It’s tough to narrow down the 10 best TV show theme songs when there have been hundreds of great show-openers in the history of television. The following are the best of the best. They are well known, loved, and particularly enduring.
- “Where Everybody Knows Your Name” (“Cheers”) by Gary Portnoy. Perhaps one of the most well known of all TV show theme songs, “Where Everybody Knows Your Name” has a distinct piano opening that everyone recognizes.
- “Sesame Street” theme by Joe Raposo, Jon Stone, and Bruce Hart. Though this song has undergone some changes over the years, it is loved by adults and children alike.
- “Making Our Dreams Come True” (“Laverne & Shirley”) by Norman Gimbel and Charles Fox. “Schlemiel, schlemazel, Hassenfeffer Incorporated.” So much Yiddish in one TV theme song! Everyone knows the words to this one, even if they don’t know what the words mean.
- “The Simpsons” theme by Danny Elfman. This fantastic theme was even nominated for an Emmy in 1990.
- “Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” theme by Will Smith and Quincy Jones III. It’s possible that every single person who was an adolescent or teen during the early 1990s can recite all the lyrics to this one.
- “The Ballad of Gilligan’s Isle” (“Gilligan’s Island”) by Sherwood Schwartz and George Wyle. Who doesn’t know what you’re talking about when you reference “a three-hour tour?” It’s also one of the greatest explanatory theme songs, telling you just what the premise of the show is.
- “Those Were the Days” (“All in the Family”) by Lee Adams and Charles Strouse. In one of the most original of all TV theme songs, Carroll O’Connor and Jean Stapleton—the two stars of the show—performed the song sitting at a piano.
- “Suicide is Painless” (“M*A*S*H”) by Johnny Mandel. This song—with lyrics—was first used in the film version of “MASH.” An instrumental version was used as the TV show theme song, and became one of the most popular themes to date.
- “Believe It or Not” (“The Greatest American Hero”) by Mike Post and Stephen Geyer. This song had to make the list because it was cool enough for George Costanza to use for his answering machine. This is one of the few cases where the show’s theme song became more popular than the show itself.
- “The Fishin’ Hole” (“The Andy Griffith Show”) by Earle Hagen and Herbert Spencer. This is the only song on the list to feature whistling. No lyrics, just whistling. In harmony. If that doesn’t make for a classic TV theme song, what does?
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