TAFC# 10: TV Theme Songs
by FTTW Staff

We got a right to start a little fight Bonanza!

Did you even know there were lyrics to that theme song? No shit, man. Not only lyrics but really shitty lyrics! Maybe that is why that theme song is so cool. No matter when you hear the song, you can just picture Little Joe (pre Charles Ingalls) kicking ass on the Ponderosa.

Sigh. Memories.

Anyways, when I heard that song this weekend on TV Lands Bonanza marathon, I started thinking about theme songs to TV shows. There have been some memorable ones. Hawawai Five O was cool. So was Streets of San Francisco. They were funky. I can still picture that theme song and Karl Malden's nose cruising up and down the streets to catch the bad guys. Funky style police brutality kicks ass, yo.

So in the spirit of Hoss Cartwright, "Danno" Williams, and Bull Shannon we ask what is the best all time theme song?

I'll have my say first.

Streets of San Francisco

No I am not biased. This is a kick ass down and dirty funky ass kicking song. Too bad the show never quite lived up to the theme. And yes. Yes it was a cop on the Dirty Harry themes but we can forgive them for that. As long as we could see Karl Malden's nose, it was all ok. I still am in shock and awe of it every time I see a rerun. It's like the thing had it's own life force. I mean really, if you take a close look at it, the nose seems to have split off into two different hemispheres that are succeeding away from the main island. Like revolutionary war type shit on the nose. Pretty soon one side will start saying shit about taxes and no representation then some asshole will dump some tea off the left nostril and next thing you know the Beatles will be flying over the top will some big British Invasion thingy. The fuck if I know. But man, that guy has a big ass honker.

Rockford Files

I think I am noticing a trend in my shows here. They all seem to be West Coast kick back and live near the beach shows. I mean, I am not doing Hawaii Five O or anything like that, but I do notice a trend here. Anyways, wasn't Jim Rockford cool? He lived on a beach! That was cool! Plus he slept until noon! Really cool. And he was friends with Isaac Hayes! I don't know about any of you, but in my opinion, hanging out with Isaac Hayes in the 70's was about as close as you could get to a Centurion American Express Card for pussy as there is.

Plus the theme of the song starts with an answering machine.

Saying he is not home.

See. He is not home.

He is out hanging wit' Isaac.

Getting pussy. -T



One of the coolest tv shows ever had one of the coolest themes. Men in black with big ass guns doing bad ass things set to a funky/disco beat. I didn't know whether to dance or shoot someone in the head.


What tv theme makes you want to groove, surf and solve mysteries all at the same time? No, not Scooby Doo. As if. We're talking tasty waves and Jack Lord.


Which then makes me think of the greatest current tv theme. One that I never tired of singing. One that makes me smile upon hearing the opening notes. One that allows me to sing about the most amazing thing to come out of a pineapple since I had that nightmare about Don Ho.


See. He hangs out on a beach. And is friends with David Hasselhoff. That's about as close as you can get to an Green American Express Card for pussy. - M

That's some of the editor's picks. Now it's your turn. Nominate as many as you want. We'll pull the top ten nominations from now til Wednesday and throw them into a poll for voting on Thursday.

TAFC archives


those are some tasty themes. growing up, the flatt and scruggs fueled "beverly hillbillies" theme always got my attention. ditto the munsters and addams family and especially green acres themes. used to play green acres for a break tune. that and the flintstones will make the hardest audience come to your side.

modern wise: the venture brothers theme makes me want to leap about.


Futurama's theme rules. Also them songs the CSI shows use are pretty great, you know the ones that all involve this band, well, I can't remember who they are, so let's call them the Who.


The best of all time? Wow. That's difficult.

But I have to toss forth the theme to Facts of Life. Who doesn't know that song?

Or Family Ties. How about Brady Bunch?

From my fond youth I also mention the theme to The Muppet Show.

Happy Days and Laverne & Shirley also pop into mind.

Ah geez, and then there's Cheers.

Okay, so maybe I should have thought about this a little longer.


Barney Miller, that's one great bass riff, it changed just a little every year.

I'll second S.W.A.T.


I want to officially nominate the Aqua Teen Hunger Force theme.

Rapping food products? Awesome.


The A-Team theme.




What's everyone doing up so early and why is the stereo so loud?

My God, it's official, I AM my father. Nooooooooooooo.

Ummm, does no one remember singing along to the sheer simplistic genius of Gilligan's Island?

I particularly like Dred Zepplin's version. Gilligan's Island done to the tune of Stairway to Heavan.


Night Court, another cool bassline.

Batman, any show with a themesong by the Ventures must be on the list.

And I second Cheers.



doodly ding dong TICK-TOCK
doodly ding dong TICK-TOCK
doodly ding dong TICK-TOCK
deth-KLOK deth-KLOK deth-KLOK


I second Cheers, The Muppet Show and, Aquateen Hunger Force.

Dukes of Hazzard

Fraggle Rock

I dream of Jeannie

The Jeffersons

Married with Children


Super Chicken


Diff'rent Strokes. That theme song kicked ass. I finally learned how to play it on the piano not too long ago, and it's actually a pretty well-composed song.


I have to agree with Michele. The theme to "S.W.A.T." was outstanding.

I'll put in a second for "Dukes of Hazzard" as well, and I'll add "Miami Vice" (the TV show, NOT the movie).


Great stuff (particularly A-Team, Night Court, Rockford Files, Cheers)

I would add:
Magnum, P.I.
Battlestar Galactica (the original series)
The Simpsons
And of course: M*A*S*H*


Waaaaay too many to choose from... but here's a short list with youtube goodness....

The Tick... Because any hero who keeps a capibara as a pet is okay with me....

The Banana Splits Almost as bad as the "Manah Manah" song....

And the almightyJonny Quest! Because it's trombones and spy goodness and it's motherfucking Jonny Quest....


Greatest American Hero
Hill Street Blues
St. Elsewhere
Brady Bunch
Gilligan's Island
Mary Tyler Moore
Battlestar Galactica (original)
Price is Right


Hey Timmer, I'm not sure that was Dread Zep but I definitely remember that song. Hilarious. They got sued for it too, whoever it was. By Jimmy Page. Thought he wasn't being taken seriously enough.


The Barney Miller theme song is one of my all time favorites. Love that bass.

My other favorite is 'Law & Order.'

I'd have to throw the following in there as well:

Sanford & Son (I think Quincy Jones wrote it)
Somebody mentioned Hasselhoff. That made me think of the 'Knight Rider' theme which was great.

Speaking of Spongebob, my kids are such fans that I know many of the episodes just from listening to the damned thing. Whenever my daughter acts up now, I joke that I'm going to send the 'hash slinging slasher' after her....


Oh man! How could I forget Greatest American Hero!! I have that on my workout list!

Good pick, there!


I want to officially nominate the Aqua Teen Hunger Force theme.

My name is....

Schooly D for the win!


I second Sanford & Son and the Venture Brothers.

Good Times
Twilight Zone
Spiderman & His Amazing Friends
Time Tunnel
The Twilight Zone

The Incredible Hulk actually had 2 great themes, the pounding intro and the melancholy end credits.

But I'd have to say the hands down best TV theme ever was the Mission: Impossible theme. It seems almost unfair to the other themes to include it.


Holy sheot. How could I forget Mission:Impossible?


Miami Vice
The Andy Griffith Show


I'll add some votes for Spongebob and Dukes of Hazzard.

My son loves the spongebob theme song. When spongebob expands in the tub, my son opens his eyes wide, puffs out his cheeks, and starts quivering. He gets very excited when the fish pops up, and will occasionally play the "nose flute" at the end.

I'll also nominate Peter Pan and the Pirates (it's an instrumental, though the show was kinda short-lived, so I doubt many people remember it) and Buffy The Vampire Slayer (my son loved dancing to that one).


One more

Welcome Back, Kotter


Cowboy Bebop and the original Spider-Man.


What about the Fall Guy? That was a great theme for a great show. Lee Majors kicked ass.


Ah hell... How did I miss Bebop ?
Nice save, Tim...


I'm so glad this topic came up. Earlier this week I had a great experience with Tv Theme Songs. I was in a foul mood after finding out some very disturbing info by accident. My friend, Chrispy, happened to be with me at the time and we went for a drive so I could blow off some steam if needed. He put in some angry music and I felt better. The CD he put in after was all 80s TV Theme Songs. By the end of the Cd I was singing and laughing so much. The song that came on that turned my mood around was the theme song to "Fraggle Rock". I recognized that beginning bass beat ANYWHERE and I was suddenly 6 again and I couldn't be happier. I was bouncing in the car, dancing and singing at the top of my lungs. I was surprised to realise that I still knew all the words. The song that followed was the theme song to "Sesame Street" and then "The Muppet Show". I couldn't have been in a better mood that day - all thanks to a good friend and some 80s TV theme songs.


The theme to The Inspector, the cartoon with the French detective and was animated by the same folk who did the Pink Panther... that little instrumental is awesome, like Hawaii Five-0 awesome.


The Peanuts. Simple, single instrument, yet catchy and memorable. And the theme for Sesame Street. What other children's show inspired so many DJ's to remix the theme for clubs?


I second WKRP and Buffy, But how about:

The Muppet Show
and the Brak Show theme is just catchy enough to stick in my head whenever I hear it.


Oh wait! I nearly forgot the theme from Baretta


People keep bringing up Super Chicken on this site. Over and over again. I have NEVER seen this show. How can such a popular cartoon elude my grasp? WHAT IS THIS SUPER CHICKEN?

(really, the first time turtle mentioned this to me I thought he was making it up. he does things like that)


Check out how many of your favs were written by Mike Post.

Seemed to have the formula down, didn't he?


Oh, and Super Chicken was awesome! Simply awesome. That you missed it Michele is a damn shame, and partially explains your love of the Yankees.

Co-cartoons were The Adventures of Tom Slick, and George of the Jungle.


Oh, and I was always a sucker for a theme song with that wacka-wacka guitar shot.


It will be interesting to see what themes make the top 10. I looked up a theme song CD on amazon, and at least 2/3 of those songs would be contenders.

If anyone's interested, Here's a page with an mp3 of the Peter Pan & The Pirates theme song (look in the "Sound Clips" section)


Dark Shadows
Dr. Who

Star Trek
And let me be clear, not Voyager, not DS9, not TNG, and not that insipid folk ballad they used for Enterprise. Star Trek with William (Denny Crane) Shatner doing the voice over.


the Sopranos


Wherein Veeshir makes half the people here smack themselves in the forehead.





The world is waiting for youuuuuuuuu!

VERY influential on my formative years =) (and sometimes on my adult ones)


HR Pufnstuff theme, along with the Johnny and the Magic Flute theme, Land of the Lost and the trio of Superchicken, Tom Slick and George of the Jungle.


Hong Kong Phooey - Number One Super Guy

and I agree with A-Team, Greatest American Hero, WKRP, and Golden Girls (what, nobody mention that last one? nebbermind)


Philistines! It's the original opening of WKRP In Cincinnati where the guy's flipping the dial and the last thing to come over the airwaves is a news tidbit about "the Senator, while insisting he was not intoxicated, could not explain his nudity". That was deleted from later seasons and all the reruns I ever caught, which was too f***ing bad 'cause that was FUNNY. Also, the "outro" to that show BLISTERED.

Miami Vice
Married With Children (Frank rules)
Malcolm In The Middle
The Equalizer


Also, it seemed the messages on the answering machine at the beginning of "The Rockford Files" always had to do with someone who owed him money and, guess what, couldn't pay him back when they had said they would. Along with the unfinished solitaire game, it was just perfect.


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