I know, I know. This is another YouTube fest. But that way you guys get to hear those awesome tunes I have selected to be the 30 best television show theme songs ever written.
Before we start, some ground rules should be established.
Firstly, only original material. That means that there will not be any theme songs that’ve been in earlier use somewhere else. So no Massive Attack’s ’Teardrop’ for House, Frank Sinatra’s ’Love and Marriage’ for Married With Children or John Williams’ adapted Star Wars theme in Clone Wars.
Secondly, I’m rating these themes based on the song material alone, so the visual quality of the intro themes will not factor into any decision. In few cases (and in the end anecdotes) I will point out to the visual images, though, but only to highlight the musical brilliance of the theme itself.
Thirdly, I will combine live action TV themes with animated ones, because I really can’t see the difference if a theme is written for either of them. If the shit is good, then the shit is good.
Enough adult talk, let’s continue the countdown!
Check out earlier rankings: 30-21
20. Takayuki Miyauchi – GINGA NAGAREBOSHI GIN (aka SILVER FANG)
Let’s throw in some anime, shall we?
I got introduced with this animated TV show relatively late in the game, so the nostalgia value is not as high with this than other animated shows from the same time period, but that doesn’t mean I can’t appreciate a great theme song, when I hear it. This song is full of rhytmic beats and very emotional performance from mister Miyauchi, and it’s sad that the lyrics get lost in translation for me. Nevertheless, the song carries itself well and it deserves to be here on this list. After all, this song bumped the theme of Game of Thrones off this list. Not many themes can do that.
Best Part in the Intro: The promise of an epic saga. Thankfully the show kept it’s promise.
19. Wayne Coyne & Steven Drozd – DUCK DODGERS
Does the names Wayne Coyne and Steven Drozd ring a bell? Well, they are from The Flaming Lips, and they wrote this killer theme song. And they got Tom Jones to perform it. Here, take a listen:
That’s very James Bond-esque, isn’t it? Hell, if this would be in the title sequence in one of the Bond-films, it would still be totally credible. The composition includes some chill sci-fi twists in it, so it’s totally appropriate to be the theme to Duck D. Sadly, I haven’t seen this show, but the theme song is so promising that I need to remedy that ASAP. Hopefully before the Twenty-fourth and a half century…
Best Part in the Intro: The animation is beautiful. Daffy- I mean Dodgers looks great.
18. Will Smith & QDIII (aka Quincy Jones III) – FRESH PRINCE OF BEL-AIR
Most sitcoms have theme songs that are really not that fun. But then there’s Will Smith doing his thing with this. He has always been a fun rapper, who writes harmless and clever little lyrics and delivers them flawlessly with his oral skills. This is here mostly because the lyrics, but whoa boy are they good. The theme basically recaps the premise of the show and that’s brilliant. Newcomers will be up to speed after the credits are done and can just watch the show. It’s fun and harmless, just like Fresh Prince himself.
Best Part in the Intro: The cab driver smells. That’s California for ya!
17. Michael Kamen – BAND OF BROTHERS
Just tell me, when the song reaches it’s highest note, don’t you agree that it’s one of the greatest themes ever?
Best Part in the Intro: Neal McDonough dropping his helmet like boss.
16. Ira Newborn – POLICE SQUAD
This intro music was so darn good, that when they did the movie versions, the theme music stays exactly the same. Composer Ira Newborn does a parody of Count Basie’s 1959 TV Theme for Lee Marvin vehicle M Squad, but I think the parody is even better than the original. What do you think?
Best Part in the Intro: There are new jokes every week even in the title sequence.
15. John Van Tongeren & Mark Mancina – THE OUTER LIMITS
When the remake for that sci-fi anthology series hit the television in the nineties, the title sequence got a modernization which included a new theme music. I think Van Tongeren and Mark Mancina did a real bang up job with it. It’s exciting, dynamic (if a tad dated now) and supports Kevin Conway’s kick-ass narration. The original was good, but I prefer this one.
Best Part in the Intro: That moment when the low horns go BWAAH (at the 0:26 mark ) and shit gets real. That’s my favourite thing in the title sequence and makes me smile wide.
14. Gary Lionelli – THE REAL ADVENTURES OF JONNY QUEST
I bet none of you remembered that this existed. But it was out there for two seasons, and the intro music is as terrific as they come.
Gary Lionelli reworked the original theme song (which isn’t that great) and made this sound big, adventurous and a delicious. This song got me to do this list in the first place. It’s one of those underappreciated theme songs (and TV shows) of all time. Give it a listen, and watch the show. Both are worth your time.
Best Part in the Intro: Jonny Quest breaking through that glass.
13. Alexander Courage – STAR TREK
Star Trek. This theme is iconic, to say the least. William Shatner gets 30 seconds to do his narration, and then the theme kicks in with full force. That pumping drumbeat, those wild tablas and that high-pitched lady whailing the theme. What’s not to like?
Best Part in the Intro: That wooshing sound, when the Enterprise whizzes by.
12. Henry Mancini – PETER GUNN
You know what’s cool? The Peter Gunn theme. In fact it’s so cool that the Blues Brothers adopted it. It takes a master to write something as memorable and suave, and film composer Henry Mancini is definitely just that.
Best Part in the Intro: The theme song is so good, that the titles don’t have to do almost anything.
11. Stu Phillips & Glen Larson – KNIGHT RIDER
As a kid, I loved this theme so much that I made my parents the LP vinyl of Knight Rider. And you know what? It’s still awesome.
Best Part in the Intro: That intro encapsulates everything that’s cool to an 8-year old kid.
Head on over to see the last batch: 10-1