form a stylized overlapping "R" and "B" over a white background, accompanied by the words "A Rankin Bass Production".
Renaissance Pictures: Sam Raimi's company, and masters of the Nineties Adventure Show. It's short lived first logo, appearing only on M.A.N.T.I.S., consisted of the company's name hovering over Earth, as the sun rises behind it and makes a "whoosh" sound. It was dispensed of by the end of 1994 for a more infamous one. At the end of Hercules: The Legendary Journeys, Xena: Warrior Princess, Cleopatra 2525, Jack-of-All-Trades and Legend of the Seeker, viewers are treated to a sequence of a Mona Lisa-like portrait being ripped in half by an unseen force and thrusted toward the viewer, accompanied by lightning bolts and eerie chanting. After that, a lightning bolt causes the company's name (fashioned differently from before) to appear. A shortened version exists on the short-lived American Gothic, which excises the Mona Lisa sequence.
Reveille Productions: Co-producer of such shows as The Office (U.S.) and Ugly Betty. A soldier is shown playing a trumpet in white silhouette.
Saban Entertainment/Saban Brands: Best known for Power Rangers. Its first logo was a black planet with rings around it with "SABAN" on the rings in a Pac-Man-like lettering style, with "PRODUCTIONS" below that. Five lines are on the bottom left hand side of the planet. Another plate was adopted in 1988, which featured a white marble square with a round hole in it, with "SABAN" in the hole, and, depending on the version, "ENTERTAINMENT" or "INTERNATIONAL" below the hole. A gold plate spins in from the left of the screen while the square comes in from the right. The plate affixes itself into the hole, and three black lines draw themselves on the bottom left corner of the plate. The final plate, used from 1996 to 2002, features children in odd-looking clothing lying on the ground, which fades to show them holding a large, golden cloth, which fades to show them floating above an Earth globe with yellow water and red and green land, over a sky background. The children are holding balls of various colors, and golden light rushes around the globe until the globe and kids disappear, with the light forming a simplified version of the logo from 1988, with "S A B A N" below it. This reveals that the clouds in the sky are being sucked into the center. The current logo for Saban Brands, introduced with Power Rangers Samurai, has a red ribbon in space flying to form the 1996-2002 logo, set to a guitar riff.
Had several plates, the best known being "The S From Hell". Also known as the "Filmstrip S", this logo was first used in 1965 and lasted 9 seasons on television. Two lengths of film, one in the foreground moving back and one in the background moving forward, meet in the middle of the screen and wrap around a circular area in which a dot appears, forming a stylized "S" as the text "SCREEN GEMS" appears and expands. A short musical motif consisting of six ascending notes followed by two upward arpeggios (changed in 1970 to three notes and two arpeggios) accompanied it. For some reason the combination of the simple animation and the strange music were considered frightening by many viewers, particularly children, some of whom have reported nightmares inspired by it and seem scarred by the event well into adulthood. You can see it in its supposedly scary glory on YouTube. The "S from Hell" was retired in 1974 when Screen Gems was renamed "Columbia Pictures Television", although CPT continued to use the same music behind a new logo for several years. The "S" logo was revived in 1999 and named by the fans the "S from Heaven", which can be seen here.
Sony Pictures Television: Successor to Columbia-TriStar Television, which was infamous for its ubiquitous "Boxes of Boredom" logo. Sony Pictures Television's logo first appeared in 2002, and is nicknamed the "Bars of Boredom" (it has achieved the same ubiquity the Boxes had, mainly by replacing logos on older shows, which the Boxes did as well). The omnipresence of the Boxes and Bars of Boredom (yes, their fans really do give everything a snappy nickname) as well as Sony's plastering have made them The Scrappy of logo fans. The logo consists of "SONY PICTURES TELEVISION" zoomed up to the screen in front of a very bright light. The words zoom out as the light condenses itself into a symbol featuring twelve bars with the light in them. The more common short version doesn't start with the extreme close-up on the company's name, and the music is a majestic, triumphant five-note fanfare. The longer version prefaces it with a "fluttering" sound, played by a piano.
Starry Night Productions: Reinhold Weege's production company for Night Court has an animated logo showing a star flashing brightly (accompanied by a loud clapping sound) and fading, revealing a blacked-out nighttime Chicago skyline. The loud clap is followed by an elongated Scare Chord on electric organ and the sound of a man laughing heartily, not to say maniacally. The same guy can often be heard on the show's Laugh Track.
It starts with live action footage of Cannell himself at a typewriter in a well-appointed study. The camera then does an Orbital Shot from his face to his back, at which point he pulls the sheet of paper out of the typewriter and throws it over his head. The live paper turns into an animated sheet, which floats downward onto an animated stack, the top sheets of which curl upward and form a "C". The text "Stephen J. Cannell Productions" or "Cannell Entertainment Inc." then appears above.
It was updated through the years, with his Emmy and other awards added to his office among other things. In earlier versions he was smoking a pipe. You can see all but a couple of the versions in this compilation video on Youtube.
Stephen J. Cannell. Colleague. Mentor. Friend. We'll miss you, pal.
Stoopid Monkey: Seth Green's production shingle. The plate at the end of Robot Chicken until Season 5 was different each time, with a still-frame cartoon monkey engaging in some reckless behavior, with a hooting sound effect, while Seth says, "Stupid monkey." Now the show uses a neon cartoon monkey head with the same voice over for every episode.
Ten Thirteen Productions:
Best known for The X-Files, and Millennium. A young boy's voice declares proudly "I made this!" over the sound of an old-fashioned movie projector, while the logo appears on a black screen. (The boy is Nathan Couturier, son of X-Files supervising sound editor, Thierry Couturier. The company name itself refers to the birthday of producer Chris Carter.)
This was mercilessly mocked by Stewart Lee and Richard Herring in their BBC2 series This Morning With Richard Not Judy
The logo fades in, accompanied by the famous crescendo frequently called the Deep Note - which, if you were a kid in the 80s and 90s first hearing it, may have been more like a Brown Note. A lengthy but more pleasant variant, involving fantastic sounds and music created by plantlife in the shape of the logo, has been used for some recent family-oriented movies, but the old version is still used for more serious films.
There are many different variants of the THX logo, but the most famous one that many people remember seeing at the start of several Disney, Sony and MGM movies on VHS is one where a blue rectangle fades on screen, then text about how the movie is digitally mastered appears, followed by the THX logo fading in as well and shining. In theaters, the rectangle sequence is longer and "The Audience is Listening" is shown instead.
Another one features a conducter's hand, which flicks a baton, shooting out a hyperspace conducted with an orchestral fanfare followed by the THX logo zooming in. During the THX logo zooming scene, we hear a more pleasant version of the Deep Note. This was parodied on Tiny Toon Adventures: How I Spent My Vacation.
The THX logo is featured in Over the Hedge.... as the animals are breaking in for food the TV/stereo system comes on with the ubiquitous THRUUUUMMMM.
UBU Productions: Of Family Ties and Spin City fame. A photo of producer Gary David Goldberg's black Labrador Retriever, Ubu Roi, is shown holding a frisbee. Goldberg himself says the line, "Sit, Ubu, sit. Good dog.", which is followed by a quick, single bark.
Robot Chicken parodied this right beside their own vanity plates with a similar looking photo of a toy dog. Seth Green says, "Sit, Ubu, sit. Bad dog!", before the screen cuts to black, a shotgun sounds, and a dog whimpers.
Has had several vanity plates, all of them a variation on a globe with the word "UNIVERSAL" or the phrase "A UNIVERSAL PICTURE" in front of it. The most famous (mostly through commonality) was the "Zooming Globe", used from 1963-1990, which headed many of Universal's blockbusters; it basically had the camera zooming up on Earth with spotlight "rings" forming around the globe, as the company name (spelled out in huge Futura letters) faded in. Universal inherited its television division from its longtime parent MCA, which started Revue Studios in 1951 as a TV production arm; after MCA bought Universal in 1962, Revue became Universal Television and started using the Zooming Globe itself, something that didn't change until the TV version of the 75th Anniversary logo premiered in 1991. It later used the first few notes of the 1997 Universal fanfare over the newest version of the logo; this was later retired when NBC merged with Universal in favour of NBC Universal Television Studio, Universal Media Studios and now Universal Television.
The film Henry & June, which takes place in 1931, uses the 1931 version of the Universal logo.
In the early '70s, many series from Universal Television incorporated the logo music (by lounge specialist Juan Esquivel and Universal's music supervisor Stanley Wilson) into their end credits music. Examples: The Bold Ones, The Sixth Sense, Banacek, and McMillan & Wife.
In arguably the ultimate example, the shortlived 1992-93 sitcom Camp Wilder (notable mainly for featuring Jay Mohr, Hilary Swank and Tina Majorino in early roles) came from a company called Vanity Logo Productions (the logo itself was the company name in front of a cresting wave).
Russell Brand's production company takes this to the logical extreme by being called Vanity Projects, and having as its logo a crudely-drawn boy widdling and giving a thumbs-up.
The first, used from 1971 to 1976, is commonly known as "Pinball". It featured the V-IA-COM segments of the company name sliding in from the right, in that order, as the background changes colors. VIACOM zooms back to reveal "A" and "PRESENTATION" on each side of it.
Its successor, nicknamed "The V of Doom", was used between 1976 to 1986. It can occasionally still be seen at the end of old prints of CBS programs, although for the most part it has been supplanted by the 1995 Paramount Television logo. It began with the phrase "A Viacom Presentation" zooming in from the center of the screen, followed by a large purple V which fills most of the screen. Accompanying this is a five-note motif played by synthesized horns with a building timpani crescendo. As with the Screen Gems "S from Hell" logo, some viewers actually found the whole sequence frightening and of course, as with the other "scary" plates, YMMV wildly but have a peek of iton YouTube and see for yourself. The fright might be related to the fact that for years, this was seen following shows like The Twilight Zone and Tales From The Dark Side but most likely it's because everyone else finds it scary to the point nobody might find it scary.
Its successor, in use from 1986 to 1990, is commonly known as the "V of Steel". It started with the screen divided into a purple half and a silver half. The silver half turned itself upward, revealing itself to be the "V" from the previous logo, redone in CGI. The word "Viacom" (in the same typeface as before) fell down and landed under the V.
A completely new logo, which goes by the nickname "Wigga-Wigga", was used from 1990 to 1999. It starts with a V (different from before) over a blue background, which zig-zags (and makes "wigga-wigga" sounds, hence the nickname) and forms the word "VIACOM", which is then spoken by a booming male voice (rumored to be Don LaFontaine). (This logo was designed by Chermayeff and Geismar, also responsible for the Screen Gems "S from Hell" and the 1986 NBC Peacock). It was carried over to Viacom's final plate, used from 1999 to 2004. The "VIACOM" letters were made of glass and zoomed out over a blue background with the letterforms in it. "PRODUCTIONS" was under it, along with a Paramount byline.
VID: A Russian TV studio best known for becoming Memetic Mutation with the Russians. Its logo consists of a vibrating line with a ball bouncing on it, then the ball explodes into a black background and an infamously scary-looking mask fades in along with a sinister jingle.
Vin Di Bona Productions: Best known for America's Funniest Home Videos. The plate, which endured many updates over 21 years of use, consists of the "Vin Di Bona" script spinning around and unfolding. "PRODUCTIONS" will appear afterwards, though in recent years PRODUCTIONS has unfolded along with the rest of the name. This fall, the logo was dramatically revised, with the background turned red and the script redone. The music has always been a bizarre synth ditty attempting to sound cheerful but failing as 80's synth tends to do, though the new revision saw it greatly toned down.
VIZ Media has two: One, used throughout the '80's and '90's when it was just a distributor for other companies' shows and anime (see any opening for a Pokémon VHS), that had a gold, CGI brick swirling against a a starry backdrop with ominous music playing in the background until the brick stopped spinning and broke apart with an almighty crash as the individual plates that made the brick flew across the screen and formed the gold "V". Its modern logo is the words "Viz" colliding with a red block, which causes the red block to spin around, while traditional Japanese woodwinds play in the background until the logo freezes and the word "Media" fades right underneath "VIZ".
Disney didn't really have a consistent one until 1985, when an animated, 2D, segmented (like many other logos of the era) Sleeping Beauty Castle made its debut in front of Return to Oz. It was revised in 1990, when the purple gradient inside the castle was removed. This may be the only example of a theatrical film company to use a stylized logo that stuck, in part because they had no iconic logo until then.
This logo was finally retired in 2006, when an elaborate computer animated sequence that switched out the Sleeping Beauty Castle for the Cinderella Castle debuted in front of Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest (this version was done by visual effects company WETA Digital). Pixar movies prior to WALL•E use a (different) CGI variation of the castle.
Walt Disney Animation Studios now has its own logo, perhaps to differentiate from Pixar films but more likely as a show of pride and legacy, featuring the opening clip from Steamboat Willie, with Mickey whistling the tune and steering the boat, going from initial sketch to finished animation as it plays out.
Walt Disney Home Entertainment video releases have used plenty of logos that differ greatly from the standard vanity plate.
While it consists of a basic reveal of the logo, the colour of said logo and the style of music used is genre appropriate. Harry Potter movies have it in brown for example, flying past the camera. If it's not tied in to the movie it's with, it'll usually be accompanied by "As Time Goes By".
The Warner Bros. Animation and Warner Bros. Family logos have Bugs Bunny leaning on the logo (sometimes preceded by him coming out from behind it) and chewing a carrot. The usual fanfare is "Merrily We Roll Along", while through the '90s and early 2000s the animated TV series had the final bars of the Animaniacs theme ("Those are the facts!").
In the '70s and early '80s the Warner Brothers logo went from the "WB" shield to a stylized "W" following with a general trend within the industry at the time. It reverted back to the "WB" shield in 1984 though the logo lives on in the now unrelated music megalabel Warner Music Group.
The Warner Bros. Television logo was generally static, with the exception of the 50th Anniversary variant. Had the anniversary banner not been flowing in a direction opposite to the one the shield was travelling in, the logo might not be static today.
1986's ''Follow That Bird'' showed an animated Big Bird inflating a large "W", which rose to form an animated version of the WB shield. "Sesame Street is brought to you today by the letters 'W' and 'B'!"
After WB's absorption of New Line Cinema, New Line films starting with The Rite begin with a basic shot of the WB shield, whose golden parts then seperate and fly past the camera to a night skyline to assemble into the New Line Cinema logo, now in gold. The excess parts still fly past the New Line logo.
WGBH is a PBS affiliate in Boston, Massachusetts. They are the most prolific producer of PBS shows seen nationwide. They are arguably best known for their two logos, the second of which has not been replaced since 1978. They both use the same music, a wonder of synthesiser noodling though of course this also got the "scary" badge for seemingly "being too loud and syncopatic", go figure.
WNET: On a black screen, we see the New York skyline in a radar, with "From WNET New York" in the center.
Williams Street: Producer of much of [adult swim]'s original lineup.
Originally it was for for "Ghost Planet Industries", way back when Space Ghost Coast to Coast and its spin-off, Cartoon Planet, were their only shows in production. Their plate is a blurry picture of the Williams Street studio, with a low tympani roll and a few ominous gongs. (The audio is actually ripped off of Mark VII Limited's plate from the 1960s above.) In recent years, the plate is followed by a split-second (sometimes longer) flash of a skull and crossbones image (with the Cartoon Network logo for its teeth) on a white background, with a voice speaking or shouting, "Skull!"
The "Skull" card following the program Squidbillies customarily has the voice of a character from the series saying the word.
Front and back Vanity Plates. The Vanity Plate at the beginning of their programming is a 30-second montage of soundbites and blipverts of moments throughout their history. The Vanity Plate at the end is a simple light panning over the WWE logo. Both Vanity Plates were notably absent from ECW on Sci-Fi, a holdover from the early days of the Revival when WWE was trying to separate the new ECW from the other two "brands" as much as possible. WWE's front Vanity Plate has since been parodied in the form of Botchamania's opening sequence.
In July 2012, to coincide with the 1000th episode of WWE Raw, the company introduced new front & back vanity plates. The new opening signature is a short montage of photos of WWE wrestlers and arenas that appear in rapid succession before the WWE logo itself appears against a white background, with "Then. Now. Forever." fading in next to it. The Vanity Plate at the end is the word "ENTERTAINMENT" appearing against a black background, then changing to the WWE logo in a flash of light.
There have been other Vanity Plates WWE has used throughout history. From 1984 to 1988, the WWF block logo emerges in a starry background, with the words "WORLD WRESTLING FEDERATION" appearing below, one by one, followed by an announcer's voice saying, "The recognized symbol of excellence in Sports Entertainment." It was reused on the Old School Raw, but with "FEDERATION" crossed out and "ENTERTAINMENT" written below it. From 1988 to 1991, the plate show moving imagery with an announcer's voice saying, "The World Wrestling Federation, what the world is watching." Signatures from 1991 to 1997 simply showed the WWF block logo with "WORLD WRESTLING FEDERATION" below it and the announcer's voice said, "The World Wrestling Federation, for over 50 years, the revolutionary force in Sports Entertainment." Different WWF signatures were produced for the Attitude Era.
In anime series, the Vanity Plate appears before the beginning of the program, not after the end. There are frequently several of them, each from a different production company that collaborated in making the series. It is rare for the actual animation studio to display a Vanity Plate — unlike in North America, the animation studios are separate companies from the production companies that put series together. Instead, the studio will have its logo discreetly included in the ending credits. (Notable exception: Studio Ghibli, whose Vanity Plate features one of their best-known characters, Totoro.)
UK television has a whole other side to the vanity plate story...
Until 1 January 1988, the UK's various ITV companies put vanity plates in front of their shows. These are referred to as "front caps", representing the companies that also broadcast the ITV network, and usually doubled as station ID's locally (known as "idents"). For a very brief period after the front caps were done away with, some companies used animated post-credits vanity plates (referred appropriately to as "end caps") until 1989.
ABC: Began with the station logo, a triangle with an embossed pattern, zooming on screen, parts of the triangle wiped down from the top of the screen on top of the letters "A", "B" and "C" in either a serif or sans-serif logo, before the station logo resolves from the smaller triangles.
Anglia: A rotating statue of a silver knight on horseback carrying a flag with "Anglia" engraved on it, accompanied by a refrain from Handel's Water Music. An extra-long version appeared as the station sign-on every morning. After 29 years, it was replaced 1988 by an animated flag with an A made up of different coloured triangles which was briefly used an animated end vanity plate. This "A" was designed by Lambie-Nairn (who also designed the current logo of The BBC), and the original "flag" ident was used until 1999.
ATV: With "front caps" known as "zooms", these mainly featured the station logo zooming into centre position on screen. As colour dawned for the station in 1969, the "Colour Zoom" sequence changed to a "colour chart" of red, green and blue circles morphing together and the yellow station logo appearing in a burst of colour along with a bombastic jingle.
Border: For most of the "front cap" era, a still silent logo with two lines joining together as one inside the shape of a TV, an abstract representation of the broadcast region. Known in fan circles as "the chopsticks in a bowl" as it's indistinct what it represents without explanation.
Central: Started off as in 1982 as a sphere which split open with a ray of light to resolve as a white ball with the left part shadowed in a crescent shape. Replaced with a different "sphere" in 1983 with the crescent part of the sphere in the colours of the rainbow, sometimes referred to as "Moon". The well-loved amongst fans "Cake", an abstract version of "Sphere with segments cut into the sphere, first appeared in promos and idents in the region in 1985, before replacing the sphere as an short-lived animated endcap, in proper vanity plate fashion in 1988.
Channel: Started off with their first ident, six hexagons appearing one by one on screen, one of with the mask of a leopard. From there, they gained a new more modern logo with the letters "CTV" made up of stripes, zooming in from centre. After that, they used a multitude of different logos but few with any staying power besides their "Channel Island globe" ident.
Grampian: The first ident was an abstract depiction of a hilly landscape which then reformed into the station's St Andrew's flag logo, all very patriotic. They later went for a sub-ATV morphing of components of the station logo when the station began colour broadcasts. They later used one of the first CGI frontcaps in the ITV network, with balls and diamonds tumbling around the screen before the station logo resolved.
Granada: Famously silent and reflective of Oop North stoicness throughout the "front cap" era, the first logo featured a sometimes-animated northwards pointing arrow with the slogan "From the North" above the station name. After a brief flirtation with using just the word "Granada" underlined in the late 1960s, the station introduced its classic logo on the cusp of switching to colour in 1969 - the yellow G with a north-pointing arrow. For a long time barring a few 30th anniversary logos their logos were entirely silent affairs until they became slightly less dull with their "stripe" idents in the early 90s but hit their stride in the mid to late 90s with a big and bombastic ident placing their famous G (now apparently rendered as a large transparent perspex block) front and center, based off the stripe logo.
HTV: The first infamous logo used monochrome cross-hatching effects to form the word "Harlech" which reportedly caused eyestrain among viewers though this only affected higher resolution screens, the more common lower resolution screens didn't exhibit the eyestraining moiré effect. Thankfully, the station's decision to abbreviate the name to HTV to appease non-Welsh viewers led to a less seizureriffic "front cap", where two white diagonal lines wiped on screen and morphed to form the new station logo, dubbed "the aerial" by front cap fans. Became a CGI-fest of tumbling logo components falling into place forming the logo in 1987.
LWT: Beginning as the words "From London Weekend" zooming into view with a late-'60s Moog jingle, it soon evolved into the "From London Weekend" encased in a spinning circle, dubbed "the pound coin" by later generations. 1971 saw the launch of "the river", where a line made up of blue, white and orange/red stripes formed the joined-up letters "LW" on a black background; amended in 1978 for the letters to read "LWT" with the station name extended to "London Weekend Television". The station front-cap gave into the CGI era in 1986, as the stripes making up the "LWT" letters did a "folding out" effect to form the station logo. A very impressive (for its time) CGI ident was introduced in 1996, which showed three squares (one red, one white, one blue) break into a flurry of cubes, which flew down to a white smoke and formed the LWT logo (which has been amended so that the "L" is red, the "W" is white and the "T" is blue). Their final ident was introduced in 2000 (as a strike against network-mandated idents introduced the previous year), which zoomed over and up to a video wall with the "LWT" on it, along with ITV's "hearts" idents of the era surrounding it. Much of this wall was originally tinted red, and the music was mainly ambient beats with conspicuous beeps, reasonably nice but those in charge needed something more dynamic for a company as loud and proud as LWT with a reversion coming shortly after containing a lot more blue, a lot less red and a much more robust theme.
Rediffusion: The company's logo, the "adastral", usually spun in its "front caps".
Scottish: Early front caps featured the lion rampant - a tumbling effect was used for a while which was amended to a zooming effect due to complaints. Colour saw the logo become the stylised letters "STV". 1985 saw the station update its logo to a stylised thistle (nicknamed "Bertie Bassett" due to its resemblance to the mascot of a confectionery company) made up of grey blocks, a blue ball and a purple "top".
Thames: Nearly the same front cap used from the station's beginning in 1968 until the end of the "front cap" era - a shot of London landmarks appearing from the middle of the screen with the word "THAMES" appearing on the front, all on a blue sky with light clouds backdrop. For well-remembered humorous takes on the logo, see Logo Joke. The background tune "Salute to Thames" is also very well known and also parodied.
TSW: One of the quirkiest front caps when first seen in 1982, the full sequence saw a TV with a fuzzy signal with sprouting shoot become encased in a blue smily ball, which mutated into a set of six slimy balls, which were actually green hills from another angle, which settled into place as a blue bar and the TSW letters folded out on screen. Best to look at it for yourself to see what we're talking about. Replaced by a much more boring CGI "front cap" in 1985 from which TSW continued to become more sedate.
TVS: Using a rainbow-coloured version of the station logo, the "flower" or "shell" depending on which person from the region you talk tonote it's actually a fleur-de-lys, which either zoomed sedatedly (on weekdays) or span with more vigour (at weekends) to settle beside the letters "TVS". Changed in 1987 to station logos in chrome-effect CGI.
Tyne Tees: Began as the letters "TTT" morphing from an anchor with a relevant sea-shanty style jingle and "Tyne Tees Television, Channel 8!" ID from early station announcer Adrian Cairns. The station logo changed to a yellow stacked block of letters reading "TTTV" which formed on screen first from various off-screen points, amended later to a computer-style zooming in.
Ulster: Started out as a The Twilight Zone style mix of dots and lines accompanied by a refrain from "The Mountains of Mourne", a piece of traditional music. Come The Troubles, the modified logo with the oscilloscope pattern on the inside of a TV screen shape was usually transmitted still and in silence. Then in 1980, along came "the lollipop" or "the telly on a stick" - a statue with the station logo made from melted silver retrieved from volatile film stock which revolved to the sound of a plinky-plonk early 1980s synth tune. It was intended as an anniversary ident but stuck, still frontcaps though did exist on the few networked programmes it did make.
Westward: Made use of the station's adopted symbol, a model of the Golden Hind, which later became a real-life statue which the camera panned away from.
A golden chevron which appeared to a few bars from a local folk tune, "On Ilkley Moor B'ah Tat". Unanimated for most of the "front cap" era, 1987 saw the "Liquid Gold" front cap, with a 3D chevron emerging from a pool of, well, gold liquid.
ITV (and then Channel Four) also put plates at the end of the shows ("end caps"). Archive reruns of ITV shows do not include the front caps, although they are often included in British DVD releases.
Old shows replayed on TV get the ITV1, ITV2, etc. cap. Or else the bland anonymous ITV Studios cap rather than the ident of the original maker. It's really not the same.
Video games too
Video games often use the "front caps" version, typically by having the plates for various companies involved in production play while the game is loading. Occasionally they're also around during the end credits, although the credits are more likely to use plain text rather than plates. Some notable examples include:
The 3DO Company's logo with voice at the start of most of their games were memorable, especially to those playing the earlier Army Men titles.
Capcom's SNES-era plate had its logo fade in with a synth fade-in, then at the end the logo would flash to a single guitar chord. (This was mimicked in Mega Man 6, Capcom's last NES game). And the Resident Evil vanity plate.
Williams Entertainment had one in the SNES version of Doom, playing the first four seconds of the game's rendition of The Imp's Song.
Clover Studios had a very ordinary vanity plate, a green 4-leaf clover blooming accompanied by a female voice saying, "Clover..." But in Ōkami, one of the standard 'clean up the trashed world' activities you have to do in the game is first dig up black clovers, then bloom them into healthy green ones.
Platinum Games, a company who is composed of several members who used to work at Clover Studios before it went belly-up, has a very beautiful logo animation. It shows several colorful sparkles inside the logo (all of the sparkles are the same sparkle used on the logo itself) as the camera jumps to various areas of the logo, then it zooms out and the entire logo turns a shiny black. All of this is accompanied by beautiful music. Unfortunately, Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance merely uses a static version of the logo, while The Wonderful 101, being published by Nintendo, does not show any logos upon starting up as per Nintendo protocols (Nintendo tends to abstain from showing logos on start-up of their own games ever since the Wii's release).
Sega had a different version in nearly everySega Genesis game. Of particular note are the Sega vanity plates from the main Sega GenesisSonic the Hedgehog games. Originally, Sonic 1 was to have a sound test screen featuring an anthropomorphic band and detailed animations; when this was scrapped, the developers decided to fill up the remaining space in the ROM by digitizing the two-note "Se-ga!" jingle from the contemporary Japanese commercials and adding it to the vanity plate. They managed to get the sound to a reasonable quality and threw it in there, and every other main-series Genesis Sonic game had the same jingle in it. It was also present in an earlier version of Sonic 3D Blast/Flickies' Island, but was replaced by the US commercials' "SEGA!" scream in the final product.
Sonic Mega Collection uses the old plate again as a reference. Likewise, so do trailers for the 20th anniversary crossover game Sonic Generations in regards to its history-spanning nature... but the game itself uses the "*whoosh* Sega." plate that is standard for nearly all Sega games as of the late 2000's. Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed, a love letter to Sega as a whole, uses both the new and old Sega plates together on start-up (to make things less awkward, they are separated by the Sumo Digital plate and the copyright disclaimer screen).
Valve themselves plays ominous music over a still frame of a man's head with the rotary handle of a garden spigot grafted onto it. For the first two Half-Life games, there's a white guy with the valve replacing his eye; games from the Orange Box onwards have a bald black guy with the valve sticking out the back of his head. From DOTA2 onwards, the head now turns and looks sideways, as the music intensifies.
Homestar Runner fake-video game corporation Videlectrix has its surreal one of a man falling over displayed in the style of the console/computer the presented game is a pastiche of.
LucasArts usually put their logo in the front and back. Once they got bored with the basic logo, they began doing all sorts of stuff to it, like scaring it away with a tentacle, parachuting it in, blowing it up, etcetera.
Many flash games have vanity plates nowadays; some of the most recognizable include the Miniclip "BOOM!" logo and the Armor Games "Dueling Swords" logo.
"EA Games. <whispers> Challenge everything."; "E.A. Sports. It's in the game."
nVidia has had a few vanity plates over the years, typically showcasing the company logo and their motto of "The way it's meant to be played". There was at least one such vanity plate that was unique to the game that showed it (Unreal Tournament 2004 in this case).
Wolf Team had several vanity plates over the years:
Almost all its computer games showed "Wolf Team" scrolling up over a detailed background image, followed by "Since 1987" appearing in smaller letters underneath. (Pre-1987 games had instead "Telenet" followed by "A Wolf Team Presents.") The background images varied from game to game at first (e.g. a Fantasm Jewel in Valis), but most later games had three crossed swords zoom in, with a shield and banner fading in behind them. The musical theme in all cases was two falling chimes played twice.
On the Sega Genesis, Wolf Team switched to showing a much simpler trademark logo. The old musical theme was abandoned, though at first the "Wolf Team" text still scrolled up as before. Starting in 1991, both the logo and "Wolf Team" text were angularly stylized in red and black over a white background. On the Sega CD, this gradually evolved into a more elaborate sequence, with a voice (rumored to be George Takei's) saying, "Game Creative Staff: Wolf Team."