TV Theme Songs

I’ve been going to bed ridiculously early this week; I don’t know if it is the fact that my body is exhausted from fighting off this cold or if my last birthday triggered some sort of easy-pass to old age. Whatever it is, I’m not exactly a fan. I’ve always been a night owl so it pains me to be going to bed at 9 am. I didn’t even go to bed at 9 am when I was a toddler! It’s also wreaking havoc with my already aggressive TV schedule; the shows are just piling up on my DVR. It’s only the second week of fall TV and I’m already behind. That doesn’t jibe well with today’s spoiler culture; a very shocking development on Sons of Anarchy was completely ruined for me by Facebook (thanks for nothing, people).

So I’m kind of in pop culture survival mode at the moment; my strategy is to keep up with the daily programs (The Daily Show, The Colbert Report and Late Night with Jimmy Fallon) as those are the most topical and pile up the quickest. This weekend I’ll binge watch everything else on my DVR to get myself up to speed.

It was while watching the dailies that I got the inspiration for this post. Blog favorite Jimmy Fallon did a fun bit with the cast of Guys With Kids (a show that Fallon created). Similar to the hysterical “History of Rap” that Fallon did with Justin Timberlake, the gang performed the history of TV theme songs. Can you name them all?

This was right in my wheelhouse – not only do I love Jimmy Fallon and love Jimmy Fallon when he sings, I also love TV theme songs. They are one of my favorite categories in the game Song Pop, though I usually get tripped up by the Sci-Fi shows. Like Jimmy, I am saddened by the move away from using theme songs for shows. I understand why it has happened – that’s 20-30 more seconds for actual story – but I think that they are so fun. Theme songs help set the tone for the show and often help keep the show on your mind. A catchy theme song will draw a person in who is perhaps channel surfing. In the case of The Greatest American Hero, the theme song may become more popular than the actual show.

While Fallon and the gang hit on some of my favorite TV theme songs, there were a few of my favorites that didn’t get included. If they do a “The History of Theme Shows, Part II,” I humbly suggest the following theme songs for inclusion:

Charles in Charge

This is the case of liking a theme song vastly more than I liked the actual show. I think I only watched a handful of episodes of Charles in Charge – even at 11, I knew this wasn’t good television – but I would watch the opening credits every time I came across them. It’s a total ear worm. In fact, I’ll probably wind up humming this song all day around the office. Sorry co-workers.

Unsolved Mysteries

Obviously this isn’t a song that Fallon could really sing – though I’m sure he and the Roots could come up with something – but it deserves inclusion on this list because it is the antithesis of the Charles in Charge theme. This theme music freaked me out as a kid. I’ve grown up into a person who loves horror movies and other scary things, but I could not listen to this music. It terrified me. I loved the show Unsolved Mysteries, but would go running from the room when the theme song came on. Something about it just really made me uneasy, which is kind of the point (though I doubt they expected as a sever reaction as I had). Even now when I hear this music, I get a little uncomfortable. In fact, I’d better move on.


I can’t prove this definitively, but I’m pretty sure this show went off the rails the exact moment that they stopped using this theme song. I enjoyed the song – I thought it set the mood of the show very well – and I liked that they had fun with it by having different artists perform it. Once they abandoned the theme song and left Agrestic, I lost interest. I don’t think that is a coincidence.

One Day at a Time

We’re finally at the intersection of liking the show AND liking the theme song. I legitimately loved this show as a kid (and probably still do – it’s been a while since I watched it). The theme song was the perfect complement to the show; though it doesn’t explicitly lay out the plot like some theme songs do (see Gilligan’s Island), it captures the tone of a single mother (how scandalous!) struggling to raise her two teenaged daughters.

WKRP in Cincinnati

This theme song kind of gives the back story of the character of Andy – he has moved around to different radio stations and is hoping to find a home at the struggling WRKP. Again – another catchy song that sticks with you. This show I do know that I still love; I bought my mom the first season on DVD for some holiday and then I proceeded to sit down and watch them all. It has some of the greatest characters from a sitcom. If you didn’t watch the show, I highly recommend seeking it out. It’s worth it for the Thanksgiving episode alone.

The O.C.

I mentioned in my review of Last Resort my fondness for The O.C. and I can’t discount that the theme song had something to do with it. Every single time it came on, I would sing along with it. The O.C. actually introduced me to a lot of music that I wouldn’t have normally known; they did an excellent job of incorporating music into the storylines. This is one trend that I notice is more prevalent now; while shows are moving away from theme songs, they have begun to use original songs (rather than musak) to set the tone of scenes. This has given some smaller bands more mainstream exposure.

And finally…….

The Muppet Show

I mean really – did you think I wasn’t going to work the Muppets in here?  Don’t be ridiculous. I loved this theme song so much that I actually made my pledge sisters use it for one of our sorority songs.  It’s funny and bouncy, just like The Muppet Show. I’ll probably be rocking out to this for the rest of the afternoon.


I could probably go on and on with this topic, but I’ll spare you. There are just so many TV themes that I love. But now it’s your turn – what are your favorite theme songs and why?

6 thoughts on “TV Theme Songs

  1. Janet Allen says:

    Awesome! I love your additions – especially WKRP – that is essential theme-song nostalgia! I would also add the theme song for Scooby-Doo to your list it was always fun to sing along with as a kid. I was rather pleased to see my childhood/teenage Sat morning fav Saved By the Bell included is his round-up. I do enjoy a good Jimmy Fallon musical mash-up and/or parody!

    • ADF says:

      Great additions! They left out so many…I would also add The Brady Bunch, The Partridge Family, The Love Boat, Sopranos, Dukes of Hazzard, Whats Happening, Welcome Back Kotter, Laverne and Shirley, Rawhide, The Addams Family, Mission Impossible Gilligans Island.

  2. David Kriegh says:

    How about Perfect Strangers? I received the first season on dvd as a gag gift and brought it over to a friend’s house. We were struck how everyone over a certain age started singing along with the theme song while the youngsters (under 25) looked at us like we were idiots.
    WKRP also has a great closing theme song. I think the guy who performed it just played something off the top of his head and sang nonsense over it.

  3. heather7180 says:

    These are all great selections. Like I wrote, when it comes to this topic I could go on and on. And I thought of Perfect Strangers when I wrote “Don’t be ridiculous,” which I heard in my head in Balki’s voice.

  4. Alex Perez says:

    Did anyone say “Who’s the Boss?” I had a crush on Tony.

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