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Cold opens became widespread on television by the mid-1960s. Sometimes an entire episode aired before the starting credits.

Their use was an economical way of setting up a plot without having to introduce the regular characters, or even the series synopsis, which would typically be outlined in the title sequence itself. Two instances had no opening credits at all: "The Cycling Tour" shows a brief title card with the episode's title before becoming the first episode to have a full-length story, and "The Golden Age of Ballooning" (the first episode of season four) has no titles because Terry Gilliam had not finished the new opening sequence.

The long-running NBC sketch comedy show Saturday Night Live has usually employed a cold open, except for season 7 and other rare presentations.

The cold open usually ends with someone breaking character and proclaiming "Live from New York, it's Saturday Night! sketch comedy and education program The Electric Company features a cold open introducing the plot, ending with one of the Company members yelling "Hey, you guys!!

The World at War (1973–74) is one famous exception, where in a few short minutes an especially poignant moment is featured; after the title sequence, the events that explain the episode are outlined more fully. sitcom and drama episodes often have a traditional cold opening, which usually sets up the plot using the main cast members (e.g., Friends).

The cold open became common if not standard for sitcoms in the early 1990s. Some sitcoms, however, use cold opens which have nothing to do with the plot of an episode (e.g., Malcolm in the Middle).

1970s drama The Rockford Files typical cold open consisted of Jim Rockford's outgoing message on his answering machine followed by a message left by a caller, sometimes incidentally related to the show to follow, but oftentimes not.Australian soap opera Home and Away used cold opens following the recap, since its 2006 season.This was also introduced to Neighbours in its 2016 season.The cold open technique is sometimes used in movies.There, "cold opening" still refers to the opening moments or scenes, but not necessarily to the full duration before the title card, as the title card might appear well after the cold open has been achieved.While several soaps experimented with regular opens in the early 2000s, all U. After several scenes – usually to set up which storylines will be featured in the episode – the opening credits are shown.

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