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The All-time Greatest TV Theme Songs

Nothing can get you ready to watch another episode of a show like a great theme song. Let’s stick to songs written specifically for shows, so no Entourage (Jane’s Addiction’s “Superhero”) or Friends (The Rembrandts’ “I’ll Be There for You”) here.

1. Recognizable by rhythm alone, you will both sing and snap along whenever you hear the Addams Family theme song.

2. With “Theme from Mission: Impossible,” Lalo Schifrin recorded what is hands down the best music to spy to. Trust me.

3. “Welcome Back” by Lovin’ Spoonful’s John Sebastian was not only accepted as the theme song for Welcome Back, Kotter, it’s responsible for the first two words in the show’s title being added. It was a big Top 40 hit back in the day, too.

4. The Jeffersons theme song, “Movin’ on Up,” was recorded by the song’s co-writer, Ja’net Dubois, who herself starred in the seventies sitcom Good Times.

5. Everybody knows Where Everybody Knows Your Name as the theme song from Cheers. You can find the full version on Gary Portnoy’s 2004 album Keeper and look on iTunes for Cheers: Music From The TV Series for several versions.

6. It took Danny Elfman just over three days to create the theme for The Simpsons and I bet nothing else he’s ever done has been heard as many times.

7. The instrumental version of “Falling,” a song written by Angelo Badalamenti with guidance and lyrics by David Lynch, fit the images in the intro of, and set the unusual scene for, Twin Peaks. Damn fine theme song.

8. The opening theme of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air is one of those ones that explains the premise of the show via lyrics, but it actually doesn’t get annoying over time. Everyone of a certain generation can rap every word.

9. I bet “The Ballad of Serenity” would have sounded even better during the episode intros of the second through seventh seasons of Firefly, but alas…

10. Show creator Kurt Sutter co-wrote the lyrics to “This Life,” so it’s no coincidence how well it fits Sons of Anarchy. The other composers are a producer named Bob Fiele Jr., Velvet Revolver guitarist Dave Kushner, and the guy who performed the theme, Curtis Stigers.

Themes that didn’t make the cut (but could have):

  • WKRP in Cincinnati (Main theme)/Stephen Carlisle
  • The Rockford Files/Mike Post
  • Theme from Miami Vice/Jan Hammer
  • The Munsters/Jack Marshall
  • Batman theme/Neil Hefti
  • Hockey Night in Canada/Dolores Claiborne

5 thoughts on “The All-time Greatest TV Theme Songs

  • “Song from M*A*S*H (Suicide Is Painless)” is a song written by Johnny Mandel (music) and Mike Altman (lyrics), which was the theme song for both the movie and TV series M*A*S*H.

    Seinfeld theme by Jonathon Wolff

  • What about Fat Albert (Bill Cosby, I know, I know…..) or Sanford and Son

  • Baretta – Keep Your Eye On The Sparrow
    Gilligan’s Island – Ballad of (try the garage/post-punk Uranus version)

  • Mary Tyler Moore Show. Nicely arranged

  • And how in the world is Hawaii Five-O not mentioned yet?


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