Top 15 TV Show Theme Songs

I compiled this list of my favorite theme songs. They’re judged by three things:

– How well the song is recognized.
– Originality
– How well the song fits the show’s theme and subject matter

The third is most important, because while some opening credits are fun to look at or easily recognizable, you just don’t understand how they relate to the show. I know a lot of you wont agree with me on some of these but these are my favorites, and choosing took forever. There’s also no coincidence that you can find most of these shows on TVLand.

15. Bewitched and I Dream Of Jeannie
Both these show’s themes are very recognizable to the point of madness but there isn’t a whole lot to them but fluff. They were both original compositions and have wonderful animation sequences to go along with them however.

14. Sesame Street: Theme
Undeniably recognizable, this show’s theme probably should be higher, but others are more likable, like the next one.

13. Reading Rainbow: Theme
This was my favorite show as a kid. Soulful, imaginative and hopeful – these words describe both the show, and it’s opening credits.

12. Star TrekIn All It’s Incarnations
The original is my favorite, but Star Trek: The Next Generation is most recognizable. Then of course, there’s always the vastly different Star Trek: Enterprise.

11. Happy Days: Norman Gimbel and Charles Fox – “Happy Days”
Hot Blonde: Five against two.
The Fonz: Oh no I don’t think you understand see. I’m gonna save you for last and what we’re gonna do, we’re gonna do alone.
Oh Fonzie!

10. Cheers: Gary Portnoy and Judy Hart Angelo “Everybody Knows Your Name”

9. Friends: The Rembrants – “I’ll Be There For You”
Who doesn’t remember this theme song. It defined the 90’s and represented everything friendship should be for 20 somethings in the modern age. I don’t really think I need to explain why this song is included.

8. Laverne and Shirley: Norman Gimbel and Charles Fox – “Making Our Dreams Come True”
“1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7. 8, Schlemiel! Schlimazel! Hasenpfeffer Incorporated!”
I wasn’t even born when this show aired, but my friends and I would dance down the street singing along. This and the dance scene from The First Wives Club kept us pretty busy.

7. Golden Girls: Andrew Gold – “Thank You For Being A Friend”
Is it just my mind that randomly pops this song into the forefront? I don’t think so. As one YouTube user says: “im 24 year old male alcoholic and i love this show!”, demonstrating the mass appeal of both the show, and the perfect theme song.

6. The X-Files: Theme
This theme is unmistakably everything a good theme should be. It’s recognizable, sets the mood for the show and compositionally original. With a theme like this, it no wonder the show lasted 9 seasons (not to mention wonderful writing.

5. The Adams Family: Theme
*Snap Snap*

4. The Nanny: Theme
She was working in a bridal shop in Flushing Queens. Everyone remembers these words. The real trick is to keep up with this fast paced jazz tune. This shows opening credits completely encompassed everything the show stood for.

3. The Fresh Prince of Bel AirDJ Jazzy Jeff and The Fresh Prince – “The Fresh Prince of Bel Air
Oh Fresh Prince. I still remember all of the lyrics to this theme song, and sometimes my friends and I even randomly break into it. That is the essence of a good theme song. The true test of 90’s knowledge: Do you know the words to the extended version? If not, click above. You’re in for a surprise.

2. The Pink Panther: Henry Mancini and His Orchestra “The Pink Panther Theme”
This show is still one of the greats for all ages, and the orchestral  opening is a permanent fixture in every household’s memory. I just introduced this show to my foster daughter earlier this year and at 12, she couldn’t tear herself away from it. Even the 1 year old sat still long enough to watch several episodes, which if you have a 2 year old, you know that’s a major feat.

1. Gilmore Girls: Carol King and Louis Goffin – “Where You Lead I Will Follow”
When a show about the unbreakable bond of a mother and daughter, is opened with Carol King turning her chart topping song into a duet with her own daughter Louise Goffin, you know it’s going to be epic. You may ask why this one beats out all the others. It’s not a classic show (yet). It’s new. It hasn’t begun to prove the test of time… but I believe it will. When I’m feeling down, this is the show I turn on. This show’s opening credits are a perfect fit, and cross generational star power alone is daunting. From Edward Hermann and Kelly Bishop, to Lauren Graham and Melissa McCarthy, to Alexis Bledel, Milo Ventimiglia and Jared Padelecki. Every performance on this show from the designers to fast talking writing style to the Town Troubadour sequences is perfection and you can tell so from the opening credits. Wait, you say. Town Troubadour? Yes. Star Hallow had an Official Town Troubadour in Grant-Lee Phillips. Oh yeah – and it’s my list, so I can make it #1 if I want to.

Honorable Mentions:

  • Veronica MarsThe Dandy Wahols – “We Used To Be Friends”
    This is a relatively new show, and largely unrecognizable in the mainstream social conscious, but it broke my heart to leave it out of the Top 15. The lyrics sum up the entire feeling of the show with it’s very first line: “A long time ago, we used to be friends…” It has the spunky attitude of the show’s main character telling all who are listening to bring it on. This show’s heroine can handle anything, and she had to. Veronica faced her best friends death, her own rape, the fact that her alcoholic mother had an affair with her ex-boyfriends father and they might actually be siblings. By the end of season one, she even managed to stare down her best friend’s murderer and put him in jail. All of this sounds like a day time soap, but the gritty noir and reality of a flawed young woman who has been through far too much in her lifetime, made her a role model for every woman in the 21st century. So “come on now sugar, bring it on, bring it on now.”
  • Family Matters: Jesse Frederick, Bennet Salvay and Scott Roeme – “As Days Go By”
    This theme song still warms my heart. It feels like home when you listen to it. Maybe cheesy, but warmth and “real love bursting out of every seam.” (Hmm the sounds kinda dirty.) But really, I loved Urkel. He made me feel it was ok to be a nerd, and the family support was palpable. This show taught you how a family should love, and did it with soul and style.

2 thoughts on “Top 15 TV Show Theme Songs

  1. I mostly agree with WHY the songs are on the list. I probably would have ordered them differently, like I would place Fresh Prince at number 1. I also would have less sci-fi… but that’s ’cause it’s me.

    • Also…

      Now this is a story all about how my life got flip-turned upside-down, so I’d like to take a minute, just sit right there, and I’ll tell you howibecamethe prince of a town called Bel-Air.

      In west Philidelphia, born and raised, on the playground is where I spent most of my days. Chillin’ out, maxin’, relaxin’ all cool and all, shootin’ some b-ball outside of the school, when a couplea guys, that were up to no good, starting makin’ trouble in mah neighborhood. I got in one little fight and my mom got scared, she said “you’re movin’ with your auntie and uncle in Bel-Air.

      I whistled for a cab and when it came near the license plate said fresh and it had dice in the mirror, if anything I could say that this cab was rare but I thought “man, forget it, yo homes, to Bel-Air!”

      I, pulled, up to the house about seven or eight and I yelled to the cabbie, “yo homes, smell ya later!” I looked at my kingdom, I was finally there, to sit on my throne as the Prince of Bel-Air.

      I don’t know the hugely extended version. But that’s probably because when I started watching Fresh Prince, it was already in re-runs with the shortened theme song. But not the SUPER shortened one that sucks.

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