The 50 Best TV Theme Songs of All Time

Music Features Best Songs
Share Tweet Submit Pin

40. Jeopardy
(Merv Griffin, “Think!”)
Lots of game shows have memorable themes, but the Jeopardy song has become so ubiquitous that it’s hard to remember it has gone through several iterations since Merv Griffin first wrote it. Whatever updates they give it, though, that inescapable melody remains the best way to annoy someone when they’re trying to think of something. —Matthew Oshinsky

39. The Courtship of Eddie’s Father
(Harry Nilsson, “Best Friend”)
The early 1970s saw a string of shows dealing with single parenthood, but only one of them had a theme song by Harry Nilsson. “People let me tell you ‘bout my best friend….” —Josh Jackson

38. Scrubs
(Lazlo Bane, “Superman”)
Lazlo Bane’s “Superman” is another example of a pre-existing song that got new life in TV. The Santa Monica band originally released the quirky banjo song in 2000 for The Tao of Steve soundtrack and later included it on its 2002 record All the Time in the World. With Scrubs’s funny, heart-warming plot of medical interns finding their way in the harsh medical world, Lazlo Bane’s refrain—”I can’t do this all on my own / no, I’m no superman”—became the show’s perfect summary song. —Hilary Saunders

37. Weeds
(Malvina Reynolds, “Little Boxes”)
Activist-songwriter Malvina Reynolds’s satire on conformity might be the best song for a show about a caffeine-addicted soccer mom so desperate to survive in a suburban hillside of “ticky-tacky” (read: stucco) after her husband’s sudden death that she starts dealing drugs. Eventually in the series, heroine Nancy Botwin’s (played by Mary-Louise Parker) path would stray from her fictional town of Agrestic, Calif. and Little Boxes would cease to be the opening. But that world (and, therefore, the song) always stuck with her, as we saw when everything came full circle in the series’ end. —Whitney Friedlander

36. Square Pegs
(The Waitresses)
As good as the theme song is, and despite the fact that Devo actually guest-starred, my favorite musical moment on Square Pegs was when Johnny “Slash” Ulasewicz deadpanned his new song. “I’m tired. I’m really tired. I’m so tired. I’m totally tired. Totally.” I have no idea why I still remember that scene, but I do. —Josh Jackson

35. What’s Happening!!
(Henry Mancini)
Who knew that the same composer responsible for Peter Gunn also wrote the music to accompany Rerun dribbling a basketball? This instrumental soundtracked more than its share of high-fives and unnecessary snacks from 1976 to 1979. —Josh Jackson

34. Welcome Back Kotter
(John Sebastian)
Nearly a decade after the break-up of Lovin’ Spoonful and the mostly unsuccessful solo career that followed, Sebastian found himself with a No. 1 hit when he wrote “Welcome Back” for TV. Apropos for a show that starred the king of all comebacks John Travolta. —Josh Jackson

33. The Andy Griffith Show
(Earle Hagen, Herbert Spencer, Everett Sloane, “The Fishin’ Hole”)
That’s co-writer Earle Hagen you hear whistling the intro, but I was more impressed with this version by some guy’s parrot. —Josh Jackson

32. The Monkees
(Tommy Boyce, Bobby Hart)
One of the few TV themes that counts as a real-life hit for the characters in the show, who were fictional renderings of real musicians paying themselves. That was the meta beauty of The Monkees, who had a great tune and a classic ‘60s refrain: “We’re the young generation, and we’ve got somethin’ to say.” —Matthew Oshinsky

31. The Brady Bunch
(Sherwood Schwarz)
Sherwood Schwarz created both The Brady Bunch and Gilligan’s Island, and wrote the theme songs for both with the since-abandoned belief that a theme song should clearly communicate the show’s premise. This may be the most detail-oriented theme in history. —Josh Jackson

Recently in Music