The Greatest TV Show Theme Song Ever, as Voted by You

tv show theme song
Greatest TV Show Theme Song Ever, as Voted by YouGetty Images; Taryn Colbert, MH Illustration
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

GREAT TV SHOWS tend to grab your attention from the second they come on, and that's often thanks to an unforgettable opening theme song. Game of Thrones's cello-led theme transports you to a fantastical land of backstabbing and conspiracy. The O.C.'s sun-drenched, upbeat song puts you in the passenger seat of a trip to the beaches and drama of California. Law & Order's jazzy tune has rocked many of us to sleep, and The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air's rap is simply one of the best ever created. So, Men's Health asked ourselves (and you all) one question: What's the greatest TV show theme song ever?

Men's Health whittled down the list of 64 theme songs to 32 before letting the public vote between contestants on our Instagram polls each week for each round. The results will shock you.

tv theme bracket
Hearst Owned

Whenever you compare generations and genres, the participants are ultimately emblematic of their eras. Rock duo Pratt & McClain's easygoing Happy Days theme song represents the unbridled zeal of '70s Americana as much as Queen Latifah's boom bap Living Single theme song was a mirror of hip-hop's cultural dominance in the '90s. For that reason, we separated these 64 theme songs into four groups: Modern (1990s-present), Classic A (1960s-1970), Classic B (1970s-1990), and Animated. Also, with so many equally iconic theme songs, each song's seeding was chosen at random—with the exception of the #1 seeds, because there isn't a world where Fresh Prince and Succession aren't the cremes of the crop for their eras.

From the first round, it was clear all nostalgia isn't equal. Despite the resurgence of the Dragon Ball series over the last decade, including a successful theatrical run for Dragon Ball Super: Super Hero in 2022, it was overwhelmingly defeated by the reggae-inspired theme song for kids animated TV show Arthur, which was also active as of 2022. Sheldon Leonard's The Andy Griffith Show may have broadcasted 4x as many seasons in the 1960s as David Levy's TV adaptation of The Addams Family cartoons, but the brooding-yet-bouncy theme song of the latter received more than 5x the votes of the former.

As the tournament went on, longevity began to reign supreme. Friends and Living Single were both must-see TV in the '90s, but the Central Perk crew's theme song hung around six years after Queen Latifah's went off the air, and recently was reintroduced to Gen Z in Max's tearful Friends: The Reunion in 2021. Considering that, it's not a surprise that Friends received nearly 8x as many votes as Living Single in the second round. What was telling was how longevity and prestige weren't infallible indicators of who'd win. 12 seasons, 24 years, and numerous Emmys couldn't save Curb Your Enthusiasm and its infectious flute-driven theme song from being knocked out by Phantom Planet's perpetual summertime theme song for The O.C.

It became clear that what separated some of the excellent TV show theme songs from the greatest was versatility. Stumbling on a Seinfeld marathon is an inevitability. But, outside of watching the show or maybe being on hold with customer service, when else would you ever expect to hear that song? It's no wonder it was handily defeated by the party-ready Fresh Prince of Bel-Air theme song, an international hit record Will Smith has performed everywhere from The Ellen Show to Budapest even decades after the show stopped airing new episodes.

When it came time to crown the best of the best, it shouldn't have been a surprise that it was the longest-running American sitcom, The Simpsons. Emmy-winning composer Danny Elfman's whimsical musical offering beat out the Game of Thrones theme song, and with good reason. The second you hear the show's name crooned into your ear, you automatically know you're descending into a world where anything can happen. After hearing it for one second, you know what the song is, and it's listenable regardless of the era in which you listen. It's been an unforgettable tune for a remarkable show, and now Men's Health can safely declare it to be the greatest TV show theme song ever.

You Might Also Like