Closing credits or end credits are a list of the cast and crew of a particular motion picture, television program, or video game. Where opening credits appear at the beginning of a work, closing credits appear close to, or at the very end of a work. A full set of credits can include the cast and crew, but also production sponsors, distribution companies, works of music licensed or written for the work, various legal disclaimers, such as copyright and more. Some long-running productions list "production babies". The closing credits are usually typed and appear in white lettering on a solid black background, featuring no sound effects or dialogue, only a musical background, sometimes the works' theme music. Credits are either static and flip from page to page, or scroll as a single list from the bottom of the screen to the top. Occasionally closing credits will divert from this standard form to either scroll in another direction, include illustrations, extra scenes, bloopers, joke credits and post-credits scenes.
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, Citizen Kane, 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. Similarly, the British series Jam (2000) features a single title at the end of each episode reading only "jamcredits.com".
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, Phil Tonken on WOR-TV (now WWOR-TV) in New York City, and various Cartoon Network voiceovers on Cartoon Network until 2008. 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. CBS later adapted this practice, replacing tag sequences (for its sitcoms) with promos beginning late 1994. When ABC adapted this practice in 1995, they first use the promo on top and the show's logo with the roll on the bottom, except for sitcoms, but starting in the fall of 1996, ABC sitcoms started using the trend.
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.