65 of the Best TV Theme Songs Ever, from ‘Golden Girls’ to ‘The Wire’ (2024)


From ‘Game of Thrones’ to ‘The Jeffersons’

65 of the Best TV Theme Songs Ever, from ‘Golden Girls’ to ‘The Wire’ (1)

By Nakeisha Campbell

Published Apr 26, 2024

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65 of the Best TV Theme Songs Ever, from ‘Golden Girls’ to ‘The Wire’ (2)

Mitchell Haddad/CBS Photo Archive via Getty Images

Over the past few months, I've been devouring a host of compelling TV shows across multiple streaming platforms, including Netflix, Hulu, Max and more. But now, I'm taking a moment to appreciate some of the best TV theme songs of all time. From soothing instrumentals and harmonies to upbeat '90s hits (oh hey, Living Single), these intro sequences not only set the tone for these shows, but they also continue to evoke so many nostalgic memories. Not to mention, they’re all seriously catchy. Read on for 65 theme songs that are pure gold, from Game of Thrones to Golden Girls.


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1. Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air

  • Song: "Yo Home to Bel-Air" by Will Smith

I can’t tell you what I had for lunch three days ago, but I can sing you the entirety of this theme song. This iconic tune, which details the story of how one teen’s life got flipped turned upside down (come on, sing it with me), practically defined the '90s and helped catapult Smith to fame.

2. The Office

  • Song: "The Office Theme" by The Scrantones

PureWow Editor Alexandra Hough shares that The Office theme stands out because “it’s so simple and easily recognizable”—and I couldn’t agree more. No other jingle can bring a smile to my face quicker than this song. (“Straight Outta Scranton” comes in at a close second.)

3. Cheers

  • Song: “Where Everybody Knows Your Name” by Gary Portnoy

In the words of PureWow's Senior Editor Sarah Stiefvater, “Cheers is a classic” and it “makes you want to have a bar where you’re a local celebrity.” Written by Portnoy and Judy Hart Angelo, this heartwarming theme actually received an Emmy nomination in 1983 for Outstanding Achievement in Music and Lyrics.

4. Golden Girls

  • Song: "Thank You for Being a Friend" by Cindy Fee

Like the fabulous leading ladies of this popular sitcom, this ode to lasting friendships gives me all the feels. "Thank You for Being a Friend" was written in 1978 by Andrew Gold, and now, it lives on as a cultural phenomenon (check out this gospel remix).

5. Gilligan’s Island

  • Song: “The Ballad of Gilligan’s Isle” by Sherwood Schwartz and George Wyle

Whether you were brought up in this decade or not, chances are you’re familiar with the jolly tune. Considered one of the most famous theme songs in TV history, it details the “fateful trip” that goes haywire in the span of a minute.

6. The Jeffersons

  • Song: “Movin’ On Up” by Ja’net Du Boise

Is it even possible to watch The Jeffersons without performing the entirety of this iconic theme song? Co-written and performed by DuBois (also Willona Woods in Good Times), "Movin’ On Up" was the literal story of the Jeffersons’ lives, who moved from Queens to the fabulous, "deluxe apartment in the sky."

7. The Brady Bunch

  • Song: "The Brady Bunch" by Peppermint Trolley Company

Remember the good old days, when theme songs detailed the entire premise of the shows they were based on? That was clearly the case here, but it didn’t take away from this lovely intro.

8. A Different World (Seasons 2-5)

  • Song: “A Different World Theme” by Aretha Franklin

The Queen of Soul took us all to church with this smooth, soulful rendition of “A Different World.” Written by Dawn Lewis (who plays Jaleesa Vinson), this tune still gives us goosebumps and, quite frankly, the other versions don’t hold a candle to it.

9. Friends

  • Song: “I’ll Be There For You” by The Rembrandts

It’s by far one of the most popular TV show theme songs of all time, and it always makes me want to run around in a fountain with my BFFs while wielding colorful umbrellas. PureWow Commerce Editor Liv Kappler says, “It's a classic and every time I hear it, it fills me with so much joy!” Same.

10. Sanford & Son

  • Song: "Sanford and Son Theme (The Streetbeater)" by Quincy Jones

Just the sound of that bass harmonica meant that I was in for quite a treat, from Sanford’s (Redd Foxx) punchy one-liners to his comical dialogues with his son. Plus, the booming trombones in this composition are out of this world.

11. New Girl

  • Song: "Hey Girl" by Zooey Deschanel

I enjoyed every moment of this wonderfully bright and quirky rendition of “Hey Girl,” which is why I’ll never understand why the original intro got removed. PureWow Fashion Editor Abby Hepworth says, “I love singing along to it. I was so sad in later seasons when they changed it to a shortened version.”

12. Gilmore Girls

  • Song: "Where You Lead" by Carole King and Louise Goffin

It’s a beautiful song that captures the special bond between Lorelai (Lauren Graham) and Rory (Alexis Bledel)—but that’s not even the best part. As it turns out, this theme song was also performed by a mother-daughter duo, who decided to shift the original message (about a woman and a man) to one about a mother and her daughter.

13. Full House

  • Song: "Everywhere You Look" by Jesse Frederick

Like the show itself, this intro song is so pure and wholesome. I could never grow tired of seeing the Tanners cruise across the bridge together in that classic red convertible.

14. The Simpsons

  • Song: "The Simpsons Theme" by Danny Elfman

The Emmy Award-winning show is still going strong after three decades, and the fact that this instrumental hasn’t changed once says quite a lot. From the sound of the school bell to Lisa blowing her giant saxophone, this theme is simply iconic.

15. Living Single

  • Song: "We Are Living Single" by Queen Latifah

Boy, does this bring back great memories. Seeing this tight-knit group of friends dance to the catchy tune instantly makes me want to join in on the fun. And of course, having the Queen Latifah on vocals made me love this song even more.

16. Step By Step

  • Song: "Second Time Around" by Jesse Frederick and Teresa James

Anyone else have the desire to visit Wisconsin because of this '90s show? The theme song has an inspiring message and elicits so many great childhood memories.

17. Good Times

  • Song: “Good Times Theme” by Jim Gilstrap and Blinky Williams

Though the gospel-themed number centers on a Black family struggling to make it in Chicago, it’s hopeful and simply unforgettable—much like J.J.'s laugh-worthy one-liners throughout the series.

18. Happy Days

  • Song: “Happy Days” by Pratt & McClain

The nostalgic theme instantly takes me back Fonzie’s slicked-back hair and stylish leather jacket. To this day, it’s impossible to hear this cheerful tune without singing along.

19. Boy Meets World

  • Song: "Boy Meets World Theme" by Ray Colcord, Phil Rosenthal

I like that the ABC sitcom spiced things up by using multiple theme songs during its seven-year run. Each definitely complements the heartwarming tone of the show.

20. The Proud Family

  • Song: “The Proud Family Theme Song” by Solange (ft. Destiny’s Child)

What an accurate description of family relationships! As the lyrics suggest, one moment, they’ll “push your buttons” and the next, you want to hug them. Also, the vocals on this song? Flawless.

21. All That

  • Song: “All That (Theme Song)” by TLC

There were so many things to love about this theme song, from the harmonies and the beat to Left-Eye’s stellar rap verse. I dare you to listen to this without singing along.

22. That’s So Raven

  • Song: "That's So Raven Theme Song" by Raven Symone (ft. Orlando Brown)

Raven singing about how her psychic visions and good intentions get her entangled in the wildest situations? Yep, this is exactly what my childhood sounds like.

23. Malcolm in the Middle

  • Song: "Boss of Me" by They Might Be Giants

The punk rock track actually earned They Might Be Giants their first Grammy Award for Best Song Written for a Motion Picture, Television or Other Visual Media, and it’s pretty easy to see why. What rebellious kid doesn’t relate to this catchy anthem?

24. Game of Thrones

  • Song: “Game of Thrones” by Film Symphony Orchestra

Anyone else get chills every time they listen to this intro? It’s the kind of instrumental that’ll have you thinking that you can slay dragons on any day of the week.

25. Law & Order

  • Song: “Law & Order Theme” by Mike Post

Just the first few notes of this track are enough to make me instinctively get into full investigation mode. Whether you’re serving for jury duty or binge-watching Unsolved Mysteries, this classic theme song is all the prep you need.

26. Mission: Impossible

  • Song: "Mission: Impossible" by Lalo Schifrin

Doesn’t it just make you want to put on a cool suit and pretend to be a sophisticated spy? The classic instrumental lives on as my go-to background music whenever I feel like doing something bold.

27. WandaVision

  • Songs: Various (all written by Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez)

Every episode of WandaVision comes with a different theme song, and they're all quite catchy, from the Office-esque bit to the vintage Bewitched-inspired number. Our personal favorite? "Agatha All Along," of course.

28. The Nanny

  • Song: "The Nanny" by Ann Hampton Callaway

It’s lively, it’s fun and it’s just so good. This takes me right back to the good old days when I stayed up late to watch Fran Drescher slay in her most fashionable outfits on Nick at Nite.

29. Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt

  • Song: "Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt Theme Song" by the Gregory Brothers and Jeff Richmond

“They alive, dammit! It’s a miracle!” This brilliant theme comes from the masterminds behind viral hits like the “Bed Intruder Song” and “The Muffin Song,” so it comes as no surprise that this song is so darn catchy. After the show's producers, Tina Fey and Robert Carlock, wrote a complete monologue for Walter Bankston's character, they reached out to the Gregory Brothers and, as they say, the rest is history.

30. The Wire

  • Song: "Way Down in the Hole" by Tom Waits

Not only is this theme song really good, but it also offers a new rendition of the same track each season. Fans could debate for days over which season's intro is the best (PureWow Editor-in-Chief Jillian Quint swears that season two is the winner), but each one fits the overall theme of their respective seasons really well (notice how season four, which centers on the educational system in Baltimore, features a theme song that’s performed by kids?).

31. The Addams Family

  • Song: “The Addams Family Theme” by Vic Mizzy

Guys, everything about this show’s opening, from the oddball family’s blank stares to Uncle Fester emerging from behind the chair, is simply brilliant. And this quirky song, with its fitting lyrics and catchy snaps, only makes it ten times better.

32. Scrubs

  • Song: “Superman” by Lazlo Bane

You know that famous line from the song that says, “I can’t do this all on my own / I’m no Superman”? Well, that’s legit the story of everyone’s life on this show, and it’s only fitting that I can also relate on some level. The song was released in 2000 and appeared on the soundtrack for The Tao of Steve before it caught the eye of Scrubs executive producers.

33. Entourage

  • Song: “Superhero” by Jane's Addiction

By a show of hands, who else automatically plays this song in their head whenever they hear the HBO opening? No episode of Entourage is complete without this intro and the show’s theme song, or it just feels incomplete.

34. True Blood

  • Song: "Bad Things" by Jace Everett

From the southern twang to the swoon-worthy guitar solo, this song is delightfully dark and serves as the perfect theme for this raunchy horror drama. PureWow Associate Editor Stephanie Sengwe says, “It makes me want to go to Louisiana and drink a beer while rocking denim on denim.” TBH, same.

35. Jeopardy!

  • Song: “Think!” by Merv Griffin

Though it feels like this melody has been remastered countless times, it still remains one of the most nostalgic and comforting theme songs ever. (Fun fact: The song was originally created as a lullaby for songwriter Griffin's son.)

36. Diff’rent Strokes

  • Song: "It Takes Diff'rent Strokes" by Alan Thicke, Gloria Loring, Al Burton

The incredibly talented Alan Thicke gifted '80s kids with quite a few catchy theme songs, but none are as iconic as the Diff'rent Strokes theme. I can still hear Arnold (Gary Coleman) delivering one of his most famous lines, “Watchu talkin’ bout Willis?” (complete with a side-eye, of course).

37. Zoey 101

  • Song: “Follow Me” by Jamie Lynn Spears

I can vividly recall being just as obsessed with this song as I was with Zoey and her squad (and yes, I still jam to the original theme song). While the modern-day remake of the track is decent enough, it still doesn’t hold a candle to the version that defined my early teen years.

38. Drake & Josh

  • Song: “I Found a Way” by Drake Bell

If you need proof that the early 2000s was a golden era for Nickelodeon, then here it is. Performed by the show’s star, Drake Bell, this pop/rock tune was not only super catchy, but also suitable for the show’s silly and upbeat theme.

39. Wizards of Waverly Place

  • Song: "Everything is Not What It Seems" by Selena Gomez

Before Gomez released bangers like "Come & Get It" and "The Heart Wants What it Wants," she gave me this catchy theme song that helped shape my childhood.

40. Weeds

  • Song: “Little Boxes” by Malvina Reynolds

It’s not so surprising that this satirical folk song about conformity was chosen for the show, which follows a suburbanite mom selling weed to support her family. This is easily one of the most thought-provoking TV theme songs you’ll ever hear.

41. The Wayans Bros. (Seasons 1-2)

  • Song: "Electric Relaxation" by A Tribe Called Quest

I can’t emphasize enough how amazing this opening sequence is, with its brilliant, satirical ‘70s-themed bit (“Perfect! Dynomite!!”). The following seasons’ instrumentals were OK, but I just can’t get over the jazzy hip-hop vibe of "Electric Relaxation."

42. Family Matters

  • Song: “As Days Go By” by Jesse Frederick

That raspy, soulful voice always gets me! And the jazzy, feel-good tone is so fitting for this family-centered sitcom. Years from now, I’ll still be humming this one.

43. The Flintstones

  • Song: "Meet the Flintstones" by the Randy Van Horne Singers

Where would I be without this cheery childhood favorite? The theme song perfectly captures the essence of this show and can easily bring a smile to any kid’s face (or adult, for that matter).

44. iCarly

  • Song: “Leave It All to Me” by Miranda Cosgrove (ft. Drake Bell)

Michael Corcoran hit the nail on the head when he wrote this fun pop song for the series. I absolutely love that it highlights making the best of every situation (which is exactly what I see the characters do throughout the series).

45. Hannah Montana

  • Song: “Best of Both Worlds” by Miley Cyrus

Ah, so much Disney Channel nostalgia! Few things were as entertaining as seeing Miley Stewart’s (Cyrus) random misadventures with her BFFs and, of course, pretending to be Hannah Montana myself as I belted the words to “Best of Both Worlds.”

46. Hey Arnold!

  • Song: "Hey Arnold Theme" by Jim Lang

What I love about this theme song is that it matches Arnold’s personality so well. Not only does he love jazz music, but he’s also very optimistic and laid-back—much like this incredible opening score.

47. Three’s Company

  • Song: "Come and Knock on Our Door" by Ray Charles and Julia Rinker

This catchy jingle made me wish I could casually swing by the residence of Jack (John Ritter), Janet (Joyce DeWitt) and Chrissy (Suzanne Somers)—even amid all their shenanigans. (FYI, the song wasn’t performed by the famous R&B artist known as Ray Charles, but another vocalist of the same name.)

48. One Day at a Time

  • Song: “One Day at a Time” by Gloria Estefan

The theme from the original 1975 series is pretty good, but Estefan added some Cuban flavor to the track for Netflix’s modernized remake and, well, color me obsessed. It’s nearly impossible to hear it without dancing.

49. Moesha

  • Song: "Gotta Move" by Brandy Norwood

I love a fun coming-of-age anthem that young girls can identify with. And the fact that Norwood, one of the most talented vocalists of our time, recorded the song is all the icing on the cake that I need. “Mo to the! E to the!”

50. Smallville

  • Song: “Save Me” by Remy Zero

This song has become synonymous with Smallville, better known as the superhero drama that paved the way for several others that followed. In the span of a decade, I saw Clark Kent go above and beyond to save those who needed him most, so it’s only fitting that producers would select this captivating song.

51. I Love Lucy

  • Song: “I Love Lucy Theme" by Eliot Daniel

I’d be remiss to not add one of the most recognized theme songs of our time. If you recall, the instrumental was performed with lyrics (written by Oscar-nominee Harold Adamson) in the episode "Lucy's Last Birthday" by Desi Arnaz, but they were never performed as part of the official intro.

52. Batman: The Animated Series

  • Song: “Batman: The Animated Series Theme" by Shirley Walker

It’s powerful, it’s dramatic, and it represents Batman’s dark and brooding personality so well. I couldn’t think of a more fitting theme for this action-packed series.

53. The Jamie Foxx Show

  • Song: "Here Comes Jamie Foxx" by Jamie Foxx, "The Simple Things Are All I Need" by Jamie Foxx

Well, who can resist Foxx's buttery smooth vocals on these catchy themes? In the first theme, Foxx sums up the misadventures of his goofy character, assuring that he can "make you laugh," while the second feels more sentimental, emphasizing his love and appreciation for family.

54. The Partridge Family

  • Song: "C'mon, Get Happy" by David Cassidy

It's impossible for me to listen to this without at least breaking into a smile, and I'm sure I'm not the only one. The upbeat tune totally fits the tone of the series, which revolves around a talented family of musicians.

55. Downton Abbey

  • Song: "Downton Abbey (Intro Theme)" by L'Orchestra Numerique

This stunning instrumental has "prim and proper" written all over it, which probably explains why it always transports me to a different era. I instantly feel like I'm sitting with the Crawleys at their lavish Yorkshire country estate.

56. Stranger Things

  • Song: "Stranger Things Theme" by Kyle Dixon and Michael Stein

This dark and suspenseful score doubles as a tribute to the '80s, and to be honest, listening is a bit like watching an episode of Stranger Things. As you continue to listen, the suspense builds, and you just know that something dark is looming ahead.

57. Dawson’s Creek

  • Song: “I Don't Want to Wait” by Paula Cole

I'm one of many who immediately associate this throwback tune with the iconic '90s teen drama, but did you know that screenwriter Kevin Willamson originally wanted to use Alanis Morissette's "Hand in My Pocket"? Since he couldn't get the licensing, he went with Cole's pop song.

58. In Living Color

  • Song: "In Living Color" by Heavy D. and the Boyz

In this catchy, yet powerful hip-hop track, Heavy D. sings, "And how would you feel knowin' prejudice was obsolete/ And all mankind danced to the exact beat/ And at night it was safe to walk down the street?"

59. Mister Rogers' Neighborhood

  • Song: "Won't You Be My Neighbor" by Fred M. Rogers

Who didn't want to be the incredible Mister Rogers's neighbor? The star always embodied kindness and generosity, even as he sang this easygoing theme about "making the most of this beautiful day."

60. All in the Family

  • Song: “Those Were the Days.” by Carroll O'Connor and Jean Stapleton

Seeing Edith and Archie Bunker croon about the pre-WWII days over that piano just never gets old. (Especially when Edith belts those high notes with a smile.)

61. How to Make It in America

  • Song: “I Need a Dollar” by Aloe Blacc

Blacc's soulful track is the perfect introduction to HBO's comedy-drama, which follows two 20-somethings as they hustle and grind to make it in New York City's fashion scene. He sings, "Bad times are coming, and I reap what I done sowed / Well, let me tell you something all that glitters ain't gold."

62. Taxi

  • Song: "Angela/Theme From Taxi" by Bob James

By far one of the most relaxing theme songs ever made, this jazzy instrumental wasn't the first choice for the show's opening credits. Per The A.V. Club, James’s more upbeat“Touchdown”was supposed to be used, but producers felt that "Angela" was a better fit.

63. Star Trek

  • Song: “Where No Man Has Gone Before” by Alexander Courage

First comes William Shatner’s legendary monologue, then comes the musical masterpiece that makes you feel like you're traveling among the stars. Shatner says, "Space, the final frontier/These are the voyages of the Starship Enterprise."

64. The White Lotus

  • Song: "Renaissance" by Cristobal Tapia de Veer

The instrumental totally captures the overall tone of the show, starting off slowly, and then building up into a more intense beat. It's no wonder so many fans choose not to skip the opening credits as they binge-watch the series.

65. Friday Night Lights

  • Song: “Friday Night Lights Theme” by W.G. Snuffy Walden

The feel-good instrumental was inspired by “Your Hand In Mine” by Explosions in ihe Sky.—and as it turns out, the producers originally wanted to use one of the band's songs for the theme. Guitarist Munaf RayanitoldThe A.V. Club, “They asked us for one of our songs for the theme song, and we said ‘No way!’ Boy, were we dummies.”


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65 of the Best TV Theme Songs Ever, from ‘Golden Girls’ to ‘The Wire’ (3)

Nakeisha Campbell

Associate Editor, News and Entertainment

Nakeisha has been interviewing celebrities and covering all things entertainment for over 8 years, but she has also written on a widerange of topics,like career...

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65 of the Best TV Theme Songs Ever, from ‘Golden Girls’ to ‘The Wire’ (2024)
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