TV Opening Credits: The Good, The Bad, and the WTF


By Josh Axelrod, David Oliver and Anamika Roy

Last week, Vulture published a rant about its least favorite television opening credits called “When Bad Credits Happen to Good TV Shows.” We at Binge Central disagreed with about 90 percent of what they had to say, particularly the fact that they called “New Girl” a “good TV show.” Here are our thoughts on the current landscape of television opening credits:


Best: “Game of Thrones”

Nothing gets me more in the mood to watch something than hearing those soaring violins and seeing that sprawling map of Westeros. It took me two seasons to realize the map changed every time we were introduced to a different part of the world, but that only made it cooler. Admittedly, having to stare at Winterfell’s smoldering remains every week is beyond depressing. But otherwise, this is as good as TV opening credits get.

Honorable Mentions: “True Detective,” “Big Bang Theory”

Worst: “The Leftovers”

I know it’s new to the TV game, but it already gets my vote for worst opening credits. The show may be bleak, but the sad classical music mixed with the grief of people watching their loved ones float away is too melancholy for words. There’s also a weird amount of nudity in the opening credits, which would make sense for “True Blood” or “Game of Thrones,” but not “The Leftovers.” This one should be scrapped and replaced with literally anything else.

Honorable Mention: “Homeland”

Weirdest: “True Blood”

Wow, three HBO shows. That wasn’t even on purpose. But I mean, “True Blood’s” opening credits go from weird to creepy to disturbing faster than Bill drawls “Soooooooooookie.” The song’s chorus is “I want to do bad things with you,” and it’s accompanied by images of decaying foxes, demonic possession, sex, rednecks, rattlesnakes and other stereotypically southern things. It fits the madcap tone of the show perfectly, but it’s weird as hell.

Honorable Mention: “Mad Men” (How far does he fall?!)


Best: “The Good Wife”

Though simple, these opening credits have changed a little bit each season, featuring a new picture of the main character, Alicia Florrick (Julianna Margulies) with a quick little musical runoff. However, as each season has escalated in character development and intensity, so has the music. This musical change is heightened in each episode but always starts with the quick credits. It gets to the point and sets the mood: A+ in my book.

Honorable Mentions: “Game of Thrones,” “Suits”

Worst: “Once Upon A Time”

This show spoils the audience with its opening credits, featuring the storyline that’s the main focus of each episode with a quick teaser followed by the show’s logo. Wouldn’t a more spellbinding opening featuring the show’s main characters be more consistent for viewers? With each half-season exploring new realms and character arcs, it would be nice to have some opening credit consistency.

Honorable Mentions: “Scandal,” “House of Cards”

Weirdest: “Pretty Little Liars”

Well, it’s sort of awkward now for the four central liars to be standing over a casket of their dead friend who (SPOILER ALERT) isn’t dead anymore. Regardless, seeing a dead body with painted nails and a casket closing and creepy music playing is pretty risque, even considering the show’s plots and that it airs at 8 p.m. on ABC Family, not on a basic network.

Honorable Mentions: “True Blood,” “Masters of Sex”


Best: “Mad Men”

The mystery behind the shadowed man falling from a building is a perfect reflection of the mystery behind the show’s main character, Don Draper. Fans have been analyzing that opening for the past seven years, trying to forecast Don’s demise. It also embodies the more obvious parts of the show – the whole 60s ad agency part. The closing shot with the shadowed man sitting with an Old Fashioned will be an iconic image people remember in 20 years when they talk about “Mad Men.”

Honorable Mentions: “Game of Thrones,” “House of Cards,” “Downton Abbey”

Worst: “New Girl”

This was one of my favorite shows for seasons 1 and 2 but season 3 destroyed my faith in it, perhaps for good. The one thing that I have always disliked about the show is its opening. Seriously, that’s the best Zooey Deschanel can do? I listen to She & Him, I know that’s not true. The lyrics don’t make any sense and ignores the rest of the cast, which is a bad move for an ensemble show. Also, no Cece in the opening? What’s up with that?

Honorable Mention: “Scandal”

Weirdest: “Homeland”

Where do I begin, the maze, Claire Danes’ voiceover, the saxaphone? It’s the most confusing and random opening credits ever. Just from watching the opening, I would guess the show was more about robots and less about terrorists. The video clips from actual news conferences is a nice idea but the show’s flirtation with real events has always made me uncomfortable because of the racial stereotypes it encourages.

Honorable Mentions: “True Detective”


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