A show's Theme Tune is the way it gets the attention, and hopefully is good enough to get people remembering and singing it to get others watching the show.
Once a show has gone into syndication or jumped channels, though, the Theme Tune is one of the first casualties. It will get edited, shortened, or otherwise truncated so as to leave room for more commercials. Occasionally, if the show is on the air on its original channel more than a few years, they'll maim the theme tune for more commercial space while it's still in its original airing. Also, the lyrics of the theme song, where present, may be changed a little.
It is becoming common for remakes and reboots to use their predecessor's iconic Theme Tune, trimmed down to just the most recognizable part.
The title sequence and opening credits, since they often appear simultaneously with the playing of the theme tune are often collateral damage. Shows dating from The '80s and The '90s are the first to display this trope; older shows' Theme Tunes (Gilligan's Island and I Love Lucy, for example) tend to be so iconic that they don't usually go under the editing knife.
It should be noted that if this trope rears its head during a show's original run, it (and Title-Only Opening, for that matter) can manage to serve as a boon for the writers. As mentioned over on Extremely Short Intro Sequence, the running time for television programs has slowly shrunk over the years to make way for more commercials, so having a shorter version of your Title Sequence that you can switch to as needed means you have a bit less pressure when it comes time to trim down the script to fit the runtime.
Related to Credits Pushback, as the end credits usually scroll in the background while the next show or ad for other stuff on the channel plays instead. It comes back full size just in time to hear the last note or two of the closing credits' song and see the studio's Vanity Plate.
This is basically a greed-invoked version of the Second Verse Curse.
- When shown on [adult swim], Fullmetal Alchemist, Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood, Bleach and Code Geass all get shortened openings. Averted with Attack on Titan after Episode 1; after the shortened version of Guren no Yumiya aired on the premiere night in 2014, episodes 2-13 showed the entire 90-second opening.
- The Big O. When it first appeared on [adult swim] it had full opening credits and theme tune, as seen here. When it was run later the opening credits were cut down to a couple of seconds and a brief musical phrase. This is a particularly egregious example, as the opening credits for this show were Homages to Flash Gordon and Space: 1999 respectively, and that is lost when the theme music is chopped.
- Yet another [adult swim] example: when they first started airing Lupin III (Red Jacket), the opening was trimmed down to just the logo appearing with a clip of the show's title being sung, resulting in an opening sequence that was about 2-3 seconds long. Averted later, as the full opening was shown instead.
- For years, the Italian openings had a length of about 2 minutes when airing on TV. Around 2003, the standard format became 1 minute, and many 2-minute theme songs were abruptly shortened to fit the new format. The worst offenders were the first season opening of Pokémon (jumping straight to the instrumental part before the last repetition of the chorus) and the first opening of Hamtaro (not only cutting part of the first verse, but then in the middle of the chorus it just abruptly cuts to the end). Ending themes were not afflicted by this because it would cut part of the credits.
- The original European opening for Ulysses 31 was almost 2 minutes long, but when the show came to the USA the theme song was cut down to less than a minute.
- 3-2-1 Contact's Classroom recut used a truncated version of the Season 6 & 7 opener, which was already shortened from previous seasons, though the closing credits theme was left intact.
- When All That was revived in 2019, its iconic theme song was truncated to just the final chorus. Only the first episode used the full opening.
- Blood Ties has a full theme song and opening sequence, but (at least on Lifetime Real Women where it's currently being rerun), the theme is cut down to a title card and brief musical clip, and the credits are all shown during the next scene.
- Buck Rogers in the 25th Century: Buck Rogers' theme song, Suspension, was performed in the theatrical release that doubled as a pilot for the series. Once it reached the small screen, the theme was an instrumental piece that lasted exactly as long as the credits required. It is common for fans to not merely not know the words to the song, but to be unaware that Buck's theme song even has lyrics.
- Bunk'd had its theme cut down to the final chorus from the third season on.
- Charmed's theme tune is cut down to a 10-second clip with a flash of each main cast member's name for its reruns on TNT.
- The Cheers theme song is generally cut down in syndication, starting right at the chorus.
- So far, Community has proven to be a reversal of the norm with this trope. A Title-Only Opening version of the theme with the single line "I can't count the reasons I should stay" was used in the majority of season 1 episodes (and two episodes from that season omit the theme tune altogether). But most episodes afterwards have either the regular full sequence or a Special Edition Title, with the truncated version only appearing once each in seasons 2 and 4, and not at all in season 3.
- HBO's Curb Your Enthusiasm has had its theme song reduced to a single phrase.
- Fraggle Rock had a much longer theme song and opening credits sequence (in which the titular Fraggles got to introduce themselves by name) than that aired briefly on The Hub.
- Gabby Duran & the Unsittables cuts its theme down to just the first verse and final chorus on certain weeknights since 2020, to make room for commercial time.
- Game Shakers's theme was shortened to the final chorus in the second season on.
- Game show examples:
- The CBS Match Game had its opening introducing the celebrities sped up by the end of 1973.
- Tattletales began in 1974 with the announcer's spiel then announcing the celebrity couples. By May, the celebrity intros were eliminated.
- Now You See It opens with "Every answer to every question is right here before your eyes" to the beat of the theme music (Quincy Jones' "Chump Change"). By late summer, the spiel was sped up and the theme edited to accommodate it.
- Family Feud cut its opening spiel entirely on a Steve Harvey episode featuring an Overly Long Gag in the final round.
- Airings of RL Stine's Goosebumps on The Hub go back and forth between the full credits with aging model and theme tune barking dog, to lopping off the model or simply going straight to "viewer beware...".
- Growing Pains: The standard theme is 1 minute, but in syndication, B.J. Thomas and his partner harmonize on "Don't waste another minute on your crying", and the chorus is shortened.
- Happy Days: when the show dropped off ABC and began showing up on syndicated TV, the song was shortened and the lyrics changed. (This refers only to the actual "Happy Days" song; for the Bill Haley recording of "Rock Around the Clock" some syndicated versions began using the original 1954 version rather than the specially recorded version originally broadcast.)
- Perfect Strangers does this on occasion in syndication: It transitions from "Sometimes you just get a feeling like you need some kind of change" to the chorus. It still comes out to 51 seconds.
- Ironside (2013) has just the signature riff recognizable from Ironside (1967). And that's it.
- Parks and Recreation did this to itself. After the first season, the opening was cut approximately in half.
- The show seemed to alternate between the short and long versions at random during Seasons 2 and 3, but the shorter intro eventually won out, especially since the cast titles are in rhythm with the song in that version.
- Superman, the Scrubs theme, is a casualty of this. The full version is 3:40 and goes from already being fairly short at fifteen or so seconds to a mere echo of the theme at about a second. Fortunately, that doesn't last long.
- During its first run, the show briefly got expanded to a 20-second intro, which included The Janitor, but the fans actually preferred the rhythm of the truncated version, so back it went to its original 10-second intro.
- Shake it Up Had its theme song shortened to the last chorus in the final season.
- Smallville averted the trope for its entire run, using the same, uncut Theme Tune.
- In syndicated reruns of Soap both the opening and closing credits were cut off early. In the opening it'd fade out just after the announcer says "and this is...Soap," cutting off the visual joke; and the end credits are faded out either right after the list of actors, or occasionally even before them. (Neither of these are going on right now in the reruns shown on Antenna TV.)
- Stuck in the Middle: The theme "Stuck with You", performed by Sonus, was shortened in the pilot episode to 5 seconds. Also, instead of the main title sequence, it just includes a white background and the show's logo.
- Survivor at one time always aired its full theme tune and opening sequence, but as the series continued, it often dispensed with it almost entirely, or only showing a shortened version with those Survivors still in the game.
- Syfy is notorious for this.
- Eureka used to have a theme song that lasted about forty-five seconds, and showed Carter walking through town seeing the Mad Science applications to mundane tasks. By its final season, it was five seconds long and had just the Title Card and the names of who created it.
- Warehouse 13 also had shortened opening credits and theme tune as its seasons progressed toward its last.
- For Season 9 of Stargate SG-1 and Season 2 of Stargate Atlantis, the intro credits were cut to a 10-second clip, followed by the credits rolling over the next scene. After the fans rioted, the full intros were replaced halfway through the season. The DVDs even feature the full opening on episodes that were originally aired with none (the SGA season one opening sticks around until the episode after Ronon shows up.) However, the next spinoff, Stargate Universe, had only a brief title card and no theme song of any kind.
- Lampshaded like everything else in one of the Wormhole X-Treme episodes. The answer to a question about the theme tune is that nobody cared about it and to just throw the title up there. We then go to SG-1's opening, which was cut down to the Eye Catch.
- TBS goes back and forth between airing the full Friends theme including the verse, and a version with just the chorus.
- They do the same thing for The King of Queens.
- The credits and theme to The Dead Zone were truncated for the sixth and final season—this after the original theme was controversially swapped out for a new one after season 3.
- When The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air is shown on TBS, it has just the background audio to the theme song played over a sped up version of the opening.
- The full intro theme is about 3 minutes long, with some extra stanzas than what's heard normally. Early episodes had two of them, but they were cut pretty quickly.
- The Golden Girls often has the 'And if you threw a party...' part cut out when it airs on Lifetime, though not every single time. It's easy to tell the difference right away by whether or not the shot of a plane landing is the opening shot of the theme or not.
- The Mickey Mouse Club: For the 1957-58 season, when the show was shortened from an hour to a half-hour, the theme song was shortened from almost three minutes to one minute long. This was also the version used in syndicated reruns.
- The US version of The Office features this in syndication, truncating most of the theme song beyond the first eight bars and the final chord.
- The Outer Limits (1963) had its title sequence shortened twice during the original series' run on ABC. The first season's theme tune and narration was shortened in mid-run; the second season began with a new theme tune and the shorter narration, both of which were shortened even further by the end.
- Two and a Half Men: To the point where Neil Patrick Harris made a joke about it while MC'ing the Emmys. He played the show's original themesong. "Men, men, men, men, manly men, men men!" Then he played the shortened version of the song: "Men!" And suggested that the show's theme song in its next season would simply be "Meh—*"
- The Disney Sunday Movie: The normal 60-second title sequence was almost always shown at the beginning, but on occasions where two hour-long movies were shown back-to-back, a 30-second version of the intro would play before the second feature.
- Wings (from the creators of Cheers) used to have a title sequence with a highly abridged version of Franz Schubert's Piano Sonata No. 20, but that later got (ahem) chopped.
- Wonder Woman: In season 1, the show generally began with a comic book inspired credits sequence and a full song ("...in your satin tights, fighting for your rights, and the old red, white, and blue!"). By the ninth episode of Season 2, the credits were delayed by a cold open hook and the lyrics consisted of "Wonder Woman!" sang over an instrumental.
- Boomerang's opening theme survived syndication unscathed, but Marni Nixon's "Our time is gone" farewell verse was axed from the closing theme.
- ALVINNN!!! and the Chipmunks uses the same Theme Tune that was used for their revival in The '80s, but they cut from "we'll bring you action and satisfaction" to the line immediately before introducing themselves by name.
- The Amazing World of Gumball may be the most ridiculous extreme of this trope, as the already short 15-second opening is cut down to an approximately three-second Title-Only Opening for American broadcasts (though some episodes keep the whole opening but then cut the Episode Title Card as a result).
- When Animaniacs was put on syndication for Nickelodeon, parts of the opening were cut down, and one part was even sped up slightly to keep it all in the same key. More details here.
- When several episodes are strung together for a block or marathon, Nickelodeon will usually lop off the entire title sequence for Avatar: The Last Airbender.
- The Beagles, a CBS cartoon from 1966 by the makers of Underdog, was unusual in that the theme was recorded in an entirety for an album of songs from the show (it starred two musical dogs put in outlandish publicity stunts by their agent). On the show's opening, the theme fades out after the bridge leading to a laughing goof who introduces the show. The full theme:
Looking for the Beagles,
Looking high and low
High is for the eagles
Low is where the Beagles goRidin' on a busted bubble
To wherever there's some trouble,
That's where the Beagles go.Trouble's not a sometimes thing,
It dims but won't die out.
Pleasure makes the Beagles sing,
Trouble makes them shout.Looking for the Beagles,
Not where rich men go.
Rich is for the regal,
Woe is all the Beagles knowRidin' on a busted bubble
To wherever there's some trouble,
That's where the Beagles go.
- Midway through its run on Fox Kids, Beetlejuice had its opening shaved in two-thirds.
- The same happens on the complete series' DVD release, not counting the first episodes on each disc that would play the full opening.
- A slightly shorter version of the theme song was also used in a few episodes, such as "The Old and the Beautiful" and "Of Human Bonding".
- The original 2005 Ben 10 series has the second verse of the song omitted in the Boomerang airings.
- Beware the Batman had its 20-second intro shortned to 5 seconds when it aired on Toonami.
- Big City Greens: Starting in 2020, the show's intro and theme song were cut down in order to make more room for commercial time on weekend mornings.
- When Bob's Burgers airs on free TV syndication, the 20-second intro is shortened to barely 5 seconds. A revised soundtrack was made for the intro so it wouldn't sound like a jumbled mess, but some versions just use the first couple notes of the regular Bob's Burgers theme.
- Bob the Builder had a 1-minute theme song for its American dub, whereas the UK version's theme was shortened to 45 seconds. The American version eventually used the 45-second version for the "On Site" DVD releases, and occasionally for the CGI era.
- Cartoon Network has done this to several of its shows, including The Mr. Men Show, The Amazing World of Gumball and Teen Titans Go!.
- The Care Bears Family shortened its theme to the final chorus from the second season on, in addition to cutting out its spoken introduction.
- Whenever Daria had a marathon on MTV, the theme would be cut down to just the "la la la la la" and the title card at the end.
- When Dragon Tales aired as part of the Mrs. Lori and Hooper block on PBS Kids, a version of the theme song was used that was half the length of the original and was just the first half of the song, ending at the first "Let's all go to Dragon Land!".
- DuckTales (2017) similarly has a shortened version of its intro, used for some of its longer stories. There is also a third, even shorter Title-Only Opening variant.
- Ed, Edd n Eddy, when it was put back on Cartoon Network in 2012.
- And CN's other classics when they air on Cartoon Planet.
- Around its fifth season, Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends had its theme song shortened and sped up. The original theme came back for season six.
- In the Comedy Central revival episodes of Futurama, several seconds of music toward the end of the theme have been cut out. The original episodes remain unchanged.
- Gravity Falls has six episodes in the second season that shorten the opening from about 40 seconds to 15. The series creator has stated he has no problem with this, as it lets the episodes proper be slightly longer.
- Green Lantern: The Animated Series also has shortened the theme tune down to 3 seconds and its title card, also to make room for the DC Nation shorts.
- An interesting variation: sometimes the opening theme is sped up to save time rather than truncated. This happened noticeably, for example, in Justice League Unlimited.
- KaBlam! had its theme song shortened for season three onwards.
- In The Loud House, the first nine episodes of Season 4 begin with the normal theme song cut in half before Ronnie Anne appears and introduces the audience to her family, the Casagrandes.
- Treehouse Direct's uploads of the Global Response Team era episodes of Rescue Heroes cut the theme down to the last 4 seconds.
- Linus the Lionhearted originally had opening and closing credits that both lasted over a minute. However that was later shrunk down to around 20-30 seconds in later episodes (and in reruns).
- In syndication, the closing theme to The New Scooby Doo Movies would sometimes cut from the gang yelling "Hey Scooby!" to the final chord, omitting Shaggy's "Where are you?" and Scooby's "Over here!", while the Hanna-Barbera "Swirling Star" logo appeared.
- The theme tune and opening credits to The Simpsons exists in its full form, but there are several different cuts to adjust for show length, and extended couch gags to fill time. The syndicated version, however, usually shortens the opening, usually jumping from the blackboard Couch Gag with Bart straight to the actual Couch Gag itself that ends the sequence, skipping the Marge and Lisa intros and Bart riding his skateboard.
- Sonic Boom has a 47-second opening in France where it was produced, which is cut down to 17 seconds in the English version.
- The Spectacular Spider-Man lost a verse of its theme song when it moved from The CW to Disney XD.
- The final episode of Star vs. the Forces of Evil likewise cuts the opening down to fifteen seconds.
- When Superman: The Animated Series began airing on Toonami, the opening theme was removed entirely.
- The ThunderCats (2011) theme is a rearranged version of the 1985 Thunder Cats Theme Tune, now made lyricless and consisting solely of the original's Fanfare, its signature " Thunder thunder thunder ThunderCats!" Epic Riff, and a finishing roar. All ten seconds are performed by a full orchestra while the assonances are called out by an Ethereal Choir. This makes for a surprisingly effective aural Adaptation Distillation.
- Total Drama's fourth season Revenge of the Island used a sped up version of the theme song, while the fifth and sixth seasons All-Stars and Pahkitew Island truncated it even further to use only the last bit of the theme song for a shorter intro. These changes were the result of Executive Meddling.
- Transformers: Prime': In the original Five-Episode Pilot, we get the title silently falling into place; no opening at all. The first regular episode is where we first see the full opening (one of decent length even if, like most shows' openings, there is more to the song than gets used in the opening.) Also, if it's a multi-part episode, expect all but the first part to omit the part with the kids jumping into/onto their Autobot partners once the bots transform.
- Transformers: Rescue Bots also became victim of this trope in its second season. The final couplet, "With Cody to guide them and show them the way/Rescue Bots will be saving the day" was omitted, along with a shot or two.
- Ultimate Spider-Man has a full instrumental theme tune, but because of the various shorts that would air throughout its programming block "Marvel Universe on Disney XD" (Marvel Mash-Up, Marvel Master Class, and The Fury Files), it never once got to play as the opening of the show.
- Wander over Yonder became victim of this trope halfway through its first season, removing Wander's "dancing with everyone he meets" verse and Hater's verse in favor of a quick riff to indicate Hater as the villain. The credits were also shortened from 30 to 15 seconds, and scroll and a ridiculously fast speed.
- Young Justice came back from its second season hiatus with a 3 second riff and its title card, but this was at least in part to make room for the DC Nation shorts.
- Some syndicated prints of The Magic School Bus (such as on Fox Kids) have a shortened title sequence that skips the intro and starts directly at "Crusin' down on main street...", then abruptly cuts to the ending of the theme song playing over a shot of the bus becoming a spaceship and a static version of the current episode's title card after "Raft a river of lava!".