We either spend a couple of minutes or less watching the intros to our favorite television shows each week, or we skip them (or run to get a snack). Some series have the most annoying opening credits sequences ever. They make us cringe (hey, "Orange Is the New Black"). But there also exist a handful of really great ones that we look forward to watching every time.
Here are some of our favorite TV intros that are far too good to ever skip:
"Duh-nuh-nuh-nuh-nuh. Duh-nuh-nuh-nuh-nuh. Duh-nuh-nuh-nuh-nuh-nuh-nah. California here we come..."
All of that over a blurry close up of a brooding Ben McKenzie looking out of a car window that fades into an overhead shot of the Orange County coastline. And that's only five-ish seconds into what is the greatest opening sequence in televised history. "The O.C." opening sequence may not have fancy, expensive animation, but in a breezy 30 seconds you're given everything you could ever want in a television show: beautiful people wearing suits, california landscapes, Mischa Barton hanging on to the back of McKenzie riding a bike on the boardwalk, a beach fight, Peter Gallagher's eyebrows. Everything. Also, highly recommend screaming this theme song at the top of your lungs at parties or with friends driving through suburbia when your current, late-teen status in life only allows for California dreamin'. -- Todd Van Luling
It really starts with the static: Pay attention, an HBO series is about to begin. Then the bass from Alabama 3's "Woke Up This Morning" kicks in and we're off, driving through the Lincoln Tunnel. The New York City skyline is on our right as we head toward New Jersey. (In the show's early years, the World Trade Center was reflected in a rear-view mirror.) We don't get our first good glimpse of Tony Soprano until he goes through a toll booth to enter the New Jersey Turnpike. He's smoking a cigar. Sunoco stations, pizzerias, wooded areas and rows of houses soon follow. By the time we reach Tony's palatial estate, his cigar is extinguished. The entire worldview of "The Sopranos" is laid out in these 90 seconds, with Tony front and center as the show's outsider king. The song's pretty great, too. -- Christopher Rosen
Lorelai and Rory's world is so wonderful, whimsical and full of hope, even their intro is a precious mix of love, companionship, trust and diner food. It's perfect because from the very first tune and that beautiful Connecticut foliage shot, I know what to expect. I know the time ahead is going to be filled with warm fuzzy feelings of family and friendship and all the wrongs in the world will be righted before bedtime. That intro ushers me in so seamlessly, I automatically associate it with the feel good qualities of the show itself. And isn't that what a quality television is all about, the full package? Where "Gilmore Girls" lead, I absolutely follow. -- Liat Kornowski
"Six Feet Under"
Because I decided to avoid the obvious and for once not list "The Golden Girls" as the best television intro of all time, here lies "Six Feet Under." HBO had to do something special to make a show that centers almost entirely on death enjoyable. "Six Feet Under" isn't short on depressing undertones, but its intro emphasizes the humor bubbling underneath that melancholy. The fecundity that opens the show -- images of a pristine blue sky and vast expanse of land that pan to two interwoven hands -- shift its raison d'etre to one of brio. The rest of the intro takes place in a morgue and at a cemetery, but with an emphasis on bright lights and unyielding skies that usher us all into the great beyond. It's also just beautifully shot. (For proof, look at the "Grey's Anatomy" intro, which is basically a replica of this, except in a hospital and with lyrics.) -- Matthew Jacobs
There's a special place in my heart for the ever-changing intro to Jenji Kohan's "Weeds," possibly because, much like the show itself, it perfectly captured the monotony and unoriginality of a typical Southern California suburb. (Funny enough, parts of the intro and series were actually shot in my hometown, Stevenson Ranch.) But beyond my personal connection to it, the "Weeds" intro was always one never to skip. While the original version of Malvina Reynolds' "Little Boxes" played during the first season (and a few more times later), Season 2, 3 and 8 had various artists covering the song. From Regina Spektor to Elvis Costello to Linkin Park, each episode's intro had a different vibe depending on the cover.
From Seasons 4 through 7, the opening credits got even more creative, with short clips that related to each episode. One spelling out the credits via a Cardiac Monitor another etched them on a bar of soap, and each one always found a way to morph random objects into a marijuana leaf. -- Erin Whitney
"Friday Night Lights"
Let me start by saying that "Friday Night Lights" is one of the best shows of all time, but that's not even why I love the intro. From the moment I watched the first episode Netflix -- yeah, I was a little late to the game -- I was obsessed.
It's everything I could ever want in a TV intro. The song, written by W.G. Snuffy Walden (I just had to google that, but he should definitely be more famous), is so victorious. And during a binge-watching session full of great episodes, it can bring me to tears. Plus, it doesn't hurt to watch all my favorite characters dart loving glances at one another. Best. Intro. Ever. -- Leigh Weingus
I've always been a huge "Law & Order" fan, especially of the opening sequence. And while I could never tire of that clarinet/jazz guitar riff, well, someone put out an APB, because a new cop show's intro has stolen my heart.
Whenever a new episode of "Brooklyn Nine-Nine" comes on as I'm binge-watching it on Hulu Plus, I immediately turn into that kid from "Dazed and Confused" -- I wanna dance.
Seriously, as soon as I hear that familiar, "Ba-dum bum-ba daaaa!" I usually throw my hands in the air just like Chelsea Peretti's character Gina does about 13 seconds in. Yeah, it's that good.
Oh, and watching Joe Lo Truglio accidentally injure himself never gets old, either. -- Katla McGlynn
In the five years I've watched "Dexter," I don't think I ever skipped over the show's title sequence. I was a little late to the game (not watching the Showtime series until it was airing the third season), but never once missed out on Dexter's epic morning routine, set to the music of Rolfe Kent, even while binge-watching the DVDs. (Netflix was not yet a "thing," guys.)
As the song, aptly named "Dexter Main Title," began each episode, I was hooked. From the razor blade and blood droplets bit to the ham and eggs (with hot sauce) meal and blood orange "refresher," this eerie opening is sooo captivating -- and gruesome in the oddest of ways. I couldn't take my eyes away from the screen. -- Leigh Blickley
"The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air"
Now this is a story all about how one intro got us flipped, turned upside down, and if you’d like to take a minute, just sit right there, I’ll tell you why the greatest intro is “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.”
First of all, there’s about a 100 percent chance you read that opening line with Will Smith’s voice singing along in your head. Why? Because the theme from “The Fresh Prince” intro is the one thing that unites all Americans everywhere. Even my mom knows all the lyrics, and she thinks when Trey Songz says “Mr. Steal Yo Girl,” he’s actually saying “Mr. Cereal Girl.” For reals, if the “Fresh Prince” theme were our national anthem, we'd never have to worry about celebs messing up the words again, and the whole world would be pumped when America won at the Olympics so they could sing along. And even if they wouldn’t, we could just say, “Yo, homes! Smell ya later!” -- Bill Bradley
THE spot for your favorite fan theories and the best movie recs. Learn more