Breaking Down ‘Succession’s Opening Credits


The Big Picture

  • Succession‘s opening credits sequence depicts the complex dynamics of the Roy family, showcasing their troubled childhood and the race to be their father’s successor.
  • The sequence evolves with each season, reflecting the growth of the family business as the Roys expand into different industries and adapt to changes in the media landscape.
  • The opening credits also highlight the Roys’ transition from a secluded mansion to the bustling business centers of New York City, symbolizing their dominance in the corporate world.

A good opening credits sequence is difficult to find nowadays, but none of them manage to capture a series’ essence like Succession‘s. It really has it all: a great theme song, compelling imagery connecting to the show’s story, and it’s instigating enough to settle the stage for each week’s episode — all while showing mostly the same pictures and scenes in all four seasons of the HBO hit series. Achieving all that is quite a feat, and HBO has made it seem easy with a wide variety of great openings.

Throughout its four Emmy-winning seasons, Succession provided four different versions of the opening credits sequence. The purpose is to establish a parallel as to whom the Roys are as a family and how their business has grown over the years, with pictures depicting the kids’ childhood and adolescence alternating with wide shots of New York and different forms of media. They might seem like a collage of old family photos and videos at first, and they do have the same intent and even share some of the same scenes, but, ultimately, they are all considerably different from each other.


The Roy family is known for controlling the biggest media and entertainment company in the world. However, their world changes when their father steps down from the company.

Release Date
June 3, 2018

Jesse Armstrong


The Faded Past Depicts Who the Roys Are as a Family

The Roys sure are a complicated family. Usually, having disturbed personalities is the result of a troubled childhood, and, even though we don’t know much about the Roy kids’ upbringing, we can imagine it wasn’t easy being a child of Logan Roy (Brian Cox). The closest we get to knowing what it was like growing up as the heir of a mogul’s empire is the opening credits. The sequence shows many faded pictures of a family enjoying time off in all four seasons, but they do differ from one another as the series goes on and new plots develop.

In Season 1, the sequence begins with a boy posing for a picture with his father behind him, proudly presenting his sole heir. At that moment in the show, Kendall Roy (Jeremy Strong) is the frontrunner in the race for the position of CEO at Waystar-ROYCO. The series literally begins with him preparing to take over, as Logan is seemingly already retired. From Season 2 beyond, that scene now shows four kids lined up for the same picture, their dad still behind them, but now visible only from the shoulder down, showing how, now, all four Roy kids are in the race for their father’s spot, including Roman (Kieran Culkin) and, yes, even Connor (Alan Ruck). This scene repeats at the very end, after the series’ title, showing that, even after the whole sequence, the race is still open.

The family pictures and scenes appear to take place within the same garden party, or at least in the same summer when the kids are young — with a small ski moment appearing in Seasons 3 and 4, too. The boys are playing tennis and smoking cigars as if they were adults, while the sole girl is often looking in the distance as if yearning to be with her brothers. This is a metaphor for Shiv (Sarah Snook), who begins Succession as the only Roy kid who seemingly has no interest in the family business and no plans to take part in it. From Season 2 beyond, though, a new layer is added, with the children now teenagers. Now, the young girl is a little older, posing for pictures with her brothers and talking to them in the courtyard, as Shiv decides she wants in on the business. There’s still a big man looming behind her, showing how Tom (Matthew Macfadyen) is always looking to use her as leverage for his own purposes.

The one constant in all of them is the father. The only moment we see his face is when posing with his son in Season 1, but he’s always present, even if with just parts of his body or in the distance. He’s making gestures with his hand as if ending a discussion, walking in the distance with the impression of having the world on his shoulders, and leaving his children when they are posing for the portrait at the end of the sequence. Also, in Season 1, right before the series title comes on, he’s looking over the table where his children are sitting, but only from Season 2 beyond it’s made clear that there are four teenage boys and one teenage girl there. Right after this shot, we cut to a take showing Logan’s back, as he looks on a meeting with the board, among whom include the notably present Gerri Kellman (J. Smith-Cameron) and Stewy Hosseini (Arian Moayed). That’s the moment when business and family coincide.


‘Succession’ Season 4: Logan Asking to be Roasted Reveals This About His Character

Logan Roy may be “a tough old nut,” but he’s officially been cracked.

‘Succession’s Opening Credits Update To Show the State of the Roy Business

Season 4 begins as the Roys are attempting to become the dominant force in the media business, bringing an end to arcs that started all the way back in Season 2, like the Pierce acquisition, and Season 3, with the GoJo app. When Succession began, they focused mainly on television and physical media, like newspapers, expanding their operations as the show progresses. This also reflects in the opening title sequence.

In Seasons 1 and 2, there are many shots of newspapers being printed and put into circulation, as well as shots of a news anchor giving the news on a tablet and on screens in Times Square. Back then, those were the main branches of Waystar Royco, and how it kept itself relevant and present in the day-to-day lives of average citizens. Also, in Season 4, these news pieces are about an election that’s taking place in the USA, a recurring topic as of late. Logan has stated many times his desire to take a more active approach to the elections, and in the last season, this is a crucial subject.

In Seasons 3 and 4, though, the business starts to catch on to the reality of the media industry. There’s a take of Waystar Studios, referencing how the Roys have their tentacles spreading in all directions, even entertainment, and putting them side-by-side with real-world conglomerates such as Disney. Also, in Season 4 we have a take of a smartphone running the StarGo app. The device is an early model iPhone, and the app is loading, a gag on how the Waystar streaming service is known to be terrible. Season 3 brings Lukas Mattson (Alexander Skarsgård) on board precisely as a way for the company to solve this issue, since streaming grows ever more important.

An interesting parallel to the faded family scenes is how the shots of the empty mansion in the summer are traded for wide-angle shots of New York and urban skylines, showing how the “natural habitat” of the Roy kids has gone from big houses to big business centers. Also, there are new shots of helicopters approaching Manhattan, looming over the city as a hunter does over its prey. It’s all a big market, and the Roys are there to take it.

Succession is available to stream on Max in the U.S.

Watch on Max


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