Top 10 TV Theme Songs That Get Stuck in Your Head

The catchiest tv theme songs come from The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, The Simpsons, and Cheers.

By Douglas Helm | Updated

There’s nothing quite like a good earworm, especially if it opens up one of your favorite TV shows or is on a soundtrack for your favorite movie. A good TV theme gets you hyped for the episode to come and then sticks in your head for the rest of the day. If you’re ready to really get some songs stuck in your head, check out these top TV theme songs of all time.

10. Friends (1994-2004)

As soon as that jangly guitar kicks in, you better warm up your pipes because there’s little chance that you won’t sing along to the entire Friends TV theme song. The ever-popular New York-set sitcom had a sticky theme song just as charming as the cast of Jennifer Aniston, Courtney Cox, Lisa Kudrow, Matt Leblanc, Matthew Perry, and David Schwimmer. Sung by The Rembrandts, the “I’ll Be There for You” opening showed a montage of the cast splashing around in a water fountain while the lyrics perfectly encapsulated what you want from your best friends — to be there for you.

9. The Simpsons (1989-Present)

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Danny Elfman is one of the best film composers of our time, and he really knocked it out of the park when he was asked to write the TV theme song for The Simpsons. Opening with a brief angelic harmony singing the name of the titular family, the catchy main melody would kick in as we were taken on a brief tour through the town of Springfield.

From the opening featuring Bart writing something new on the chalkboard for every episode to the couch gag at the end (which could have its own Top Ten list), the quirky and lively melody was the perfect accompaniment to the humorous animated antics of The Simpsons family.

8. Game of Thrones (2011-2019)

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Game of Thrones may have ended with a thud, but the theme song was always an undeniable masterpiece. The grandiose and simmering score was the perfect way to introduce audiences to the intrigue and scheming of George R.R. Martin’s expansive fantasy world. Created by German-Iranian composer Ramin Djawadi, the opening score was accompanied by an entrancing visual representation of Westeros and the locations we would be visiting in the upcoming episode.

It was a beautiful and dynamic way to get fans hyped for what was coming. We may not have a good final couple of seasons for this major show, but the theme remains one of the best TV theme songs of all time.

7. The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air (1990-1996)

If you have the latter half of DJ Jazzy Jeff & the Fresh Prince starring in your sitcom, wouldn’t you ask the duo to write your TV theme song for you? That’s what happened when Will Smith was brought on to The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, and the result is a hip-hop classic and the perfect introduction to the West Philly residents’ fish-out-of-water move to a haughty Bel Air mansion.

Who needs a lengthy origin story when you can just have your star do a storytelling rap to kick things off? Go ahead and throw this intro on in front of a 90s kid and see if they don’t rap every single word along with Will.

6. Gilligan’s Island (1964-1967)

While The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air‘s theme song introduced us to Will and his move to Bel Air, the Gilligan’s Island theme song went ahead and introduced us to every main character. Written by Sherwood Schwartz and George Wyle, the theme song is now arguably more well-known than the show itself. The goofy and lighthearted song not only introduces us to each character but also narrates the unfortunate tour that leads the group to be castaways on the island.

There are plenty of catchy TV songs out there, but the fact that people still remember this song from the 1960s is a testament to its staying power.

5. The Office (2005-2013)

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A solid piano line can do a lot to carry a song (ask the more recent Succession), and the US version of The Office managed to hit the nail on the head. When you hear those opening notes plucked on the ivories, you automatically know what show is on. The drums kick in shortly, and we get a brief shot of the various different employees at the Scranton Branch of Dunder Mifflin.

It’s short, sweet, and the perfect way to prepare us for Michael Scott’s antics. Even though the show came out before the creators could have known about binge-watching on Netflix, it’s still catchy enough that people might not even skip it during their binge.

4. Cheers (1982-1993)

Sometimes you want to go where everybody knows your name. That’s the chorus to the classic, beloved sitcom Cheers, and it rings true every time. The cozy Boston bar was the favorite haunt of characters like Sam, Cliff, and Norm, and the theme song helped us feel like we were one of the many patrons. Viewers knew everyone’s name at that bar, and the theme song put you right there with everyone.

Composed by Gary Portnoy and Judy Hart Angelo, “Everyone Knows Your Name” has become a cultural touchstone, one of the greatest tv theme songs, and its heartfelt message is just as effective as the day it was first heard.

3. The Big Bang Theory (2007-2019)

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The Big Bang Theory was based around a group of nerds, so naturally, the theme song had to reflect this as well. Recorded and written by The Barenaked Ladies, “The History of Everything” gives us a brief and condensed version of how the universe was formed. Stephen Hawking may not think that the song is informative enough, but he might at least be amused by the reference.

The upbeat and charming song was a good introduction to the pop-culture heavy and dweeby show, which managed to become wildly popular despite its detractors. Regardless of what you think of the show itself, it’s hard to deny that The Barenaked Ladies didn’t create a banger of a TV theme song.

2. SpongeBob SquarePants (1999-Present)

Who lives in a pineapple under the sea? If you didn’t know when the first episode of SpongeBob SquarePants aired in 1999, you would know by the end of this TV theme song. The incredibly catchy intro to the world of Bikini Bottom handily introduced us to our main character through Painty the Pirate and a chorus of kids.

Composed by Derek Drymon, Mark Harrison, Stephen Hillenburg, and Blaise Smith, it’s hard to think of a better way to get kids and adults alike for the animated antics of SpongeBob and company. All it took was one listen to this theme song before you’d be yelling, “Aye, aye, Captain!” the next time Painty asked you if you were ready.

1. Stranger Things (2016-Present)

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The final entry to this list is also the most recent, and fans are dying to hear it again (though a release date for the highly-anticipated fifth season still eludes us for now). The theme for Stranger Things is everything you could want from an 80s-inspired horror theme song. The synth-driven melody was composed by Kyle Dixon and Michael Stein of the electronic band Survive, and it manages to be perfectly nostalgic and fresh at the same time.

Of course, Survive also scores the show, ensuring the eerie and synthy atmosphere is carried throughout every season. Although it’s only been around since 2016, it’s pretty clear this is one of the best TV theme songs of all time.