Quick! Think of your favorite TV show. Chances are, your memory turns to a favorite character, a favorite episode, or a favorite line. But when it comes to defining the overall feel of the show, the show's opening title sequence probably comes to mind.
A title sequence isn't just the name of a show spelled in a cool font, slapped over a few choice scenes from last season, and then sewn together with a snappy theme song. In under 90 seconds, a title sequence can tell you what a show is about, and what it wants to be. It can evoke terror, bring a smile, tell a story, ask a question -- and convince you that what you're about to watch is special. TV.com reviewed the best of the best title sequences throughout TV history (and there are quite a few excellent ones out there). These made the cut as the Top 15 Title Sequences of all time.
15. Sex and the City
Don't act like this theme song wasn't your ringtone for at least six months, because it was. Those bells, that hair, that tutu, that bus, and that splash of water all represent Carrie Bradshaw's (Sarah Jessica Parker) fashionable, emotional exploration of sex and love in New York City.
14. Cowboy Bebop
The trumpets, the rapid-fire stand-up bass, and those colors! Japan's Cowboy Bebop title sequence makes other cartoons mad with jealousy.
Who knew that shaving and frying eggs could be so ... creepy?
It doesn't matter who sings "Little Boxes" -- the irony in this idyllic suburban scene is so obvious that you can smell it. What is that smell, anyway?
10. Star Trek
Three words: The final frontier. Three more words: To boldly go. Now there's how you split an infinitive.
9. The Muppet Show
Is it just me, or did the Muppets work harder than anyone else in show business? Check out that choreography!
7. The Brady Bunch
3x3 grids were never this cool before, and they'll never be this cool again. Neither will Florence Henderson's haircut.
5. Desperate Housewives
On the surface, it's a campy, fluffy homage to pop art. But dig a little deeper, and you'll see twinkles in those dark eyes and sarcastic smirks behind all the smiles.
4. The Simpsons
The clouds always part, there's always an aerial view of Springfield, Bart always ditches school, Homer always gets in an accident, Marge always shops for groceries, and Lisa always jams on the sax. Other than that, it's all up in the air -- and in the end, they all end up on the couch.
2. The Sopranos
The big white Suburban, the drag on the cigar, the New Jersey Turnpike, and solitude: four of Tony Soprano's (James Gandolfini) favorite things. Cue the smoky music, and you've got an iconic image.
1. True Blood
Why did a two-year-old show's title sequence beat out all these other guys? It's overflowing with sin-and-redemption symbolism, the footage is raw and graphic, and the song is almost too good. In short, it's perfect.
One more thing ...
We couldn't include everything on this list, but we have to give credit where it's due. Honorable mention shout-outs go to The IT Crowd, The Six Million Dollar Man, Chuck, The United States of Tara, Nip/Tuck, Six Feet Under, The Mary Tyler Moore Show, Police Squad!, and so many more. And don't worry, we haven't forgotten shows like Friends and The Addams Family -- our "Best Theme Songs" list is up next!