12 of the Most Iconic TV Theme Songs of All Time

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We all have a special connection with TV theme songs. They make the show instantaneously recognizable and set the tone for each episode. They also trigger some of our fondest childhood memories.

Between the ‘60s and the ‘90s TV witnessed the golden years of theme songs. From The Muppet Show, Cheers, Scooby-Doo to Mission:Impossible, hundreds of TV theme songs swayed generations of viewers. To feed your nostalgia, we’ve rounded up 12 of the most memorable TV theme songs to date:

1. Little House on the Prairie (1974-1983)

Who doesn’t remember the three sisters running down the hill and Carrie’s cute fall? The Little House on The Prairie theme song is as cheesy as it gets but it’ll always put a smile on your face (plus it was the only thing on TV when you were sick off school).

But did you know that the iconic theme was adapted from one other famous TV show from the 1970s? Yes, you heard that right. The theme, composed by David Rose, was repurposed from a song used on Bonanza, Michael Landon’s previous show.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zLYL4vRI9Js

2. Happy days (1974-1984)

If “Hello sunshine, goodbye rain!” doesn’t lift your mood, then we don’t know what will! The famous Happy Days intro was only used from season 3 onwards, yet it remains one of the most memorable lines in television theme song history.

Written by Norman Gimbel and Charles Fox (the men behind “Killing Me Softly with His Song”), the theme song climbed to the No. 5 spot on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1976.

3. Pokémon (1998-)

“I want to be the very best like no one ever was!” The first few seconds of the famous cartoon are etched into our memories: Mew and Mew Two flying majestically outside of Earth’s stratosphere while Ash Ketchum stares up at the stars. Pure manga magic.

The theme song, “Gotta Catch Them All,” which fueled every youngster’s Pokémon trainer dreams, was co-written by John Siegler and John Loeffler and sung by Jason Paige. The original version was used in the first 80 episodes of the Pokémon TV show and is the most famous.

4. Hawaii Five-O (1968-1980)

The Hawaii Five-O theme song is an instrumental composed by Morton Stevens for the CBS series Hawaii Five-O. Later on, American instrumental rock band The Ventures released their rendition of the song. It topped the Billboard Hot 100 for 14 weeks in 1969. The theme has gained popularity among school marching bands—it serves as the unofficial fight song at Hawaii University.

5. The Pink Panther (1969-1979)

The Addams Family theme song, written and arranged by Vic Mizzy, is instantly recognizable thanks to its finger-snaps. Quirky and eclectic like the show’s characters, it easily serves as one of the catchiest TV theme songs to hit international television.

6. The Addams Family (1964-1966)

The Addams Family theme song is instantly recognizable with its finger-snaps. Quirky and eclectic like the show’s characters, the song was written and arranged by Vic Mizzy the famous Hollywood composer.

7. The Flintstones (1960-1966)

“Rise and Shine” served as the opening and closing credits theme in the show’s first two seasons. But, it sounded too much like Bugs Bunny’s Merry Melody “This Is It,” so in season 3, the song was ditched for the famous version we know today: “Meet the Flintstones.” The new theme was performed by a 22-piece big band conducted by Curtin and sung by the Randy Van Horne Singers.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gdX6fwfrULI

8. The Big Bang Theory (2007-)

Performed by Barenaked Ladies, “The History of Everything” serves as one of the most recent prominent sitcom themes. The piece served as the hit show’s opening credits theme for all of its twelve seasons.

9. The Simpsons (1989-)

The Simpsons theme, also known as the “The Simpsons Main Title Theme,” was composed by Danny Elfman in 1989, after series creator Matt Groening approached him personally. When you hear the ‘biblical’ opening, you know you’re in for some top American satire.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=baoZByD_N5Q

10. Malcolm In The Middle (2000-2006)

“Boss Of Me” is performed by alternative rock band They Might Be Giants and is a worldwide hit. In 2002, the song won the band its first Grammy, for “Best Song Written for a Motion Picture, Television, or Other Visual Media.”

11. The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air (1990-1996)

“Now this is a story all about how/My life got flipped-turned upside down…”, every kid who grew up in the 90s should be able to rap this song and dance like Carlton. The theme, titled “Yo Home to Bel-Air,” was written by Quincy Jones and performed by Jeffrey Townes (aka DJ Jazzy Jeff) and Will Smith (aka The Fresh Prince).

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3qHA366oRMs

12. Friends (1994-2004)

Friends’ theme song, “I’ll Be There For You” by The Rembrandts is easily one of television’s most popular theme songs to date. The hit climbed No. 17 on the Billboard Hot 100 and dominated the Billboard Hot 100 Airplay chart for eight weeks straight.

Of course, there are many more TV songs that rocked our childhood. While they didn’t make it to our list, these titles definitely deserve honorary mentions:

  • Gilligan’s Island (1964–1967): “The Ballad of Gilligan’s Isle” by Sherwood Schwartz and George Wyle
  • Cheers (1982–1993): “Where Everybody Knows Your Name” by Gary Portnoy
  • The Jeffersons (1975–1985): “Movin’ On Up” by Ja’net Du Boise
  • The Office (2005–2013): “The Office Theme” by the Scrantones
  • Mission Impossible (1966–1973): “Mission: Impossibleby Lalo Schifrin
  • So, which is your ultimate TV show song of all time?