Top 10 Cold Opens in the last 20 years

The “cold open.” This term has been around for decades but it moved into the mainstream in the last 20 years. The “cold open” is when you see the content of a show before the titles run. The first cold opens started rolling in back in the 1960s. You can see episodes of the original Star Trek with them, and they usually set up the “crisis of the week.” Other shows of the time used the cold open in similar ways. The point back then was to draw you in, get you interested in the plot.

Cold Open, SNL style

The next evolution of the cold open was in sketch comedy. Saturday Night Live perfected the art of showing a high-profile sketch before the credits began to roll. This brought people into the show and kept them interested enough to watch the rest of the sketches, which could be a little weak as the show wore on.

Sitcom cold opens

I’m not saying there was never a cold open before The Office. In fact Friends and other 90s sitcoms used them quite a bit. But it’s fair to say that the cold open form was perfected on that show. Some of the cold opens had to do with the plot of the week, but most were just vignettes of life in the office. They were quick hits of comedy that were honestly some of the best parts of the show. Parks and Recreation and Brooklyn Nine-Nine took things to another level, with the cold opens being completely disconnected from the plot but still hilarious. Don’t believe me? Check out this week’s Fun Friday video.

Whether you’re a fan of Ron Swanson, Jim Halpert, or Jake Peralta, you’ll get something awesome out of this video. I guarantee it’s free from any of the bad news you’ve been hearing lately. It’s just a good, honest laugh and I have a feeling you’re due for one about now.

About the Author

Stuart Sweet
Stuart Sweet is the editor-in-chief of The Solid Signal Blog and a "master plumber" at Signal Group, LLC. He is the author of over 6,000 articles and longform tutorials including many posted here. Reach him by clicking on "Contact the Editor" at the bottom of this page.