Follow TV Tropes


Expository Theme Tune

Go To

"Theme songs are just an excuse for show-makers to make less show. I'm sure viewership would triple if I had one of those crappy cartoon theme songs that bludgeons you over the head with the blunt end of the show's premise."
Strong Bad, sbemail #155

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


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

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

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


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

Compare with the Anime Theme Song and the Theme Tune Rap. Can overlap with Job Song if one or more characters' jobs are important to the plot.

Example Subpages:

Other Examples:

    open/close all folders 

    Asian Animation 
  • The opening of Lamput, as short as it is, still visually conveys the most important information about the show. You see an orange blob who shapeshifts to avoid being captured by two scientists.
  • Motu Patlu's theme song, "Motu Aur Patlu Ki Jodi", explains who Motu and Patlu are, how they get along, and what they do.
  • Downplayed in Noonbory and the Super 7. The very first lyrics in the theme song ("In Toobalooba there's seven friends/Solving trouble with super senses") mentions the show's premise, while the remaining lyrics are mostly about the Super 7 themselves.

    Audio Play 
  • Both themes of Come to Hoshizora Hall ("Hoshizora Melody" and the Second Night song "Come to Hoshizora Hall") are just songs that explain why the CDs are made, what they're planning to do, and what exactly they're giving their Master in thanks for their care and love.

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

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

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

  • "Hey, Hey, we're The Monkees / and people say we monkey around / but we're too busy singing / to put anybody down..." (also fits into the category above)
  • The Aquabats!:
    • Technically this trope but with no actual show to expose at the time, "Theme Song" tells a rather intricate backstory for the band involving them being driven from their homeland of Aquabania by the evil Space Monster M.
    • "The Wild Sea!" is done in the style of one, about a fictional adventure show staring a young man, his father, and their Viking sidekick.
    Sailing on and on and on and on
    Into the ocean, into the sun
    Our boat, a Viking, my dad, and me
    On the Wild Sea!
  • "Cartoon Heroes" by Aqua is an expository theme of this type for a completely fictional TV show (the video does a good job of being the title sequence).
  • Part of the lyrics of "WE ARE MILKCAN!" from Make It Sweet! somewhat describe the basic plot of Um Jammer Lammy:
    Suddenly another problem hits us in the face.
    And we think that we can overcome this wacky race, but then someone in the band brings up another craze.

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

    Professional Wrestling 
  • "Whose that jumping out the sky? R-E-Y Mysterio, here we go! When the mask's out the girls they pass out, the boys just blackout, better tap out!"
  • "Chris is awesome! He's as hot as it gets, the type to drop you quick, with a mafia kick!"
  • "I've got long sideburns. I've got my hair slicked back. I'm comin' to your town in a pink Cadillac. I'm just a Honky Tonk Man (He's just a Honky Tonk Man)! I'm just a Honky Tonk Man (He's just a Honky Tonk Man)! I'm just a Honky Tonk Man! I'm cool, I'm cocky, I'm bad!"
  • "Ame...rican! DREAM! (cowbell) He's just a common man, workin' hard with his hands!..."

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

  • The Soldiers Tale begins each act with "The Soldier's March," which commences the rhyming narration before the curtain rises over a steady drumbeat. The reprise at the start of the second act has slightly different lyrics and a brief pause for extra narration.

    Web Animation 
  • Hanazuki: Full of Treasures: "Out there, deep in space, grows a new Moonflower..."
  • Homestar Runner:
    • In the Strong Bad Email "best thing", there's the theme song from Limozeen: but they're in space!.
      Remember those guys from that band Limozeen? / Well, they turned their tour bus into a space machine!
    • Strong Bad also demonstrates what it would be like if he had one of these in the SBEmail "theme song" (Which also provides the page quote).
      Strong Bad is a wrestle-man/ He's the email-checkin'-est guy in the land...
    • Strong Bad Sings And Other Type Hits features the theme song from Dangeresque 2: This Time It's Not Dangeresque 1
      He works alone / Except when he works with Renaldo / Which is all the time / Dangeresque!
  • Baman Piderman: "I'm Baman!" "I'm Piderman!" "I come over da house!" "WE'RE BEST FWIENDS!"
    • Actually, the theme song wasn't present in the first two episodes, and the third episode actually involves them creating the theme song.
  • Camp Camp has David singing the opening theme, which also doubles as their Camp anthem in-universe.
    "Oh! There's a place I know that's tucked away! A place where you and I can stay! Where we can go to laugh and play, and have adventures everyday! I know it sounds hard to believe! But guys and gals it's true- Camp Campbell is the place for me and you!
  • WGJ4K "Mickey was a small time crook on the streets of NYC, he was stolen from the streets by an evil corporation called VGV, he is forced to write direct and star in a video game comedy show broadcasted in the net.."
  • Cat Face: Cat Face, he's got a big cat's face, he's got the body of a cat, and the face of a cat, and he flies through the air, 'cause he's got a cat face, Cat Face!
  • Bojack Horseman's closing theme: "Back in the 90s, I was in a very famous TV show...".
  • Parodied with Martian by Mistake, a nonexistent kids cartoon that is clearly poking fun of this trope and the cliches that come along with it.

    Web Original 
  • "Lee likes playing videogames/And when you really think about it, that's not really so strange/But you would wonder if it's why the man was put on this Earth/it's time to reevaluate how much a picture is worth/You can be informed and entertained/No need to explain, watch the review of a game/Lee is Still Gaming!/And I'm pretty sure that is something that won't ever change/Lee is Still Gaming/and it won't just as long as he lives/as long as there are games."
  • The Angry Video Game Nerd: "He's gonna take you back to the past/To play the shitty games that suck ass..."
  • The Doc Mock's Movie Mausoleum theme starts out this way, before switching over to heavy metal screaming of the title halfway through; "Doc! Mock's! Movie Mausoleum!"
  • Atop the Fourth Wall has a theme song that lists off Linkara's name, possessions, and mission, along with some of the stuff he reviews.
    • For his anniversary show, the extended version of the theme appeared, including a verse which focuses on Linkara's pet peeves ("They made Watchmen without the slimy squid") and At4W's supporting characters ("He'll have you know that's pretty low / But not like the standards of the 90's Kid")
  • MarzGurl counted down 10 of them from various studios.
  • Necro Critic: "We watch crap movies, we play crap games/There's too much out there, causing us pain/The actors are rancid, the plot is stale/Necro is here to put an end to the fail."
  • The Legend of Neil's theme song explains exactly how Neil ended up inside the game, then has a very hurried follow-up summarising events up to the beginning of the episode.
  • "HE BOUGHT TOO MANY GAMES!/Now we gotta play them all.../SO ALL ABOARD THE STEAM TRAIN!" ("Choo-choo!")
  • Several segments of the The Thrilling Adventure Hour feature these. Specifically the intro songs for "Sparks Nevada Marshall on Mars", "The Adventures of Captain Laserbeam", "Amelia Earhart Fearless Flyer", and "Down on Moonshine Holler."
  • Who Back When has a theme song describing the fact that they review all of Doctor Who there is. The song lyrics vary based on whether a given episode is reviewing Classic Who, New Who, or Big Finish Doctor Who.
  • Shark Jumping, as an homage to the cheesy older TV shows that they riff on.
    "There comes a time when life gets you down, when ratings are low. You've got to do what it takes, got to up the stakes, 'til there's nowhere left to go! Shark Jumping! Making some friends on the way together! Shark Jumping! Tomorrow's a brand new day! You might lose some friends along the way, but if you hold your chin up, it'll all be okay! Shark Jumping! That's what friends are, that's what friends are, making our dreams come true!"


Alternative Title(s): Expository Theme Song


Best of Both Worlds

The theme song to Hannah Montana.

How well does it match the trope?

Example of:

Main / ExpositoryThemeTune

Media sources:

Main / ExpositoryThemeTune