The Greatest TV Theme Songs of All Time

How’s it going? I have writer’s block and can’t muster up the courage to write another article about how bad the Kings are and how they might be moving to another city. So in lieu of that, here are what are in my mind, the greatest TV themes of all time.

In my mind, a theme song has to be memorable, goes with the show, and has some quality to it and also when you hear it, you automatically think of the show.

So here we go, here’s the list:

10. It’s Garry Shandling’s Show (1986-1990 Showtime)

This is the theme to Garry’s Show and it’s one of the simplest theme songs ever written or aired. I like it because it’s lazy humor and it was the anti-theme song. For this show, it totally worked. We didn’t have Showtime back then (and still don’t, it’s HBO or nothing!), but when they ran the show on FOX, I did see the show and I forgot about it for a long time after it aired. When it was referenced later on during VH1’s I Love the ‘80s, they played the theme song and I couldn’t help but laugh. It’s a great theme song and an underrated one in my view. This show was probably more remembered for the song than the show itself.

9. Dallas (1978-91, CBS)

Here’s a theme that is synonymous with the show it’s on. Anytime this is heard, you think of the show, the city, and everything that the show’s about. I love the way it’s played during the credits and you see the images of the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex and then the cast appears in alphabetical order. This theme had staying power and it goes with the show.

8. Sesame Street (1969-Present NET/PBS)

Yes, that’s right. Sesame Street made the list. I like the way the theme was done in the old days, though. The music on it was actually pretty good and it’s a sound I hadn’t heard before or since. I even like the closing music they played on Fridays when they did the full credits. I would have ranked this higher on the list, but they re-did the theme in the 1990s and kind of ruined it for me, but the theme they used before it was touched up unnecessarily is really good.

Here are the Friday closing credits with the music:

7. Seinfeld (1989-98 NBC)

The greatest sitcom of all time had one of the best themes of all time as well. When you hear the popping and the bass, you know it’s time for Seinfeld. It’s the kind of theme that goes with a show such as Seinfeld. I think of a wacky adventure that Jerry, George, Elaine, Kramer or even Newman is having. I even laugh sometimes when I hear this theme. Words? What show about nothing needs words in their theme? Who does that?

6. The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air (1990-96 NBC)

Usually, it’s not good news when the star of your show is singing the theme. It often means that the producers of the show couldn’t find anyone else good enough to perform the theme. But Will Smith sings it perfectly and it also describes the premise of the show. It’s also a theme that everyone, and I mean everyone, knows the lyrics to. Even if you haven’t seen the show, you know the theme. What else can you ask for?

5. The Jeffersons (1975-85 CBS)

Like the Fresh Prince, The Jeffersons offers another theme that describes the whole premise of the show. They’re movin’ on up to the east side and have finally made it. Plus, it’s really a catchy theme song. Every time I hear it, I think of George Jefferson walking on the back of a white guy with his shoes off calling him a honky. I even like the closing theme with the humming. It’s beautiful, man!

4. The Greatest American Hero (1981-83 ABC)

Here’s another theme that’s probably more recognized for its theme than the show itself. Written and performed by Joey Scarbury, it describes the show perfectly. It’s an unlikely guy who’s in disbelief that he’s become a superhero. The music and the lyrics are great and in a way it makes you want to be a superhero, too.

3. COPS (1989-Present FOX)

This song came out as a single called “Bad Boys” by Inner Circle two years before COPS premiered on FOX. But the song is better known as the show’s theme more than it is as a hit single that was #8 on the U.S. 100 Charts in 1987. I usually don’t think theme songs should be hit songs, but this one works for the show. This song was originally going to be used for one season until a new song was found, but producers found that it worked with the show too well for it to be replaced, so it has stuck ever since and it’s on a long time Saturday night staple.

2. Three’s Company (1977-84 ABC)

Come and knock on our door! This show’s theme is absolutely epic! It’s got the funky music, the literal lyrics, anything you could want in a theme song. It described the show perfectly and it fit the show perfectly. I wish I had more to say about this song, but it speaks for itself. Just like the show with the best theme song of all time…

1. Cheers (1982-93 NBC)

By a mile, this show has the greatest theme song of all time. Sometimes you want to go where everybody knows your name, and on this show, everyone did! The music, the lyrics, the feeling you get when the theme plays, it’s all there . I always feel like beer should be pouring from the TV whenever this show comes on and that is the reason why Cheers’ “Where Everybody Knows Your Name” is the greatest TV theme song of all time.

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