Closing credits or end credits are added at the very ending of a motion picture, television program, or video game to list the cast and crew involved in the production. They usually appear as a list of names in small type, which either flip very quickly from page to page, or move smoothly across the background or a black screen. Credits may crawl either right-to-left (which is common in U.K. and some Latin American television programs) or bottom-to-top (which is common in films and U.S. television). The term credit roll comes from the early production days when the names were literally printed on a roll of paper and wound past the camera lens. Sometimes, post-credits scenes or bloopers are added to the end of films along with the closing credits.
The use of closing credits in film to list complete production crew and cast was not firmly established in American film until the 1970s. Before this decade, most movies were released with no closing credits at all. Films generally had opening credits only, which consisted of just major cast and crew, although sometimes the names of the cast and the characters they played would be shown at the end, as in The Wizard of Oz, Mary Poppins, Oliver! and the 1964 Fail Safe. Two of the first major films to contain extensive closing credits – but almost no opening credits – were the blockbusters Around the World in 80 Days (1956) and West Side Story (1961). West Side Story showed only the title at the beginning of the film, and Around the World in 80 Days, like many films today, had no opening credits at all.
Around the World in 80 Days (1956) had one of the longest and most elaborate closing credit sequences of any film. The credits took around seven minutes to finish. It provided an animated recap of the movie's three-hour storyline, identifying the actors in the order in which they appeared. Superman also had a very long closing credits sequence, which took nearly eight minutes to end, and was the longest end credits sequence ever recorded at the time of the film's release. Although, some live action/animated films' end credits later ran from seven to eight minutes in length, such as Space Jam (1996), Scooby-Doo (2002) and The Lego Movie (2014). The British television series Spooks does not feature any credits, as a result of a decision made by the producers to add to the anonymity of the show's content (about the British Security Service). Instead, the credits appear as a special feature on the series DVDs, and also on the official website.
As in motion pictures, most television programs until relatively recently didn't list the entire cast and crew.
Some closing credits include out-takes. Sometimes a parting scene is edited in after the credits conclude as a final joke. For example, in Ferris Bueller's Day Off, Ferris appears and breaks the fourth wall to say "You're still here? ... It's over! Go home!" The Zucker, Abrahams and Zucker films have included spoof production members, credits unrelated to the movie ("Author of A Tale of Two Cities – Charles Dickens"), cooking recipes and song lyrics in their closing credits, while Monty Python films have included credits for ridiculous and non-existent production staff. On some occasions, the filmmakers will have a character come back and pop in during the credits to see the goings-on (a noted example is Finding Nemo, in which several characters interact with the credits as if they were physical objects). In certain special episodes of the motoring show Top Gear, the credits are comedically altered in ways appropriate to the episode: for example, in the American special, the first names of all the cast and crew were listed as "Billy Bob". The South Park episode "Trapped in the Closet" featured altered credits after the episode, critical of Scientology, ends with Stan Marsh yelling "Okay, good! Do it! I'm not scared of you! Sue me!" The credits then list every member of every position as either "John" or "Jane Smith". Another noteworthy example is Daffy Duck appearing in the credits of Gremlins 2: The New Batch complaining about how long they run. On other occasions additional scenes to advance the storyline (such as in Wild Things and Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End), influence or guide the viewers to a possible outcome of the film's conclusion (such as in WALL-E) or set up sequels (such as in Transformers and Iron Man) may occur after the credits roll. In the case of Rebuild of Evangelion, additional scenes are included that serve all three purposes, including ones in the style of the whimsically narrated "previews" from the television series that the films were based on. The closing credits for the extended edition of The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King have sketches of the characters and the actors who portrayed them.
Sometimes the closing credits of comedic films include footage of bloopers that occurred during production. Most Jackie Chan movies include these. The practice was parodied in the Pixar films A Bug's Life, Toy Story 2, and Monsters, Inc. which feature specially-animated bloopers that portray the films' animated characters as actors who make mistakes.
On Father's Day, Big Brother UK credits everyone using their father's name. For example, Steve Jones would be billed as "Adam Jones' son". The 2006 film Clerks 2 by Kevin Smith features an extended closing credits that included a list of anyone who joined Smith's "friends network" on MySpace in the months building up to the film's release. The very long list of credits (in multi-column format) has forced some theaters to either stop the projector early or to cut out sections of the film reel so that the theater could be cleaned in time for the following showing. Upon the film's release, Smith announced that he would continue the MySpace friends credit list through 2006 and would include any new names on the DVD credits when the film is released on DVD, which he did. On the 1969–1974 version of Beat the Clock, the closing credits were known as a "boss list": the executive producer, for example, was the "Super Boss", the producer, "Boss", the stunt coordinator "Stunt Boss" and the host's assistant "Pretty Girl Boss".
Marginalization for television promotion
On American television, the time the viewers spent watching the closing credit roll was often considered an opportunity to promote other shows on the network. Typically, this was accomplished by lowering the volume of or muting the closing music while an announcer on voice-over pitched another program – each announcer would often remind the viewer to "stay tuned" for the following show. Examples included Ernie Anderson on ABC, Alan Kalter on USA Network until 1996, and Phil Tonken on WOR-TV (now WWOR-TV) in New York City. To help avoid cacophony with the theme song, most American television series produced since 1970 had few, if any, vocals in the closing music. As technology advanced, however, networks decided to replace the voice-overs with full-blown visual promos.
In the U.S., networks now run a split-screened version of the show's credits to allow for running a promo (known in some circles as "generic credits", "split-screen credits", "squeezed credits" or "credit crunch"). NBC started this practice in the fall of 1994 with a strategy called "NBC 2000," which was designed to keep viewers from channel-surfing. All NBC shows used this practice, except for Days of Our Lives, which would switch in 2002. At that time, the credits were displayed on the right side of the screen, using a typeface on all shows that differs from the one used in the actual closing credits of each individual program (hence the common nickname "generic credits"), with "promo-tainment" (vintage scenes, trivia questions, etc.) on the left side or, for shows like Friends or Frasier, a tag sequence. Shortly after its adoption, the network shifted from "promo-tainment" to just airing promos for other NBC programming. All five major commercial broadcast networks (ABC, NBC, CBS, Fox and The CW) use this format; in mid-2004, Fox was the first major network to shift its credits to the lower one-quarter of the screen, and by the end of that year, ABC and NBC followed suit. In 2005, CBS, The WB, UPN (and, when it launched the following year, The CW) began shifting credits to the lower quarter of the screen. By the early 2000s, the use of "generic credits" began to spread to cable; most channels owned by the MTV Networks unit of Viacom (including MTV, VH1, Nickelodeon and Comedy Central), Lifetime and Lifetime Movie Network (though in June 2011, it was abandoned on their movies and scripted drama series, in favor of showing the original studio credits on the lower half of the screen), BBC America and (on certain syndicated programs and films) ABC Family began using this type of format. Since 2009, premium television service Showtime also uses generic closing credits on its original series, and is the only premium channel to use this format. Some of the aforementioned cable channels, particularly the Nickelodeon channels (except Nick Jr.) and until recently ABC Family have removed tag scenes or blooper reels originally featured during the show's end credits, replacing them with marginalized credits to air promos for other network programming.
On some shows, the credits are reduced to either a rapid-fire crawl, or quick-flashing cards; in some cases, each credit would appear on-screen for less than one second (a prime example is at the end of each episode of Survivor, in which there is a rapid credit-crawl to fit in all of the contestant's closing speech). Sometimes a promo would run shorter of the normal time it would take to run the credits at normal speed. Thus, the credits even "sped-up" near the end in order to show all the credits before the promo ended (a prime example of this is NBC's showing of Titanic, in which there were so many credits to be shown in so little time that credits switched almost every frame, making it impossible for anyone to read, even with a slow motion capability – and The Biggest Loser, particularly during the season finale episodes). Starting with the 2004 season, ABC air their closing credits of its sitcoms at the bottom of the screen, during the closing scene in a format that keeps in-line with the network's generic credits look. These credits, however, air without the dark-colored bar that airs during their other prime-time programs, except for promotional consideration tags that appear near the end of the credits. In other words, the credits are superimposed over the closing scene's action in the same manner as the original studio credits.
Most daytime soap operas used closing credits for many years. Most of the shows aired during the week (e.g., Monday through Thursday) would list just the main people involved with the production and a few of the principal actors and actresses. However, given the large number of people involved with the production of each serial, a full cast and crew credit crawl could last three minutes or longer. Because of this, an expanded credit roll would often air at least once a week, such as on the Friday show, with the closing theme often an expanded version of the show's opening music. Starting in 1999, soap operas began eliminating the full-screen crawl in favor of the one-third screen credits/promo combination. While NBC, ABC and CBS soaps all use the upper portion of the screen to show advertisements for primetime programming, ABC soaps showed previews for the next episode until 2008 and intermittently since then (the network's lone remaining soap, General Hospital, currently runs an episode preview during the end credits). In comparison, daytime soaps rerun on SOAPnet until the channel shut down in 2013 continued to use full-screen credits. Around Christmas time, ABC soaps formerly aired holiday-themed credits, which do not feature network promotions; One Life to Live, in particular, scrolled the credits over a shot of a lighted Christmas tree (this practice ended around 2011). CBS soaps also air holiday-themed credits that also do not feature network promotions; most of their airings are "classic" airings from previous years, and the credits usually include a fully decorated Christmas tree, a fire burning in the fireplace in the background, etc., complete with random Christmas music and ending with the cast breaking the fourth wall with a holiday greeting (since the late 2000s, the latter element has been typically played as a separate epilogue before the credit sequence, while all of the other mentioned elements have been dropped).
Daytime game shows worked in much the same vein as soap operas. A shorter version might list one or two people involved with the production, along with such plugs as for prizes and wardrobe providers. At least once a week, a full-length credit roll would air over the extended main theme (along with camera shots of such things as the contestant talking with the host and/or celebrities). By the mid-1990s, The Price Is Right was the lone daytime game show remaining, and it would eventually switch to marginalized credits, starting in the fall of 1999. Game shows that have the full closing credits that do not scroll up include Go, The New $25,000 Pyramid, both the Dick Clark and John Davidson versions of The $100,000 Pyramid, the original versions of Beat the Clock, To Tell the Truth, Password, What's My Line?, the Bill Cullen version of The Price is Right and the original Mike Adamle version of American Gladiators from the second half of the first season to the end of the series run. The original Match Game had the credits scrolling up at the bottom of the screen; the 1970s version of Match Game had the credits scrolling up bottom-to-top during Match Game '73 and right-to-left starting with Match Game '74 and including Match Game PM and the syndicated version from 1979 to 1982. Goodson-Todman's Double Dare placed the credits on the main game board to show off the then state-of-the-art electronic display board. Sometimes on that show, the camera zoomed into the game board before the credits began. On the original daytime Wheel of Fortune in the 1970s and 1980s as well as the first few seasons of the nighttime Wheel, the credits always began with a list of sponsors over a shot of the Wheel.
Some cable channels have used credits to blur the lines between the end of one show and the beginning of the following program. TNT and TBS had formerly run the program's end credits in small (sometimes illegible) type at the bottom of the screen while another episode of the same program began at about three-quarters height. Similarly on networks like E! and formerly Style Network, the program-to-program transition is seamless; to do this, the networks have moved the closing credits for their programs to air within the first minute of a show, usually on the bottom 1/3 of the screen in small, translucent type. For E!, the closing credits for the program being seen at that moment is seen at the start of that program; for other networks that use this practice, whether they use a double-box or generic credit format, the closing credits for the preceding program is seen during the opening of the next program. A few networks such as Nick at Nite, Comedy Central, Logo and TV Land have even moved the production company cards (displayed in a small box) in their network-generated credits (in the case of Nick at Nite from 2010 to 2011, this was done only when the generic closing credits are shown at the beginning of an episode of a show during back-to-back airings of most series, while a promo/generic credit combo followed by the production company credits are shown at the end of the last episode of a show's back-to-back block; this is now the common parlance since 2012 as the credits are now superimposed over the final scene of the episode for certain programs).
Often, the network-to-local transition between the end of the network primetime schedule and late local news on broadcast networks will feature the network show credits on the bottom of the screen, while the local news teaser sequence, station identification, news opening, and then the top story will take place. Once the credits end, the local news broadcast zooms in to fill the screen, creating a seamless hand-off. Despite some objections by television production unions, some programs, such as those that air on Discovery Networks and the U.S. version of the National Geographic Channel only air the credits during a program's premiere broadcast, referring viewers to a website to view the credits in subsequent broadcasts.
Some networks, such as GSN, have even begun cutting off the credits before they finish, most likely to allow more time for commercials, though GSN has begun to squeeze the production company closing credits to the bottom third of the screen and show the entire credits during that time; Spike (only on its original programming and certain syndicated shows), Oxygen and Hallmark Channel also squeeze the production company credits to the lower third of the screen. Some cable channels mix use of generic and the actual production company credits depending on the show, ABC Family currently airs generic credits on most acquired programs where most episodes have no tag scene, while acquired programs where most episodes do feature one, the tag scene and/or production company credits are aired full-screen, and since June 2010, the channel's original series have the closing credits overlaid on the final scene of the episode (though these were separated in airings of their original programs via its website and VOD service until 2012).
Until CBS opted not to continue maintaining rights to the Hallmark Hall of Fame series in 2011, the original credits were aired; the ending promo would be shown first, then the original closing credits. When the Hallmark Hall of Fame moved to ABC in 2011 starting with the telecast of Have a Little Faith, with the advent of ABC using generic credits on some television specials, the network began using marginalized closing credits being played concurrently with the ending promo; as a result, original closing credits are no longer seen on original airings, and must be first seen on the DVD release or the Hallmark Channel rebroadcast.
Also, UPN used the announcer overlapping studio's logo music and sounds over that logos before split-screen credits of UPN programming.
The WB Television Network used the studio's logo music and sounds with no voiceover up until 2004. Fox Broadcasting Company does the same thing also up until 2000, while programming produced by 20th Century Fox Television featured the Fox drumbeat playing over it sometimes accompanied by a voiceover over the Fox logo from 1997 to 2000.
Steven Bochco's shows aired on their major networks featured Steven Bochco's own logo theme instead of generic music theme.
Full closing credits are still created by the production company and are used in syndicated reruns of a program, and are always seen if the program is released as a DVD box set, is broadcast via video on demand or is streamed online via the network's website or websites such as Hulu or Netflix that specialize in airing television programs. Many animated shows still maintain and air the full version of the credits.
From 1989 to 1994, CBS and from 1993 to 1996, ABC displayed the show's closing credits produced by the production company in a two-panel format, with the actual production credits chroma-keyed to shove to one side of the screen with a video promo for other network programming on the other side (CBS displayed the show's closing credits at the left and promo on the right of the screen in a two-panel format, while ABC displayed them in the reverse order with the promo taking up only one-quarter of the screen); since the late 2000s, there has been a trend of cable channels using this credit display format, usually shown in a vertical or (usually) horizontal double-box format similar to that used in television news to toss to and from field reports. Ion Television is the only commercial broadcast network using a double-box format; all others using this format are cable networks including Disney XD, BET, Syfy, USA Network, WGN America, most of the Turner networks, such as TBS, TNT and at times Cartoon Network (Cartoon Network uses generic credits on some programs), and during syndicated programming only on G4 and TruTV. In some cases, the show credits return to full-screen in time for the production company logos at the end of the credit sequence; though a few channels such as TNT and Cartoon Network do not shrink or expand the original closing credits from full-screen and back at any point during the credit sequence and a promo is shown along with the production company credits throughout.
Spanish-language networks typically do not use generic credits or marginalize the credits for network promotion; however during movies aired in prime time, Telemundo and UniMás do air promos whilst the closing credits as produced by the film's production company are scrolling, usually shown in the speed scroll commonly used for basic cable or broadcast syndication runs of films due to time constraints. Similar to the aforementioned program-to-program hand-off during the credits, TBS and TNT, as well as some A&E programs, presently show one program's original production credits, in a double-box style side-by-side with the next program's cold open; TBS does this only from 6 a.m.-11 p.m. and TNT from 6 a.m.-midnight Eastern Time, and a promo may be shown if the next program's episode starts with the opening credits immediately followed by a commercial break and the double-box credit format is done with movies airing outside of late night).
Chiller, Adult Swim, Up, TV One, Boomerang, and Viacom-owned Nick Jr., Centric and Tr3́s do show the original program credits full-screen; TV One in particular often uses voice-overs to promote other programs. TeenNick (dating back to its existence as The N) also showed the closing credits full-screen on most shows that have a tag scene, though those that did not have a tag and a small few that did used the double-box format, though since July 2010, a generic credit sequence has been used on most programs, causing the elimination of tag scenes on a few programs.
Since 2006, Disney Channel runs tag scenes during the closing credits on all of its original scripted programs including preschool and animated series; the channel also overlays the credits over the final scene in special airings of Disney XD's original live-action series, which are normally kept separate when aired on Disney XD; since the 2009 original movie Wizards of Waverly Place: The Movie, the channel's original made-for-cable films also feature outtakes during the closing credits. Premium channels Showtime and Starz, as well as most basic cable channels, such as AMC and FX, have also squeezed down the standard production credits of some or all of their movies to the bottom half of the screen (usually starting about 15–25 seconds into the credits and ending anywhere from 30 seconds to three minutes before the end of the credits) with the film credits running at normal speed in order to show behind-the-scenes features or network promos; HBO, Cinemax, Encore (since September 2009), Epix and The Movie Channel do not do this with any of their films. Starz and Encore are the only premium channels that promote original series and upcoming films with an info box that appears during the ending credits on their programming.
American Idol, America's Got Talent, Dancing with the Stars, So You Think You Can Dance, The Voice, and The X Factor are also exceptions, showing the full credits in a rapid-fire card format as the shows close (along with voting disclaimers).
Between 2008 and 2009, both ABC and Fox aired their sitcoms' closing credits in the shows' respective credit fonts, instead of the network generic font. Fox's airings of The Simpsons also currently air full-screen (from 1996 to 2008, the network usually aired the voice credits for the actors and special guest voices full-screen before switching to generic credits for the rest of the roll).
Internationally, some networks like the BBC also use a double-box format for the closing credits; the BBC has even laid out guidelines as to how the credits must be shown on its networks; closing credits must be shown at the center of the screen and be either separate cards or scroll vertically (percentage reduction testing in an editing suite is required in post-production to ensure readability), the BBC networks and other unrelated broadcast, cable and satellite channels in the United Kingdom such as Nickelodeon UK will squeeze and reduce the credits to 60% of their original size and crop them, returning them to full screen in time for the production company credits, in a manner similar to many of the aforementioned American cable channels.
After closing credits
After the credits, it would just have the closing variant of the movie company which is a still version of it or a silent version or a short version. Sometimes, the MPAA screen would appear in the end. A black FBI Warning screen could appear in the end. In Universal Pictures and 20th Century Fox films (up to 2013), the Deluxe Digital Studios or DVCC logo or any digital service logo would be shown. Many Universal films produced at Universal Studios in Hollywood or Orlando would have a plug for the studios, inviting moviegoers to visit; in the film Animal House, this plug included a brief reminder to "ask for Babs", in reference to Delta House foe Babs Jansen, who, after the events in the film, was hired as a tour guide for Universal Studios in Hollywood.
- Acknowledgment (creative arts)
- Billing (filmmaking)
- Character generator
- Credit (creative arts)
- Digital on-screen graphic (BUG)
- Lower third
- Opening credits
- Post-credits scene
- Title sequence
- WGA screenwriting credit system
- Superman-DVD commentary by Ilya Salkind, Warner Home Video, 2006.
- Brooker, Charlie (2007-05-12). "Charlie Brooker's screen burn". The Guide (The Guardian). Retrieved 2007-07-12.