2015 might be remembered as the year TV finally began to put some real distance between itself and its cinematic competition. On any night, you can witness hard-boiled dramas, heady sci-fi, colorful superhero tales and sharp comedies, all without paying exorbitant ticket prices or leaving the safe confines of your couch.

It's easy to see the leaps the medium has made in terms of plots and character, but the truth is that every aspect of the TV industry has stepped up its game. Cinematography, editing and overall direction not only rival what you see on the big screen, but in many cases, TV talent is pushing the boundaries well beyond their movie industry contemporaries.

Those boundaries aren't just being pushed on the script or in front of the camera, either. One of the ways television has distinguished itself in recent years has been the drastic improvement in flashy, moody and downright beautiful opening credit sequences.

What used to be an afterthought for a TV show is now an important part of its mystique, so much so that the release of a show's opening credit sequence on YouTube has become an anticipated event for loyal followers. It's not uncommon for these credits to be dissected by fans over and over in hopes of finding clues about a show's character or the plot.

These intros don't just set the mood; they're works of art on their own. And in a binge culture where you might see the same intro a half dozen times before lunch, it's important to create sequences that you can watch over and over and still find mesmerizing.

There were plenty of eye-catching title sequences to choose from, but I decided to narrow it all down to shows that either premiered this year, or at least premiered a new opening sequence in 2015.

The Leftovers


Created by: Elastic

The second season of HBO's The Leftovers finally became the show everyone hoped it would be from the beginning, and the network signaled this change in direction with a new, wildly unexpected opening credit sequence.

Where the debut season relied on a dour theme set to religious imagery, season 2 featured Iris DeMent's much more uplifting song "Let the Mystery Be" playing on top of a slideshow of photos with the holes left behind by people who went missing during the "Sudden Departure." The juxtaposition of the song and the haunting photos perfectly captures the show's take on the remains of humanity.

Jessica Jones


Created by: Imaginary Forces

It's not feasible for a TV show to attempt to capture the visual splendor of a superhero comic, but opening credits are the perfect place to bring that style from the page to the screen. Jessica Jones' sequence brings in the original comic book's cover artist David Mack to replicate his lush paintings for the show, bringing gritty beauty to the screen in a way that live-action just can't manage.

The vibrant colors and illustrated cityscapes set the mood, while the show's understated theme song plays into Jessica Jones' noir flavor. It all gels into a complete package that calls back to classic crime dramas from decades past, but with a decidedly modern (and quintessentially Marvel) twist.

Daredevil


Created by: Elastic

Where Jessica Jones succeeds at bringing the comic book flare to the show's opening credits, Daredevil's title sequence works by folding all of the show's themes, conflicts and mood into a tight minute-long window.

With a somber tune playing over visuals of bloody liquid cascading down Lady Justice, iconic New York landmarks and Daredevil himself, you instantly know this will be a series where the morality of an entire city is at stake. Everything Daredevil embodies is right in this sequence in all its tragic beauty.

True Detective


Created by: Elastic

Let's forget for a moment that True Detective's second season played out like a bargain brand Raymond Chandler novel, because beneath the deadbeat plot and one-note characters is a pretty memorable opening title sequence.

Set to Leonard Cohen's "Nevermind," this intro is an odyssey through swirling colors, translucent silhouettes and a circulatory system of California highways. Though the sequence does little to explain the show's impenetrable story, it does get the adrenaline pumping for what's to come — it's just a shame what's to come doesn't live up to this intro.

iZombie


Created by: Mike Allred

While Jessica Jones brought in artist David Mack to retain the grit and grime from the source material, iZombie uses the original comic book's creator, Mike Allred, to lend a classic, pop-art look to its credits. The comic book intro tells the viewer everything they need to know about the show's premise, all while bringing a distinct style to the screen, letting even noncomic junkies know the roots behind the show.

Allred's pop-art sensibilities give the intro life (pun intended), while "Stop, I'm Already Dead" by Deadboy & The Elephantmen drives the whole thing forward with pounding percussion and crunching guitars. It almost makes you wish for the day we see an entire show in prime time done in this comic-book style.

Man Seeking Woman


Created by: Digital Kitchen

Digital Kitchen is best known for bringing a little blood and gore into title sequences for True Blood and Dexter, but for Man Seeking Woman, it put together something much more lively. In this animated sequence, we see an array of images — like monsters, aliens, ray guns, hearts, smiling condoms — all arranged in a sharp grid, set to the song "Reconstruct" by Photay.

The animation may seem simple, but Digital Kitchen infuses it with enough energy and personality to make it easily watchable over and over. The constantly-shifting grids give it all a fluid motion, and the illustrations in them all hint at the absurdity going on in show creator Simon Rich's mind.

The Man In The High Castle


Created by: Elastic

The Man in the High Castle boasts one of the simplest title sequences on this list, but it's also the most affecting. The story of a world where the Japanese and Nazi Germany won World War II is shown here as a map of the United States split between the two, with iconic American monuments bathed in images of war and imperialism.

The haunting melody of "Edelweiss" from The Sound of Music plays over the whole thing, as an old film projector transforms American symbols into something far more terrifying, highlighted by a bald eagle being overtaken by the imagery of the Reichsadler, one of the terrifying emblems of the Nazi regime.

Narcos 


Created by: Digital Kitchen

Focusing on the seedy life of the Colombian drug trade, the opening for Netflix's Narcos is like a time capsule that informs viewers of the world they're about to be dropped into. By splicing archival images with new footage that was conceptualized in part by creative director Tom O'Neill, Digital Kitchen sets an authentic stage for Netflix's acclaimed drama to build on.

Images of Ronald Reagan and Pablo Escobar flash by, intercut with billowing clouds of coke and piles of cash. All of this is set to Rodrigo Amarante’s rhythmic song “Tuyo,” which helps hammer home the cultural setting. With its blend of archival video and news footage, some viewers might be reminded of the opening for The Americans when watching this sequence, but Digital Kitchen manages to give Narcos' sequence an identity all its own.

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