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A direction in the script to lay words on the screen. This could be a dateline such as "Amsterdam, 2026", or "Three Days Ago". Primarily used to fix the setting firmly in the minds of the audience.
Comes in two major flavors: words on a solid background, usually black (a milder and less Anvilicious take on the Opening Scroll), or text shown at the bottom of the screen as the camera shows an Establishing Shot of the location. The latter can appear on the screen all at once or one letter at a time, as if typed with a typewriter (bonus points for a fixed-width font).
This is very common in shows taking place Twenty Minutes Into the Future or Exty Years From Now (in either direction) and Thrillers of any kind, particularly, Spy Fiction. May exhibit the London England Syndrome.
- Y: The Last Man is a rare comic book example. It gets played with in one issue where Yorick is drugged and the Title In panel reads "Where The Fuck Am I?". It's also occasionally used for humor: Yorick complains that the last time he lost his monkey, it took him three hours to track him down, and then the Title In reads "Four Hours Later".
- Scott Pilgrim has such titles that feels like they were wrote by teenagers. Little gems like "So Yeah", after Scott asks Ramona out; "24 Hours Later", after announcing that they were gonna play in, yeah, 24 hours; and "So Anyway", after Scott defeats Gideon and rescues Ramona, and they talk about making it work again.
- In the 2001 remake of Ocean's Eleven, Danny tells Tess he should be out of jail for his parole violation in three to six months. There's a blackout, and then we Title In with a card that reads "Three to six months later..."
- Spoofed in Star Wreck: In The Pirkinning, which makes a typo in the title and backs up a bit to remove it.
- The 2009 Star Trek movie has Iowa or Vulcan tucked away in a corner for a part of the movie, then "Three years later" in the center.
- In High School Musical, the callback auditions are rescheduled to the same day as Troy's big game and Gabriella's Scholastic Decathlon. As such, the following titles appear:
Scholastic Decathlon Day
- The Super Mario Bros movie started with the title:
20 million Years Ago
- Zombieland plays with this one constantly. Columbus's Zombie Invasion Rules are placed on the screen during the introduction to the movie, each with examples of why one should follow that particular rule. During the movie itself, examples of characters following the rules are pointed out with one, usually set to feel like it is part of the environment (for example, the blinking "CARDIO" sign).
- The date and time are shown each day of the mission in the film The Guns of Navarone.
- Used in Team America: World Police, where it shows the name of the country and its distance to the U.S. (specifically New York) in miles.
- Un Chien Andalou kinda parodies this with meaningless and contradictory days and times.
- Can be taken too far, as the Captain America movie does.
- In Mr. and Mrs. Smith, after the couple has their first therapy session and disagree how long they've been married (5 or 6 years), the movie flashbacks to their first meeting and says, "5 or 6 years ago." At the end of the flashback there's another caption reading "5 or 6 years later."
- The Ringo Starr comedy Caveman starts with these two captions:
One billion zillion B.C.
- Played with in Johnny Dangerously. The caption "1910" appears at the bottom of the screen, and we see a car drive by behind it. Then another car drives into frame and crashes into the 1910, breaking the digits into pieces.
- Parodied in the opening of Orgazmo, where the caption "Hollywood" helpfully appears under an Establishing Shot of the Hollywood sign.
- The captions in The Hunt for Red October go all-out: bright green monospaced font, printed letter by letter with computerised teletype noises as they appear.
- Adam's Rib uses some fancier-than-usual intertitle cards. "That Evening" is the most common caption.
- The Logan's Run movie begins with a surprisingly large amount of backstory on the screen all at once:
"Sometime in the 23rd century ... the survivors of war, overpopulation and pollution are living in a great domed city, sealed away from the forgotten world outside. Here, in an ecologically balanced world, mankind lives only for pleasure, freed by the servo-mechanisms which provide everything. There's just one catch: Life must end at thirty unless reborn in the fiery ritual of carrousel."
- In the first Captain Underpants book, George and Harold order the 3-D Hypno-Ring, which takes four to six weeks to arrive. The next chapter is titled "Four To Six Weeks Later".
- Any book written in diary format will inevitably provide the place and time at which the character supposedly wrote each entry.
Live Action TV
- The Middleman spoofs this practice constantly:
The illegal sublet Wendy shares with another young, photogenic artist.
Middleman Headqua--WHOA! FREAKY!
The Underworld. Time has no meaning.
God, am I underpaid.
- Monty Python's Flying Circus parodied this with such captions as "One strawberry tart without so much rat in it later".
- Fringe absolutely loves to play with these. The giant floating letters that mark locations are used pseudo-realistically. In one instance rain can be seen striking the letters and in another the letters are visible after the camera cuts to a location behind them, showing the letters in reverse.
- Happened regularly in episodes of JAG, with the current time (given in military time, e.g. "0400 Zulu") and location.
- Used in Doctor Who epsiode "Midnight" to show how much time had passed between scenes. Also used in the season 4 finale "The Stolen Earth" when we hopped from across the galaxy to where the Doctor's other companions were.
- Also used quite a lot in the Fnarg season finale due to all the time jumps involved.
- Used in early seasons of Heroes to identify the name and location of another person with abilities.
- To varying degrees of accuracy.
Matt Parkman. Somewhere in Africa.
- The X-Files does it several times an episode.
- In Law and Order, they always sound the Doink-Doink and show the location in text at the bottom of the screen whenever the scene changes.
- There's another parody in The Young Ones pilot episode "Demolition": "Meanwhile, the next day".
- Robin Hood frequently captioned its changes of scene, nicknamed the 'arrow of exposition' as the caption flew in from the side of the screen with the sound of an arrow being fired. It did this even when it was already clear where the scene was in the first place ('Nottingham Castle', 'Sherwood Forest', and perhaps most infamously 'The Meadow', among others), and was even on occasion inaccurate.
- The Stargate SG-1 episode "Absolute Power" has a strange example: a "one year later" caption for a scene that later turns out to be All Just a Dream, with considerably less time than that having passed. Apparently the captioner lives inside Daniel's head...
- Each scene of Gypsy opens with a vaudeville-style sign describing the setting.
- Present in the Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney series. Played with at one point, when a character wakes up after being kidnapped (Location: ??? Date: ??? Time: ???).
- Also done in Deus Ex.
- Used extensively in the No One Lives Forever series.
- Can be seen at the beginning of every level in Mirror's Edge.
- This happens in Sonic Adventure 2.
- Blaz Blue does this occasionaly to establish the date events are occurring on. And at one point gives a date 100 years in the game's past to indicate that Time Travel has occurred.
- Done on the (short) Loading Screens of the Metal Gear Solid series to let you know what area you are entering. Once things start getting strange in Metal Gear Solid 2 Sons of Liberty, they may occasionally show such unhelpful names as "New York 52nd Street", "Funabisha City" as you explore the guts of Arsenal Gear.
- Left 4 Dead: "2 WEEKS AFTER FIRST INFECTION"
- Used at the beginning of every mission in the Call of Duty series starting with 2, except for one occasion: You begin the mission (Of Their Own Accord, Modern Warfare 2) in a bunker, evidently being shelled, wounded everywhere around you. You go outside and around a corner to see Washington DC in flames. Then the Title In happens. And thus begins one of the most chilling chapters in the Call of Duty series to date.
- The same as Modern Warfare for Portal 2, where every chapter is titled-in... except the last one:
- Lloyd in Space: Similarly, Lloyd Nebulon orders a helmet by mail order, and we have a caption saying "4 to 5 weeks later".
- The Simpsons has done the same thing at least twice with "Six to eight weeks later".
- Parodied in the Aqua Teen Hunger Force movie, which opens with a pan over the pyramids of Giza with a title crawl reading thusly;
Millions of years ago
New York City
- SpongeBob SquarePants occasionally plays with titles.
- "Can You Spare A Dime?": "So much later that the old narrator quit and they had to hire a new one."
- "Wet Painters": It is revealed that Patrick is holding the title cards, and he tells SpongeBob to hurry up because he's all out.
- "Rock-A-Bye Bivalve": SpongeBob and Patrick take care of a baby scallop. Only SpongeBob is the one taking care of it while Patrick goes to "work". SpongeBob keeps telling Patrick to take care of him and Patrick's responses are followed by a title ("Tomorrow for sure", "Uhh"). Finally, they agree on 6:00 PM, with them repeating it constantly as Patrick leaves. Cut to the title "12:00 Midnight".
- Recess used this in certain episodes, such as "Two days later" or in the case of "Rainy Days", with the rain going on for several days, they used "Day One", "Day Two", etc.