I challenged my fiance this weekend to try listing some of his favorite cartoons of all time. In return, he challenged me to something similar yet a bit easier: my favorite cartoon theme songs. Before we get to them, though, there is one big rule:
ALL songs must be from cartoons I watched even in passing while growing up. Whether I only saw a few episodes or the majority of them, these are cartoons that carry theme songs that have been memorable for me. I will be including a couple tied entries due to how similar my reasons for liking both are as well. Just remember that these are MY personal picks, not the best of the best. With that, let’s get started!
10. Darkwing Duck
I know people love this one (including my fiance) and it’s definitely one of my faves to come out of the 90’s. I didn’t catch up with most of the show until my household got both internet and satellite TV, but I definitely remember enjoying all the superhero antics Darkwing got himself into. The show was a romp and this theme song set the stage and tone from the start. Not much else to say except that it’s a great intro to a great show.
9. Animaniacs/Pinky and the Brain
Now we come to one of my tied choices. While I admit to watching more of “Pinky and the Brain” than “Animaniacs” as a kid, I like both shows for their energy and slapstick humor. I also like how the theme songs compliment the tone of each show. “Animaniacs” is incredibly zany and off-the-wall like the Warner Bros. (and their Warner sister), while “Pinky and the Brain” is goofy but scheming just like Pinky and the Brain themselves. I consider the songs as a collective whole in a way, so hence why they’re sharing this spot on the list.
8. Tiny Toon Adventures
I watched this show far more than the previous two, mainly because I watched (and still watch) a TON of the Looney Tunes back in the day. I always loved how this show appealed both to people who watched the original Looney Tunes and also newer generations with its younger cast of characters. While I liked the theme from “The Bugs Bunny and Tweety Show” in particular, I always felt this one was…well, more looney and fun. It’s a fitting song for the next generation of Looney Tunes.
7. Batman: The Animated Series
Before I even saw the movie version of Batman, this was my foray into the world of superheroes. I enjoyed “Gargoyles” as well for its dark atmosphere, but “Batman: TAS” had the benefit of having both Batman and his rogue gallery in full glory. Just like with the movies at the time, the theme for this show was epic and dark. I often caught this show more than the peppy cartoons listed before it, and I was always enthralled every time. It’s a song that pumps you up for some butt-kicking action and the show almost always delivered.
6. Kim Possible
As I got into my teenage years, I had less and less time to watch cartoons or TV in general thanks to school. I mostly ended up gravitating toward bright, action-y ones. Sure, cute stuff like “Ruby Gloom” kept my interest (also a great theme song – consider it an honorary 11th spot), but it was shows like “Kim Possible” that made me anxious to do everything possible not to miss a new episode. Besides having an awesome female lead and reminding me at times of “Buffy” because of its action scenes, I really enjoyed the humor and mainly upbeat nature of the show. The theme song reflects it and, while a tad girly, also reflects Kim’s personality to a tee. It gets the point across while also getting stuck in your head.
5. Fairly Oddparents/Danny Phantom
Yep, another tie! Not long after I got into “Kim Possible,” I also stumbled across these two shows from creator Butch Hartman and fell in love with their concepts. I like the goofiness and absurdity of “Fairly Oddparents” and how it contrasts with the more serious tone (at times) of “Danny Phantom.” As for their theme songs… I’ve always loved when songs tell a story to set up a show’s premise and that’s exactly what these do. You quickly learn about Timmy’s fairy godparents and how Danny gained his ghostly powers. The only downside is that the rapping in the “Danny Phantom” theme does seem MAJORLY 90’s in hindsight, but I still can’t help liking it. These shows and their themes just go to show how one man can make two vastly different creations.
4. Steven Universe
I’ll admit I initially tried a few episodes of “Steven Universe” before stopping for a long while. Why? I wasn’t really into the episodic, slice of life feel of them. But after being convinced by my fiance to continue watching them with him, I’ve grown to appreciate the show for its complex characters and intriguing plot. The theme song is simple but effective, being very cute but also giving you all the basic information you need to jump into the show. It’s a happy, feel good song that gives you a glimpse at the show’s fluffiness, but don’t be fooled. There’s more to this one than meets the eye.
3. Gravity Falls
I’m already biased toward this show, but I adore this theme song. For a song without lyrics, it sets the tone of the show remarkably well. Its instrumental sounds a bit weird and mysterious and, combined with the visuals, pretty much tells you the basics you need to know about the show’s setup. And, like every song on this list, it’s incredibly catchy and will stay in your head long after you’ve heard it. I’ve gushed about this show in the past, and although I’m sad it’ll soon be over, I’ll always remember how awesome it and its theme song were.
2. Pokemon (Season 1)
I got into Pokemon during junior high, and that includes its anime adaptation. While I didn’t watch much beyond the Johto League, it’s the original series I have the fondest memories of. Rewatching the show a few years ago made me realize how kinda stilted and dumb some of it was, but the theme song is still awesome to me. Why is it so high on the list? Because not only does it appeal toward my gamer side as a work based off the games, but it also reminds me of how I met my best friends (specifically sharing their interest in anything Pokemon, anyway). It’s catchy, upbeat, and captures the feel of both the show and the games’ sense of adventure and companionship. There may be many Pokemon themes since then, but the original will always be my favorite.
1. The Simpsons
Is it the best show? No. Is it the best theme song? No. But for me, it makes the top spot because this show AND song were the epitome of my childhood and teenage years. Everyone knows “The Simpsons” was in top form in its earlier years, and while the show may have changed for better and for worse, that catchy, nostalgic theme song still remains. Back when I only had literally three channels of TV to watch, this was one of the only cartoons I managed to catch almost regularly. I loved the Simpsons family and their antics, and since my mom considered the show a little taboo because of its language and adult themes, it made me love it even more. This theme song has stuck with me even more than the others for the sheer fact that “The Simpsons” has been a staple throughout my life. Even today, while I don’t watch much of the newer stuff, I’ve still caught reruns and have been marathoning through the first 10 or so years of the show with my fiance. This show has a special place in my heart and that goes for its quirky and upbeat theme song as well.
And that’s my list of my top 10 fave cartoon theme songs! I know there are many more I could’ve added personally, and I’m sure others would agree/disagree with some of my choices. Feel free to post in the comments what some of YOUR fave cartoon theme songs are.