Though there may be more quality TV shows airing than ever before, the TV opening credits sequence has taken a bit longer to find its cultural footing. We blame "Lost," which seemed to inspire a period during which every show was opting for the short title card rather than a full-length sequence and song.
It was a dark time.
But TV credit sequences have really started to reach their heyday. (We may be biased, but have you seen the new opening for "The Shannara Chronicles"?!) And, more than ever before, there are quality, compelling openings that -- in some instances -- are more memorable than the shows they're introducing.
What does this golden age of TV opening sequences look like? Well, here are the 13 best opening credits currently on TV...
"The Walking Dead"
"The Walking Dead" opening credits are eerie, iconic, and remind us just how scared we are of the zombie apocalypse. Like any good opening credits sequence, this lets you know exactly what you're signing up for. Namely: misery, desolation, and a front row seat to the deaths of your favorite characters. Guys, this can only end one way...
Maybe we're just excited that "The 100" got a credits sequence (it really only had a title card in its first season), but this opening does a lot to set the tone for the scope and stakes of this world. Also, like the show itself, it gives us some serious "Battlestar Galactica" feels.
The comics-inspired "iZombie" credits are hip, addictive, and filled with brains — just like the show itself! Every time we watch this opening, we're kind of surprised "iZombie" was arguably the first TV series to execute a comics-based opening so efficiently and effectively. These credits aren't long, but they get so much information across, while never making it feel redundant.
Real talk: this show's credits are not as cool as they once were, but they remain one of the best opening credits sequences on network TV. If these supernaturally Gothic visuals don't get you in the mood for a spooky story, then there's nothing we can do for you.
TBH, there aren't enough cheesy, sincere, and downright heartwarming credit sequences (or, you know, TV shows in general) currently on television. "The Fosters" has cornered the market on that vibe, with this montage of semi-abstract clips that conjure up the feeling of "home," while Kari Kimmel croons in the background. Is it January yet? We need this show back in our lives already!
Is there anything that will psyche you up for an adventure through time and space than the theme song for British scifi classic "Doctor Who"? This credits sequence has (understandably) gone through a lot of changes in the more than 50 years from its original conception, but has managed to update the strange hypnotism of its original sequence time and time again. The current sequence uses a clockwork motif inspired by a fan creation.
"Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt"
This Netflix series is currently in the process of shooting its second season, which means it has been off of the "air" for months now — but that probably hasn't kept you from singing this theme song at least once in your shower in that same time frame. The "Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt" credit sequence gets extra points not only for this earworm of a theme, but for the creative structure of its concept: the show went ahead and made the viral video that might result from a news-popular story like Kimmy's. Well played, show.
Even if you never watch this Starz show about pirates, we recommend checking out its opening credits sequence at least once. The music from Bear McCreary — aka the genre TV soundtrack king of our time — and patient, violent visuals of digital effects-created pirate-statues (yeah, it's a thing) hammer home the themes of this show. You know, pirates and stuff.
"Halt and Catch Fire"
You might not have caught this 1980s-set AMC show about the PC revolution, but that's no excuse not to rock out to its "Tron"-like opening credit sequence. With its synth-y theme music and its magenta-soaked animation following a signal light through an ever-complexifying digital world, it is one of the best on television.
"Orange is the New Black"
Take a catchy Regina Spektor song. Launch a montage of close-up shots of real-life women who were formerly incarcerated, and you have the makings for one of the best opening credits on TV (or, you know, Netflix). Like the show itself, this credit sequences keeps the focus tight on the humanity of the people it chooses to depict, and the result is totally powerful.
Check back in with us in a few months once the "Jessica Jones" hype has died down a bit, but — right now — we're in love with this opening credits sequence. Jessica's purple-haunted, noirish world comes to life in an opening that draws you in slowly with its gorgeous visuals before slowly building to a louder, inescapable climax. Like the show itself, it is a near-impossible spell to break.
"Game of Thrones"
Is there anything more epic than watching the "Game of Thrones" credit sequence? (Other than watching the show itself, that is...) We're pretty much ready to storm King's Landing or join The Night's Watch every time we watch this map-inspired opening. It's like literally diving into the pages of your favorite fantasy novel. These credits are more than a stellar opening for one of the most popular shows of our time. They're downright iconic.
There are a lot of high-concept opening sequences out there — especially on prestige television — but "Outlander" eschews coming up with an abstract and complicated opening in favor of something more tangible.
But its relative simplicity doesn't make it less effective (or less artfully constructed, for that matter). Quite the opposite. Bear McCreary's hauntingly melodic arrangement of the Scottish folk tune "The Skye Boat Song," and the clear, crisp images of the brutal-yet-beautiful Scottish setting combine to make magic.
"Outlander" isn't reinventing the opening credits sequence; it's taking a long-used form and doing it really, really well. OK, catch you later! Gotta go check my "Outlander"-themed yule log.