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Expository Theme Tune
aka: Expository Theme Song

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And that's not even one-sixth of the cast.

"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
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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.

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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:

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Other Examples:

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    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 the cast is planning to do, and what exactly they're giving their Master in thanks for their care and love.

    Literature 
  • 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.

    Music 
  • 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.

    Puppet Shows 
  • The Noddy Shop's theme song has the toys telling the viewers what they should expect to see when watching the show.
    Welcome to our place, we've been waiting. Time for some fun and celebrating.
    Something is always ready to "pop!", here at The Noddy Shop.
    Music and magic. Hey, it's showtime!
    Noddy and you will be friends in no time.
    Silly 'ol Goblins are living there, too, the place where make believe comes true.
    Believe it or not, here at The Noddy Shop!
  • The second half of the theme song to The Puzzle Place describes what the show is about, compared to the first, where the kids invite the viewer to visit the titular location.

    Web Animation 
  • 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 
  • 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")

Alternative Title(s): Expository Theme Song

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Clone High

The opening of Clone High, telling us how the clones came to be.

How well does it match the trope?

4.9 (10 votes)

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