The top TV theme tunes

Our writers discuss the TV theme tunes that remain with us long after the show has ended

multiple writers
15th March 2021
Credit: Horrible History on YouTube
Sometimes a theme song can make or break a TV show. Either it becomes completely forgettable, or no matter how hard we try, the theme song never leaves our brains. It'll be 3 am and for some reason, we hear the songs that live in our heads rent-free. Our writers discuss their favourite hits.

Horrible Histories

When I think of powerful influences in my life, probably the first thing that comes to mind is the unforgettable theme tune of Horrible Histories.

This song is undoubtedly the anthem of the History student.

This song is the Pavlov to my conditioned dog

The HH theme song can never have a stupid death... Credit: IMDb.

If I had to pinpoint the moment when my obsession with history was born, then it would have to be the moment that I first heard this song.

In fact, the theme song did such an exceptionable job of sucking me in as a young child that I barely even noticed that I was being gently educated in a subject that would go on to dominate my life years later.

This song is just the tip of the iceberg too, as the show is littered with numerous historical parodies of songs by hit artists, from the Beatles to the Bee Gees. A few have even been compiled into a Spotify playlist.

Even to this day if I hear a hint of the iconic opening guitar riff, I am sent spiralling into an instinctual recital of the lyrics.

This song is the Pavlov to my conditioned dog.

Johnathan Mack

Credit: Horrible Histories on Youtube.

Adventure Time

To be a good theme tune, the song needs to get stuck in your head. As infuriating as this can be, it can also be a guilty pleasure. If you've never found yourself humming along to a show's opening as a child, or, indeed, as an adult, then you are lying. For me, that show is Adventure Time.

It reflects the content of the show whilst mimicking the mindset of those who consume it

The theme song of Adventure Time perfectly captures the spirit of the show. Credit: IMDb

It’s upbeat, casual and has a slow build-up, meaning it makes you know that what you’re about to watch will be worth the wait. It perfectly encapsulates the show’s nature and central themes too. The relationship between Jake the Dog and Finn the Human, a pivotal part in the show and nearly all its storylines, is captured within the lyrics whilst the laid back and comedic nature of the show is also hinted at through the simplistic, ukulele-backed vocals.

However, the best part for me about the theme is that its perfect for the times you’d consume it as a child. When I was younger, I’d watch it after or before school days. These times for me were a perfect chance to lay back or unwind and the theme tune perfectly reflects this. It’s welcoming but not in-your-face, gently guiding you into the show.

All of this shows why, in my opinion, Adventure Time is one of the best theme tunes out there. Not only is it a great tune in its own right, but it reflects the content of the show whilst mimicking the mindset of those who consume it.

Joshua Thompson

Credit: Cartoon Network Australia on YouTube.

Law & Order: SVU

In the criminal justice system, sexually-based offences are considered especially heinous. In New York City, the dedicated detectives who investigate these vicious felonies are members of an elite squad known as the Special Victims Unit. These are their stories.

Post's theme song has amassed a plethora of awards and deservedly so

The theme song has became popular on TikTok. Credit: NBC/Michael Parmelee/NBC - © 2017 NBCUniversal Media, LLC, IMDb.

The narration preluding each episode of Law & Order: SVU (as noted above) lives rent-free in my head, and it borders on ludicrous. Narrated by voice actor Steve Zirnkilton, the narration has become almost as iconic as the show itself.

However, it is the theme song by Mike Post which is most noteworthy. Approached by SVU's Creator, Dick Wolf, Mike Post needed no persuasion in composing the show's theme song. Including what is colloquially known as the 'dun dun' effect, Post's theme song has amassed a plethora of awards and deservedly so. Having found its way onto TikTok and into wider popular culture, I rather suspect the music of Mike Post will be instantly recognisable for years to come.

Carly Horne

Credit: Law & Order on YouTube.

Community

As a newbie to the Community fandom, the first thing which struck out to me about the show was its theme song. Yes, the song is pretty upbeat and fun to sing along with; however, it perfectly fits the show's context. 

The group's uncanny friendship becomes life support for each of the characters

"Give me some rope, tie me to dream, give me the hope to run out of steam."

A show about 7 misfits, who are as different from each other as one could imagine, yet, the one thing which ties them to the college is their community. Their unintentional friendship with each other is the rope that connects them to an optimistic future where no matter the obstacle, they will conquer it together. 

The Community gang from the fan-favourite Christmas party episode Credit: NBC Universal, IMDb

However, it is essential to point out that the lyrics have a slightly darker undertone as well. 

"We could be roped up, tied up, dead in a year." 

The same uncertainty and doomed mortality, which follows everyone, accompanies the characters too. All of them are at different points in their lives, yet an unfortunate twist of fate has brought them back to square one. But at the end of the day, the group's uncanny friendship becomes life support for each of the characters. And so, the misfits keep on marching through an uncertain future, knowing that even though the world has stopped giving them chances, their community never would. 

Arnojya Shree

Credit: GreendaleDaily on YouTube
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