You have the best childhood soundtracks to choose from, and we’ve compiled a list of the 40 best old-school theme songs from the 80s and 90s that is sure to take you right down memory lane.
PS: Don’t forget to vote for your favorite song. Let the theme song games begin!
1. DuckTales Theme Song
- Show: DuckTales
- Airing Time: 1987-1988
- Artist: Cluster
The DuckTales theme song is honestly one of the most infectious songs on this list. Just try not to “woo, hoo” along, I dare you. It’s impossible.
2. Darkwing Duck Theme Song
- Show: Darkwing Duck
- Airing Time: 1991-1992
- Artist: Steve Nelson & Thom Sharp
There’s something so mysteriously alluring about the tone set by the Darkwing Duck theme song. Fans of the duck listening to the theme instantly know what’s up: we’re going to get dangerous.
3. Inspector Gadget Theme Song
- Show: Inspector Gadget
- Airing Time: 1983-1986
- Artist: Shuki Levy
The “hoo hoo” theme continues to extend itself with the Inspector Gadget theme song. Light and airy, just like the show, one is unlikely to forget this earworm – possibly ever.
4. X-Men Theme Song
- Show: X-Men
- Airing Time: 1992-1997
- Artist: Ron Wasserman
Rarely is a wordless theme so iconic, and yet the X-Men theme is recognizable from the initial music cues alone. I can’t say that I haven’t pretended to be a hardcore mutant hero myself while blasting this one.
5. Gotta Catch ‘Em All
- Show: Pokémon
- Airing Time: 1998-1999
- Artist: Jason Paige
Once the Pokémon theme song starts, it doesn’t stop, and you don’t stop singing it until it’s finished. Just like you gotta catch every Pokémon, you gotta sing every word.
6. The Fairly OddParents Theme Song
- Show: The Fairly OddParents
- Airing Time: 2001-2017
- Artist: Butch Hartman & Ron Jones
If your tinder date can’t sing, “obtuse, rubber goose, green moose, guava juice, giant snake, birthday cake, large fries, chocolate shake,” they’re likely not the one.
7. The Fastest Thing Alive
- Show: Sonic the Hedgehog
- Airing Time: 1993-1996
- Artist: Michael Tavera
Sonic is the fastest thing alive, and the theme song to the 1993 cartoon, not to be confused with The Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog, is a rock n’ roll tribute that makes you believe Sonic himself could collect rings too.
8. Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego Theme Song
- Show: Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego?
- Airing Time: 1991-1995
- Artist: Rockapella
Is Carmen Sandiego in Kiev or Belize? We may never know. But what we do know is that this one reminded you that just by watching along, you’d likely ace your upcoming geography test.
9. Tiny Toon Adventures Theme Song
- Show: Tiny Toon Adventures
- Airing Time: 1990-1992
- Artist: Unknown
On the nose, whacky, zany, and rhyming, this song represents everything the Tiny Toons were about. Pint-sized fun and jumbo-sized mischief, as well as a song you have to sing along to. Let’s admit it, al of us wanted to be a part of the Acme Looniversity.
10. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Theme Song
- Show: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
- Airing Time: 1987-1996
- Artist: Unknown
Regardless of how many new TMNT iterations pop up over the years, coupled with their own new theme songs, the original theme song will always be the true TMNT jam.
11. Goof Troop Theme Song
- Show: Goof Troop
- Airing Time: 1992
- Artist: Randy Peterson, Kevin Quinn, Robert Irving
Just as iconic as Powerline’s songs from The Goofy Movie, the Good Troop theme song is both groovy and soulful. The Goof Troop song clearly embraced hip hop in a way we were truly ready for in the 90s.
12. Won’t You Be My Neighbor
- Show: Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood
- Airing Time: 1968-2001
- Artist: Fred Rogers
Those who grew up with Mister Rogers can’t help but be comforted by Mister Rogers asking, “won’t you be my neighbor?” Few theme songs remind you that you’re in a safe space as well as the Mister Rogers theme song.
13. Reading Rainbow Theme Song
- Show: Reading Rainbow
- Airing Time: 1983-2006
- Artist: Tina Fabrique
Reading Rainbow could be credited with helping to spawn an entire generation filled with avid readers. This song serves as a reminder that you can go anywhere, you can be anything, and if you’re lost, you’ll likely find some priceless guidance in a book.
14. Where Everybody Knows Your Name
- Show: Cheers
- Airing Time: 1982-1993
- Artist: Gary Portnoy, Judy Hart-Angelo
Similar to the Mister Rogers theme song, Cheers wants to remind you that sometimes you just want to go where everyone knows your name. In fact, it’s almost impossible to say the phrase without singing the theme, they are so synonymous.
15. Yo Home To Bel Air
- Show: The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air
- Airing Time: 1990-1996
- Artist: The Fresh Prince
Every self-respecting millennial can bust out this Will Smith rap. Truly iconic, few theme songs explain the premise of a show so well. The theme rendered continuity pretty much optional, as anyone could jump into the show at any time and pretty much understand what was going on.
16. I’ll Be There for You
- Show: Friends
- Airing Time: 1994-2004
- Artist: The Rembrandts
Clapping along to this song is almost irresistible. What’s more, as we age, the lyrics become more and more relatable. No one really ever told me it was going to be this way, although Friends tried.
17. Pinky and the Brain Theme Song
- Show: Pinky and the Brain
- Airing Time: 1995-1998
- Artist: Jess Harnell, Dorian Harewood, Jim Cummings, and Rob Paulsen
The Pinky and the Brain theme song was genius in its simple and repetitive refrain. It took little effort to remember the song, and even less to annoy our siblings by repeating, “Pink and the Brain, Brain, Brain,” etc., ad nauseam.
18. Hey Arnold! Theme Song
- Show: Hey Arnold!
- Airing Time: 1996-2004
- Artist: Jim Lang
Credited for introducing jazz to a whole new generation of listeners, the Hey Arnold! composer did well with meshing the sounds of the city with a story of big city life.
19. Animaniacs Theme Song
- Show: Animaniacs
- Airing Time: 1993-1998
- Artist: Richard Stone
Another theme designed to tell viewers exactly what they were about to get into, the Animaniacs theme song was both catchy and informative. Introducing the characters and basic premise, viewers got the zany gist from the theme song well enough.
20. Sister, Sister Theme Song
- Show: Sister, Sister
- Airing Time: 1994-1999
- Artist: Tia and Tamara Mowry
Few people know that stars Tia and Tamara actually sang the iconic theme song for Sister, Sister, and can, therefore, take credit for getting it stuck in our heads for hours.
21. Three’s Company Theme Song
- Show: Three’s Company
- Airing Time: 1977-1984
- Artist: Mark Jonathan Davis
An oldie but a goodie, those who grew up with Nick at Nite likely heard, “come and knock on our door” in their sleep. Groovy and catchy, the theme is heavily a product of its time, but joyously so.
22. Rocket Power Theme Song
- Show: Rocket Power
- Airing Time: 1999-2004
- Artist: The Wipeouters
Surf rock personified, the Rocket Power really sold the show to those who grew up far from the coast. Suddenly, we were all immersed in the skater/surfer Cali culture.
23. Doug Theme Song
- Show: Doug
- Airing Time: 1991-1994
- Artist: Eight Beat Measure
We’re talking about the original Nickelodeon opening. Something about the vocalization really works for a show with characters like Patty Mayonnaise and Doug Funny.
24. Batman Beyond Theme Song
- Show: Batman Beyond
- Airing Time: 1999-2001
- Artist: Kristopher Carter
Gritty and right on the edge of the new millennia, the Batman Beyond theme song let viewers know it was not your parents’ Batman show. Heavy on the nu-metal rock realness, Batman Beyond set the tone for many a future Hot Topic denizen.
25. Masters of the Universe Theme Song
- Show: He-Man and the Masters of the Universe
- Airing Time: 1983-1985
- Artist: Shuki Levy, Haim Saban
Not particularly jingly or catchy, the He-Man theme song is iconic nonetheless, starting off with an uproarious, “I have the power” just made for kids standing atop their sofas with empty toilet paper rolls, faux-swords, over their heads.
26. The Simpsons Theme Song
- Show: The Simpsons
- Airing Time: 1989-Present
- Artist: Danny Elfman
Few shows have the longevity of The Simpsons, and even fewer have stuck with the same theme song for years. Even those who don’t watch The Simpsons would likely win a round of, “name the show from the theme” at trivia.
27. Down at Fraggle Rock Theme Song
- Show: Fraggle Rock
- Airing Time: 1983-1987
- Artist: Jim Henson, The Fraggles
Jim Henson was a masterful musician, and nobody knew how to craft songs for his creations better than Henson. This song let us know it was time to dance our cares and worries away.
28. Cow and Chicken Theme Song
- Show: Cow and Chicken
- Airing Time: 1997-1999
- Artist: Guy Moon
Almost as nonsensical as the show, we may never know how two humans birthed a cow and a chicken. But we were likely glad they did, as few shows were as off the wall in the late 90s as Cow and Chicken.
29. Dexter’s Laboratory Theme Song
- Show: Dexter’s Laboratory
- Airing Time: 1993-2006
- Artist: Stephen Rucker
Entirely instrumental, the Dexter’s Laboratory theme gave us an idea of the distinct personalities of the show’s protagonists from the get-go. Dee Dee’s theme, light and playful, and Dexter’s, more sinister, work together symphonically, much as their characters do.
30. Digimon Are The Champions
- Show: Digimon
- Airing Time: 1999-2000
- Artist: Paul Gordon
Fans of Digimon were luckily able to get hyped up by this truly nostalgic hit not once, but twice, when the song was brought back for the second season of the show. Signifying that things had not changed entirely between the seasons, the show still makes us a little warm and fuzzy today.
31. Rugrats Theme Song
- Show: Rugrats
- Airing Time: 1991-2004
- Artist: Mark Mothersbaugh
Speaking of warm and fuzzy, the Rugrats theme is just what a theme for a show about babies should be: light and playful, and the perfect accompaniment to the color-splashed intro.
32. Sailor Moon Theme Song
- Show: Sailor Moon
- Airing Time: 1993-1994
- Artist: Nicole and Brynne Price
The Sailor Moon roll-call was notorious, and gave friend groups the perfect opportunity to declare just which Sailor Scout they identified with exactly. Empowering and hype-inducing, the Sailor Moon theme remained unchanged throughout all the seasons – and for good reason.
33. Can You Tell Me How to Get to Sesame Street
- Show: Sesame Street
- Airing Time: 1969-Present
- Artist: Joe Raposo
Although few may admit to it, you likely haven’t forgotten asking how to get to Sesame Street after all these years. Sesame Street was a staple for many millennials growing up
34. All That Theme Song
- Show: All That
- Airing Time: 1994-2000
- Artist: TLC
This song is easily the hippest song on the list. What else would you expect from a sketch show theme song performed by hip hop legends TLC? This song honestly stands on its own and wouldn’t have been out of place on the radio circa the mid-nineties.
35. Barney Theme Song
- Show: Barney
- Airing Time: 1992-2010
- Artist: Barney
Another song few many want to own up to loving, there was nothing quite as comforting as hearing Barney and friends let you know that you are loved and telling you that you are family.
36. Batman: The Animated Series Theme Song
- Show: Batman: The Animated Series
- Airing Time: 1992-1995
- Artist: Danny Elfman
Reminiscent of both old-school spy series and detective noir movies, the Batman: The Animated Series theme reminded us that Batman has been a detective all along.
37. Courage the Cowardly Dog Theme Song
- Show: Courage the Cowardly Dog
- Airing Time: 1999-2002
- Artist: Jody Gray, Andy Ezrin
Creepy as Courage the Cowardly dog was, the theme song was uniquely quaint and positive. That is, until the scare from Eustace at the end, perfect for tricking families into thinking the show was fine for young children and not at all disturbing. Which it was. However, we included the ending theme song in this list because it just reminds us of the emotional trauma we experienced as kids, watching Courage’s adventures unfold.
38. Powerpuff Girls Theme Song
- Show: The Powerpuff Girls
- Airing Time: 1998-2005
- Artist: Thomas Chase
Sugar, spice, everything nice, and Chemical X: viewers knew exactly what kind of superheroines they were getting after listening to this quotable intro. If you didn’t run around the house reciting Blossom, Bubbles and, Buttercup, and then nanananana-ing, you did childhood wrong.
39. Rocko’s Modern Life Theme Song
- Show: Rocko’s Modern Life
- Airing Time: 1993-1996
- Artist: The B-52’s
Rockabilly and funky, the theme to Rocko’s Modern Life should have been a clue for parents that the show was likely going to have a more adult spin. The B-52’s, known for Love Shack, weren’t exactly the safe pick for a children’s show, yet they fit in perfectly.
40. He’s Pooh Bear
- Show: The New Adventures of Winnie the Pooh
- Airing Time: 1998-2001
- Artist: Steve Nelson
He’s stuffed with fluff, he’s Winnie the Pooh. Thanks to this theme, you couldn’t forget Pooh Bear’s deal if you tried.
41. Swat Kats Theme Songs
- Show: Swat Kats
- Airing Time: 1993-1994
- Artist: Adam Remy
Even though it didn’t air for long, Swat Kats touched many lives, inspiring the 90’s generation to reach for the stars. Literally. In planes. As pilots. I mean, if two anthropomorphic badass pilot cats that fight monsters while heavy metal plays in the background isn’t inspiring, I don’t know what is.
42. Rhythmic Drumming
- Show: Avatar: The Last Airbender
- Airing Time: 2005 – 2008
- Artist: N/A
The rhythmic drumming from the end credit scenes of Avatar: The Last Airbender is so iconic that I dare any millennial to say otherwise. And fans of the show also get a bit teary when hearing as (SPOILER ALERT) it foreshadows Aang’s relationship with Zuko, their bonding moment when they both learn to firebend from the original firebenders. Literally got chills while writing this. Best show ever!
43. Meet the Flintstones
- Show: The Flintstones
- Airing Time: 1960 – 1966
- Artist: Hoyt Curtin
One of the most popular soundtracks of all time, known by parents and children alike, this song is like a nice embrace of nostalgia, teleporting you back to the days when your only worry in the world was your cereal getting soggy.
44. The Jetsons Theme Song
- Show: The Jetsons
- Airing Time: 1962 – 1987
- Artist: Hoyt Curtin
Basically the Flintstones in space, The Jetsons taught us that sci-fi isn’t just galactic battles and Force-yielding knights. Also, just putting it out there, Rosie was by far the best character.
45. Tom and Jerry Theme Song
- Show: Tom and Jerry
- Airing Time: 1940 – 1967
- Artist: Scott Bradley
Tom and Jerry shaped the minds of three generations and it’s still popular today. While there are countless life lessons to learn from the two frenemies, music-wise, it sneakily introduced us to classic musical bits and for that, we shall be forever grateful.
You can also vote your favorite below. Let the best and most popular song win!
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