The Most Memorable TV Show Theme Songs Of All Time

The best TV theme songs include Game of Thrones, The Simpsons, and The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.

By Jonathan Klotz | Published

friends reunion

A good TV show theme can get the viewer excited before the show even begins, either by being a catchy tune, explaining the show’s premise, or setting the right mood for what’s about to come. Some shows, like Yellowstone and The Witcher have great themes, but they have yet to stand the test of time like the ones on our list. Try and make it through without singing any of them; it’s impossible.

10. “Law & Order Theme” by Mike Post – Law & Order

Law & Order

For a legal drama played perfectly straight, Law & Order has a catchy TV theme song that alternates from light-hearted notes to a more intense bass line, capturing the dichotomy of living and working in New York. Created by Grammy and Emmy award-winning composer Mike Post, the theme sets the stage for the case to follow, playing perfectly in sync with the opening credits to end on a hero shot of the cast. As great as the theme is, it’s the second most famous sound from the series, with the classic “dun-dun” that plays during scene transitions, perhaps the greatest sound effect in Hollywood history.

9. “The A-Team Theme” by Mike Post and Peter Carpenter – The A-Team

The A-Team starts every episode with an opening narration that sums up the entire premise, leading up to the climatic opening note of an award-winning tv theme song and getting viewers pumped for the family-friendly bloodless action to follow. Upbeat and triumphant, the score plays over scenes of explosions, and the cast shows off their character’s primary traits in what’s not just an all-time theme song but one of the best opening credits of all time. The show, about Vietnam veterans working as soldiers of fortune for the oppressed, is captured so well by the triumphant horns, even the 2010 Bradley Cooper and Liam Neeson remake knew not to mess with perfection.

8. “Everywhere You Look” by Jesse Frederick – Full House

From the opening title shot to the closing image of the famous Painted Ladies, the Full House opening credits evolved with the show, updating each season with new scenes showing the cast at their current age, but the catchy TV theme song “Everywhere You Look” remains timeless. Later seasons changed the chorus around, and adjusted the order of lyrics, eventually adding the “ahh ahh,” but the upbeat tune still reflected the nature of the Tanners.

Fuller House, the Netflix sequel series, updated the iconic TV theme song with a new arrangement by Carly Rae Jepsen while still honoring the original. Sitcoms have traditionally had some of the best openings, from the family-friendly ones to the later more jaded shows set in offices, but few are as immediately recognizable as the Full House theme.

7. “Gilligan’s Island Theme” by Sherwood Schwartz and George Wyle – Gilligan’s Island

In true classic sitcom fashion, the Gilligan’s Island TV theme song lays out the entire premise of the show, though it doesn’t explain why the cast had so many clothes for a “three-hour tour.” The old-fashioned tune does a lot in 60 seconds, from why they are stranded and who each of the characters are, even if it does lie about Gilligan’s competence. The oldest show on this list, and a rare Hollywood success that can never be remade or rebooted, Gilligan’s Island is a classic that did more with a simple premise then most high-brow shows today.

6. “The Office Theme” by Jay Ferguson – The Office (US)

the office spin-off the office reboot

The Office does away with the classic sitcom tradition of explaining the premise in the TV theme song. Instead, it goes with a poppy instrumental theme set over brief character and setting introductions. Yet it still gets across the basic premise of life in a modern workplace without crushing anyone’s soul or leaning into the tedium of a traditional nine-to-five job.

Over 30 seconds, The Office TV theme song gets in, sets the stage, and gets out without lingering for too long, as some opening sequences have with modern sitcoms. Characters grew and changed, Michael left the show, but the theme remained unchanged for the entire run.

5. “Game of Thrones Main Title” by Ramin Djwaldi – Game of Thrones

game of thrones

The opening sequence for Game of Thrones serves two important functions: showing the locations in the episode and letting fans rock out to an instantly iconic TV theme song. It’s no surprise that Ramin Djwaldi won awards for his composition, which captures the epic feel of the series from the very first moment.

House of the Dragon, the prequel series following the fall of House Targaryen, kept the theme song instead of trying to mess with perfection. One of the best parts of Game of Thrones on DVD is the commentary tracks, which include a Season 1 bit where the child actors on the show sing along to the theme, something everyone has done at least once, and there’s no shame in admitting it.

4. “The Simpsons Theme” by Danny Elfman – The Simpsons

The Simpsons Christmas Pageant

The Simpsons has been on the air for over 30 years, and during that whole time, the iconic TV theme song composed by the legendary Danny Elfman has remained consistent. Parts of the introduction change every episode, from the chalkboard to the couch gag, but the upbeat theme is only ever interrupted by Lisa’s saxophone solo.

As with The Office, the premise isn’t included in the TV theme song; rather, it gets across the character beats playing out on screen while letting viewers know it’s still a light-hearted show not to be taken too seriously. The show has even played around with the theme and opening credits, most notably in Season 5 with “Cape Feare” playing it over again as The Thompsons.

3. “Where Everybody Knows Your Name” by Gary Portnoy – Cheers

A happy and upbeat song about the brief, fleeting moment when adults can get together and forget the stress of the day, “Where Everybody Knows Your Name” by Gary Portnoy transcended being an iconic TV theme song to become part of American culture. Written when he was only 25, Portnoy was paid $150 upfront for the classic tune, but don’t worry since he gets residuals every time it’s played.

Considering Cheers is one of the greatest television shows ever made, launching the careers of Ted Danson, Kelsey Grammar, Woody Harrelson, and Kirstie Alley, and how the TV theme song is now being used in commercials, Portnoy did alright with his greatest hit.

2. “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” by Will Smith – The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air

Go stand in public somewhere, anywhere, and start singing “In West Philadelphia,” then wait for someone to sing the next lyric. It’ll happen since The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air TV theme song is one of the greatest earworms from the 90s, even if later seasons cut out an entire verse. When the series started, Will Smith wasn’t an actor, he was only known as a rapper, but over the course of the award-winning, ground-breaking series run, he developed into the biggest movie star of the 90s.

“The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” becoming one of the most iconic TV theme songs ever is something no one could have predicted when the young rapper was offered the series. While not as prevalent as the entries on either side of it, the theme is the most likely from this list to be heard when out in public; it’s just that fun to sing.

1. “I’ll Be There For You” – The Rembrandts – Friends

friends cast

For those watching Friends on streaming, the opening TV theme song is catchy and endearing as it plays over the cast having fun around a water fountain, but for those that lived through the series initial run on broadcast television, this song was impossible to escape. Written by David Crane and Marta Kaufman, the show’s co-creators, the song made it to number one on the Billboard Adult Contemporary chart and seven on the Top 40. That’s impressive for any song, but for a TV theme, it was nearly unheard of.

“I’ll Be There For You” is often voted as the best TV theme song of all time, and our list is no different, as not only is it a good song in its own right, but it fits Friends like a glove. In addition, culturally, no other theme song has had such a massive impact. Imagine how different television would be if R.E.M hadn’t turned down the chance to use one of their songs as the theme?