Recent years have seen TV productions ramp up their game in regards to the opening title credits of series. What used to be a skippable chore has now become an artistic delight complete with an Emmy Nomination for Main Title Design category. We asked around the office for those intros that people watched every single time and came up with 20 of the best.
#1. Marco Polo
Described as “Netflix’s answer to Game of Thrones“, the opening credits for Marco Polo created by The Mill+ bleed across the screen through the medium of calligrapher’s ink.
#2. True Detective
Elastic have become one of the go-to companies for title sequence development, and the season one opening for True Detective shows us why. The double exposure, fractured portraits and sweeping landscapes combine effortlessly.
#3. Black Sails
Creative studio Imaginary Forces avoided the typical trappings of the pirate genre, the bombastic cannon battles and bearded men swinging from the rigging. Beauty meets brutality through the use of period-inspired Baroque and Rococo sculptures.
#4. Game of Thrones
Another of Elastic’s triumphs. The world of Game of Thrones springs to life, with structures seemingly growing from the ground upwards and changing dependent on the locations featured in each episode.
The Daredevil intro (brace yourself) also came from Elastic; red wax drips like blood to form waxwork figures loaded with symbolism.
#6. Jessica Jones
Another one from Imaginary Forces, Jessica Jones gives brief voyeuristic snatches of Hell’s Kitchen. Influenced by Hitchcock’s Rear Window and the artwork of Gerhard Richter and Edward Hopper, it brings the setting to life.
#7. American Horror Story (Season 1)
Greeting viewers with visions of the macabre and more creepy children than you could shake a stick at, Prologue manage to unnerve the watcher before the show has even begun. Combined with the score and excellent font, the intro sets the tone of the series early on.
#8. The Night Manager
The Night Manager‘s intro wouldn’t look out of place in a James Bond film, and it’s those guys at Elastic at it again. The illusions created in the sequence mirror those within the show; the veneer of luxury and high society entwined with an industry of death.
Narcos took the world by storm, replacing the drug themed hole left by Breaking Bad. Part recon mission, part actual footage, the opening offers a glimpse of the empire of Columbia’s self-styled King of Cocaine – and the operation to end it.
The first two episodes of Preacher went creditless and titles only started appearing in episode 3. Remarkably, Picture Mill’s title sequence is almost devoid of any human presence; instead it perfectly represents each character through an associated object.
#11. The Wire
The Wire showcases the criminal problem and investigative solution, as well as changing to match the theme of each season. ‘Way Down in the Hole’ by Tom Waits is the title track throughout, but performer and genre change from season to season.
Looking like a mix of architectural drawings and explosion diagrams, Imaginary Forces produced something truly innovative and sensational. This sequence tells the story of the Manhattan Project’s planning and the unique meeting of home & science.
#13. Mad Men
A faceless suit tumbling though a world of changing billboards? Another visionary example of the work done at Imaginary Forces, condensing the main themes of the show into a bitesize rundown set to RJD2’s ‘A Beautiful Mine’.
#14. Cowboy Bebop
A rare animated entry, the opening for the most iconic anime going is just that good. From “1,2,3 let’s jam” viewers know they’re in for something different – a classy, stylish, freeform fusion of East and West.
#15. True Blood
Cooked up by Digital Kitchen, religious imagery is cut up with predators, prey, the swamps of the deep south and sex. The vampiric essence of the show is captured instantaneously and as Jace Everett’s song suggests, Bad Things are afoot.
Mill+ kept the Vikings title sequence short and snappy, showing very little of the invariable barbaric slaughter and leaving the rest to the imagination.
#17. Boardwalk Empire
Another entry from Imaginary Forces sees lead Enoch Thompson (Steve Buscemi) dressed to the nines as each wave crashing against the shoreline washes up more contraband at the gansgter’s feet. He remains untouched, a storm in his eyes, a tumultuous guitar shredding the track.
#18. Da Vinci’s Demons
Da Vinci’s machines take shape in his imagination, animation reflecting the sketch-like style of his blueprints. Huge Designs manage to question what we don’t know about Da Vinci, through showing what we do.
Digital Kitchen seem to do well with blood. Here the normality of a morning routine captured through the unnerving cinematography of a murder scene. Dexter’s opening is the perfect tone-setter for the show’s core theme; a banal exterior concealing thoughts of butchery.
#20. The Expanse
There was a time where any production from the SyFy channel was a joke, but The Expanse is the real deal. The title credits show mankind’s expansion through the universe complete with planetary colonisation and time-lapse space traffic.