Top-FiveLOGO3Top Five Television 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, a faithful Spoilerite wants to know, “What are the best television theme songs?” It’s a question Matthew and Stephen can’t refuse, and they offer up their top five…

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The Author

Stephen Schleicher

Stephen Schleicher

Stephen Schleicher began his career writing for the Digital Media Online community of sites, including Digital Producer and Creative Mac covering all aspects of the digital content creation industry. He then moved on to consumer technology, and began the Coolness Roundup podcast. A writing fool, Stephen has freelanced for Sci-Fi Channel's Technology Blog, and Gizmodo. Still longing for the good ol' days, Stephen launched Major Spoilers in July 2006, because he is a glutton for punishment.

You can follow him on Twitter @MajorSpoilers and tell him your darkest secrets...

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14 Comments

  1. Erik Waddell
    March 24, 2016 at 11:35 am — Reply

    A lot of good television theme songs on your list, but there was one I kept waiting to be mentioned that never came up: the theme song to M.A.S.H.

    That song really evoked the themes and feel of the show, but also worked as a song in its own right. This would certainly be in my own top 5, maybe even at #1.

    • March 24, 2016 at 12:00 pm — Reply

      Cool! Thanks for sharing! When you find your other four, share those as well.

  2. Erik Waddell
    March 24, 2016 at 2:10 pm — Reply

    My Top 5 Theme songs would be a little different, in part because of my being Canadian and watching Canadian tv as a kid. And so:

    Top 5 TV Theme Songs (Canadian Edition)

    5. The King of Kensington ( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NrP8mjsmy8U )
    4. The Kids in the Hall ( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A-avHA_9SvY )
    3. Degrassi Junior High ( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ErnMPWBlrvc )
    2. Hockey Night in Canada theme song (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YsU_Q6xwcAw )
    1. The Littlest Hobo ( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lgGKSjiw0HQ )

    • Clubberlang6
      April 7, 2016 at 8:40 pm — Reply

      I loved degrassi Jr high

  3. March 24, 2016 at 3:50 pm — Reply

    Could have SWORN Matthew would have picked (Theme From) The Monkees in the number one spot (or at all, at least) — TOTALLY shocked, almost drove my car off the road this morning…

    From the ones mentioned, Greatest American Hero is my personal favorite. So much so that, when it came time to pick a song to light the last candle to at my Bar Mitzvah, this was the song I picked!

    I wish that my age-contemporary, the illustrious Rodrigo, would have been on the show to add some themes from our age bracket, but my Top 5 would be:

    5. Animanics – talk about telling a story and setting the scene, right? Also, the changing last few words of the last verse always got me excited to watch — which will it be???

    4. The Muppet Show – classic show opener for an opening show

    3. Nothing’s Gonna Stop Me Now from Perfect Strangers. Out of all the excellent Jesse Frederick songs for ABC Miller-Boyett TV shows (Full House, Step by Step, and Family Matters), this one still gets me so excited that I may do the Dance of Joy.

    2. You Can Count on Me from My Two Dads — performed by one of those titular dads, Greg Evigan himself

    1. Roundhouse – a ’90s late-night Nickelodeon sketch comedy show with a theme that far outclassed the show itself

  4. March 24, 2016 at 5:14 pm — Reply

    Wow, such a great topic that is pretty difficult to answer, but I’ll try. I haven’t listened to the podcast yet, but I’m looking forward to it. Most of my top favorites are from my recent television watching, but a lot of my runners-up are from way back. Apparently I like HBO shows, lol.
    5. The Leftovers (HBO): A chilling title song for a really weird show.
    4. Spartacus (Starz): Epic song for an epic story.
    3. Deadwood (HBO): Was my favorite show of all time until I fell in love with Game of Thrones, but I still get chills when I hear the title song.
    2. True Blood (HBO): The show was not so great, but the theme song was just about perfect!
    1. Game of Thrones (HBO): Best theme song of the best show of all time.

    Also: MASH, Mary Tyler Moore Show, Dukes of Hazzard, All In the Family, The Jeffersons, Cheers, WKRP in Cincinnati, Laverne & Shirley. Good Times, Three’s Company, Welcome Back Kotter, Top Cat, The Simpsons, Spongebob Squarepants, Adventure Time, The Flintstones, Black Sails (Starz), The Walking Dead (AMC), Rome (HBO), The Sopranos (HBO), Shameless (Showtime), Boardwalk Empire (HBO, Hell on Wheels (AMC), Carnivale (HBO)

    I know there’s more. OMG, I watch way too much TV!

  5. Ian
    March 24, 2016 at 5:27 pm — Reply

    WKRP, Welcome Back Kotter, Greatest American Hero

  6. Matticus Finch
    March 25, 2016 at 3:11 am — Reply

    Great episode! I love TV themes. When I was young, my dad ran our tiny school’s TV station and for it, just in case he needed them, he had about a dozen CDs of TV Theme Songs! He had them for a while anyway, until I borrowed them for an indeterminate about of time. Some might call it theft.
    Before that, I would make my own TV Theme song cassettes wherein I cranked up the volume on the TV at 5 minutes before my show was supposed to come on. Then I would gaze around at my family ferociously, daring anyone to make a sound as I attempted to time the pushing down of the record button so that it lined up perfectly with the beginning of the song. I did this from 4th to nearly 8th grade when the afore mentioned CDs started showing up. Come to think of it, maybe my dad just wanted me to stop glaring so much…

    The Top 5 Greatest TV Themes of ALL TIME

    #5 – I was born in the early 80s and therefore my formative TV theme years were from around 1988 to 1999 or so. As such, as should be true of any boy my age, I love the “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” theme song, the full version of which I will still randomly sing if the wrong (or right?) series of words happens to come up in conversation. They ARE the world’s most fierce-some fighting team. They ARE heroes, in a half-shell, and they ARE green.
    #4 – I first became aware of my number 4 not by actually seeing the TV show, although I’m sure that I had. I encountered it in a book of easy(ish)-to-play popular piano songs of all places and I loved to play it (poorly). I would sing along as my fingers tripped over the keys trying to keep both rhythm and melody all in the same place. “Through early morning fog I see… visions of the things to be… the pains that are withheld for more… I realize and I can see…” Yes, one of the most depressing songs ever written, its “Suicide is Painless”! More colloquially known as “The Theme from M.A.S.H.” There was a time in college that I would get home after classes and have a few hours before work and I would sit on my couch, do homework, and watch M.A.S.H. That’s it. Everyday, for 3 semesters straight. I is now a permanent part of my brain. Don’t ever die Alan Alda!
    #3 – Number 3 is a toss up for me between two favorites (Hey, if Stephen can do it, so can I!) I love weird music and these two pieces both exemplify that genre. First, the theme from the 90’s cartoon version of “The Tick”. This bizarre jazzy scat version of a song without any lyrics but rather filled with horns and a group of people half singing should not work at all, but my brain keeps wanting to listen to it again so that it can figure out why the heck it actually does! The second of these is a delightful theme by my favorite band of all time, They Might Be Giants. No, not “You’re Not the Boss of Me Now” from “Malcom in the Middle”, I’m talking about the theme from ‘The Oblongs’. It is short, it is catchy, and there are three separate versions of it (one with lyrics, two instrumental) that are all awesome.
    #2 – I am a Major Spoilers VIP because of my number two. I would never have cared a wit for comic books, or at least would have taken much longer to find the enjoyment in them if it wasn’t for the rocking guitar lick that came at the beginning of the 90’s ‘X-Men’ cartoon. As a child, my dad listened to Weird Al, Broadway shows, and easy rock from the 60’s & 70’s. The X-Men theme quickly joined ‘The Phantom of the Opera’ and ‘Nature Trail to Hell’ as the hardest, heaviest metal rock that I would listen to for many, many years. Also, it is awesome.
    #1 – Speaking of Weird Al, he is clairvoyant. I had never thought about it, but in his song ‘White & Nerdy’ he very clearly spells out that one qualification for being both white and nerdy is that “Happy Days is my favorite theme song”. He is so right! The theme to Happy Days is wonderful. I would sing that song over and over again. I have still never actually watched an episode of ‘Happy Days’, but it must be the greatest show of all time. That’s how good it’s theme song is.

    By the way, the ‘Bugs Bunny’ song that you were referencing is called ‘Powerhouse’ and its by Raymond Scott.

  7. Katherine Beard
    March 25, 2016 at 9:14 pm — Reply

    5. Wild Wild West. A great western adventure tune that built you up for heroism from Jim and Artemis
    4. Bigfoot and Wildboy. From Kroft Supershow and later on it’s own as a half hour show on Saturday mornings. Out of the great northwest comes the legendary Bigfoot who 8 years ago rescued a child lost in the wilderness and that child grew up to be Wildboy! Way cool disco tune with lots of waka chika waka chika.
    3.Sesame Street. Sunny day sweepin my cares away! Ear worm from everyone’s childhood. I dare you not to sing along.
    2 Star Trek TOS. Captain Kirk voiceover, whooshing sound as the starship enterprise flies by, bongos. What more do you want?
    1. The Addams Family. Any song that compels you to sing and snap your fingers is a winner.

  8. April 6, 2016 at 10:20 am — Reply

    I know you guys record well ahead of time, but it got me a little choked up to hear you both singing the Theme From Garry Shandling’s Show. RIP, Garry. You are gone too soon.

    Also, I played “Peter Gunn” in jazz band in high school, and I remember the first time we launched into it I thought, “Hey, that’s the song from Spy Hunter!” According to the game’s designer, he wanted the James Bond theme, but of course he couldn’t get the rights. (http://www.liketotally80s.com/2012/10/spy-hunter/)

    My list:

    5) “My Life” (theme from Bosom Buddies) by Billy Joel – As a rabid lifelong fan of Mr. Joel, I had to include this song, but even if I wasn’t, I think it would make my top ten at least. It’s a great tune and sets up the show well.

    4) “Who Are You” (theme from CSI: Crime Scene Investigation) by The Who – Okay, this is probably cheating, but I love this song so much! I also like that the franchise continues to choose Who songs for the various spinoff shows, though I still think the one for CSI:Cyber should have been “Pictures Of Lily”

    3) Tie: “Three’s Company, Too” and “Good Times” – These shows fill the spot in my childhood where Gilligan’s Island and The Brady Bunch are for Stephen and Matthew. I watched them over and over on weekday afternoons on Channel 41 out of Kansas City.

    2) “Knight Rider Theme” – Cheesy in retrospect, but that driving electronic opening always brought me running to the living room. Classic TV memories.

    1) “The Liberty Bell March” (theme from Monty Python’s Flying Circus) by John Phillip Sousa – Ah, the joy this song presages whenever I hear that first ringing bell! I delight in all manifestations of the Terpsichorean muse, but this one takes the cake.

  9. Clubberlang6
    April 7, 2016 at 8:39 pm — Reply

    My top 5?
    Batman
    Spiderman
    original star trek
    Kate and Allie
    Monk

  10. April 24, 2016 at 1:07 pm — Reply

    These are my top five, chosen because I NEVER fast forward through them.

    5) Bewitched – When she twitched her nose and that beautiful sound tinkled, you know magic was about to be seen…
    4) X-Men (1992) – Love that a kids cartoon used that song, it was very intense!
    3) Buffy the Vampire Slayer – My favorite show of all time, the drum kicks and guitar at the end and I knew the best hour of TV was about to commence (this also was the backdrop for one of the greatest rug pulls of all time *spoiler alert* when a beloved “guest star” that had been on the show for quite awhile FINALLY was in the opening credits only for them to DIE THAT SAME EPISODE!)
    2) Game of Thrones – Almost my number one, the music is incredible, one of the best scores of all time, cute how they pan over each city to be featured that episode
    1) Teen Wolf – Each season different, but for the music, so greatly intense and crescendo building. Best part is the featuring of the main cast (original footage!). One of the wolfs, shirtless, pounding the ground, then rearing back and roaring with dust kicked up. The two lovers meeting in a kiss only to be parted by the slash of her weaponry. Picture perfect. One episode only changed it up, entirely set in a dance club, so they remixed the theme… awesome!

  11. February 21, 2017 at 7:00 pm — Reply

    Here is my list:
    1. Different Strokes
    2. 90210
    3. Facts of Life
    4. Car 54
    5. Kate and Allie

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