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Through-the-Years Credits

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A series that has been on the air for a number of years will often include older clips in its Title Sequence. When child actors have grown up before us, the credits may include clips in chronological order to show the changes the cast members have undergone.

While the intention is to evoke a sentimental "Awww, remember that? Look at how much they've changed!" reaction from viewers, they can also backfire and make us think "Wow, these people are getting way too old to still be playing adorable TV kids."


  • Diff'rent Strokes: During the final season (which aired on ABC), clips and photos from Season 1 were matched with the then-current photos of the regulars, including Conrad Bain, Gary Coleman, Todd Bridges, and Dana Plato. One of the earliest shots of Danny Cooksey (from midway through Season 6) was also matched with his current video shot, even though the 9-year-old Cooksey hadn't aged that much.
  • The Facts of Life, as seen in the photo (or watch it here) from Season 8.
  • Full House: Starting in Season 6 and continuing to the rest of the series, a series of clips were shown of the six principal actors showing either, for the men, how their hairstyles and faces have changed through the years, and for the girls, how they had aged.
  • Happy Days: The 11th – and final – season's opening credits showed then-and-now clips of:
    • Erin Moran. Her clip begins with a Season 1 episode, where Howard absent-mindedly bumps a dozing 11-year-old Joanie off a chair while the two are watching professional wrestling on TV. The clip quickly cuts to a current-day shot of the adult Joanie bumped to the floor and Howard helping her up.
    • Scott Baio. His shot begins with Fonzie and the then 15-year-old Chachi working at the garage (from a 1977 episode, one of Baio's first). Cut to the hood of a 1954 Chevrolet slamming shut, and the now-adult Chachi and Fonzie smiling and admiring the work they had done on the car's engine.
  • Growing Pains, which featured real photos at different stages of the actors' lives.
  • Little House on the Prairie: The final season – the A New Beginning Year from 1982 – and the final "Season 10" movies saw its opening begin with a shot of Melissa Gilbert from the first season, which was then replaced by a then-current photo of the adult Gilbert.
  • Roseanne, which used morphing faces (including going from Lecy Goranson to Sarah Chalke and back)
  • Still Standing, which features (badly) Photoshopped pictures on the family fridge
  • The trailer for Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (see here)
  • The final episode of The Cosby Show, which edited together all previous versions of the credits
  • Home Improvement would do this starting in Season 7 and continuing into the final episode for the three sons as they grew from child to young adults over the show.
  • The opening credits of the fifth and final season of Babylon 5 consisted of a very fast recap of the highlights of the previous four seasons. The end credits of the very last episode credited the actors of all the regular and recurring characters with images of them in their first and last scenes, in order of internal chronology. (Uniquely, the "last" sequence for Jason Carter as Marcus Cole was a new shot of a labelled freezer drawer, confirming the long-standing fan suspicion that he was Not Quite Dead.)
  • Birds of a Feather, even though it started with the main characters as adults, had a title sequence showing the two sisters growing up together. Conveniently, the actresses had been friends since childhood, so suitable photos existed.
  • Friends changed the title sequence a few times, usually adding in the previous season's best gags, but kept the early footage of the cast playing in a fountain.
  • Since Angel is a spin-off of Buffy, some of the montage shots for Charisma Carpenter (Cordelia) were taken from Buffy.
  • Parenthood uses what look like real childhood photos and video clips of the cast members before cutting to clips of them now.
  • In later seasons, the opening credits of Two and a Half Men ended with the clip of the three main characters together morphing into their current appearances, which weren't that different ... except for the actor playing Jake, who went from pre-teen to late-teen over the course of the show.
  • Degrassi: The Next Generation had these in seasons 6 and 7.
  • Still Game had it from the beginning, in a similar manner to Birds of a Feather. In this case, it was done by first finding a pair of kids and teenagers who could pass for a young Victor and Jack, and then progressing the main actors' aging makeup from young adulthood to the characters' current ages.
  • WandaVision parodied this trope in "On A Very Special Episode…" taking inspiration from Growing Pains.
  • Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: Once & Always did this at the end, a shortened recreation of the original MMPR opening. It showed Billy, Zack and Rocky as they looked in the original Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers series, Kat as she looked in Power Rangers Turbo, and all four of them plus newcomer Minh (who's a Legacy Character to her mother whose actor had died and therefore was killed off) as they are now.


Video Example(s):


Birds Of A Feather Opening

The Series 2 opening for "Birds Of A Feather", showing the sisters growing up to Irvine Berlin's "What'll I Do". Of course, it helped that the actors playing the sisters had been childhood friends in real life.

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Main / ThroughTheYearsCredits

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