This is our listing of the Top Pop Television Theme Songs. Our Pop Culture Criteria is based upon factors such as Popularity of the TV Show, popularity as a song, longevity, and overall impression on our society. Our list of songs includes themes from a variety of TV Shows.
Theme from Welcome Back Kotter
Performed by John Sebastian, 1976
Was the #1 song on the Billboard Hot 100 for one week and charted for 14 weeks
John Sebastian was the lead Singer for the Lovin’ Spoonful. Vinny Barbarino and Horshack would joke with Mr. kotter and the rest of the Sweathogs.
Believe it or Not
Theme from the Greatest American Hero
Performed by Joey Scarbury, 1981
Reached #2 on the Billboard Hot 100 and remained on the charts for 26 weeks
The song has proven to be much more popular than the show, which lasted only seasons. The song has been used in numerous pop culture references including a memorable moment as mashup voicemail message for George Costanza on Seinfeld.
Theme from Peter Gunn
Performed by Ray Anthony Orchestra. Duane Eddy. DEODATO and Art of Noise with Duane Eddy. 1959, 1950, 1976 & 1986
Reached #8 on the Billboard Hot 100
This ominous sounding instrumental charted four separate times with three different artists and was a Number Eight #8 Song by Ray Anthony Orchestra. The song had resurgences with Duane Eddy in 1960 when it went to #27 on the Billboard Top Singles Charts then again in at #84 by DEODATO in 1976 and the Art of Noise with Duane Eddy did a remake in 1986 that reached #50 on the Billboard Top Singles Chart.
Theme from COPS
Performed by Inner Circle, 1993
Reached #8 on the Billboard Hot 100 and remained on the charts for 20 weeks
A reggae inspired theme help make COPS an iconic show that had a run of 32 seasons. The show made viewers feel like they were driving around with Police Officers as they responded to calls for service.
Hill Street Blues
Theme from Hill Street Blues
Performed by Mike Post and featuring Larry Carlton, 1981
Reached #10 on the Billboard Hot 100 and remained on the charts for 22 weeks
This theme is a great instrumental and is a great example of the difference between the “theme song” itself and the TV Show(s) “Intro.” The song that hit the charts does not contain the sound of the garage door opening or the sirens that are important and memorable aspects of the shows Intro.
Theme from S.W.A.T.
Performed by Rhythm Heritage 1975
Was the #1 song on the Billboard Hot 100 for one week and charted for 24 weeks
Rhythm Heritage also did another memorable TV theme “Keep Your Eye on the Sparrow” aka Baretta’s Theme, which went to #20 on the charts in 1976. Rhythm Heritage also had success with Bill Conti doing the iconic theme from Rocky which made it to #94 In 1977.
Theme for the Radio and TV Show Dragnet
Performed by Ray Anthony Orchestra, 1953
Reached #3 on the Billboard Hot 100 and
This song was originally composed by Walter Schumann for the popular Dragnet radio show. The 1953 version sold over a half million records.
Rock Around the Clock and Happy Days
Theme from Happy Days (Season 1 Rock Around the Clock and seasons 2-11 Happy Days). Performed by Pratt & McClain, 1976 and Bill Haley & the Comets
A number Five #5 hit on the Billboard Top Singles Chart. The existing Bill Haley & the Comets hit Tock Around the Clock was used for season 1
Theme to Hawaii Five-O
Performed by the Ventures, 1969
Reached #4 on the Billboard Hot 100 and remained on the charts for 14 weeks
This was one of many Theme successes for the band, who also produced songs for TV Shows such as, Silver City, Lolita Ya-Ya, Secret Agent and The Green Hornet. They also had silver screen Theme success with songs from movies such as The Wild Angels, Endless Summer and a Summer Place.
Theme from Miami Vice
Performed by Jan Hammer, 1985
Was the #1 song on the Billboard Hot 100 for one week and charted for 22 weeks, also won a Grammy that year for Best Pop Instrumental.
This theme fit the setting for a detective duo working the edgy side of Miami.
The Rockford Files
Theme from the Rockford Files
Performed by Mike Post and Pete Carpenter, 1975
Reached #10 on the Billboard Hot 100 and remained on the charts for 16 weeks
Mike Post is one of our Pop Culture Theme Masters because of the popularity of his TV Theme Songs. He also charted with the themes from Hill Street Blues and Magnum P.I., #10 & #25 respectively. Post provided the TV Themes for the following shows, The A-Team, BAA BAA Black Sheep, The Commish, Doogie Howser MD, The Greatest American Hero, Hardcastle and McCormick, Hill Street Blues, Hooperman, Hunter, JJ Starbuck, LA Law, Law & Order, Magnum PI, News Radio, NYPD Blue, Quantum Leap, Riptide, the Rockford files, the White Shadow, Wiseguy and more.
Theme from Angie
Performed by Maureen McGovern, 1979
Reached #18 on the Billboard Hot 100 and #1 on Adult Contemporary chart
This is a case of the song outperforming the show. The soaring voice of McGovern is terrific, but the show was not nearly as successful and, despite a terrific cast, barely lasted more than one season.
Theme from Moonlighting
Performed by Al Jarreau, 1987
Reached #23 on the Billboard Hot 100 and #1 on Adult Contemporary.
Bruce Willis and Cybill Sheppard starred
I’ll Be There for You
Theme from Friends
Performed by The Rembrandts, 1995, Reached #17 on the Billboard Hot 100
A great ensemble cast
Good Ol’ Boys
Theme from the Dukes of Hazzard
Performed by Waylon Jennings, 1980
Reached #21 weeks on the Billboard Hot 100, remained on the charts for 23 and went to #1 on the Billboard Hot Country Singles Chart
Can You Tell Me How to Get to Sesame Street?
Theme from Sesame Street
Performed by Jean “Toots” Thielemans and a Children’s Choir, 1969
Although never reaching any Pop charts this theme is undeniably a Pop Culture fixture that is almost universally known and loved
Charlie’s Angels Theme
Theme from Charlie’s Angels
Performed by Henry Mancini, 1977
Reached #45 and remained on the charts for 9 weeks on the Billboard Hot 100
Pink Panther Theme
Theme from The Pink Panther
Performed by , 1964
Reached #31 on the Billboard Hot 100, remained on the charts for 8 weeks and won a Grammy for Pop Instrumental
Theme from Mission Impossible
Performed by Lalo Schifrin, 1968, reached #41 and remained on the charts for 14 weeks on the Billboard Hot 100.
This series/franchise has had staying power, which is a true sign of Pop Culture acceptance. There were two separate TV series and six major motion pictures that all used this instrumental theme.
The Love Boat
Theme from The Love Boat
Performed by Jack Jones, 1977 and Dionne Warwick, 1986
Another song that did not chart or win any awards, but its Pop nature and feel allow it to make our list.
Suicide is Painless
Theme from M*A*S*H
Performed by Johnny Mandell and Mike Altman, 1972
The first season of the show was accompanied by lyrics of the song and subsequent seasons had only the instrumental version. Apparently, CBS executives were concerned by the lyrics graphic nature.
Theme from Good Times
Performed by James Gilstrap and Blinky Williams, 1979
Movin’ On Up
Theme from The Jeffersons
Performed by Ja’Net DuBois’, Oren Waters and a Gospel Choir, 1975
Seemingly pulled out of a Baptist church revival, this soulful tune aligned perfectly with the show’s plot line.
Theme from Bonanza
Performed by , 19
An Ode to Jed Clampett
Theme from the Beverly Hillbillies
Performed by Choir, 19
This catchy ditty tells the story of how some “poor mountaineers” managed to get from the poverty of the backwoods to the high-life of Beverly Hills.
Those Were the Days
Theme from All in the Family
Performed by Choir, 19
Theme from Batman
Performed by the Markettes, 19
The Brady Bunch
Theme from The Brady Bunch
Performed by , 19
Best of the Rest
Monday Night Football
Secret Agent Man
Theme from Makin’ It
Performed by David Naughton, 1979
Peaked at #5 on the Billboard Top Singles Chart
The A-Team, BAA BAA Black Sheep, the Commish, Doogie Howser MD, the Greatest American Hero, Hardcastle and McCormick, Hill Street Blues, Hooperman, Hunter, JJ Starbuck, LA Law, Law & Order, Magnum PI, News Radio, NYPD Blue, Quantum Leap, Riptide, the Rockford files, the White Shadow, Wiseguy and more.
Henry Mancini With memorable TV themes Peter Gunn, Hotel, Newhart, Remington Steele, What’s Happening and Pink Panther, and the game show Tic-Tac-Doh.