I will be counting down the top 50 television theme songs of all time over the next few days. The rankings and omissions found in the countdown are my personal opinion and not entirely reflective of the common television viewer. However, some themes are so iconic regardless of my own personal opinion that they deserve a spot on the list.
Click here to view the shows that came in at No. 50-41.
Here we go:
18. The Simpsons
A madcap everything-but-the-kitchen-sink song, the theme to The Simpsons is instantly recognizable from its heavenly opening notes. With the zaniness that only composer Danny Elfman could accomplish, the theme is a truly unique song unlike any other theme that’s ever been on television.
Maude isn’t a particularly memorable show in the grand scheme of television, but its theme is undeniably fantastic. The theme covers pioneering women over the course of history and hilariously compares them to the lead character, Maude. There aren’t many themes more joyful than this.
16. The Office
A simple little piano tune that turns into a rocking instrumental, the theme to The Office may not be iconic now but I’m sure it will be when looked upon from the future. The song is earnest and sweet while also having that edginess that turned The Office into a modern-day sitcom classic.
15. All in the Family
The theme to All in the Family is so iconic that it was actually parodied in the Family Guy theme song. With Archie (Carroll O’Connor) and Edith (Jean Stapleton) sitting at the piano and singing, the pair reflected on the good old days while in the midst of a changing social climate, encapsulating the central conflict of the series.
14. Laverne & Shirley
Another ridiculously happy theme from the ’70s, the Laverne & Shirley theme is such a rocking good time that it transcends the cynicism of modern-day theme songs. The wordiness of the opening lyrics are charmingly tongue-in-cheek and the song as a whole beautifully reflects the friendship between the titular characters.
13. The X-Files
A hauntingly memorable theme, The X-Files theme song strikes a perfect balance between edgy coolness and genuine creepiness. Both the piano and the whistling are enough to get the song stuck in your head for hours. Few horror/thriller shows can pull off a bone-chilling theme convincingly, but The X-Files really does.
12. Sanford and Son
The Sanford and Son theme song is perhaps the funkiest song I’ve ever heard, and I’ve heard some funky songs in my day. There’s a reason Scrubs devoted an entire scene to the theme song. The song is such a no-nonsense, brassy number that perfectly encapsulates the main character and the central conceit of the show.
11. The Golden Girls