It’s one of the strange conundrums of media that so many intro sequences for animated shows are more iconic than those for live action. That might be because animated shows have a lot more leeway in terms of music and visuals. Here’s a list of some of my favorites from the 1990s to prove the point:
That first Pokémon show became so successful that many believed the video game spawned from it rather than the other way around. Its main characters, Ash and Pikachu, are still featured as the protagonists twenty-plus years later. The intro sequence perfectly encapsulates the show’s adventure mentality. Its song is so iconic that many adults can sing the lyrics that were burned into their brain during their youth.
Many fans of Batman: The Animated Series cite its intro as largely influential, which it was. But it’s the intro for Batman Beyond that stands out to me much more. The show was raw, gritty, and it had a unique cyberpunk feel missing from the other children’s superheroes at the time. Its theme perfectly embodies those sensibilities. Completely lacking lyrics in its theme, the intro’s visuals were wild and sporadic and it set the mood perfectly for a younger, more brash Batman to adopt the mantle.
As a child of the ’90s, it was hard to grow up a comic fan and not watch either of these shows. Arguably, the X-Men intro has a longer lasting legacy than the Spider-Man one above. But since they shared the same pseudo universe (and I was a bigger fan of Spider-Man) I decided to share them together. They both are very similar. Each has its own iconic rock theme while doing great job showcasing the heroes and the villains they must face. They’ve also withstood the test of time, as fans still get excited whenever they hear them.
I probably wouldn’t have included the Animaniacs intro if not for the reboot on Hulu. My kids are absolutely obsessed with it, and in doing so have made me realize just how groundbreaking this show was. A lot of the humor goes right over children’s heads, but it doesn’t talk down to them. And the intro speaks to that. It’s wild, crazy, and strangely poignant of the times in which it’s made. It’s hard to find someone, kid or adult, who wasn’t an Animaniacs fan at some point in their life. And I believe the intro has a lot to do with that.
Since I already combined two shows that kind of share the same universe, I figured I might as well combine two more shows that also do the same. DuckTales (which finished its run in 1990) is another program with a longer lasting legacy thanks to a reboot. Its theme is catchy, iconic, and just gets you in a good mood. Similarly, the Darkwing Duck theme gets you in the spirit of the character. Dark and brooding, yet still fun and adventurous. As soon as it comes on, you just know it’s time to say “let’s get dangerous.”