With thousands of channels and streaming services to populate, it often feels like great TV shows are few and far between these days. However, there’s one key element that can make or break the shows that do make it air: a great theme song.
For the better part of a century, our favourite TV shows which we watched at home, had classic theme songs that were still stuck in our heads long after the series ended.
We’ve compiled the most iconic TV theme songs of all time — just try not to sing along.
Friends: Anyone alive in the late 1990s or early 2000s can likely recite the Friends theme song by heart. Performed by one-hit wonders The Rembrandts, this song about maintaining friendship despite what life may throw at you is among the most famous theme songs of all time, although its lyrics are primarily just the words “I’ll be there for you” repeated ad nauseam.
The Golden Girls: If the Friends theme song had an older sister, it would be Golden Girls’ classic anthem, “Thank You For Being a Friend.” Penned by Andrew Gold and sung by Cynthia Fee, this countryesque pop tune is still a hit to this day, with the song being covered by countless artists and sampled in numerous songs.
Cheers: Cheers, one of the most-beloved sitcoms of all time also happens to have one of the most-beloved theme songs ever written. “Where Everybody Knows Your Name” effectively captured the spirit of the hit show about the titular Boston bar. Cheers ran for a staggering nine seasons on NBC, but its theme song is still so iconic that many people who haven’t even seen the show can still recite it verbatim.
Mad Men: While this RJD2 tune doesn’t have any words, Mad Men’s theme song and the associated artwork are just as iconic as the hour-long drama itself. Starting with strings, the tune builds with drums and some DJ samples as the verse swells, paralleling the falling Don Draper image we see on screen. And unlike many other TV show theme songs, this is one we could actually listen to outside of the show’s context.
The Jeffersons: The Jeffersons theme song is so iconic it’s spawned its own lingo. The tune, “Movin’ On Up,” is such a classic that its title has become shorthand for success — to this day, saying you’re “movin’ on up to the east side” is still synonymous with a sudden positive reversal of fortune.
Whether they just went off the air or haven’t been on for decades, these shows’ theme songs have stuck with us. From instrumental tracks to heartfelt ballads, these songs are as beloved as the shows they went along with.