We started our Theme Song Thunderdome bracket with 32 of the greatest TV theme songs ever. You responded with more than 277,000 votes. And now that the dust has settled, Yahoo! TV users have officially selected one theme song as the best of all time: "The Ballad of Gilligan's Isle," from "Gilligan's Island."
We admit it: We clearly misjudged this perennial favorite, saddling it with a lowly 12-seed in the bracket. But it proved us wrong by rolling through the tournament, knocking off heavy hitters like "Diff'rent Strokes," "The Addams Family," and "The Andy Griffith Show" on its way to the final round. And even going up against an all-timer like the "Cheers" theme song in the finals, "Gilligan" found a way to squeak out a narrow win, cementing its status as your favorite TV theme song ever.
The enduring legacy of "Gilligan's" jolly sea-shanty theme is, of course, its impossible-to-forget lyrics (we know, we've tried) that told the entire tale of the S.S. Minnow's ill-fated "three-hour tour" in a single minute. And that was Sherwood Schwartz's intention from the start. Schwartz not only created the series, but also co-wrote the theme song (along with composer George Wyle), which Schwartz crafted as a quick way to get new viewers caught up without having to waste time on exposition. Schwartz went on to repeat this approach with another beloved '60s TV classic: "The Brady Bunch."
The "Gilligan" theme song underwent one major change after the show's first season: The Professor (Russell Johnson) and Mary Ann (Dawn Wells), originally referred to in the lyrics as "the rest," were added by name to the opening credits. The switch came thanks to star Bob Denver (Gilligan), who personally went to the studio and asked that Johnson and Wells be added to the theme. The studio refused at first, saying it'd be too expensive to reshoot the opening. But Denver insisted, even saying that if Johnson and Wells weren't included, he wanted his name out of the song as well. The studio caved, and "the Professor and Mary Ann" were shoehorned in at the very end of the theme for Seasons 2 and 3.
For a show that made such a huge pop-culture impact, it's a little surprising that "Gilligan" only aired for three seasons, ending its broadcast run in 1967. But the show's popularity skyrocketed in syndication, thanks to endless afterschool repeats in the '70s and '80s that implanted those lyrics into the minds of kids everywhere. The "Gilligan" theme later received the ultimate honor when it was parodied by "Weird Al" Yankovic, who combined the theme with Tone Loc's "Wild Thing" for 1989's "Isle Thing."
To honor our new theme-song champion, we're including the full lyrics to "The Ballad of Gilligan's Isle" below. (Like you don't know them already.) Thanks to everyone who voted in Theme Song Thunderdome, and stay tuned in the months to come for more theme-song goodies from Yahoo! TV.
"The Ballad of Gilligan's Isle" (Sherwood Schwartz/George Wyle)
Just sit right back and you'll hear a tale,
A tale of a fateful trip
That started with this tropic port
Aboard this tiny ship.
The mate was a mighty sailin' man,
The skipper brave and sure.
Five passengers set sail that day
For a three-hour tour, a three-hour tour.
The weather started getting rough,
The tiny ship was tossed,
If not for the courage of the fearless crew
The Minnow would be lost, the Minnow would be lost.
The ship set ground on the shore of this
Uncharted desert isle
The Skipper too,
The millionaire and his wife,
The movie star,
The Professor and Mary Ann,
Here on Gilligan's Isle!