Whatever Happened to TV Theme Songs?

Remember back in the olden days, when television shows had catchy theme songs, and opening sequences, typically featuring pictures of cast members and scenes from the show?  Whatever happened to those?   When was it exactly that television programmers decided that theme songs were “dorky” — that cast pictures and opening credits were just plain unnecessary?  Perhaps, it happened around the same time that producers made this  . . .

Call me out of touch, but I, for one, miss my TV Theme Songs.  After all,  “jingles” were the soundtrack to my childhood and adolescence.  The opening sequences that accompanied them allowed me the few precious moments I needed to get revved up for my favorite shows.  (Not to mention, they allowed me to drool over adorable close-ups of whatever actor I happened to be crushing on at the time.) 

This is why today, I would like to pay homage to the theme songs and opening sequences that made me the TV Recapper I am today.  These opening sequences that I am about to show you will probably be as close as I will ever come to writing an autobiography.  My list begins with the first two television programs that I recall watching, back when I was still in diapers, and runs all the way through to present day.  (Don’t worry, I only chose ten shows . . .)

So, without further adieu:  My Life as a Series of Television Theme Songs . . .

Sesame Street

For most of us, this was probably the first television show (and theme song) to which we were exposed.  I’m pretty sure my mom was already making me watch Sesame Street, when I was still in her womb.  And even though I haven’t watched the show in . . . well  . . . a LONG time, its theme song still gets my toes tapping, and its colorful opening sequence still brings a smile to my face.

(Unfortunately, I couldn’t find an opening sequence on YouTube that corresponded to a time when I was actually watching this show.  All the available examples either aired too early, or too late for Baby Me.   Plus, apparently, Sesame Street changes their opener ALL THE TIME!  Fortunately, the song always stays pretty much the same.  And the  above opener came closest to how I remembered the sequence, i.e. MORE pictures of puppets and LESS of random kids that I don’t know, or care, about . . . So you can get the basic idea.)

Fraggle Rock

I have very vivid memories of this HBO show. (Can you believe HBO used to air children’s programming at night?  Things SURE have changed . . . )  The extent to which I remember this show is strange considering that, based on the time frame during which it aired, I had to have been more or less a toddler when I was watching it.  I distinctly remember, however, that its characters were awesome!  Let’s see . . . there was Red, the sporty tomboy Fraggle,

Mokey, the artsy-fartsy, hippie-dippy Fraggle,

oh . . . and that other Fraggle that talked, acted, and sort of looked like Woody Allen.

Then there were the DOOZERS, blue collar workaholics that were ACTUALLY BLUE!

And, let’s not forget Fraggle Rock had one of the most kickass opening sequences of ALL TIME!

Full House

This is one of those shows that, back when I was a kid, I thought was AWESOME.  However, now, sometimes, I watch it in reruns, and wonder what I was smoking back then  . . .  Yet, back in the day, Full House was part of TGIF, ABC’s kid-friendly Friday night lineup.  And everyone who was anyone (and who didn’t have a sleepover party to attend that weekend) was watching. 

D.J. Tanner was the big sister I never had, but wish I did.  Little Me wanted to be just like her when I grew up, (or, rather, merely aged a few years).  I even had my room decorated the way her character did on the show (same bed sheets)!  Apparently, I would have been one stalkerish little sister . . .  It’s probably a good thing that I was an only child.   

Home Improvement

Honestly, I shouldn’t even be including this one, because the theme song had NO WORDS, and, actually, was kind of lame.  However, Home Improvement was a very important show for me, because it marked my ascent into womanhood.  After all, Jonathan Taylor Thomas, the middle child on the show, was my FIRST EVER television crush!

In fact, this very picture, which was probably cut out of some Teen Bop magazine from the early 90s, hung on my childhood bedroom closet door for an embarrassingly long time.  Just in case, you were curious, my first movie crush was Macauley Culkin from Home Alone.

It seems kind of creepy for me to be saying these things now.  But, rest assured, these were both age appropriate crushes for me at the time . . .

Fresh Prince of Bel Air

A rapping, super cheesily dressed, teenage Will Smith?  How could I NOT include this opening sequence in my list?


After listening to this theme song EVERY Thursday night for TEN YEARS, I can’t even hear the first few bars of “I’ll Be There for You” anymore, without wanting to slit my wrists.  But there was a time, not too long ago, when I LOVED the song, and LOVED the show!  Honestly, who DIDN’T want to be one of the Friends?  They were all just SO COOL!  (Well . . . except for, maybe, Ross.)

Dawson’s Creek

Ahhhh . . . Dawson’s Creek.  My lifelong obsession with Pacey Witter and his gal pal, Joey Potter began with just a few simple words, belted out by Paula Cole, “I don’t wanna wait!”   (Sadly, I own, and still, on occasion, watch, the DVD’s for the ENTIRE series.)  Oh, and by the way, just a note for The Blair Witch Project and Paranormal Activity: here’s living proof that you DID NOT invent “shaky cam.”

The O.C.

The O.C. has been off the air for a few years now, but I am still going through a bit of withdrawal.  Benjamin McKenzie’s Ryan Atwood was the ULTIMATE brooding bad boy (and pretty easy on the eyes too, I might add).

Oh, and Seth and Summer? They gave hope to EVERY nerd out there who ever had dreams of dating the prom queen.

Plus, the show’s opening sequence, put a modern spin on a musical classic . . .  What could be better?

Veronica Mars

Adorably snarky teen super sleuth?  CHECK!  Twisty turny and surprisingly dark seasonal mysteries (and slightly less twisty and dark episodic mysteries)?  CHECK!  Super sexy, mildly mutually abusive, “LoVE” / Hate relationship between two hot twenty-somethings playing teens? CHECK!  Catchy, yet ultra hip, theme song and title sequence featuring The Dandy Warhols?  TRIPLE CHECK!

True Blood

Well, folks, we have traveled long and far (20 some odd years, to be exact), but we have finally made it back to present day.  And, like I said, for the most part, theme songs and opening sequences have, sadly, become a thing of the past.  But fear not, because all hope is not lost . . .

While it does not technically fit the opening sequence mold (no pictures of the cast are shown here), True Blood’s “Bad Things” title sequence is everything a slightly raunchy, often funny, and fangtastic show about vampires, and other assorted supernatural creatures from the South, should be . . .

So, there you have it — my life summed up in ten television theme songs . . . Something tells me the next generation won’t be able to write a blog entry like this one . . .

[P.S.  Did I forget to include YOUR favorite TV Theme Song in this list?  If so, maybe I caught it in the sequel to this post, which features 10 more awesome TV Theme Songs.  You can find that post here.]


Filed under 80s television, 90s television, music, television, TV theme songs

14 responses to “Whatever Happened to TV Theme Songs?

  1. Amazon Annie

    What a blast from the past. You had me until Dawson’s Creek. By the time Dawson’s Creek rolled around my daughter no longer enjoyed having me sit and watch her TV shows with her. They were her shows, not mine, so the theme songs are a vague blur of music I heard coming from through her bedroom door. But times have changed….and now, with True Blood, we are back on the same page. Great blog KJewls.

    • See, Amazon Annie? It all comes full circle!

      Part of the fun of having a blog (for me, anyway) is being able to collect all of the cool pictures and fun videos that make up my own personal pop culture mosaic. Now I have all this stuff that I like, in one place, and can visit it anytime I like.

      The fact that others read, and occasionally, enjoy it, is just icing on the cake . . . (but very delicious icing, of course — icing that makes the cake 80 times more fabulous than it would be otherwise :))

      Thanks again for popping by! And for listening to my TV Soundtrack!

  2. Great minds think alike … I’m working on my own post on TV theme songs, how funny! Last month I found my old tv theme song cds (I have two, lol!) when I was updating my new ipod.

    There are still a few good tv theme songs out there to sing along with – Kendra probably has the best one.

    • I’m so excited to read your post, girlfromtheghetto! Honestly, I think this was the most fun I have ever had with a blog entry. (I was totally chair dancing the whole time). So, I am sure you will have a blast as well . . .

      There were SO MANY really great theme songs (particularly from the late 80’s / early 90’s – Growing Pains, The Wonder Years, Step by Step, Ally McBeal etc.) that I didn’t get to include in this list for time and space purposes. Plus, I was trying to do this whole “autobiographical theme” too, so that didn’t help . . .

      You are right! Kendra does have a really great theme song (which would probably make an excellent ringtone). I also like the theme for How to Make it in America, and the OLD Big Love theme. (The new one sucks, in my opinion).

      So, I guess, there are A FEW new shows that have fun opening sequences with actual words and cast pictures in them. But they certainly don’t make them like they used to . . . 🙂

      Thanks for stopping by, and allowing me to revist the fun I had writing this post . ..

  3. Bananas in Pajamas FTW

    • Awww! Fruit, clad in flannel that enjoys attacking stuffed animals, what’s not to love? Well, seeing as I’m a true believer in democracy, consider the below link #11 on the above-referenced list . . .

      Enjoy! 🙂

  4. Pingback: Page not found « TV Recappers Anonymous

  5. Pingback: Whatever Happened to TV Theme Songs? (THE SEQUEL) « TV Recappers Anonymous

  6. What about Transformers!

    Or Magic School Bus

    Or Beast Wars

    Or Animaniacs

    Tiny Toons

    Pinky & The Brain

    Looney Tunes

    or Simpsons

    • LOL! Well I stand corrected, Patrick. 🙂

      Thanks so much for stopping by and commenting, and for offering up all the awesome links! I realize now that I more or less stuck to “live action” series. But you are right, cartoons kept up with theme songs LONG AFTER most “real life” shows abandoned them.

      Maybe one of these days I will do a “Best Cartoon Theme Song” Post. After all, you’ve already done most of the work for me!

      I LOVED Tiny Toons and Animaniacs! I still find myself randomly singing those theme songs every once in a while. (Pinky & the Brain always kind of freaked me out though . . .)

  7. April

    What about Buffy? It had an awesome theme song, no words but some great clips. Plus it was the show that got me hooked on vampires in the first place. It’ll always be a classic 🙂

    • I LOVE the opening sequence for Buffy! You are right. Even though it has no words, the way the clips are arranged is pure genius. I particularly like the part at the end, with the drum beats, as the “Scooby Gang” grabs their stakes, and prepares to battle the Big Bad Vamps — PURE WIN!

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