The Best TV Show Theme Songs of All Time

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The theme song is a lost art in today’s society, and that’s a crime. Back in the day, you could pretty much get the gist of any show you watched just by listening to the theme song. In some cases, that was all you needed. It told you what you needed to know about the show, even though there was less to watch. If you didn’t like it, fuck you, go outside.

Many of these theme songs even became Top 40 hits all their own. Could you picture jamming out to the Mad Men theme song or blasting the theme from Breaking Bad through your Beats headphones? I don’t think so. Shit, if all you’ve seen of Man Men is the theme song, you’d think it’s about stick figures smoking and falling off of buildings. It’s not. It’s about advertising and the fragility of the human condition. Deal with it.

At some point, we lost our way. We forgot that a small musical ditty (Parks and Recreation, 30 Rock), a random orchestral theme (Mad Men, Walking Dead), or a bunch of people shouting “Hey! Hey!” (Modern Family only) does not a theme song make. Presented, for your review, are the best TV theme songs of all time. Maybe it’ll inspire someone in the audience to write a theme that’ll bring us back to the glory days — or maybe you’ll just have one of these stuck in your head all day.

10. The Jeffersons

The best use of gospel ever on TV belongs to one of the greatest spinoffs of all time. I think we’re all really looking for our piece of the pie, aren’t we?

9. Happy Days

This song replaced “Rock Around the Clock,” which served as the theme for the first two seasons. The song “Happy Days” peaked at number five on the Hot 100 charts in 1976.

8. The Wonder Years

What else can you say? Iconic, beautiful, and it fit the show perfectly. RIP Joe Cocker.

7. All In The Family 

So that’s where the Family Guy theme comes from — and The Simpsons parody from the episode “Lisa’s Sax.” This song was a love letter to how everything sucked a lot less back in the day, waxing poetic about nostalgia.

6. Fresh Prince of Bel-Air

Come on, you know the words. Blast this at your desk and your entire office will start rapping. Well, until your boss comes in and fires the lot of you.

5. Friends

*clap, clap, clap, clap*

4. Gilligan’s Island

This is the OG example of not needing to know a damn thing about a show, thanks to the theme song. My favorite line has to be “…and the rest,” to introduce two essential cast members. Classic.

3. M*A*S*H

An instrumental version of “Suicide Is Painless” introduces you to one of the best and highest rated shows of all time. If you’ve never seen M*A*S*H, you might not have a soul.

2. The Simpsons

You may wonder why The Simpsons comes in ahead of shows like M*A*S*H, Happy Days, and so on. The answer has nothing to do with the show’s longevity (26 seasons and counting) or that it’s my favorite show of all time, but because of how iconic and instantly recognizable it is. Yet the introduction is different for every episode. EVERY. SINGLE. EPISODE. 562 couch gags, 562 chalkboard jokes, 562 instances of Lisa busting a badass sax riff and ditching band practice to watch TV. It’s one of the most iconic and timeless intros in television history.

1. Cheers

There wasn’t a damn chance the title wasn’t going to Cheers. It’s the place where everybody knows your name, and everyone knows all the words to it. It’s simple, beautiful, and catchy as hell. There’s no better theme song. Not even a contest.

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