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Don’t Press SKIP On These Iconic TV Show Opening Credits!

Written by Anya Bergstrom and Katie Marzullo. Published: September 20 2023
(Photo: HBO)


The opening credits of a television show have somehow been made insignificant with the invention of the SKIP function on streaming platforms. However, a show's opening credits can tell the viewer so much about the show they’re about to enjoy. While they’ve become increasingly overlooked by an impatient audience eager to binge a whole season with zero interruptions, their relevance still remains unchanged. Whether you’re interested in checking out the names of cast members or just wanting to get the full experience of an episode, here are some incredibly well-done TV show opening credits that you should think twice before skipping! 


1. "The Sopranos"

“The Sopranos” is an epic crime drama that follows the life of mafia leader Tony Soprano (James Gandolfini). The story revolves around Tony’s family life and his role as the leader of a criminal organization. The opening credits don’t tell us much about the plot but gives the viewer key information about the setting and tone of the show. Shots of the New Jersey Turnpike and other Newark landmarks reveal that the show is set in New Jersey. The opening theme “Woke Up This Morning” by British band Alabama 3 perfectly captures the mood of the series: dark, brooding, and groovy. Shots of a cigar hanging loosely from Tony’s mouth being intercut with the New York City skyline gives the illusive character of Tony Soprano a mysterious quality, so be prepared to be pulled in for 6 riveting seasons of TV. Stream on Max.




2. "Succession"

“Succession” is a dark comedy that follows the life of the Roy family, who are the owners of global media and entertainment conglomerate Waystar Royco. The series follows the cut-throat, blood-thirsty Roy children as they continuously struggle for the throne to their father’s CEO position in the company. The opening credits perfectly encapsulate everything that the show is: lavish displays of wealth, family conflicts, and power struggles. The opening theme, composed by Nicholas Britell, is a genius reveal of the show’s ambience. It utilizes a mix of melancholy classical music and hip-hop-influenced 808 beats to create the signature dissonance that not only characterizes the opening theme but also the relationship between characters in the show. The alluring melody is reminiscent of the Roy children themselves: striking but dangerous. Stream on Max.




3. "The White Lotus"

There is one word to describe “The White Lotus”’s opening credits: haunting. The first and second season of this series have a slightly different main title theme song; however, there is a common throughline that composer Cristobal Tapia de Veer draws along both: the distinct operatic-sounding music. Melody aside, “The White Lotus”'s opening theme does much to capture the heart of its stories, showing that nothing on the surface is as pretty as it seems. The two seasons of the show follow the guests and employees of the White Lotus resort hotel chain and dive deep into the messy interpersonal relationships between the vacationers and employees alike. The opening credits use quick slides of beautiful, romantic paintings that slowly devolve into violent scenes, beautifully capturing how the show is a picture-perfect imagery of wealth on the outside and a dark twisted psychological journey on the inside. Stream on Max.




4. "Westworld"

“Westworld”’s opening credits are undoubtedly designed to give the viewer a sense of unease, just like the show itself. The series tells the dystopian story of Westworld, a futuristic theme park engineered to cater to the darkest fantasies of its high-paying guests. The show is an oddly intriguing blend of a sci-fi and a western, which is captured in the eerie images of the title credits. Skeletal horses and robotic humans move strangely against the backdrop of a western landscape, as the theme song composed by Ramin Djawadi hums along. Being a show that heavily discusses the moral implications of artificial consciousness, “Westworld”’s opening theme is sure to give you goosebumps. Stream on Max.




5. "Mad Men" 

“Mad Men” follows the story of charming advertising executive Don Draper (Jon Hamm), who works at an advertising agency on Madison Avenue in 1960s New York City. While charismatic and put-together on the outside, Don Draper has a mysteriously dark past that threatens his reputation as an advertising genius. The opening credits feature an animation of a prosperous businessman (whose face is concealed) falling out of the window of his luxurious office of a high-rise building. As he falls to the ground below, we see numerous billboards and advertisements of women and alcohol, a subtle nod to Don Draper’s two favorite vices. Notably, one billboard has the words “Enjoy The Best America Has To Offer”, which is a succinct representation of the show’s main theme about the American Dream. As these enticing images flash behind a man falling to his death, the viewer is reminded of the perils of American consumerism and the show’s portrayal of a man struggling with his darkest vices. Stream on AMC+.




6. "Game of Thrones"

Whatever your feelings are about the show itself, there is one thing all "Game of Thrones" fans can agree on -- the opening credits are darn-near perfection. In less than two minutes, the audience is taken on a journey through Westeros and beyond, stopping at all the major locations that currently play a role in the story, through the use of mechanized models -- representing the ever-churning political machinations at work. All of this is capped off with another breathtaking Ramin Djawadi score which is now considered just as if not more iconic than the actual show. The series' spinoff prequel, "House of The Dragon", uses a similar motif and the same theme music. Stream on Max.