February 21, 2014

House of Cards Season 2 Opening Credits Comparison in Animated GIFs

Are you watching House of Cards Season 2 on Netflix? Did you notice that they changed the opening credits since Season 1? There are still 37 time-lapse shots of Washington DC, and the cuts are in all the same places, but almost half of the shots have been changed. In some cases, the new shot is a slightly different view of the same place. In others, it’s a radically different view, or a different time of year, or a shot of a completely different location altogether. The time-lapses were shot by District 7 Media based just outside DC. They did a beautiful job. Let’s see what’s changed between seasons.

The following are all comparisons of the images. In all cases, the top image is Season 1 and the bottom image is Season 2:

Shot 1:

Shot 2 (are those the same clouds? Same time of day? Same cars? I think this might be the same shot recolored.):

Shot 3:

Shot 4:

Shot 5:

Shot 6:

Shot 7:

Shot 8:

Shot 9:

Shot 10:

Shot 11:

Shot 12:

Shot 13:

Shot 14:

Shot 15:

Shot 16:

Shot 17:

Shot 18:

Shot 19 (looks like a slightly different part of the same clip):

Shot 20:

Shot 21:

Shot 22:

Shot 23:

Shot 24:

Shot 25:

Shot 26:

Shot 27:

Shot 28:

Shot 29:

Shot 30:

Shot 31:

Shot 32:

Shot 33:

Shot 34:

Shot 35:

Shot 36:

Shot 37:

My wife thinks they’re also using a different mix of the opening theme music this year, but my ear isn’t good enough to tell the difference. Has anyone noticed?


No more Kate Mara. :(

When I sat down to watch the first episode this season, I immediately said “the opening is different!” but I couldn’t pinpoint WHAT, exactly, was different. Then on subsequent episodes I began to second-guess myself. So thank you for this.

(The music definitely sounds different to me as well. I really, really dig it this season.)

The music is certainly different. In fact we got two new versions, with the obvious differences in the closing of S02E01:


However the opening has changes too. The most obvious is the opening strings leading into the new “black frame” which gives the titles an added punch — a lovely addition to the second season.

Less obvious is the new instruments in the mix, which will probably turn out to be a complete recomposition and re-recording:


There are new cellos (I think) around the 20-25 second mark, and they keep turning up throughout. The other instruments are either rerecorded or mixed into different levels, usually lower but not all.

I loved your post by the way.


The music has changed substantially to the point where my wife and I actually hate it now! The original theme music had strong bass and the energy of the song grew leading up an an amazing climax right after the oil can shot. But now it feels all watered down, softened so much that we’re no longer thrilled at hearing it any more.

When will TV producers realize that you shouldn’t change the opening credits music of a TV series because it ruins it for the viewers who come to love it in its original form?

havent seen the show yet, want to see “Borgen” first..
but from your gifs i’d say they changed all shots that contained trees with leaves and swapped them to a leaf-less enviroment totally.

It IS the trees that changed! That seems to be the common denominator to 90+% of the changes. Well spotted.

Your wife is correct. I rewatched the first season in the three days before the second came out, then watched the second over the next two days. The bass line was toned back substantially (a real shame, since it, to me, always felt like it represented the dark undercurrent that’s pervasive throughout the whole show), and there are a few more strings in the middle, giving it a more developed melody. The strings were odd. They slowly grew on me, but I still prefer the first season’s theme more (in fact, I prefer the first season in general, but that’s a separate matter).

Thanks for the gifs. I knew the opening images had changed, but I hadn’t picked up on what all of them were, even though I knew a few felt different. Looks like I caught about half of them.

I’d say it’s not so much that the trees have changed, but that the whole intro has a more winterly feed (most notably ofc in the shot of the J Edgar Hoover building). Curious, given the season spans from at least February 2014 to October 2014, based of the few concrete dates mentioned on the show.

Make that “feel“.

I started watching the 2nd season of House of Cards last week here in the UK. DC is a beautiful city I’ve visited twice so the opening credits remind me of my time there.

I did notice the change in music after watching the first few episodes, it’s less dramatic than the original score which I’d previously purchased on iTunes.

Thanks to David Friedman we can also see the differences in the opening frames of the series.

Having served as a typesetting apprentice I also appreciate David’s comments about kerning at the top right of his website.

As for Frank Underwood, well, as gripping as ever and perfectly acted by Kevin Spacey.

You can notice that in some shots the trees are obviously in different stages. For example, the shot of the Capitol dome above North Capitol Street (Shot 6).

As for the theme song, a few added elements. The sound of human voices is slight and very understated.

I also noticed the leafless trees…so the new scenes seem to have been taken in the winter,where the daylight is a harsher, cooler gray…rather in the warmer yellow light of Summer or Fall.

I wonder if its a metaphor for a harsher environment?

Love your post!

Thanks for this. But, the real question is “Why”? Is there a subtle message that we should be picking up?

Cool. But, the fundamental question is why? Is there a message behind these subtle changes?

I didn’t notice because I always skip what are INCREDIBLY LONG AND BORING INTRO CREDITS. Nothing on the intro’s to Six Feet Under, Mad Men, Sopranos, in fact most shows I have watched I enjoy the opening credits at least a bit.

Thanks for assuring me that I’m not crazy, there really is a plot to mess with our heads. The colder mood and overall wrongness of the opening gets you pre-tense for the show… I noticed most of the sonic changes noted by the comments above; while having just a “something’s wrong” feeling about the video (thanks for the great clip comparisons). I also noted (or imagined) that episode to episode (in S2) there were some changes, with the very early ones being rather thin, the later ones filled out.