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12 Classic Television Title Sequences

Updated on December 8, 2019

The 12 Greatest Cult TV Intros Ever! (Possibly!)

Do you remember a time when television shows had really great intros or openings?

Back in the 60s and up until about the 80s, program makers loved to entice their audience with some very exciting opening credits which were almost like a mini movie in themselves.

It seems that those days are now gone and instead we have either no program opening or a poor excuse for one. Broadcasters are more interested in condensing these down to allow for either commercials or to tell the audience what's coming up next. It seems that the good old intro has suffered at the hands of the advertisers.

Thanks to the internet, these intros can be found playing over a wide range of video sites, and my husband and I have gathered together what we believe to be several of the greatest intros ever. Now, of course, this list is purely subjective and there are plenty more shows out there with great intros, but these are our personal favorites.

Also included towards the end of the page is an all time classic kid's program, which used to be shown in England and Europe repeatedly back in the Sixties and Seventies. It is a show which my husband always watched when he was growing up: The Adventures of Robinson Crusoe. It had a very short intro, but had one of the most magnificent theme tunes, which can be heard in the video below. Play it a couple of times and you too will be hooked.

In fact, as well as having great intros, these TV shows had some of the greatest theme tunes too. So, (in no particular order) travel back with us and enjoy these TV memories from yesteryear.

1. Star Trek

The Captain Kirk monologue, the swoosh of the Enterprise rushing by and a magnificent theme by Alexander Courage made Star Trek one of the most memorable TV intros of all time.

2. The Avengers

My husband's favorite TV show ever lasted for eight years during the 1960s. For many, the seasons starring Patrick Macnee and Diana Rigg were the high point of The Avengers.

This is the color intro for the second Emma Peel season, a vignette of what was best about the series: humor and action.

3. Mission: Impossible

One of television's most recognizable theme tunes introduced an iconic TV series that ran in the 1960s and 1970s: Mission: Impossible.

Lalo Schifrin wrote the music, but no-one knows who it was who lit that match!

4. Thunderbirds

A television show that my husband grew up watching and is still watched by adults of a certain age.

Very popular in the UK during the 1960s, Thunderbirds has become one of the best-loved shows there ever since. A great theme tune and every opening was always loud and action-packed.

Who knew that a bunch of puppets would become such a large slice of television history?

5. CHiPs

One of the few times I enjoyed approaching cops on motorcycles was when they came in the form of the guys from CHiPs.

Like many of the other television intros here, this one was like a mini-movie before the show - and included funky theme music too!

6. Dr. Who

Another of my husband's favorites is also from his formative years, Doctor Who. Britain's best loved science fiction series dates back to 1963 and continued until it was canceled in the 1980s.

However, you can never keep a good thing down as Doctor Who came storming back onto television screens in 2005, better and more popular than ever.

7. Hawaii 5-0

A list of television's greatest intros would not be complete without including Hawaii Five-0.

Simply a wonderful introduction to Steve McGarrett and his cohorts and to the islands of Hawaii. The signature tune is possibly one of the best ever too.

Guess what, Hawaii Five-0 is back and updated for the 21st century.

8. The Persuaders!

Roger Moore and Tony Curtis joined forces in the 1970s to become The Persuaders!

The Englishman and the American made the show an action filled romp of detective work and humor, often accompanied by some very pretty girls.

It also has one of the best theme tunes, written by John Barry, which was popular enough to see it make the UK music charts in 1971.

9. Hill Street Blues

The hugely popular Hill Street Blues was one of my favorite shows back in the 1980s.

No other police drama was quite like it, with its gritty reality and wonderfully written characterizations.

I loved the theme tune too, which was composed by Mike Post, who had also written other TV themes, including the one to The Rockford Files.

10. The Prisoner

This is another of my hubby's choices, the weird and thought provoking series The Prisoner.

Produced in England during the 1960s, and starring Patrick McGoohan as Number Six, the show revolved around the protagonist's attempts to escape The Village - his prison, where he is put through some mind bending methods to extract information from him.

The intro itself formed a major part of the show, introducing us to Number Six and his initial abduction. Great stuff!

11. The Invaders

Oh yes, The Invaders.

This was science fiction at its best in the 1960s. Great writing and great acting went into producing one of the most paranoia-driven sci-fi series of all time.

The intro fed into this feeling of unease, underpinned by Dominic Frontiere's magnificently dramatic theme tune.

12. Department S

I must admit that I had never heard of this TV show, but my husband tells me it's one of those somewhat forgotten shows from the late 1960s that was pretty popular in England.

He mainly chose this one because of the theme music. It apparently introduced Jason King to the world - the heavily mustachioed actor, Peter Wyngarde.

Extra: The Adventures of Robinson Crusoe

No intro in the video here, just a wonderful piece of music used for this 1960s show. I believe it is called The Robinson Crusoe Suite.

Cast Your Vote on the Featured Intros - Please Have Your Say!

Which of the Featured TV Intros is Your Favorite?

See results

More Great Classic TV!

The Persuaders! - The TV Show
As a fan of the action / suspense / adventure shows of the 1960s and 1970s, I fondly remember the TV series The Persuaders! Take American Tony Curtis and En...

The New Avengers: The TV Series
The New Avengers: The TV Series and how it returned: Actress Linda Thorson (Tara King) was the final partner for John Steed in the original, classic Avenger...

Gerry Anderson: Creator of Thunderbirds
For any youngster growing up in the UK in the 1960s, Gerry Anderson's TV shows, such as Stingray, Captain Scarlet, Joe 90, Supercar, Fireball XL5 and Thunder...

About Your Author

With each article, Richard invites you to step into his world of music, television and entertainment. He will introduce you to British Glam Rock, share The 20 Scariest Film Scores Ever? and even give you an up close look at some classic actors such as Christopher Lee as Dracula.

For a complete list of Richard's articles, please visit Richard's profile.

© 2007 Rich


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