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)
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
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.
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.