Top Five Cartoon Theme Songs

Top Five is a show where the hosts categorize, rank, compare, and stratify everything… from cars to gadgets to people and movies. From stuff that is hot, and things that are not nearly as interesting – it’s Top Five.

This week, we pick our favorite cartoon theme songs. Speed Racer and Adventure Time are on the list, but did Heathcliff and Hong Kong Phooey make the list? You’ll have to listen to find out!


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  1. Ducktales

    Inspector Gadget

    X (the anime with the within temptation song mother earth) – just thinking about it sends a shiver down my back


    Die Biene Maja (german intro)

    Alfred Jodokus Quack (actually the intro and the outro so this is not part of the list)

  2. Justin Wawrzonek on

    Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles – I still hum this to myself on occasion.

    Transformers – “More than meets the eye..”

    Animaniacs – Another one that gets stuck in my head every now and then.

    Duck Tales – Oooohhh Ooohhhh

    Pinky and the Brain – Pure awesomeness.

    • I could possibly come up with something that beats Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles for me… but instead, I’ll just agree and say: ^This!!

  3. Gunsmith Cats Opening – Tank is great, but GSC did it first… the pure funk with magazine loading, gun slide racking, grenade pin pulling, and Shelby roaring accompaniment sets the tone perfectly.

    Batman – Noble dark brooding dangerous classic epic from another era, the intro is the show.

  4. Johnny Quest opening from the 90s. I’d watch the opening and than switch to something else.

    Hellsing closing theme – Shine. I still love that song.

  5. Sailor Moon (English Version) – My friends and I will randomly start singing this sometimes while we are driving, and it becomes stuck in my head for weeks.

    Darkwing Duck – When there’s trouble you call D.W….

    Teen Titans! – Another song that becomes trapped in my head for days on end

  6. 5. “The Animaniacs” – Quite possibly one of the most brilliant animated comedy series of all time.
    4. “Droids” – Theme song written and performed by Stewart Copeland of “The Police.” I was twelve when this show originally aired. It’s been about 25 years since I’ve seen the show and I still remember the song.
    3. “Pinky And The Brain” – A better theme-song than “Animaniacs” which launched it, but let’s face facts, “Pinky and the Brain” was a better short on “Animaniacs” than it was as a stand-alone 30-minute show.
    2. “Robot Chicken” – Bawk, bawk, bawk, bawk. Bawk, bawk, bawk, bawk. Bawk, bawk, bawk, bawk, bawk, bawk, bawk, bawk, bawk, bawk.
    1. “Star Blazers” – I dare you to find a TV show not created by Sherwood Schwartz that sums up the overall plot and concept of a show better than this theme-song does.

  7. Here are five that haven’t been mentioned yet:

    5. Johnny Quest (1964) –great opening sequence too.

    4. Futurama

    3. Superman The Animated Series (1996)–as Bruce Timm explained, this theme song and the John Williams’ 1978 movie theme have “Superman” as an unspoken lyric (oxymoron?).

    2. Last Exile–could easily be my #1

    1. Read or Die (OVA)

    Honorable mentions (some already mentioned): Teen Titans (love how they used both a Japanese and English version), Batman Beyond, Captain Caveman (well, just the opening CAAAPPTAAAAINN CAAAAVEEMAAAAANNN!), Hong Kong Phooey, UnderDog, Mighty Mouse.

  8. 5. The Pink Panther – This jazzy theme, from Henry Mancini, is the epitome of iconic. Almost everybody recognizes this one. My daughter loves Pink Panther, and hums the theme all the time.

    4. Spartakus and the Sun Beneath the Sea – A fairly obscure, and really weird show that aired on Nickelodeon in the mid-80s. This French cartoon has never been released on DVD in English-Booger. Hear it here:

    3. Teen Titans – J-Pop theme from Puffy AmiYumi, so catchy it will lodge itself in your head for days on end.

    2. Daria – You’re Standing on My Neck by Splendora. Awesome angsty, snarky theme song for one of the best television shows of the 1990s. La, la laaaaa la la….

    1. Johnny Quest (Original from 1964). This song is so intense and full of energy, you never forget it, especially when tied to the epic title sequence animation.

  9. 5. Hong Kong Phooey – Has to include the speech at the beginning (if only for “Coooould be”).

    4. Jamie and the Magic Torch – I always loved the way that this one just lulled you with the quiet beginning and then just went utterly nuts.

    3. Danger Mouse – So ridiculously high energy, how can you not get excited by this one.

    2. Alias the Jester – This is the obscure one, but I just love the theme. The combination of outer space and middle ages stuff, the huge aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaAAAALIAS!!! transition and the lyric “He overwhelms the underhanded using all the power at his command”.

    1. Terrahawks – Supermarionation might be cheating a bit here (it’s a kind of animation, right?), but this one grabs my top spot. Be sure to find the full extended version for awesome sound clippiness.

  10. Top 5 for me
    5: Batman Beyond. Love the music “Smells Like Creamed Spinach” Just Fits Right with the show
    4: Superfriends. Cmon, I am a child of the times, I have to love it
    3: Star Blazers, I know Mathew liked BOTP, but this music and show was better and the music tells you all you need to know about the show.
    2: Pink Panther: It played the whole show, No Talking. Can any other music say that. And it is simply good music.
    1:Higgleytown Heroes. When My kids were young I heard it and liked it. They Might Be Giants sing it. Very cool.

    I was going to add the Jackson 5 Cartoon on here but felt it may be cheating as it is just a remix of some of their Hits.

    • Star Blazers, I know Mathew liked BOTP, but this music and show was better and the music tells you all you need to know about the show.

      Star Blazers had good music. It was not, in my estimation, better music (or a better show) than Battle Of The Planets. They’re different beasts, like Star Wars & Star Trek… Like X-Men & Doom Patrol… Like Rodrigo and Dante. The twain simply do not meet.

  11. 5. Men In Black The Series – The theme is awesome partly because it’s so different. The hard cuts and the scratchiness sets the mood for the style they decided to go with the series. I loved seeing how the scene kept changing with each cut and, mixed with the art style, formed a unique character for the show which I haven’t seen replicated anywhere else.

    4. Pokemon – The theme has become a classic for any kid who grew up in the 90s. Just hearing the line “I want to be the very best” will send a group of 20 year olds into a chorus repeating the entire theme. It summed up the show in every way and is truly one of the most iconic theme songs from that time period. I absolutely love how optimistic the song is. Gotta catch em all!

    3. Hey Arnold – Another unique song. It’s a jazz piece that illustrates the smoothness that defined the show. I also love how the only lyrics come from Helga (until the very end); not the main character or even a group of kids but rather one girl who is his eternal bully/secret admirer. All the while, Arnold struts around an area with so much character until finally everyone yells “Hey Arnold.” Such a great way to start the show.

    2. Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex – I’m cheating a bit with this one because there are two themes for the show. Honestly, if I have to choose one I’d choose the theme from the first season but both are great in their own way. Inner Universe showcases the epic scope that the show originally takes while hinting at the emotional core that is usually hidden from the normally professional Section 9. The second theme doesn’t have the same emotional punch but does a great job of showing off that professionalism I was talking about. With the lyrics like “I’m a soldier,” “We are soldiers stand or die,” “Save your fears […] when our pain is far behind,” “Time to make the sacrifice/We rise or fall,” and “Please give me the strength to be the truth” you truly get the feeling that the team is willing to give everything to fight for a cause they believe in. They may be scared and they may die, but they’re willing to do absolutely anything to do what is right.

    1. Duck Tales – I’m going to have to go with Stephen on this one. There is no theme more iconic to me than the Duck Tales theme. It perfectly captures everything that goes on in the show. From race cars to lasers to airplanes, the show has a little bit of absolutely everything and the lyrics show that right off the bat. I can’t say much more than Stephen said besides how easily the song gets stuck in my head. And just like the Pokemon song, it is so optimistic to the point that there’s even a whoop that permeates the entire theme. I love this song and it truly encompasses all the hope and adventure that made being a child so incredible.

  12. Hey guys,

    what about Saber Rider? I think this theme should definitely be in the Top 5! The theme is energetic, goes so well with the whole intro and sets the tone for the upcoming story.

    Apart from that great choices, glad Danger Mouse made it into your Top 5!

  13. Man, to think back at all the cartoons I watched over the years and then remember the tunes that stand out was a bit tedious, yet totally fun. I’m not sure I really can rank any of these higher than another, but for the sake of a list here are the top five cartoon themes that take me back to a place where bills were just something on a duck’s face:
    1. Shirt Tales
    2. Silverhawks
    3. Duck Tales
    4. He-Man and the Masters of the Unitverse ( Barely a song I know, but I whsitle it all the time)
    5. Muppet Babies
    I’m known to walk around humming/singing or whistling any of these tunes. That doesn’t even count other ones like The Critic, Simpsons, Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends, The Hulk (90’s), Snorks, and the theme to the USA Cartoon Express. Man I wish I never gre up or these shows never went away.

  14. Get into your Wayback Machine, Sherman :)

    1. The Mighty Orbots – 13 episodes during the 80s–a beautiful synthesis of Voltron and Star Wars with a main character voiced by Brainy Smurf. An awesome title song!

    2. The Mysterious Cities of Gold. Listen to this one and tell me you don’t want to grab your D&D dice and your golden condor!

    3. Hong Kong Phooey. Fanrific!

    4.When we need a list, I am not slow! It’s hip, hip, hip, and away we go! Underdog!

    5. Disney’s Adventures of the Gummi Bears. Magic AND mystery, yo!

  15. RAM_evi1spaceknight on

    5.Dungeons and Dragons- Bit of a cheat as no real song but a great setup anyway.
    4.Galaxy Rangers – If for no other reason than you can see them perform their own theme song on you tube
    3.Defenders of the Earth- The guy singing this really did his best to over the top dramatise this practically growling “the beasts call him brotherrrrrrrrr”
    2.Bravestarr-They needed 1000 lawmen to tame New Texas. They got one. It was enough. Love the wink. Like a good film trailer this makes me want to watch it again
    1. Ullysees 31 – who knew the titular hero had that many syllables

  16. IMHO:

    5. Mighty Mouse

    4. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (80s)

    3. Inspector Gadget

    2. Thundercats (guilty pleasure)

    1. Scooby-Doo (the original)

  17. The greatest songs for me are the ones that kick I. The feel of the whole series…..or are forever stuck in your head, whether or not you want it there. In no order

    1. Gargoyles- brief but great dramatic theme
    2. My little pony- 3 boys and 1 girl in the house and they all hum it and than are embarrassed
    (thanks rodrigo)
    3. Veggie tales- cucumber in a tuba….nuff said
    4. Transformers
    5. Go, Diego,go- kids try to sing the words and have no idea what they are saying….makes me giggle

  18. #5 Thundercats
    While the mid-90s were my time of development as a child, a few gems from the 80s really impacted my growth as a geek and nerd; this wasn’t one of them. However, the theme song, with the intense guitar riff and iconic “Thunder, Thunder, Thunder, Thundercats! HOOOO!” really cement the experience as one that I keep humming out loud, much to many bystander’s annoyance.

    #4 Batman Beyond
    The idea that someone other than Bruce Wayne in the role of the Caped Crusader is something that borders on sacriligious; thankfully, he never actually stops BEING Batman, but I won’t get into it here, because what’s important is the opening theme, with its distinctly futuristic, dystopian visuals and electric guitar rock. As a kid, it was cool to see Bats in black and red.

    #3 Outlaw Star
    For much the same reason that Cowboy Beebop is so lauded, this space-western anime is very precious to me, with redeemable and understandable characters, intense, physically-impossible spaceship combat, and, of course, the catching tune “Through the Night” at the beginning of all 26 episodes.

    #2 Goof Troop
    A Disney Classic from the same vein that made Tale Spin and Darkwing Duck, the theme from Goof Troop was a poppy, hip musical that was VERY easy to get stuck in your head, especially the unmistakeable laugh of that loveable goof, Goofy.

    #1 Sonic the Hedgehog (90s Saturday Morning Cartoon version)
    One of the very, VERY few good video game-to-cartoon variants, this rock-and-roll take on one of the 90s most beloved and iconic gaming characters captured the attention of kids across the nation, and made Sonic the Hedgehog the epitome of “cool” for many young minds. This one is undoubtedly the best of the best.

  19. One what jumped to mind was the introduction to Jane and the Dragon because it’s so upbeat and feels like a minstrel’s song. I love, love, love the Gargoyles intro because it feels so powerful and dramatic. Also, I fell in love with the “Pryde of the X Men” intro! And although I haven’t watched any episodes… I love all the “retro” superhero themesongs from the 60s (e.g. Captain America 1966 and Iron Man 1966).

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