A title sequence is a short section of a piece of video media that serves to show the viewer the name of the title.
It is the video equivalent of the illustration & byline of a book cover. This sequence will be at the beginning of the media, generally after The Teaser and it lets the viewers know what show they are watching. The title sequence is also called the "Opening Credits" or "Opening Sequence", though, strictly speaking, they do not have to include any actual credits. They always display the title of the program in a logo or specific font.
A Theme Tune is commonly played during full length sequences while in short sequences a leitmotif or musical sting is played.
In syndication, the title sequence is often abbreviated to leave more time for commercials. That has become common for first-run shows as well.
Although most shows modify the title sequence to reflect the current cast lineup when it involves clips of the characters, Anime is especially known for doing it at least once and sometimes more within a 26-episode run to reflect changes or additions to the main cast that follow the plot. This is often complete with a new theme song each time.
Television title sequences are usually made by a specialist production company outside the one that is actually producing the show. Babylon 5 is a rare exception whose production crew created the show's five Title Sequences entirely in-house.
Although it is commonly associated with television, these sequences can also be found in films, web content and video games. An example of a well known title sequence in film are those from the James Bond franchise that start once the Action Prologue concludes via the iconic Bond Gun Barrel shot.
An example from a video game are those in the Grand Theft Auto franchise. Those began in the 2nd game with a Full Motion Video sequence, to stencil cutout pictures of locations & people in GTA 3, San Andreas & Vice City before moving to an immersive in-game cinematic style in the 4th and 5th games in the series.
Tropes involving the Title Sequence include:
- Action-Hogging Opening: The title sequence is more action-oriented than the actual show.
- And Starring: An actor is given a special credit on a film or TV show.
- Animated Credits Opening: A live-action work uses an animated title sequence.
- Anime Theme Song
- Artistic Title
- Automobile Opening: The first scene of a work has the character(s) riding a vehicle.
- Bait-and-Switch Credits: The opening credits lie about the work's premise.
- Character in the Logo: A character (or characters) appears in the logo of a work, typically the main character(s).
- Couch Gag: A recurring gag where something different happens during this particular part of the opening.
- Credits Running Sequence
- Dancing Theme: Characters dance to the Theme Tune.
- "Day in the Life" Titles: The title sequence shows the main cast going out and about in their everyday lives.
- Design Student's Orgasm: The intro is made of artsy and confusing visuals.
- Extremely Short Intro Sequence
- Evolving Credits: The opening sequence changes between episodes and/or seasons to reflect new characters being added and other major developments and changes made to the series.
- Eye Open: The intro is made of artsy and confusing visuals.
- Fake Guest Star: A regularly-appearing actor is credited as a guest star.
- Five-Man Band Concert: When The Team is part of a music band in the credits to show unity.
- Introductory Opening Credits: Opening credits showing characters with their names beside them.
- Inverted Portrait: A full character's portrait, but upside down, for artistic effect.
- Music Video Credits Sequence
- Opening Credits Cast Party: The cast throws a party in the opening credits.
- Opening Monologue: Only the first installment/episode includes an Opening Narration in its beginning.
- Opening Narration: The beginning of each episode has a voice-over describing the work's premise.
- Opening Scroll: An Opening Monologue done via scrolling Textplosion.
- Placeholder Titles: Temporary title sequence used while the definite one is being made.
- Promotion to Opening Titles: Recurring guest star or extra gets their name in the opening credits.
- Pull the Plug on the Title: The Title Sequence involves plugging on/off the title, whose font is made of lights.
- Soundtrack Dissonance: The soundtrack doesn't fit the intro's mood.
- Special Edition Title: Jazzing up the title card or sequence to announce a special episode.
- Spoiler Opening: Characters and events in the opening credits reveal important bits about the story.
- Theme Tune: The work has its own theme song.
- The Teaser: A scene that plays before the opening credits.
- Sting: Dramatic musical sound effect.
- Through-the-Years Credits: Opening credits that show the cast growing older with each season.
- Title Montage: The opening sequence is made of clips.
- Title-Only Opening: The only part of the theme is the show's title.
- Title Sequence Replacement: The theme song in an early season is replaced with the current version.
- Unique Pilot Title Sequence: The pilot episode's title sequence is different from the one used for the rest of the series.
- Variations on a Theme Song: Changing the theme song to fit an episode's mood.
- Welcome Titles: The Protagonist goes around greeting the cast during the opening sequence.