10 Awesome TV Opening Credits You Don’t Want to Skip

Andrew Buckle,

The White Lotus – which features one of the most immediately striking opening credit sequences I have seen in some time – got me thinking about other shows that have in some way been canonized by their unique intros.

Netflix gives us the option to skip the opening. Sometimes, we want to get straight into the action. Who has the time?

But some shows feature awesome opening credit sequences that feel not only essential to the experience, setting the mood to appreciate the episode you’re about to watch, but works of art in their own right. Here’s our list:

The White Lotus

Good luck trying to get this show’s haunting theme score out of your head.

Buy now in the TV Store.

Mad Men

So quick (too quick?) and simple, and just instantly recognisable. Mad Men is one of the greatest shows ever and the bass line from this title track is immortal.

Buy now in the TV Store.

True Detective

Groundbreaking detective series, released at the tail end of the Mcconaissance (Matthew McConaughey’s unprecedented 2011-2014 resurgence) was THE event series of 2014. Subsequent seasons have been equally absorbing (yes, even season 2) and the artfully-crafted credits matched the prestige of the sprawling storytelling and the acting.

Buy now in the TV Store.

The O.C.

Absolute classic teen soap drama. It was watched weekly on appointment by just about every kid in my high school grade, and the theme song was on all the playlists at that time. It is fascinating to see where the cast has gone from here, with Adam Brody (see The Kid Detective) and Olivia Wilde (directing Booksmart) perhaps turning in the most interesting work of late.

Stream now on Stan.

Freaks & Geeks

Check out that comic cast. This sequence always brings a smile to my face, as the characters and their personalities are perfectly encapsulated in their few seconds of interaction with photographers on school photo day. The fact that this series only ran for a single season remains a tragedy to this day.

Stream now on Stan.

The Sopranos

While it is aesthetically not the most glamourous sequence – largely hand-held shots of Jersey from out of a moving vehicle, which to be fair brilliantly sets the time and place – there’s something comforting about the journey we take with Tony from the Jersey turnpike to his front door. We know we’re in the hands of master storytellers very soon.

Buy now in the TV Store.

Rugrats

Another nostalgia pick, watched daily by an entire generation of ’90s kids. But when was the last time you really looked at the animation in this opening closely? It’s kind of genius.

Stream now on Paramount+.

Dark

I may be biased here because Dark is one of my recent favourites on Netflix – an incredibly detailed brain-burner of a series – but the use of the song ‘Goodbye’ by Apparat fused with the kaleidoscope of images aligns with the temporal complexity and key themes of the series.

Stream now on Netflix.

The Expanse

A sci-fi series that has broken out of the looming shadow of Battlestar Galactica by re-inventing itself with each season, this is a visually spectacular show that finds a perfect balance between riveting interstallar diplomacy and thrilling adventure and combat. The stunning credits sequence sets the tone for the quality we have come to expect from this series.

Stream now on Prime Video.

Halt & Catch Fire

Another opening sequence that sadly feels too short. The energy of the music, and the interesting graphics, ensures we’re immediately hooked. This underrated series about the Silicon Valley computer revolution in the ’80s and ’90s details and dramatizes the human side of the tech sector that now suffers from a lack of those qualities.

Stream now on SBS On-Demand.

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