Expository Theme Tune
This was fairly standard for the early Sitcom. Later sitcoms moved away from this form in favor of the Thematic Theme Tune, and then toward the Surreal Theme Tune. Today, the Expository Theme Tune is limited mostly to children's programs. Gilligans Island, the most famous, used it specifically due to Executive Meddling, so that people who tuned in after the pilot wouldn't get lost. Many kids' shows that use it don't even have a pilot, or air episodes out of order. (Animaniacs and Freakazoid! are the big examples.)
Some shows might use the Expository Theme Tune as an excuse to dump you into the action right away, since you already know the premise. Conversely, if the Expository Theme Tune would spoil the premise of the premiere, you might not see it on the first episode.
- The 4Kids dub of One Piece. (The original and Funimation dub uses a standard Anime Theme Song.)
- The first Japanese opening theme was fairly expository itself.
- Gao Gai Gar's opening is not so much an explanation of the show's premise as an anthem directed towards the heroes. ("Rage, steel cyborg! With a red mane and a golden arm! Shining G-Stone, to protect the hopes of the world, stand up now!")
- As a secondary invocation of the trope, the collective image song of the GGG Mobile Unit (HyoRyu, EnRyu, FuuRyu, RaiRyu, Volfogg and Goldymarg), Saikyou Yuusha Robo Gundan, describes the characters quite neatly, one per verse.
- The theme song used in every adaptation of Cutey Honey is a variation, describing not the plot but the protagonist, and fitting in quite well with the fanservicey nature of the series as a whole.
- Which is an extension of all the oldschool Super Robot shows, of course.
- Most classic super robot shows (or any new show trying to emulate them) will feature songs that describe anything from the robot's weapons to their battles, often overlapping with Bragging Theme Tune. For example:
- Mazinger Z: "An iron castle rises in the sky. It is the Super Robot Mazinger-Z."
- Great Mazinger: "I am great! I am Great Mazinger!"
- UFO Robo Grendizer: "Come on, Come on, Duke Fleed! Fly, fly Grendizer! Across the land, the ocean and the blue sky! Joined for the peace, Keeping ourselves steady to protect everybody."
- Getter Robo: "Gan! Gan! Gan! Gan! Youth burns with a crimson fire! Getter Spark! Lightning up the skies! Behold! The transformation! Getter Robo!"
- Kotetsu Jeeg: "Just you watch, the Haniwa Phantoms will be completely destroyed. Run forth, Banban Baban! Big Shooter, swifter than the wind. Build up!"
- Raideen: "The Radiant Skies, the sparkling oceans. There is no way, I would let them fall into the hands of demons!"
- Combattler V: Its song names several of the weapons it has "Choudenji YOYO! Choudenji TA-TSU-MA-KI!!choudenji SPIN!!" while showing them on screen.
- Voltes V: Right like Voltes' song does. And the closing theme tune talks about how the Go brothers are searching for their missing father.
- Daimos: "Beat them, beat them, as long as you have strength. Show them your karate." And the closing credits tune narrates Star-Crossed Lovers Erika and Kazuya love story.
- Zambot 3: "Three mechas unite as one. Our justice in the shape of a giant robot. It's name is Zambot 3!"
- Daitarn 3: "Come here, Daitarn 3, Daitarn 3! Take the sun's radiance into your chest."
- Eon Kid: "One day Marty found a fist / He put it on around his wrist... Joining Marty on his quest / Ally, a mysterious guest..."
- The English dub of Rave Master takes this to the extreme with a theme song by Reel Big Fish so fast with so much information it's hard to keep up.
- The Pokémon US dubs do this to various degrees.
- "I wanna be the very best! Like no one ever was!/To catch them all is my real test/TO TRAIN THEM IS MY CAUSE!/Pokémon, Gotta catch em all!/It's you and me/You know it's my destiny!/Pokémon!/Ooooh, you're my best friend/In a world we must defend!/Pokémon, gotta catch em all/A heart so true/Our courage will pull us through/You teach me and I'll teach you/Pooo-keeee-moooonnnnn!/Gotta catch em all, gotta catch em all, POKEMON!"
- And who could forget the opening to the original Pokémon Chronicles (Raikou, Legend of Thunder in Japan)? The opening sounds like a freaking advertisement when the announcer reads, "Old friends! New adventures! Never-before-seen stories from the world of Pokémon!"
- Just the US dub? Japan does it too y'know. The title of the Japanese season 1 opening outright translates as "Aim to be a Pokémon Master".
- "Kirby, Kirby, Kirby, that's the name you should know, Kirby, Kirby, Kirby, he's the star of the show..."
- The Nerima Daikon Brothers opening has shades of this, but the English dub cranks it up a notch.
- The English dub of Amazing Three. "Spacemen with a mission, you must make a very big decision..."
- The English dub of Sailor Moon has a song about the title character "Fighting Evil by Moonlight" and "Winning love by daylight". It matches up... for the first season. Between having found her true love, her powers no longer being "new", and any Senshi that shows up after the first arc being left out... The original didn't have this and the song was more about love—specifically finding your true love (or "Miracle Romance").
- Anime Theme Songs are rarely directly related to their shows. English dubs for children's TV tend to invoke this trope more often.
- The (undubbed) 5th season, replaces the standard opening theme, "Moonlight Densetsu", with "Sailor Star Song", which was written just for the show (the lyrics were actually written by the Mangaka of the original manga) but still isn't really this.
- The dub of Ultimate Muscle had a quite catchy, but blatantly expository one. It manages to be less of a Spoiler Opening than the Japanese one, due to the increased speed of the animation making it more difficult to pick out all the characters shown.
- "Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhh / Searchin' for the Ci....ties of Gooooooold / Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh / Someday we will find... the Cities of Gold."
- Maximum the Hormone and their songs What's Up People? and Zetsubou Billy for Death Note.
- "Cardcaptors, a mystic adventure, Cardcaptors, a quest for all time, Cardcaptors... Cardcaptors." What was the name of the series again?
- Bludgeoning Angel Dokurochan
- The English dub of Monster Rancher. "I was transported / to a faraway land / in a world where monsters rule. I played the game like an ace / now we're in this place / to save the monsters from the evil Moo."
- How can anyone over 30 forget "We're off to outer space/We're leaving Mother Earth/To save the human race/OUR STARBLAZERS!"
- The theme to the English dubbed version of 8 Man combined this trope and Never Trust a Trailer, as the theme and (American animated) opening sequence described 8th Man fighting aliens (which he never does) and flying (which he can't do).
- Ulysses 31: "Ulysses! Ulysses! Soaring through all the galaxies! In search of earth, flying into the night!"
- Digimon Adventure, while being one of the better dubs in existence, suffers from a particularly repetitive, if kind of catchy, theme song.
- Digimon Frontier on the other hand, has a more vagueish, yet still quite expository theme.
Look to the past/As we head to the future/To reclaim the Digital World/With faith in ourselves/And trust in each other/We live by the lessons we've learned/As we work toward one solution/Though our Spirit Evolution/Digimon!
- The abortive Gundam spin-off Doozy Bots had one of these, which was as cheesy and So Bad It's Good as the series itself nearly was.
- Dragon Ball GT's original dub opening. "Step into the Grand Tour, Grand Tour, Grand Tour..."
- Parody: Lost doesn't have a Theme Tune, so the guys at Weebl and Bob made one for them. See it Titles here. It's awesome.
- Saturday Morning Watchmen. As an added bonus, every character's description either takes a Lighter and Softer approach to their personality and/or actions in the comic, or completely turns it on its head:
- Rorschach, the Sociopathic Hero, is "nutty", making him the comic relief. Also, he befriends the dogs that he kills in the comic book.
- The Comedian is Silk Spectre's Stalker with a Crush, when in the comic he attempted to rape her, only to be stopped by Hooded Justice.
- "Doc" retains his shapeshifting abilities, as well as his ability to give people cancer, but he does it on purpose.
- Ozymandias, the genius, is a Scooby Doo style detective, with Bubastis as his Talking Animal sidekick.
- Each chapter of The Gift has a song's title, that is either a pun on the action within it, or whose song describes a similar situation. Also, All the songs in each section are of a similar style (e.g. gospel hymns in Section one), or are by the same artist (Section four is all U2 songs, and covers Sunday).
Films -- Live Action
When there's something strange
In your neighborhood
Who you gonna call? GHOSTBUSTERS!
When there's something weird
And it don't look good
Who you gonna call? GHOSTBUSTERS!
- The Guns of Navarone and Gun Fight at OK Corral, both composed by Dimitri Tiomkin.
- Expository Theme Tunes for movies were common in the 1950s, very rare nowadays. The most famous is undoubtedly "Do Not Forsake Me, Oh My Darlin'" from the classic western High Noon by Dimitri Tiomkin (again) and Ned Washington, which lays out the hero's motivation and objectives while appealing to his wife to stay with him in spite of what he's about to face. Despite the line "look at that big hand move along nearin' high noon," it can hardly be called a Title Theme Tune.
- The movie High Society features an opening song explaining the premise sung by Louis Armstrong.
- Night Watch movie adaptation had an expository theme tune in the end, summarizing the entire movie in a humorous pseudo-rap. For some reason, the international version omits it.
- The song at the beginning of the third Pirates of the Caribbean movie gives the back story in a symbolic form. This provides replay value: you already have to know things revealed later in the movie to have a chance of getting it.
- Attack of the Killer Tomatoes is a borderline example. The theme tune doesn't so much exposit as continue the joke. Return of the Killer Tomatoes is a more clear-cut example, stating outright that this is a sequel. "The theme song still remains the same/the plot itself has hardly changed..."
- In Baseketball, Trey Parker's character turns on the radio and listens to a song that describes his situation in absurd detail.
- "Look out ahead, there's a truck changing lanes/You've got some yellow crumbs on your upper lip..."
- "Here come the Men in Black": Will Smith made rap songs for both MIB and MIIB. They're identical in concept to ETTs, except played over the closing credits.
- The theme song of Maniac Cop 2 is an Expository Theme Rap Song, explaining the premise of the series.
- Three Amigos
One for each other and all for one
The Three brave Amigos are we
Brother to Brother and everyone
A brave amigo
Wherever they need us, our destinies lead us
Amigos we're always together
Wherever we go we're three brave amigos
And we'll be amigos forever
We are the Three Amigos
We are the Three A-migos
We are the Three Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa-migos!
And Amigos forever we'll be!
"dum dum dum dum dum dum dum dum
FLASH! -- AAAAA!
Saviour of the universe!
dum dum dum dum dum dum dum dum
FLASH! -- AAAAA!
He's a miracle!
dum dum dum dum dum dum
FLASH! -- AAAA!
King of the impossible!
He'll save every one of us
Stand for every one of us
He'll save with a mighty hand
Every man, every woman, every child
With a mighty flash!
- If you're living in a bubble and you don't have a care/Then, you're in for trouble, cause we're gonna steal your air!/Cause what you got is what we need/And all we do is dirty deeds/We're the Spaceballs!/Watch out, we're the Spaceballs!
- Yor's from Yor, the Hunter from the Future.
- Tom Lehrer felt this was what Oedipus Rex was missing, so he wrote one.
- Parodied by "Weird Al" Yankovic, in Spy Hard both the opening and ending songs. "The name of this movie's Spy Hard" ... "You've just watched Spy Hard."
- The children's horror series Vampirates has a theme tune of sorts. It's on the back of the book, and characters sing it in story. It describes the title creatures.
Live Action TV
- The Brady Bunch ("Here's the story of a lovely lady...")
- Charles in Charge of our days, and our nights. Charles in Charge of our wrongs, and our rights. And I see I want, I want, Charles in Charge of me!
- The Beverly Hillbillies ("...So they loaded up the truck and moved to Beverly. Hills, that is. Swimmin' pools, movies stars...")
- Interestingly enough, though, the story recounted in the theme song is actually incorrect; it states that Jed found oil while shooting at food, while the first episode of the series shows us that Jed always knew there was oil on his land, he just didn't know it was worth any money. He was actually willing to pay the man from the oil company to take the oil away for him.
- Paul Henning, who created The Beverly Hillbillies, also used expository theme songs for the other CBS rural comedies he produced in the mid-1960s. To wit:
- The Patty Duke Show
Meet Cathy, who's lived most everywhere
From Zanzibar to Berkeley Square
But Patty's only seen the sights
A gal can see from Brooklyn Heights
What a crazy pair...
- The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air (Subject to somewhat of an Internet fad -- "Now this is the story all about how / my life got flipped, turned upside-down..." )
- Gilligans Island ("...Five passengers set sail that day / For a three-hour tour / A three-hour tour...")
- The theme actually helped to get the show on the air in the first place! Sherwood Schwartz had trouble selling it to CBS because the head of the network thought it would be a pain explaining to everyone every week why they were on the island, so he wrote an opening song to get the point across. It worked, but because it was a calypso and the show was set in the Pacific, it was drastically changed for the series...
- The Nanny, in a deliberate retro spoof of 1960s shows ("... That's how she became The Nanny...")
- The Dukes of Hazzard—in the same vein as Animaniacs. ("Someday the mountain might get 'em but the law never will.")
- The Knight Rider intro explains who David Hasselhoff's Michael Night is. Arguably, it fits more in the Theme Tune Roll Call trope, except only one character is introduced.
- Small Wonder
- Where in the World Is Carmen Sandiego?? (PBS series)
- The Addams Family ("They're creepy and they're kooky / Mysterious and spooky..." -- * snap* , * snap* )
- One of the games in the American version of Whose Line Is It Anyway is based on this concept.
- Mystery Science Theater 3000 ("In the not-too-distant future, / next Sunday, A.D. / There was a guy named Joel / not too different from you or me..." Featuring a Lampshade Hanging with the MST3K Mantra.)
- The theme song to The Weird Al Show tells the long and convoluted story of how a very strange man came to get his own TV series ("Oh-h-h-h / This is a story 'bout a guy named Al / Who lived in the sewers with his hamster pal...").
- H.R. Pufnstuf ("But the boat belonged to a kooky old witch/Who had in mind the flute to snitch...")
- This was actually a common feature among Sid and Marty Krofft Productions shows.
- Including Lidsville ("Falling, falling, into the hat he fell ...")
- And Sigmund and The Sea Monsters ("There's nothin' like a day out on the beach / When all it does is ra-a-ain / You need somebody else to make / The sun come out again...")
- Electra Woman and Dyna-Girl
- Land of the Lost ("Marshall, Will and Holly / On a routine expedition...")
- It seems almost every TV show produced by Sid and Marty Krofft utilizes an expository theme tune, even the 1991 Land of the Lost revival did so, but using an early 1990s pop sound to it.
- Constantly parodied on Saturday Night Live. Theme tunes such as "Mr. Short-Term Memory," "It's Pat", and "The Girl with No Gaydar" always accompany the eponymous recurring sketches.
- Mighty Morphin Power Rangers ("Ahhh! After 10,000 years, I'm free! It's time to conquer Earth..." "Alpha, Rita's escaped! Recruit a team of teenagers with attitude!")
- Even more so in the full-length version of the song.
They've got a power and a force that you've never seen before
They've got the ability to morph and to even up the score
No one will ever take them down
The power lies on their si-i-i-i-i-i-iiiide...
- The short version of the song loses its exposition after the first season (and the first episode of the second).
- Power Rangers actually waffles back and forth with this quite a bit. Disregarding generalizations like "We'll protect the world," quite a few of them aren't (Dino Thunder, SPD, RPM) while a few (Zeo, Lost Galaxy, Operation Overdrive) do it quite heavily, with Operation Overdrive doing so GRATINGLY. Jungle Fury does this to such an extent as to render watching the actual show moot, as it basically gives everything away save the ending.
- The mostly dramatic (and certainly not a sitcom) Sea Change manages a pretty expository theme tune: "Don't want to live in the city/My friends tell me I'm changing". Complete with shots of the drive out of the city to the coast.
- F Troop
The end of the Civil War was near
When quite accidentally,
A hero who sneezed abruptly seized
Retreat and reversed it to victory...
- The first two seasons of Red Dwarf do this after the theme, which was disguised as a distress call describing the situation.
- The closing theme was originally meant to be an Expository Theme Tune referring to Lister's overall plan to settle on Fiji when they returned to Earth ("I want to lie, shipwrecked and comatose/Drinking fresh mango juice"). Since this was never mentioned after the first few episodes it's largely meaningless, something the composer is quite happy with.
- The theme to the McLean Stevenson sitcom Hello Larry is a hilariously clumsy attempt at this trope. It almost sounds like the producers just walked into the recording studio and handed the singer a copy of the pitch they gave the network, then told him to improvise a melody, change everything to second person and toss in some rhymes here and there. Not to mention the wonderfully narmish line "Portland is a long way from LA."
- Here Come the Double Deckers
- Parodied in The Misadventures of Sheriff Lobo whose theme song raves on about how brave and selfless the sheriff is (though we know he's actually greedy and incompetent) played over a montage of the disasters Lobo and his men cause. It ends with Sheriff Lobo, who's been striding down a line of deputies standing by their patrol cars, calling "Move 'em out!" whereupon they all drive off at the same time causing one big pile-up.
- Two and A Half Men played with this trope a little. Charlie was assigned to compose a theme song for the animated adaptation of a comic book called "Oshikuro, the Demon Samurai". But Charlie was only given a very vague description of the show, making his lyrics narrating an inaccurate version of the Samurai's characterization (besides sounding happy and campy like a theme song from a 1980s cartoon). The entire episode shows Jake trying to teach his uncle about the actual story of the comic book and how he should write the song. In the end, Charlie sent the new version of the song (which the viewers never hear), but the studio preferred the first happier and inaccurate version.
- Amusingly enough, Jake is furious with how horrible the campy intro is, but both Charlie and Alan enjoy it.
- Replace "Charlie" with "Muramaki-Wolf Animation", "Jake" with "Kevin Eastman" and "Alan" with "Peter Laird", and you have a real-life version of this story.
- The Smothers Brothers Show ("My brother dear was lost at sea / Without his water wings / So now he is an angel / And he does the most amazing things!")
- Space Cases ("Once upon a time at a school in outer space / There was a class of misfit kids from all around the place...")
- Mister Ed ("A horse is a horse, of course, of course...")
- Shameless may fit here, having one of the lead characters speak (as opposed to sing) over a basic tune, a la My Name Is Earl
- Most 1960s to late 1980s Tokusatsu had these types of themes to various levels. Some such as Fireman's OP only made smaller references such as to his henshin device, but others like most early Ultra themes hit you over the head with references to the show.
- The one season Bruce Campbell wonder, Jack of All Trades, was almost a throwback: "In 1801, the Revolution had been won, and Uncle Sam's favorite son, had a job he needed done..."
- One Foot in the Grave. The opening and closing themes sung by Eric Idle describe the main character, Victor Meldrew, quite well. ("It's true that my body has seen better days / But give me half a chance and I can still misbehave")
- Phil of the Future: "Meet a boy named Phil and his family, on vacation from the 22nd century..."
- Parodied by It's Garry Shandling's Show ("This is the theme to Garry's Show/The opening theme to Garry's show/Garry called me up and asked if I'd write his theme song/I'm almost halfway finished/How do you like it so far?/How do you like the theme to Garry's Show?/This is the theme to Garry's Show/The opening theme to Garry's show/This is the music that you hear as you watch the credits/We're almost to the part of where I start to whistle/Then we'll watch "It's Garry Shandling's Show"/This was the theme to Garry Shandling's show.")
- That's So Raven ("It's the future I can see / It's so mysterious to me...")
- Remote Control ("Kenny wasn't like the other kids...")
- Hannah Montana: "Who would have thought that a girl like me / would double as a superstar?"
- The Goodies had two sets of lyrics over the course of its run. The first set listed some of the services the Goodies might be able to provide (A circus or a seaside pier/A sausage or a can of beer,/A stripper or a clown/Prices going down/We can make it happen here). The second was a more generic description of the Goodies themselves (Here we come, into town/Gettin' up, fallin' down).
- Welcome to LazyTown / A place where you'll wanna stay / You'll meet Robbie with his Rotten plan / And Sportacus saving the day / Stephanie is new in town / And soon she and Ziggy are friends...
- Wonder Woman, Wonder Woman./ All the world's waiting for you,/ and the power you possess./ In your satin tights,/fighting for your rights/And the old Red, White, and Blue!
- Do, Do, Do, Do You Have It? GUTS!
- Sonny With a Chance's theme song starts off with "Off to the races; I'm going places; Might be a long shot; Not gonna waste it; This is the big break; And it's callin' my name"
- Forgotten sitcom Best Of The West.
- British Game Show Chain Letters explains the rules of the game for its Theme Song. The jingle between rounds also explains that whoever is currently in shot is the Winner So Far.
- The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis: "Dobie wants a gal who's dreamy..." The lyrics to this were by Max Shulman, who wrote the original stories.
- Why even bother watching the first episode of Beetleborgs? The theme song is basically a synopsis of the whole thing.
All but one man died
There at Bitter Creek
And they say he ran away!
Branded! Scorned as the one who ran.
What do you do when you're branded, and you know you're a man?
Wherever you go, for the rest of your life
You must prooooove you're a man.
They're gonna amp it up!
And kick some giga-butt!
They're gonna rip it up!
Our hero always makes the cut!
A 1928 Porter; That's my mother dear.
He'll get his degree; His phi beta key; and get them all for free; That's Hank!
Who's the leader of the club that's made for you and me? M-I-C K-E-Y M-O-U-S-E.
A fiery horse with the speed of light, a cloud of dust and a hearty 'Hi-Yo Silver!' The Lone Ranger. With his faithful companion Tonto, the daring and resourceful masked man of the plains led the fight for law and order in the early West. Return with us now to those thrilling days of yesteryear." The Lone Ranger rides again!
- Frasier's Ending Theme is technically something of an exposition describing the title character, but it's so meandering, oblique, and metaphorical that it barely counts.
And maybe I seem a bit confused / Well maybe, but I got you pegged!
Wake up Dick and Dom, and get out of bed
Get yourselves dressed, there's a crazy day ahead.
There's so many things to do and lots of people to meet
In Da Bungalow and on the street...
(Go Go Dick and Dom!)
- The short-lived 1981 sitcom Open All Night took this to its logical extreme by having a theme song that told the entire life story of the protagonist, from birth to the present day.
This is the story of Gordon Feester
Born in Ohio the day before Easter
Had a normal childhood, did OK in school
Graduated from Columbus High in 1962...
- "Hey, Hey, we're The Monkees / and people say we monkey around / but we're too busy singing / to put anybody down..." (also fits into the category above)
- Technically this trope but with no actual show to expose, "Theme Song" by The Aquabats! tells a rather intricate Backstory before mentioning that they're the Aquabats a few times.
- Similarly, "Cartoon Heroes" by Aqua is an expository theme of this type for a completely fictional TV show (the video does a good job of being the title sequence).
- "Captain Scarlet / He's the one who knows the Mysteron game / and things they plan" (for its end credits, the titles are a case of No Theme Tune, at least in English).
- Incorrect. The opening titles have spoken narration. The original closing theme was instrumental, but a group was later recruited to record a vocal version.
- God Hand also qualifies, although the song itself actually plays during the ending credits. ("Lost a limb/in a fight/but don't worry babe, I'll be cool/the ultimate/power of a god/is now my secret tool")
- Take a listen to "Still Alive", played at the end of the game Portal. This catchy, sweet-sounding, yet also slightly sinister song pretty-much sums up the plot of the game.
- Similarly, the theme to the spoof Flash platformer You Have to Burn the Rope tells you exactly what you just did.
- Then Portal 2 does the same thing with the song "Want You Gone". "So here we are again, it's always such a pleasure. Remember when you tried to kill me twice?"
- Call of Duty 4 does this in an incredibly hilarious fashion.
- At the very least, the intro song of Disgaea 3: Absence of Justice gives you all the information about the game's setting you need.
- Headdy the Hero in Dynamite Headdy qualifies as this.
- The Wonderful End of the World does this with the menu music.
- Brutal Legend shows you—via commercial -- how's it's done.
- In part, Chris Ballew's "Get Together" from Backyard Baseball 2007.
- Final Fantasy X for the song Otherworld. "An Other-world awaits you", "and you will fight, fight, fight... fight, fight, FIGHT", "Go now, into the sand and dust in the sky, go, for it is better to do than to die".
- Plants vs. Zombies. "There's a zombie on your lawn~"
- Persona 4 and its theme song for battles, Reach Out to the Truth, qualify for this trope. The entire game, for instance, is about seeing through the lies that cloud the truth from one's eyes, both self-imposed and those that cloud our view of others. Within the chorus, the lyrics include gems like "Oh god let me out / can you let me out / can you set me free from this dark inner world / Save me now, last beat in the soul". The majority of the game is about venturing into dungeons full of shadows - dark, repressed inner emotions given form - to save whichever character has been kidnapped that month.
- Alan Wake does this in the song "The Poet and The Muse", which tells basically the whole plot of the game. The song itself is even a MacGuffin!
- Parodied in I Maed A Gam3 W1th Z0mbies 1nit!!!1 The song is about, well, some guy making a game, putting zombies in it, and charging a dollar for it.
- Limozeen: but they're in space! from the Homestar Runner universe.
- Baman Piderman: "I'm Baman!" "I'm Piderman!" "I come over da house!" "WE'RE BEST FWIENDS!"
- WGJ4K "Mickey was a small time crook on the streets of NYC, he was stolen from the streets by an evil corporation called VGV, he is forced to write direct and star in a video game comedy show broadcasted in the net.."
- Cat Face: Cat Face, he's got a big cat's face, he's got the body of a cat, and the face of a cat, and he flies through the air, 'cause he's got a cat face, Cat Face!
- Making Fiends
- "Lee likes playing videogames/And when you really think about it, that's not really so strange/But you would wonder if it's why the man was put on this Earth/it's time to reevaluate how much a picture is worth/You can be informed and entertained/No need to explain, watch the review of a game/Lee is Still Gaming!/And I'm pretty sure that is something that won't ever change/Lee is Still Gaming/and it won't just as long as he lives/as long as there are games."
- The Angry Video Game Nerd: "He's gonna take you back to the past/To play the shitty games that suck ass..."
- The Doc Mock's Movie Mausoleum theme starts out this way, before switching over to heavy metal screaming of the title halfway through; "Doc! Mock's! Movie Mausoleum!"
- Atop the Fourth Wall has a theme song that lists off Linkara's name, possessions, and mission, along with some of the stuff he reviews.
- For his anniversary show, the extended version of the theme appeared, including a verse which focuses on Linkara's pet peeves ("They made Watchmen without the slimy squid") and At4W's supporting characters ("He'll have you know that's pretty low / But not like the standards of the 90's Kid")
- Marz Gurl counted down 10 of them from various studios.
- The Legend of Neil's theme song explains exactly how Neil ended up inside the game, then has a very hurried follow-up summarising events up to the beginning of the episode.
- Making Fiends
- As Marz Gurl mentions in her top 10 list of expository theme songs to animated shows, Disney has a bad habit of doing this.
- DuckTales (1987): "Every day they're out there making duck tales! A-Woo-ooh!"
- Chip 'n Dale Rescue Rangers: "Some times some crimes/Are slipping through the cracks/But these two gumshoes/Are picking up the slack"
- Darkwing Duck: "Darkwing Duck! When there's trouble, you call DW! Darkwing Duck! Let's Get Dangerous!"
- Bonkers, according to MarzGurl, takes the cake in Disney's repertoire.
- Pepper Ann: "Who's that girl? What's her name? Is she cool? Is she lame? Oh, you're talkin' 'bout what's-her-name..."
- Hercules: The Series (which itself is a shortened rewrite of a song from the movie)
- The Weekenders
- Kim Possible: "I'm your basic, average girl/And I'm here to save the world..."
- Dave the Barbarian: "Dave the Barbarian/Huge but a wimp/His sisters Fang and Candy/Are a princess and a chimp..." "NOT A MONKEY!!"
- Brandy and Mr. Whiskers: "Who's a little like water and oil?/Brandy and Mr. Whiskers/What's in the kettle and ready to boil?/Brandy and Mr. Whiskers"
- The Replacements, although this is arguably necessary as the premise of the show isn't actually explained anywhere else.
- Phineas and Ferb "As you can see, there's a whole lot of stuff to do before school starts this fall..."
- Likewise, Warner Bros Animation tended to do it a lot as well.
- Tiny Toon Adventures: "At Acme Looniversity we earn our Toon degree!"
- The Plucky Duck Show, the short-lived spin-off of Tiny Toon Adventures, likewise has a long tell-'em-everything theme song. "The writers ... are hackers / The artists all went crackers / The actors ... are yakkers / But don't complain -- it's free!"
- Animaniacs: "... But we break loose and then vamoose, and now you know the plot!"
- "They're Pinky and The Brain! Yes, Pinky and the Brain! One is a genius, the other's insane! To prove their mouse-y worth, they'll overthrow the earth! They're dinky, they're Pinky and the Brain, Brain, Brain, Brain, Brain!"
- "They're Mindy and the Brain, Mindy and the Brain. One's a small child, the other is... the Brain."'
- Freakazoid!!: "Check out Dexter Douglas / Nerd computer ace / Was surfing on the Internet / And got zapped to cyberspace / He turned into the Freakazoid..."
- "The Huntsman" segments of F! parodied this by having the theme tune take longer than the actual episodes.
- Histeria!: "We're gonna make fun of history!"
- "Duck Dodgers of the 24th and one-half century! Defending the powerless and the weak!"
- Tiny Toon Adventures: "At Acme Looniversity we earn our Toon degree!"
- "Thundercats are on the move!/Thundercats are loose!/Feel the magic, hear the roar!/Thundercats are loose!/THUNDER-THUNDER-THUNDER-Thundercats!/THUNDER-THUNDER-THUNDER-Thundercats!"
- Felix the Cat.
- Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 1987: "When the evil Shredder attacks, These turtle boys don't cut him no slack!" and "Turtles / Ninjitsu action / Turtles / It's a shell of a town!"
- Also both of the direct sequels to the 2000 series, Fast Forward and Back to the Sewer, have this.
- Danny Phantom: "Yo Danny Fenton he was just fourteen/when his parents built a very strange machine..."—neatly saving the producers from having to force the audience to sit through a tedious getting-his-powers episode at all.
- Clone High: "Way way back in the 1980s / secret government employees / Dug up famous guys and ladies / and made amusing genetic copies..."
- Aqua Teen Hunger Force is a subversion of this: the hip-hop style Theme Tune introduces the main characters, but doesn't match the theme of the show, nor do the lyrics accurately describe them.
- James Bond Jr (abysmal cartoon about Bond's nephew): "... he learned the game from his uncle James..."
- Jane and the Dragon includes a theme song that helpfully explains that the show will be about Jane. And a dragon.
- George of the Jungle, one of the most addictive of these tunes. The song served for both the animated series and the movies.
George, George, George of the Jungle!
Strong as he can be! (AAAAAAAHHHHH!!!!)
Watch Out for That Tree!
George, George, George of the Jungle!
Lives a life that's free! (AAAAAAAHHHHH!!!!)
Watch out for that tree!
When he gets in a scrape
He makes his escape
With the help of his friend
An ape named Ape
Then away he'll schlep
On his elephant Shep
While Fella and Ursula stay in step
George, George, George of the Jungle!
Friend to you and me! (AAAAAAAHHHHH!!!!)
Watch out for that tree!
Watch out for that (AAAAAAAHHHHH!!!!) tree!
George, George, George of the Jungle!
Friend to you and me!
- The other segments in the show had 'em too—complete with catch phrases—for Tom Slick and Super Chicken.
- Teen Titans: "When there's trouble you know who to call/Teen Titans!"
- SpongeBob SquarePants
Who lives in a pineapple under the sea?
Absorbent and yellow and porous is he!
- Galaxy High has an expository theme tune... but the words can hardly be heard through the vocoder.
Doyle was a high school star
everybody thought he'd go real far
but he didn't care a thing about the classes he took
you know he just wasn't interested in his books
Aimee was the smartest girl in school
Not very popular, not very cool
Two kids will be chosen from Earth to go to school at Galaxy High...
- The theme song of the animated Space Western Bravestarr is a rhymed, spoken narration that explains the show's premise ("In a distant time and faraway place/The planet New Texas floats deep in space...")
- "Into these worlds of unknown danger they ride / They're the Galaxy Rangers, heroes in the sky / No guts, no glory!..."
- "Now he's got superpowers, he's no ordinary kid, he's Ben 10!"
- Billy the Cat
Now he lives on the street...
Billy the Cat, in trouble every day
Billy the Cat, not just another stray..."
- Stargate Infinity: "Built by Ancients so long ago, the Stargate lay till we broke the code..."
- Sonic Underground: "Triplets born, the throne awaits/A seer warns of a deadly fate..."
- Spider-Man got a really memorable one in the 1960s show:
Does whatever a spider can!
Spins a web, any size! Catches thieves, just like flies!
Look out! Here comes the Spider-Man!
Is he strong? Listen, bud
He's got radioactive blood!
Can he swing from a thread? Take a look overhead!
Hey there, there goes the Spider-Man!
In the chill of the night
At the scene of a crime
Like a streeeeeaaaaak of light, here he arrives, just in time!
Friendly neighborhood Spider-Man
Wealth and fame, he's ignored
Action is his reward!
To him, life is great big bang up!
Whenever there's a hang up
You'll find the Spider-Maaaaaaan!
- The Spectacular Spider-Man got a particularly awesome one:
Livin' on the edge
Swinging from the highest ledge
He can leap above our heads
Villains on the rise
And the city's victimised
Leapin' up with no surprise
Arrivin' in the speed of time.
- The barely-animated Marvel Super Heroes cartoons of 1967 had Expository Theme Tunes for each of its heroes.
- "Tony Stark makes you feel/He's a cool exec with a heart of steel..."
- "Doc Bruce Banner/Pelted by Gamma Rays/ changes to the Hulk/Ain't he unglamorous?" They actually manage to ALMOST make "Gamma" rhyme with "Banner", while making "unglamorous" rhyme with "Gamma Rays" at the same time.
- "When Captain America (comics) throws his mighty shield/All those who chose to oppose his shield must yield!"
- "'Cross the rainbow bridge of Asgard/Where the booming heavens roar/You'll behold in breathless wonder/The God of Thunder, Miiiiighty Thor!"
- Iron Man: Armored Adventures features this.
He's a man on a mission, in armour of high tech ammunition. Trapped on the edge of an endless game, his teenage life will never be the same, in a dangerous world he does all he can he's Iron Maaaaaaan! Iron Maaaan!
- The Adventures of T Rex: "Across Rep City, Big Boss and his crew has dinosaurs reaching for the stars/the boys pay their respect and put the Corporation back behind bars."
- Hammerman describes the entire premise of the show in painstaking detail.
- Hammerman, Hammerman, does whatever a hammer can...
- A sub-trope of this would be the verse reserved for the villain(s) to exposit their role(s) in the show. Many '80s cartoons had this.
- From the Jem theme song: "But we're the Misfits/Our songs are better/We are the Misfits, the Misfits/And we're gonna get 'er!"
- From the theme song to (The All-New) Pound Puppies: "You Pound Puppies!/I hate them, yes I do/Eww, Pound Puppies!/They're yuckity, ickity-poo!/I'll capture every pup/then I'll lock 'em all up/You Pound Puppies! Your rebel days are through!"
- Also shows up in the theme song to Channel Umptee-3: "The world belongs in a box!"
- The theme song of the Stunt Dawgs introduced all characters, heroes and villains: "We are the Stunt Scabs and this is our show/We are the Stunt Scabs, oh no!"
- Since it's actually named after the villains, the Green Aesop-filled The Smoggies takes the unusual step of giving them the first verse, relegating the heroes, the Suntots, to the second.
- To a certain extent, Transformers: "Transformers, More Than Meets the Eye /Transformers, robots in disguise"
- "Autobots wage their battles to destroy the evil forces of the Decepticons" also kind of sums up part of the plot.
- The 1986 Transformers animated movie also has an extended version of theme, which uses the TV theme as the chorus, played over the end credits that largely sums up the plot of the movie.
- The Australian animated series The Adventures of Blinky Bill had a theme tune which informed viewers of the show's premise. Given that it had long story arcs, this was a very good idea.
- The Fairly OddParents: "Timmy is an average kid, that no-one understands/Mom and Dad and Vicky always giving him commands..."
- "Whenever Eric eats a banana an amazing transformation occurs... Eric is Banana Man."
- The Nightmare Fuel-laden opening theme to Count Duckula.
- "Your backyard friends, The Backyardigans..." What's worse, the main characters sing the song themselves.
- Huntik Secrets and Seekers: "...There's a secret lost in time. There's an ancient story. One for all and all for one. Fighting for the glory..."
- Mummies Alive: "A little boy named Prestley found a secret out this year / that he was once a Pharaoh when Egyptians ruled the world / and now some sorcerer called Scarab tries to get 'im day and night / But Prestley has 4 guardians to protect his very life!"
- Cow and Chicken: "Momma had a chicken / Momma had a cow / Dad was proud, he didn't care how!"
- Dexters Laboratory (closing credits): "In Dexter's laboratory / Lives the smartest boy you've ever seen..."
- "Captain Planet and the Planeteers, he's our hero, gonna take pollution down to zero!/He's our powers, magnified/And he's fighting for the planet's side!/Captain Planet, he's our hero, gonna take pollution down to zero!/Gonna help us, put asunder, bad guys who like to/Loot and plunder!"
- Played for laughs on The Simpsons episode "The Simpsons Spin-Off Showcase" with "The Lovematic Grandpa" (a parody of My Mother the Car): "While shopping for some cans, an old man passed away/He started up for Heaven but he got lost upon the way/Now he's The Lovematic Grandpa..."
- Don't forget the Flintstones parody.
Homer: Simpson/Homer Simpson/He's the greatest guy in his-tor-y/From the/Town of Springfield/He's about to hit a chestnut tree~/AAAAHHH!
- Carl Squared: "One night I was in my room,/Surfin' online like I always do/Found a way to be so much more,/With a drop of DNA my clone was born!/I'm stuck with myself again, my clone is my new best friend. Carl squared/Freaks of a feather, now and forever. Carl squared./He may walk and talk like me but don't believe everything you see!/Nanananana Nanananana./He's my clone, CARL squared!"
- Around the World with Willy Fog, an Animated Adaptation with animals of Around the World in 80 Days: "Fog, I'm the one who made the bet, and I know we'll be exactly right on time... Round, all around the world, round, all around the world."
- Super Robot Monkey Team Hyperforce Go!, complete with an Intro Dump of the titular Monkey Team including Chiro.
- "Earthworm Jim! Through the soil he did crawl! Earthworm Jim! A super suit did fall!"
- Big Guy and Rusty The Boy Robot: "...Clobbering evil entities, with Rusty at his heel, The boy robot lives his dream, To be a legend in history, The Big Guy and Rusty!"
- Despite pretty much playing this trope straight, the theme song also cleverly subverted it by leaving out a VERY important plot detail as to the true nature of one of the title characters.
- Sushi Pack: "They're very, very strong, but only two inches long, the super hero sushis that are sitting on my plate!"
- Even one-shot Merchandise-Driven pilots can have these. PJ Sparkles: "She closed her eyes and made a wish for people to love and care for, and in a beautiful blinding light, she got everything she asked for!"
- "It's G.I. Joe against Cobra, the enemy... GI Joe is there, GI Joe!/Real American hero, GI Joe is there!"
- Megas XLR: "Living here in Jersey/Fighting villains from afar/You gotta find first gear/In your giant robot car..." And then it becomes an anthem for giant robots.
- American Dragon: Jake Long has one. "He's gonna stop his enemies with his dragon power..."
- Not only that, but they also parody it one episode, where Spud is daydreaming that he's on a sitcom with his crush, the cheerleader Stacy. Although the song is cut off in the middle, you still get a fairly good idea of what the 'show' would have been like: "She's perky/ He's Quirky..."
- Both the 1970s and 2000s version of Simon in the Land of Chalk Drawings have one of these:
- "Well you know my name is Simon/And the things I draw come true..."
- "C'mon, my name is Simon and I'm inviting you/Into a world that's hard to believe but it's absolutely true/From my imagination, what I draw comes true."
- "Fighting crime, trying to save the world, here they come just in time, The Powerpuff Girls..."
- The first season of the 1994-1996 Fantastic Four series was hit-you-over-the-head with this, detailing the team's origin and each of the Four's powers. The second season, with the shift in appearance, switched to an upbeat, more dramatic instrumental theme.
- "On an outer space adventure/They got hit by cosmic rays/And the Four were changed forever/In some most Fantastic ways/No need to fear they're here/Just call for four/Fantastic Four/Don't need no more/Reed Richards is elastic/Sue can fade from sight/Johnny is the Human Torch/The Thing just loves to fight..."
- So many: The Funky Phantom was always one of the better ones. "We were cold and soaking wet, and lost out in a storm: we ran inside this spooky house just hoping to get warm - the dusty clock said half past six, we knew that it was wrong! But when we set the hands to twelve, the clock began to BONGG..."
- Cro, one of the few theme songs to admit, however euphemistically, that most of the characters had been dead since the late Stone Age and were being remembered by a Talking Mammoth Popsicle.
- Cro was a smart boy, he had a lot on the ball. But the family that took him in was total Neanderthal.
- Conan the Adventurer, in between Badass Boasts about Conan's fearlessness and mightiness, explains that Conan's quest is to undo the "Spell of Living Stone" cast on his family by driving the Serpentmen back into the Abyss and defeating their leader, the Evil Sorcerer Wrath-amon.
- Word Girl had a theme song about the characters of the show and such.
- "He's a Superdog / He's a Superhero / He came to Earth from outer space / And his name is Krypto the Superdog."
- "Wings of silver, nerves of steel!/Silverhawks !/Partly real, partly steel!/Silverhawks!"
- Emmy wished on a dragon scale/And that's what started Dragon Tales/Around the room the dragons flew/But Emmy and Max knew what to do/They climbed on the backs of their dragon friends/Now the adventures never end!
- "Water, fire, earth and air, Guardians Unite!/We are, we are, we are, W.I.T.C.H.!/We are, we are, we are, W.I.T.C.H.!"
- "BUCKY! Captain Bucky O' Hare! Mutants, and aliens, and toads beware!" It is so catchy!
- "My name is Ziv Zulander ZZ for short, you know I fight the Corp I'm The BOTS Master!" This one and the one just above, was I the only kid growing up in the early Nineties?
- "FLINTSTONES!/Meet the Flintstones!/They're the modern stone age family!/From the town of Bedrock, they're a page right out of history!"
- "Scooby-dooby-doo/Here are you!/You're ready and you're willing/If we can count on you, Scooby Doo/I know we'll catch that villain"
- "I'm Popeye the Sailor Man/Popeye the Sailor Man/I'm strong to the finish/Cause I eat me spinach/I'm Popeye the Sailor Man!"
- Potatoes and Dragons: "Long ago in Potato Land/There was a king noble and grand/Some revered him/Others did fear him/One there to jeer him/A dragon not a man!/Hey-ho away we go/Get the dragon..."
- Braceface/My life is complicated/Boyfriend!/Don't wanna talk about it/Teenage!/I'll work it out in the end/Braceface!.
- CatDog: "One fine day with a woof and a purr..."
- Super Ted: Quite abrasive. "This is a story about an ordinary Teddy Bear. When he was made, they found something wrong with him, and threw him away, like a piece of rubbish. Then, from outer space, a spotty man brought him to life with magic dust..." etc. Narrated by a former Dalek operator.
- Australian cartoon series Arthur and the Square Knights of the Round Table:
Arthur! The king of Camelot
He's a ring-a-ding-a-ling of a king;
Arthur! He likes to joust a lot
And he really makes the kingdom swing.
Dragons run from Arthur's lance
And the Black Knight hasn't a chance;
If you're in trouble send a cable
To the hero of our fable
That's just "Arthur of Camelot"!
He took the sword from the stone and made a table round,
He took the bravest knights and sat them around;
Then all of Camelot knew they really had a king
Who's a king of the people, not any old thing.
Arthur! That's what the maidens call
Whenever they're lost or in distress;
If you're locked up in a tower
He does rescues by the hour,
He's our rip-a rayin', dragon slayin', armour-plated king;
That's Arthur! Arthur! We know an Arthur!
King of Camelot!
- Muppet Babies, we make our dreams come true!/Muppet Babies, we'll do the same for you!/When your world looks kinda weird and you wish that you weren't there/Just close your eyes and make believe and you can be anywhere!
- Super fighting robot!/WesternAnimation/MegaMan!/Super fighting robot!/Mega Man!
- Street Sharks: They bite, they fight/They stand for everything right/They bite, they fight/Chewin' up evil with all of their might!
- Spoofed on Family Guy with Peter's Stylistic Suck Show Within a Show "Handiquacks": One day, 3 Ducks were crossing the road/Goin' to get some soda/But they weren't looking where they were goin'/And the bus came along and hit them all./Now they're handicapped and. . .an...an... No . . ./ that's pretty much it!/ Handi-Quacks!/And they never got their Sodaaaaaaaaa!
- The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron: A kid with a knack for invention/ With a superpowered mind, a mechanical canine/ Rescues the day from sure destruction/ This is the theme song for Jimmy Neutron
- Here Comes the Grump:
In a magic place
There's a princess caught in a chase
But no matter how fast she goes, right on her heels and toes
Here comes the Grump! Here comes the Grump! Here comes the Grump!
On a tiny little island in the ocean called Pacific
There's a mixed-up group of creatures who are really quite horrific
Stitched together with whatever crap was found or could be grabbed
Re-invented in the bowels of a lab
Spliced! They have all been spliced
Half baked and diced
By some crazy doctor
Who went vamoose
And now you'll pay the price -- They evolved
Bits of hippo, chunks of llama
Swap the hind legs for an udder
Splice a parakeet with donkey feet
And season it with butter
It's no ordinary island; do we have to say it twice?
It's no ordinary island 'cause they're spliced, spliced, spliced!
- Spiral Zone: Darkness has fallen on the victims of the zone./Our world calls for courage/Peace and freedom we must own.
- From the Animated Adaptation of Anne of Green Gables: "Once upon an orphanage, my life was in near tragic state/I longed to find a brighter place, somewhere full of love and grace/I dreamed of fields with a cool ocean breeze, a home for my own family/When I got my wish, I pinched myself to make sure this home was real."
- The Oblongs:
Down in the Valley where the chemical spill
Came from a family living up on a hill
There's a family by a landfill with hazardous foam
In their happy glowing home!
- Do fake products count? If so, an in-universe example comes from The Ren and Stimpy Show: It's lo[[og]/ It's lo]]og/ It's big, it's heavy it's wood....
- My Life as a Teenage Robot
Five o'clock, get a call to go blading at the skate park down by the mall
But my mom says I got to prevent evil aliens from annihilating us all
With the strength of a billion and seventy men I guess I really shouldn't complain
Though I wish I could go for a walk without rusting in the rain.
- The second verse from the theme of King Leonardo and His Short Subjects is expository:
Good King Leonardo has his enemies,
Biggy with his pistols, and Itchy with his fleas!
They plot against the kingdom to overthrow the king,
Looks like Leonardo has had his royal fling
But Odie-o Cologne steps in to change the play
That loyal skunk with skill and spunk comes through to save the day!
- The opening to the theme of the Punky Brewster cartoon:
I went to the end of a rainbow's eye,
There wasn't any pot of gold,
And there I found a new friend who's two feet tall
One hundred and four years old,
Glomer is an orphan, he was left behind
And a lot like Punky, he's one of a kind.
- Not only did the Australian series adaptation of Around the World in Eighty Days have the opening title explain the premise without singing ("So, Phineas Fogg, you want to marry me daughter?... Then prove yerself worthy! Travel around the world in eighty days!") but they had it in the lyrics of the theme song:
Around the world in eighty days (Passepartout)
So Fogg can marry Belinda Maze (Passepartout)!