If a TV show wants to make a good first impression, it better has an impressive title sequence. The Nerd Stash is happy to provide a few examples by giving you the 10 best TV intros of all time. We’ve already given you the best themes from 80s cartoons and 90s cartoons. Now we’re headed into the more grown-up territory. We are ranking these TV intros by criteria including catchy themes, memorability, visual appeal, and an inability to skip. These intros include TV classics, sitcoms, dramas, and more. So without further ado, here is our list of the 10 best TV intros of all time.
Let’s hop to it… or snap to it… with the number 10.
10. The Addams Family
See what we did there?
In all seriousness, The Addams Family TV intro has to be included for being iconic and memorable. The song opened a series that brought the New Yorker comic characters to life, and it remains the song that is synonymous with The Addams Family franchise. Interestingly, while the franchise has had a few TV shows, this was only the theme for the 1960s sitcom and the 1990s animated show. Yet it’s still the song we think of and snap our fingers to when we think of the creepy, kooky, mysterious, spooky, and altogether ooky family. It’s unlikely that Tim Burton’s Wednesday series will have this as the theme, but it’s almost certain that Burton and Danny Elfman will play some homage to this timeless song.
9. Stranger Things
Exactly how is it that neon red letters set to spooky music can be so captivating? Probably because the Stranger Things title sequence is a nostalgia trip like no other. These visuals and the accompanying music carry a genuine feel of the horror films and shows of the 1980s while also bearing some odd resemblance to the covers of old Stephen King hardbacks. Stranger Things has often been called Stephen King meets John Carpenter, and this TV intro is fitting for such a show.
8. The Twilight Zone
This TV intro is from the 1960s, but it’s visually striking even by today’s standards. Each episode of The Twilight Zone is suspenseful and heart-pounding. It all starts with this creepy music and disturbing visuals that make us wonder if our entry into another dimension will be exciting or horrifying. This chilling TV intro makes you terrified to watch what is coming, yet you cannot turn your eyes away from the screen. Few intros have that kind of power.
7. The X Files
The X-Files originally lasted for nine seasons before gaining new life in a 2016 reboot, making for 11 seasons altogether. Throughout all of it, this opening sequence was never scrapped. With its grainy visuals of saucers, stretched faces, pod-like objects, and all-capped bold headlines, this TV intro almost looks like the opening to a conspiracy theory “news” show. This makes it a perfect intro to this show revolving around two FBI agents: a man who believes in and seeks out the paranormal and a skeptic trying to bring him “back to reality.” That is until she sees too many things she can’t ignore. This creative intro and the iconic and eerie theme music make The X-Files TV intro one of the best in TV history.
Okay, time for something more light-hearted.
If “I’ll Be There For You” by The Rembrandts comes on, you probably remember a group of 20-somethings and 30-somethings playing in a fountain. This song is forever going to be attached to Friends. The show and the song are all about being hit by the hard realities of life and having a group of friends close by to help get you through it all. While some feel that the show’s humor hasn’t aged well, Friends remains popular for touching on the challenges of young adulthood, reminding us how we need friends to get us through it all, and giving us tons of laughs along the way.
When it wasn’t our day or month or week, or even our year, we were happy that Rachel, Ross, Chandler, Monica, Phoebe, and Joey were there for us when the rain started to pour. And thanks to reruns and streaming services, they always will be.
Like the theme to Friends, the Cheers theme song is about having people around to get you through some of life’s trials. “Where Everybody Knows Your Name” by Gary Portnoy talks about all the hard-hitting pains of life and the desire to take a break from it all in a place where people know your name, are happy to see you, and help you understand you’re not alone. In the case of this show, that place was Cheers, a bar owned by a retired baseball player (Ted Danson). The TV intro to Cheers takes a clever turn by flashing from modern-day Boston to drawings, paintings, and photos of old-time Boston. Somehow those images remind people that today’s troubles were real in the past and that the solution then and now was to have a place where you could take a break with people who cared.
4. The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air
Okay… it’s hard to include this song on the list since Will Smith’s recent slap heard around the world has put an unfortunate mark on his legacy. Regardless, let’s not forget the serious issues this famous African-American-led sitcom wasn’t afraid to touch on, and let’s not forget this song, one of the classics of the 1990s. Even if they aren’t rap fans, anyone conscious during this era can probably quote this famous theme song. Its catchy beat and lyrics are near impossible not to sing and dance along to. Few TV theme songs can be considered iconic songs of their era. The theme of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air is unique for pulling that off.
3. The Sopranos
The theme of The Sopranos is so recognizable that fans immediately turned their heads when they heard it in a commercial during the 2022 Super Bowl. Set to Alabama 3’s “Woke Up This Morning,” we see Tony Soprano riving through the good, the bad, and the ugly parts of New Jersey as he approaches his high-end home. Tremendously fitting for a show centered on a man who has a lot but has gained it all in hideous ways. The lyrics feature lines such as, “You woke up this mornin,’ got yourself a gun. Your mama always said you’d be the chosen one.” While those lyrics seem perfect for Tony Soprano, the song actually tells the true story of a woman who shot her husband after 20 years of abuse. While the song is about female empowerment, it’s still a fitting song for this show and its main protagonist, and we wouldn’t trade it out with any other song.
2. Game of Thrones
While Game of Thrones still leaves a bit of a sour taste in our mouths after a lackluster finale, the show was still a tour de force. And the team behind its opening sequence deserves every art award you can think of. Borrowing from a fantasy novel concept, this show opens up with a map of Westeros. Only in this case, it’s an animated 3D map that showcases the locations and events taking place in the series. The creative team cleverly chose only to use materials that would be found in the show, such as metal, wood, parchment, leather, and glass. This and the epic music make this a magnificent fantasy TV intro.
How do you rescue the DCEU? Hire an MCU filmmaker?
Putting this in our top spot is bold since Peacemaker is the most recent entry to this list. However, while you’ve likely skipped many of the previously mentioned TV intros, there is no skipping this one. Set to the tune of Wig Wam’s “Do Ya Wanna Taste It,” this intro features the entire cast of colorful characters, both “heroes” and villains, dancing like robots with stone-faced expressions. Creator James Gunn teased that this intro would subvert expectations and foreshadow the storyline. The intro is a perfect setup for a wild and over-the-top show but is also full of serious, devastating, and heartfelt moments. This is why we called it one of the best parts of the DCEU’s first series and why it is the best TV intro of all time.
Since some of the characters in the Peacemaker intro are now out of the show, there’s a chance this intro may be updated a little. And honestly, it’s pretty exciting to think about what that will look like.
- The Simpsons
- Mad Men
- The Walking Dead
- Full House
Did we miss anything? What’s your favorite TV intro of all time? Share your thoughts in the comments, on The Nerd Stash Facebook page, and @TheNerdStash on Twitter.