This is a list of 10 of my favourite US produced TV show opening credits. They are in no particular order and from a variety of genres. What is it about these opening credits that appeal to me? These are the credits I never skip.
Let’s get this party started with a little blood, True Blood. This award-winning credit sequence has everything: a marriage of the perfect song with amazing, evocative visual images that scream “Deep South”. The little boys with the red juice oozing around their mouth – vampire images into everyday life. There are images of death, decay and rebirth throughout these credits. Any doubt about the parallels this show will draw? “We Hate Fangs” This makes me want to visit Fangtasia right now.
Black hats and white hats off to the opening credits of Westworld. The beautiful white imagery set against a contrasting darkness, the stunning music by Ramin Djawadi make for a truly evocative sequence. As a horse lover the creation of the horse and diorama-like movement sequence is captivating.
Well now, while Game of Thrones may not have finished the way you wanted it to, the opening credits are, without doubt, some of the best ever created. (I’ll actually be devoting a whole article just to them in the future). Suffice to say the complexity of the visuals, combined with that man Ramin Djawadi’s music make for immense opening credits. Spine tingling! I would look each week to see who was going to feature in the episode (only me?).
Oh Banshee! Let me count the ways in which the opening credits of this TV show worked so well for me. Of course, the imagery and music but also because the credit sequence would change subtly to fit the episode and each season. Still photographs which tell you about the characters and context combined with movement (the spinning combination lock) never failed to impress. Another credit sequence to never skip or you would miss something. Classic!
Put on your leathers and helmet and off we go with SAMCRO into the town of Charming (by name, not nature). Amazing theme song! This for me is the first hook of the opening credits, it hits you straight between the eyes like a left hook. Then the visuals: the bikes (of course) the sign (beware), the gravestone, and the use of the tattoos. All in all a clever, unusual and creative way to introduce a show and its characters. That it finishes with the tattoo on Jax’s back, genius!
Charlie Cox created the perfect Daredevil and the opening credits were pretty much perfect as well. Blood. Lots of blood. The red of the blood matches our heroes costume perfectly. The blood drips over the whole city. The first image we see is of blind Justice holding the scales (just like our hero). Blood also connects to his religious faith and his willingness to spill his own in self-sacrifice. This credit sequence also contains images central to Matt Murdoch’s Catholicism, the cross and the angel. There is a perfect match of music and images here of a violent, Devil’s kitchen that oozes blood.
True Detective was one of those “Wow!” opening credit sequences. Similar perhaps to some of the others I’ve listed so far. Here again we have a strong, evocative song and images which are overlaid each other. The use of the silhouettes is unusual. I have been a little cheeky here and put the links to both season 1 and season 3 because although the visuals are not dissimilar the music is. Another haunting opening credits sequence and one which means even more as you continue to watch each season.
Outlander uses a combination of the music by the composer Bear McCreary and images from the show itself to set very clearly the time and the location. There is no doubting that this is Scotland! The steady build of the music to the point where Claire’s legs are shown running carries you along. The drums and pipes combine to create a distinct atmosphere. Reworking an old song to become the theme was a work of genius. In each subsequent season the credits are altered to fit the context: Season 2 France, Season 3 the Caribbean, Season 4 the Americas, Season 5 the looming military situation. But this, this is Season 1, this is Scotland in the mid-18th Century and the hairs stand up on the back of your neck.
From the sublime to the unnervingly creepy but mesmerising Mindhunter opening credits. The music is slightly off-kilter and repetitious in a disturbing way and it is disrupted occasionally by other noises. The visuals are so cleverly designed with the simple, unemotional preparation of the tape recorder set against the briefest clips (almost subliminal) of very disturbing images. The effect is disturbing without being so terrible as to make the viewer look away. We become the onlookers to the aftermath of these crimes. The tape recorder will be used to record the most terrible of deeds, but it makes no judgment itself. This is a disturbing and haunting combination of music, sound and visual imagery.
The opening credits of Narcos (and Narcos: Mexico) use an unusual combination of original footage with other images. The music itself sounds ideal for a show based in Colombia but also linking back to the US. I love the contrasting colours between sections of this sequence, with deep over-saturated scenes (the “now”) set against the muted newsreels of “then”. The images chosen leave the viewer in no doubt as to what this show is about, at its most basic, dollars, drugs and death. In some ways it is similar to the first show on my list, True Blood, which also draws on evocative images from the area in which it is set. As with True Detective the images remain similar between Narcos and Narcos: Mexico.
Thank you for joining me on a personal journey through just some of my favourite opening credits for US TV shows. Join me again in the future for more favourites from all over the world. Do you have any of the same favourites or have I not included yours (this time)? Let me know in Comments below:
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