Ask a group what the best TV theme song of all time is, and you’ll have a hot debate on your hands. From the earliest days of the medium, television and music have gone hand in hand. Here are our top 55 TV theme songs of all time, from the 1950s to the present day.
1. Where Everybody Knows Your Name — from Cheers
Throughout the 1980s, Cheers was one of the most popular shows on television. The will-they, won’t-they relationship of Sam Malone and Diane Chambers had so many fans that the show kept its ratings even after losing its lead actress. To this day, its theme song delivers a hefty element of nostalgia, with its gentle piano accompaniment and lyrics about everyone’s favorite neighboring watering hole.
2. I’ll Be There For You — from Friends
The Rembrandts’ song “I’ll Be There For You” has become one of the most widely-known and popular theme songs of all time. Friends was the iconic sitcom of the 1990s, with a memorable theme song to match. “I’ll Be There For You” became famous for its iconic clapping backtrack as well as its relatable lyrics.
3. Thank You For Being a Friend — from The Golden Girls
The Golden Girls was one of the most popular sitcoms of the 1980s, running from 1985 to 1992. It was unique on television at the time, as it focused on an older, majority female cast. The show was also revolutionary for its time, tackling hot-button issues of the day. Its iconic theme song, Thank You For Being a Friend, was a cover of the 1978 hit but is almost exclusively associated with the show.
4. Main Theme — from The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air
There are few theme songs as catchy as Will Smith’s rapped intro to The Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air. This is one of many sitcom themes that offers a backstory and introduces the characters—in this case, the rough-and-tumble Smith who is sent to live with his wealthy Los Angeles family. The show ran from 1990 to 1996, but the song still remains as popular and widely known as ever.
5. Main Theme — from The Office
The Office is arguably one of the most popular sitcoms not just of the 21st century but of all time. Nearly a decade after going off air, it still has a dedicated fanbase. The theme song relies on a catchy keyboard intro followed by a unique instrument called a melodica. Interestingly, the famous theme wasn’t even composed until about a week before the show’s pilot aired.
6. Main Theme — from I Love Lucy
When your leading actor is also a professional singer, you know your theme song will be great. Desi Arnaz, who played Ricky Ricardo in the 1950s sitcom I Love Lucy, also sang the title intro. The lyrics are a reminder that no matter what kind of hijinks Lucy Ricardo gets up to, her husband Ricky still loves her at the end of the day.
7. Main Theme — from The Brady Bunch
The Brady Bunch’s opening sequence was famous for the unique “box” screen introduction of the characters and their backstory. Though it only ran for the first half of the decade, the show was one of the most popular sitcoms of the 1970s. Its theme song and sequence are still famous, nearly half a century after going off air.
8. Won’t You Be My Neighbor — from Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood
Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood ran from 1969 to 2001, defining the childhoods of at least two generations and shaping the future of children’s television. The show received limited funding at first and was largely a labor of love from its creator, Fred Rogers. Its extreme popularity improved its funding over the years. Countless children grew up hearing the gentle theme song, which Rogers always sang as he came inside, removed his shoes, and put on a cardigan.
9. Main Theme — from SpongeBob Squarepants
It might drive parents crazy, but SpongeBob Squarepants is one of the most successful and long-running animated series of all time. Since 1999, the show has captivated kids. One of the biggest draws is the show’s catchy theme song. The silly animation and over-the-top lyrics get the show’s name stuck permanently in your head, especially with the repeated shouts of “SpongeBob Squarepants.”
10. Hey Girl — from New Girl
New Girl ran from 2011 to 2018 and told the story of a woman who moves in with three male roommates after her relationship falls apart. Zooey Deschanel, a talented singer as well as the show’s lead actress, supplied the vocals for the theme song. Though the show opted for an instrumental version during later seasons, its simple but catchy melody was just one more thing that made New Girl so popular during its run.
11. Tossed Salads & Scrambled Eggs — from Frasier
One of the most successful spin-offs of all time, Frasier was a follow-up to Cheers. The show ran from 1993 to 2004 and featured the pompous Frasier Crane now living with his working-class father. Frasier flipped the script, literally, by featuring the theme song at the end of each episode rather than the beginning. The lyrics “Hey baby, I hear the blues a-callin’, Tossed salads and scrambled eggs” are said to refer to the patients who call in to Frasier’s radio show asking for help.
12. At Least it Was Here — from Community
Community ran from 2009 to 2015 and told the story of Jeff Winger, a successful lawyer who has to return to community college once he is found to have faked his bachelor’s degree. While at Greendale Community College, he falls in with a ragtag study group of divorcees, burnouts, and aimless seniors. The infectious theme song perfectly captures the lack of direction among the friend group, which has brought them all back to community college.
13. Main Theme — from Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt
Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt was a comedy series that ran from 2015 to 2019. It told the story of Kimmy Schmidt, a woman who takes on New York City after 15 years trapped in an underground doomsday cult as a “mole woman.” The theme song comes from an interview depicted in the first episode, which is shown as being set to autotune. It’s the perfect anthem for girl power, with lines like “They alive, dammit, It’s a miracle, Females are strong as hell.”
14. Main Theme — from The Big Bang Theory
The Big Bang Theory is a show all about nerdy scientists who struggle to connect with “normal” people, and its theme song perfectly sets the stage. The song, written and performed by the band The Barenaked Ladies, manages to summarize all of human history in just two minutes (or 30 seconds, in the single stanza used on the air). But the speed of the song is used to demonstrate exactly how short human history is in comparison to the age of the universe.
15. Main Theme — from Doctor Who
Doctor Who is one of the longest-running television shows in history. It first aired in 1963 and celebrated its 50th-anniversary episode in 2013. Amazingly, the show has kept the same theme song for its entire run. However, it has used a variety of arrangements, most notably when it first returned to the air in 2005 after a 16-year hiatus.
16. Main Theme — from Rawhide
Though Rawhide isn’t widely remembered by modern audiences, its theme song was so memorable that you can still hear it. The song, which begins with the iconic chorus “Rollin’, rollin’, rollin,” became so synonymous with the western film genre that it was used in parodies including The Blues Brothers, Happy Feet 2, The Simpsons, and Shrek 2.
17. Suicide is Painless — from M*A*S*H
M*A*S*H, which ran from 1972 to 1983, was one of the most popular shows of the decade. The show was instrumental in kicking off the careers of several famous actors. It depicted the events of a field hospital during the Korean War, often with a dark comedic twist. This dark humor is forecast in the theme song “Suicide Is Painless.”
18. Boss of Me — from Malcolm in the Middle
Long before he was known for playing a drug kingpin, Bryan Cranston starred alongside Frankie Muniz and Jane Kaczmarek on Malcolm In The Middle. The show, which ran from 2000 to 2006, depicted the antics of a dysfunctional family with five sons. The theme song “Boss Of Me” perfectly encapsulates what it’s like to be the middle kid bucking against all the people telling you what to do.
19. Main Theme — from Jeopardy
Is there any other theme song that is so recognizable just from its instrumentals? Jeopardy has been on the air for more than 50 years. Though the opening theme has changed a few times, the final question theme has remained the same throughout the show’s run. This iconic song became so widely known that it was eventually adopted as the opening theme as well. The song was awarded the title of Best Game Show Theme Song at the Game Show Awards in 2009.
20. Meet the Flintstones — from The Flintstones
Believe it or not, the theme song “Meet the Flintstones”—widely regarded as one of the most famous TV theme songs of all time—wasn’t added until the third season of The Flintstones. Despite its late addition, a survey in the UK found that it was the best-known children’s theme song of all time.
21. Frolic — from Curb Your Enthusiasm
Curb Your Enthusiasm ran from 2000 to 2011, then returned for another season in 2017. The theme song, which features whimsical instrumentals, is instantly recognizable. The title is actually “Frolic,” in case you were wondering, and it has become a viral sound on TikTok—just further proof that it is a theme song that gets stuck in your head.
22. Superman — from Scrubs
The song “Superman” might be best known as the theme song from the show Scrubs, but it wasn’t originally composed for the show. Actor Zach Braff liked the song so much that he suggested it to the showrunners. It was a good choice—the song was named among the Best TV Theme Songs of All Time by Mashable and The New York Observer.
23. Main Theme — from Bewitched
Bewitched was a sitcom that ran from 1964 to 1972. It told the story of a witch named Samantha who falls in love and marries a human named Darrin. This leads to antics as she tries to combine her lives as a magical immortal being and a modern-day suburban housewife. The theme song relied heavily on puns such as “You’ve got me in your spell” and featured an animated Samantha flying on a broom with a classic witch’s hat.
24. Sunny Days — from Sesame Street
Stop anyone in public and ask them to sing the theme from Sesame Street. They’ll probably remember every word. This happy song has defined the childhood of almost three generations of kids. The theme has remained the same since the show began airing in 1969, though it has undergone a variety of arrangements. But whether you’re most familiar with the calypso version or the classic harmonica version, none of us are immune to what has been termed “the siren song for preschoolers.”
25. The Fishin’ Hole — from The Andy Griffith Show
Even if you didn’t grow up watching The Andy Griffith Show, you’re almost certainly familiar with the theme song. The iconic whistling opening has made the song known for generations. The show, which ran from 1960 to 1968, was one of the most popular shows of the decade. Although it has long since gone off the air, it is still shown on cable reruns, ensuring that even those of us born after the 60s are familiar with the theme song.
26. The Ballad of Gilligan’s Island — from Gilligan’s Island
For a show that only ran for three years, Gilligan’s Island has a long-lasting reputation. That might be in part to its unique, catchy theme song! The song might be more well-known than the show itself. It set the scene for the story, laying out the background to the tune of an upbeat sea shanty. In 2013, “The Ballad of Gilligan’s Island” beat out the theme from Cheers for the best theme song of all time based on fan votes.
27. It’s a Jungle Out There — from Monk
Monk told the story of an obsessive-compulsive, everything-phobic detective solving the murder of his wife. The bouncy opening theme perfectly encapsulated what life was like for Monk himself—dangers around every corner. But the song isn’t just about Monk’s psychological problems. It’s also about his superlative detective skills, which let him see things that others don’t.
28. Main Theme — from Rugrats
It might have been for a children’s show and purely instrumental, but the theme from The Rugrats is one of the most recognizable of all time. Anybody who was a child between 1991 and 2004 will instantly recognize the opening bars. The Rugrats was a wacky and, at times, inappropriate show. But there is no mistaking its iconic theme song, which features kalimba music playing two-note chords.
29. Woke Up This Morning — from The Sopranos
The Sopranos is one of the most famous mobster television shows of all time. Though the song, entitled “Woke Up This Morning,” wasn’t intended explicitly for the show, it’s become widely known as “the Sopranos song.” It was an interesting choice for a show about the New Jersey mob, fusing elements of hip-hop and gospel in an infectiously upbeat tune.
30. Main Theme — from Happy Days
Happy Days ran from 1974 to 1984 and was one of the most popular shows of the decade. The show gave actor Henry Winkler his career start in the role of Arthur Fonzanelli. Happy Days was so successful that it led to several spin-offs, and in many ways was considered one of the essential shows of the 1970s. It’s not surprising that the theme song is so beloved.
31. The Ballad of Jed Clampett — from The Beverly Hillbillies
The Beverly Hillbillies ran from 1962 to 1971, at a time when expositional theme songs were a popular trend. Its theme “The Ballad Of Jed Clampett” might just be one of the most famous. It told the story of how the characters, a poor family from the Ozarks, made millions by striking oil. The catchy tune perfectly sets the stage for the wild and wacky world of the Clampetts, and it’s not hard to see why it’s still so famous.
32. Main Theme — from Crazy Ex-Girlfriend
Crazy Ex-Girlfriend was a comedy series that ran from 2015 to 2019. It followed protagonist Rebecca, who uproots her life in NYC to follow her ex to a small town in California. The ultra-catchy theme song includes the lines: “It happens to be where Josh lives, But that’s not why I’m here.”
33. Main Theme — from The Twilight Zone
The Twilight Zone made shivers run down viewers’ spines in the early 60s, and its theme song has become synonymous with creepy content. The simple melody has been parodied countless times, with its minor key and discordant harmonies. No matter how old you are, it probably still gives you the creeps.
34. Main Theme — from The Addams Family
Try singing the first bar of this song, and you’ll find people singing (and snapping) along. Half the lyrics don’t even make sense (“They’re all together ooky,” anyone?) but then again, neither did the show itself. It makes no difference: both the show and its theme are timeless classics.
35. Love is All Around — from The Mary Tyler Moore Show
The Mary Tyler Moore Show ran from 1970 to 1977 and is remembered for its unique humor and one-of-a-kind characters. The theme song, “Love Is All Around,” ended with Mary Tyler Moore throwing her hat into the air—a moment that became iconic all on its own.
36. Main Theme — from Hawaii Five-O
Hawaii Five-O was one of the original police procedural TV shows. Running from 1968 to 1980, the show set the stage for decades of police dramas and was so popular it even got a reboot in the 2010s. The main theme is iconic, with a percussion and brass-driven melody that can’t be forgotten.
37. Way Down in the Hole — from The Wire
The Wire is one of the most highly-rated shows of all time, so it stands to reason that the theme song would also be a banger. Though the theme “Way Down In The Hole” was composed 15 years before The Wire aired, it is almost exclusively associated with the show these days.
38. Main Theme — from Bob’s Burgers
The adult animated series Bob’s Burgers became famous for its wacky, one-of-a-kind humor and memorable characters. Set to a bouncy ukulele tune, the intro always shows the Belcher family in front of their struggling restaurant, surrounded by disasters of various kinds. Later seasons also feature Gene Belcher providing backup tracks such as dog barks on his keyboard.
39. Movin’ on Up — from The Jeffersons
The Jeffersons ran from 1975 to 1985 and depicted the antics of a newly-wealthy family butting heads with their upper-class neighbors. The show was wildly popular, running for a grand total of 11 seasons. The memorable theme song perfectly encapsulates their overly optimistic outlook on their future.
40. Main Theme — from The Simpsons
The Simpsons is one of the longest-running sitcoms of all time, having been on the air since 1989. Its theme song has become a standard of entertainment for decades. In 2007, Green Day’s cover of the song rose to No. 6 on the charts. The song was nominated for awards in 1990, 1996, 1998, 2002, and 2003.
41. Main Theme — from Psych
The sitcom Psych was all about a character faking his telepathic powers, and its theme song perfectly lays out the motifs of the show. The song, which was composed by one of the showrunners, includes the lyrics: “I know you know, that I’m not telling the truth.”
42. Main Theme — from Gravity Falls
Gravity Falls was an animated adult cartoon that ran from 2012 to 2016. The show gained a cult following thanks to its unique premise and outlandish characters. Its instrumental theme song was equally unique—and catchy enough to earn a spot on our list.
43. Making Our Dreams Come True — from Laverne & Shirley
Laverne & Shirley was a spinoff of Happy Days, running from 1976 to 1983. The show’s theme song became iconic for its confusing, seemingly random addition of Yiddish words throughout. Fun fact: the lyrics “Shlemiel, schlemazel, hasenpfeffer incorporated” are actually from an old Yiddish hopscotch song.
44. Main Theme — from The Pink Panther
Was there ever a saxophone solo that slapped as hard as the theme from The Pink Panther? The original animated series, which aired from 1969 to 1978, relied exclusively on this theme song as background music and lost most of the dialogue. That’s a song that can stand on its own.
45. Main Theme — from Breaking Bad
You know a theme song is great when it’s this widely remembered, yet only features a few solitary bars of music. Though the full Breaking Bad theme song is longer, the version used over the opening credits is only about 18 seconds long. Yet those 18 seconds of twangy guitar music are impossible to forget.
46. Little Boxes — from Weeds
For its theme song, Weeds turned to an older tune that was a perfect fit. The show focused on a suburban widow turned marijuana dealer who got involved with drugs to keep her privileged lifestyle. The song “Little Boxes” is a 1960s critique of suburban life: “Little boxes on the hillside, And they all look just the same.”
47. Call Me, Beep Me! — from Kim Possible
Ask any millennial (at least the ones born in the latter half of the generation) and they will probably be able to sing you the theme from Kim Possible from start to finish. The animated series aired from 2002 to 2007 and featured the adventures of teenage superspy Kim Possible, her klutzy sidekick Ron Stoppable and his naked mole rat Rufus. The ultra-catchy theme song might be a bit dated with its lyrics “…Call me, beep me, If you wanna reach me,” but it is still just as fun to sing.
48. Main Theme — from Parks and Recreation
It takes a lot for a purely instrumental track to become memorable, but Parks And Recreation achieves it. The bouncy theme song is a perfect representation of protagonist Leslie Knope and her stalwart positivity and optimism. Ultimately, what makes the Parks And Recreation theme so memorable is just how catchy it is.
49. Bad Things — from True Blood
True Blood was incredibly popular during its run from 2008 to 2014. The show dealt with the supernatural, as well as monsters—most particularly, vampires. So what better name could its theme song have than this? The song, released in 2005, was perfect for the show.
50. I Don’t Want to Be — from One Tree Hill
First airing in 2003, One Tree Hill was one of the first teen dramas to hit the big time. Its theme song, “I Don’t Wanna Be,” was abandoned in Season 5 for a very specific reason. The song is supposed to exemplify the complex emotions of the teen years, and by then, most of the characters were out of their teens. Everyone among us can relate to that stage of life.
51. Where You Lead — from Gilmore Girls
“Where You Lead” was first released by Carole King back in 1971. These days, it is better known as the theme from the series Gilmore Girls, which ran from 2000 to 2007. But King gave the song a subtle edit before it aired with the show, changing it from describing a relationship between a couple to one between a mother and her daughter, like Lorelei and Rory.
52. Main Theme — from Scooby-Doo, Where Are You?
Although Scooby-Doo, Where Are You? only ran for three seasons between the late 1960s and early 1970s, its theme song by the same name is still widely known. It’s impossible to forget the zany animated intro, which featured the main characters running from a series of monsters. Though the Scooby-Doo characters have been recycled for many film and TV adaptations, this theme song is considered their true signature.
53. Everywhere You Look — from Full House
Full House was one of the most popular shows of the 1990s, telling the story of a widower who lived with his three daughters and their uncles. Its theme song, performed against a backdrop of San Francisco, set the tone for a funny and heartwarming show that’s all about family. The same song was covered by Carly Rae Jepsen for the show’s spin-off, Fuller House.
54. Toss a Coin to Your Witcher — from The Witcher
With the release of The Witcher in 2019 came the return of the theme song that introduces characters. “Toss a Coin To Your Witcher” tells the backstory of Geralt of Rivia, the story’s protagonist and titular monster-hunter. The song became incredibly popular, sparking covers across the internet and even inspiring fan translations into other languages.
55. Main Theme — from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
There have been many adaptations and theme songs over the years. But the original theme from 1987’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is widely considered one of the best! This song introduced the characters and the phrase “heroes in a half shell,” which was frequently reused in other adaptations over the years. Adults who were child fans in the 80s and 90s often fiercely defend this version as the best, so don’t be surprised if you start an argument.