Cartoons are awesome, and a big part of cartoons is that show open. Superman flies around, cheetara beats up some mutants and Ash tries to catch some pokemans, all while some rockin’ music plays. This is not a list of ‘the greatest animated shows’ just the greatest opening sequences! What follows is a list of animated show intros, each more awesome than the last.

10. Mucha Lucha

I hate this show, but I love the theme song, at a moment in time where all networks had three shows that were exactly this show (Shaolin Showdown, Teamo Supremo, etc.) Mucha Lucha at least had an opening that was unlike anyone else’s. Frantic accordion, thumping congas, screeching trumpets and sizzling guitar made for great bookends to an awful show.

9. Mission Hill

I love how subdued this intro is. It shows you the characters’ personalities and their relationships without resorting to narration. It uses the apartment’s windows as different ‘screens’, enforcing the central premise of the show and having a little fun with it. Not the first time it had been done, but definitely solidly executed. You can’t go wrong with a song by Cake, either. Lastly if I was going to make a list of top 10 cartoon dance moves the top three would probably come from this intro.

8. Samurai Jack

Although if you ARE going to resort to narration you cannot go wrong with Mako. To me this intro greatly accomplishes its goal, letting the viewer know “This is the reason why you’re about to ingest 24 minutes of unprecedented weirdness.”

7. Word Girl

There are few show opens as Rockin’ as Word Girl. It is simultaneously funny, informative, and most importantly; wordy. It also (like the show it prefaces) displays a deep reverence for super-hero cartoons from the past, particularly toward #4 on this list.

6. Aquateen Hunger Force

The best episodes of Aqua Teen Hunger Force are basically a 15 minute string of awesome quotes tied together by a loose premise. And the quotability starts right at the show open.

5. Thundercats (original series)

The Thundercats Hate Embedding, apparently.

Like Mucha Lucha, Thundercats is a great example of an intro that is way better than the actual show. There are probably more frames of animation in the minute-or-so open to Thundercats than in any two episodes combined. The song is absolutely classic, the animation is great and the intro conveys what this universe is like masterfully.

4. 1960s Spider-Man

There’s a reason why people are still singing this little song decades after the show went off the air. There have been four or five animated iterations of Spider-Man, each with its own theme song. And yet which do the Sam Raimi movies reference? the 1960s version. Not much else to say here, this little intro is Cartoon history.

3. Batman Beyond

Batman also hates embedding!

Interestingly, I started writing this list because I really like the Justice League intro, but as I compiled the list that bit of animation began to slide farther and farther down. The reason? Although it’s set to excellent music and has great visuals the CG characters are somewhat off-putting. However, Batman Beyond’s intro uses traditional animation and computer graphics to great effect. Rock-techno is probably a little too well represented in show opens bu the full package of video and audio in Batman Beyond’s open creates an entrancing combination.

2. Gargoyles

Gargoyles’ intro enjoys an amazing trifecta: Awesome visuals, an epic soundtrack, and Keith David on vocals. It also manages to pull off what a lot of shows can’t, making an open made largely out of clips from the show seem cohesive and interesting.

1. Cowboy Bebop

Cowboy Bebop is largely regarded as one of the greatest anime series of all time. And this intro might still be too good for it. This animated show open is the best of all time, and easily has a shot at best show open of any kind. might get some stiff competition from the Prisoner and True Blood, but it could go all the way.

When the Evil Shredder Attacks…

So there you have them, putting this list together took a lot out of me. Cutting candidates was like cutting fingers off, but I managed to distill it to the the creme de la creme. I’m sure you all agree.


About Author

Nobody really knows what Rodrigo's deal is. He is a perpetual enigma, an unknown quantity, the X factor. He's the new kid in school, the unlisted number, the person all your friends talk about, but you've never met. How can one person be so mysterious, you ask? THAT IS ALSO TOTALLY A MYSTERY! You can try to keep tabs on him on twitter by following @fearsomecritter, but that probably won't help.


    • I love the Batman Beyond open. I admit that the reason it always stands out to me was the breaking away in the middle for a dance sequence with Terry’s girlfriend, her best friend, and a background character that never has a line of dialogue.

      That big splash of HOPE still gives me chills however.

  1. no Scooby Doo
    no Johnny Quest
    no Venture Brothers
    no Pirates of Dark Water
    no GI Joe: Real American Hero
    no Batman: The Animated Series
    no Thundarr the Barbarian
    no Robotech
    no Battle of the Planets
    no Ranma 1/2

    sigh….my mileage has varied.

    • Scooby Doo’s various opens were pretty patchwork affairs, none of which (save for the Scooby-Doo movies, and that only JUST) managed to do more than give us a patchwork of chunks from episodes.

  2. Good list Rodrigo.

    I have a few honorable mentions that I’d like to throw in the ring.
    – The Jonny Quest intro: The kicking music plus amazing action really comes together here. The reasons why this intro works helped inspire people of the next generation to make such cool intros as Cowboy Bebop.

    – Exosquad (opening #2): a thrilling soundtrack matches well with the action and introduces us to the major characters and implies just enough of the plot to give the casual viewer the basics of a very involved plotline.

    – Clone High: A very effective marriage of visuals and sound to give everyone what they need to know in order to jump in on episode 6 and laugh your socks off.

    – Rugrats: I’m not quite sure why I find this opening so compelling. I think it’s because it encapsulates the entire show in 30 seconds and has a very offbeat musical accompaniment that somehow works very well.

    Thanks for the cool list!

  3. the Inner Universe intro for “Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex” is vastly superior to all others IMHO.

    Ranma 1/2 and Robotech are also very good.

  4. Batman Beyond, Gargoyles and to a lesser extant Mission Hill would all go on my own lists, but the rest… They don’t really wow me in the same way they apparently do for you. But they are all pretty good openings for one reason or another.

  5. Everyone’s top ten going to be different with this depending whatever decade of cartoons you grew up with. Again the whole Major Spoilers “Mileage may vary bit.” Anyway here’s my top ten some of them tied with no tie-breaker
    10 Conan The Adventurer (Can’t miss Conan jumping from a throne or large pile of skulls)
    09 C.O.P.S. (Cops verses Crooks with B.P. Vess{actor Ken Ryan}, short narrative before the Berserko pulling the first robbery and then introducing each Cops and Crook.)
    08. Spiral Zone, (Nothing like having the main bad guy named Overlord{ appear at the beginning of the intro and uttering “Surrender Or Pay the Consequences! and pointing to the viewer.”
    07. Visionaries/ Inhumanoids tied for number 7 one because of the Sunbow Marvel Universe. They are short while in animation/and voice over Merklynn{Roscoe Lee Browne} Anon don’t know who did some of voice dub in the Inhumanoids intro. clues you in on what’s going on. Also dealing with two different cataclysms Visionaries the age of technology ends and the age of magic begins. Inhumanoids one of the few intros that shows the good guys actually failing to save two civilians as both head for a fiery death in magma{fantastic for child psychology for a cartoon no wonder I ended up a little bent}.
    06. The Lone Ranger, Zorro, Flash Gordon, Tarzan tie Filmation each one brought their own individual intros with the hero doing his own intro, and for bring the classics back into the early 80’s
    05. Adventures of the Galaxy Rangers. (One of my fav Genre the Western Sci-Fi, In the intro great voice intro coupled with the theme “No Guts No Glory” fantastic animation.
    04 Bravestarr. Filmation (For me the original Western Sci Fi had so many different magic and techology much like the others on this list. From the voice narration and the superb animation introduction of the characters the planet they live on, the stuff both good and evil value, and there’s nothing wrong with having a horse as a partner, but even better a cyborg horse with a gigantic Winchester canon named Sarah Jane.)
    03.Tie: He-Man, She-Ra Filmation Fantastic animated opening introduced characters by the Hero or Heroine and in He-Man’s case having Skeletor laughing transfixed over Castle Greyskull was cool.
    02Rankin Bass Tie: Thundercats, Silverhawks, Tigersharks The Lorimar Universe Each one no voice intro you didn’t need one the animated action and the theme songs just blew you away, introduced to each character within the “Magic” 1min 17 sec in what I think is the time an intro needed to get attention something the New Thundercats 2011 series needs to address at less than 25 sec.
    01. Tie: Dino-Riders Marvel Productions/Valley of the Dinosaurs, Hanna Barbera, (Nothing like having a family on a vacation/expedition on a Amazon river suddenly are taken in a whirlpool and end up in a lost valley with Dinosaurs and cavemen.){one of my #ones because you didn’t have story arcs or anything with just the family trying to survive and get back to civilization also one of the first cartoons as a kid I remember watching The other Dino-Riders of course you can tell that dinosaurs were my fav subject still is this was simple either the video cassette version where you have museum with the teacher and the group of students with one of the student notices a strange glowing from the Dinosaur exhibits in the next room and find two dinosaur skeletons come to life, panorama of various dinosaurs from different ages together, and the other intro ,{Marvel Productions} over the Marvel Action Hour{Spiderman,Robocop, DinoRiders) this was special to me on antenna back in the day because the sky had to be overcast and rainy and a 5:30 in the morning one of the Kansas City channels would come though, I’d see the intro with voice over with Questar and Kuelos fighting on dinosaurs with futuristic weapons.
    There are other great cartoons, Ghostbusters, Filmation Ghostbusters, Pole Position, Swamp Thing(Wild Thing version), M.A.S.K. Swat Cats, WildC.A.T.S. Cadillacs & Dinosaurs, Skeleton Warriors, Jem & the Holograms, Gobots, Voltron,(the Peter Cullen version), Bionic Six, Dinosaucers, Mister T, Chuck Norris and the Karate Commandos, Centurions, Rambo Thundarr, Saber Riders, Transformers Fat Albert & the Cosby Kids, Hulk Hogan’s Rock N’ Wresting, The Comic Strip, Hanna Barbera 40’s-2004),and etc. that are more so in the top thirty, but still in my opinion with my ties spanning 30+ years of fantastic animation they all are in my top ten and more number ones. Each one of these had great writers, animation, and adventure that pulled us up to the TV on weekday morning/afternoons or the great golden days of yesteryear called Saturday Morning until noon…..

      • Buttons McBoomBoom was my favorite crook as well for me he carried the thompson and to me was a throw-back to the gangsters that would have been in Al Capone’s employ.
        Plus one of the ugliest women of 80’s cartoon Ms. Demeanor (voiced by Paulina Gillis) – A middle-aged super-strong woman with the appearance of a normal business woman who works for Big Boss. She has the muscular physique of a champion bodybuilder. Thanks to the Shout Factory and Amazon I’ve been able to get this cartoon as well as many others.
        Thanks Matthew, Stephen, Rodrigo for bring the MSP Podpasts and the new Top Five online to us Spoilerites..

  6. Flintstones, Simon (the magic chalk guy), Gummi Bears, Star Blazers, Dungeons and Dragons, Speed Racer, Jabberjaw, Hong Kong Phooey, Thundarr the Barbarian

    • Saber Rider would be on my list, so much nostalgia for me. I’d probably give Baccano! or Durarara! a spot towards the top of the list, they are both awesome. Probably not both of them though, they are very similiar thematically, so I’d probably give the slot to Durarara!

  7. I actually thought this was a pretty awesome list. I always forget how much I love that Spider-man theme until I see it with the actual cartoon open. It reminds me of sitting in front of the TV as a kid and getting thrills from what would happen that ep.

    The Cowboy Bebop is a new one on me, but that open is 10 scoops of awesome. It borrows heavily from some of my favorite 60’s and 70’s cop show opens (“I, Spy”, “Ironsides”, “Charlie’s Angels”…).

    As far as Batman Beyond, it is a true artifact of its time. I watch that and it reminds me of all those times I’d watch a friend of mine DJ at a Goth club.

  8. Some other ones that I really like are Batman TAS, Where on Earth is Carmen Sandiego, Sonic the Hedgehog (SatAM), Invader Zim, Boondocks, Megas XLR, Serial Experiment Lain, and Paranoia Agent.

  9. I LOVE the opening to Archer (very Cowboy Bebop-y) and the long Venture Bros opening. Mighty Boosh doesn’t count but has a great opening.

  10. Word up, Word Girl!

    The only omission on this list that I consider to be criminal is Speed Racer, but I admit a very strong bias toward that one on my part.

  11. For openings with narration nothing compares to Avatar: The Last Airbender in my book. Tells you almost everything you need to know to jump into any episode at any point in the series. That open is like a fish hook to me. I walk past a TV while that open is running, I’m not doing anything else for the next 30 minutes. Other favorite animated opens: Thundarr, Teen Titans, the Simpsons, and Johnny Quest.

  12. Great choices Rodrigo. :) ( my iPod thinks your called Rostock ?!?!!)

    Especially happy you have put samurai jack snd batman beyond in there they are my favourites ;)

    Although I would have put in megas XLR , possibly clone high and on a side note


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