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The Openings of the Simpsons

The Simpsons opening sequence is one of the show's most memorable trademarks. Almost every episode opens with a title shot coming through the cumulus clouds and into the school where Bart is writing sentences on the class chalkboard, presumably set as a punishment by one of his teachers for some mischievous deed or wayward comment; Homer is shown leaving the power plant, with Mr Burns and Smithers in the background (second season onwards); Marge and Maggie are shown checking out at the supermarket with Maggie travelling across the scanner, ringing up at $847.63, the then-annual cost of raising a baby (although a 'trivia question' shown as a wraparound for commercials during the episode "The Simpsons 138th Episode Spectacular" claims that the register says "NRA4EVER" National Rifle Association For Ever, ironically and comedically portraying the liberal writers of the show as gun-crazed right-wingers);

The sequence then introduces Lisa (who leaves a band rehearsal, usually playing a different saxophone solo); the family is then shown on their way to their house at 742 Evergreen Terrace (the address varied in the beginning, but the writers now use 742 Evergreen Terrace exclusively). The members of the family weave dangerously through traffic and in between fellow (and, from the second season onward, familiar) Springfield denizens, all miraculously reaching home at the exact same time. Upon entering, they all speed towards the family room couch where, in comedic parallel with the audience, they settle to watch their "must-see" TV show.

For each episode, the sequence includes four variations: Bart writes something different on the chalkboard, Lisa plays a different solo on her saxophone, Homer screams in a different way (only done in the first couple of seasons), and the family attempts to sit on the couch as something goes awry in an often surreal manner.

In the syndicated version, part or all of the opening sequence is usually cut in order to include more commercials in the show's allotted timeslot.

The "couch gag" sequence is frequently used to help show staff make the show longer or shorter, depending on the length of the episode itself. Most couch gags last only about five seconds, but the longest one on record lasted 46 seconds.

The first season opening sequence featured a number of differences from the later seasons, including a shot of Lisa riding her bike on the way home and Bart's way home consisting of snatching a bus stop sign, forcing several dazed Springfieldians to chase the bus, rather than just riding past a number of well-known characters.

The series' distinctive theme tune was composed by musician Danny Elfman. The current arrangement is orchestrated by Alf Clausen.

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