What is your favorite tv theme song/composition?

Since many on Audiogon are baby boomers television must have been a big part of your childhood. In grade school my mother allowed me to stay up until 10pm to watch Barnaby Jones. She knew I wouldn't make it past the great Jerry Goldsmith theme. My current favorite is the dark and haunting John Rubinstein composition for the ABC drama Family.
"Suicide is Painless"
Tom Waits "Way Down In the Hole" by various artists in "The Wire".
My all-time favorite TV theme show is Hawaii Five-O.

Here are some of my runner-ups:

Miami Vice
MASH (mentioned above with "Suicide is Painless")
Hill Street Blues

(Man, I'm really dating myself!)

Hey Michael,

Remember the "Hogan's Heroes" theme?

theme from the andy griffith show...there is a version with lyrics as well. a masterpiece.
Rawhide by Frankie Laine:

Rawhide theme song
Northern Exposure & the original Battlestar Galactica.
second version of the barney miller theme; about 40 seconds of some really cool stuff starting right off with the base intro. second all time would be the munsters theme
The Addams Family.
Rockford Files
The theme song for the Late Show- The Syncopated clock

Johnny Quest
Dukes of Hazzard theme song ("The Good Ol' Boys), courtesy of Waylon Jennings!
It would have to be the theme song from Sanford and Son.The Streebeater by Quincy Jones.It's as good as theme songs get.I smile every time I hear it,suited the show perfect.
What an entertaining thread! Great suggestions. I agree with Hawaii Five-O and Andy Griffith. How about going way back: Batman, The Monkees, Lost in space, and the Twilight Zone.
Wow...good question.
It would be a three way tie:
The Beverly Hillbillies
The Addams Family
Theme song to The Ozzie & Harriet Show
Emily Barker's song, Nostalgia, is used for the Kenneth Branagh series, Wallander. That song, and that entire CD, Despite the Snow, is just stunningly beautiful and not at all typical of what one might otherwise associate with a TV theme song. Other cuts from that CD are used throughout the series sparsely. It has been on frequent rotation for me for over a year now, and would probably make it to my desert-island disc status at this point. The series is very good as well. As far as the mainstream TV series from my childhood - some of them are wedged in my brain and I'd rather not have them there at all. I haven't had TV in my house for over 12 years now (just watch DVD's if there is a series that interests me).
Mancini playing Peter Gunn
Dates me as ancient, but who cares?
Movie Professional is so so but song 'Shape Of My Heart' by Sting is great.
Yes Peter Gunn is a good one Elizabeth!
You can't beat this lyric from the Theme for "The Patty Duke Show"

Where Cathy loves the minuet, The Ballet Russe, and Crepe Suzette
Our Patty loves to rock and roll,


I think the censors may have missed one.


Victory at Sea.

-- Al
"Peter Gun"
"The Avengers"
"Perry Mason"
"The Man from U.N.C.L.E"
"The Saint"
"Secret Squirrel"
"Thriller", Boris Karloff
"Felix the Cat"
"Top Cat"
"The Flintstones"
"The Pink Panther"
"Mod Squad"
"Mr. Ed"
"Mission Impossible"
"The Streets of San Francisco"

I could go on for hours.
Million Dollar Movie
Dream of Jeanie
Start Trek Voyager
The Prisoner.

The theme from the original Hawaii 5-O, and the theme from Taxi.
Streetbeater (Sanford and Son). I have it on CD and occasionally play it.
Johnny Rivers , Secret Agent Man.
Have Gun Will Travel.
Captain Kangaroo
Mission Impossible by Lalo Schifrin.
Let's not forget Gilligan's Island. I can still sing the lyrics after all these years.
The Virginian:



There is a bunch of great vintage TV listed here…. As TV goes.

As theme songs go some of these previously mentioned might ought not be listed here… maybe. Great shows… or series… not too great theme songs.

The Thin Man? Avengers? The Man from UNCLE?

Maybe under the title of Most recognizable, but not great theme songs.

Under memorable and maybe good…

“3 blind Mice”… fit the 3 Stooges like a glove.

Dick Van Dyke theme song was always a favorite.

Route 66! Sheesh!

‘Moving on up!’... the Jeffersons!

I seem to recall being intrigued by the “I Dream Of Geanie” theme.. or maybe it was just seeing Barbara Eden.

Happy Days! was always a favorite. Bill Haley? C’mon man!

And the spin off… you’d instantly notice, ‘’Schlemeel, schlamozzle,.. Hosenfefer incorporated….’ Laverne & Shirley.

Star Trek! Certainly.

Perry Mason… absolutely.


Cheers was simply where everbody knew your name… it was in the script, so of course they knew! Good tune though.

I also liked John Sebastian’s theme song for Gabe Kaplan’s show, “Welcome Back Kotter!”….juan, not Vinny, often stole that show.

Twilight Zone intro …. Even if I get Alzheimers I’ll remember that one.

‘course, lest we forget, Flatt & Scruggs “Ballad of Jed Clampet” was attached as the theme song for the Beverly Hillbilies’.

Green Acres!, not great but memorable.

Oh, so many westerns!

Before TV, westerns had theme songs, they had song singers… such as Gene Autry… or Roy Rogers… or The ‘Singing Sherriff’ Faron young. I seem to recall Frankie Lane also did the theme song for the Western series hosted by Ronald Regan, Zane Grey Theater? “High Noon” ? if it wasn’t Ronnies show.. it was someone else.

Bonanza … who can forget that one! Not the words, the melody.

John Cash’s singing of ‘The Rebel’’ starring Nick Adams, was a hit that got tacked onto a western… then there was Cheyenne, High Chapparal. Laramie, Laredo, Wagon Train, Definitely Rawhide, Branded, yancy Derringer, Co-cheese, and of course… Maverick…. With Bart, Brett, and Bo. Another always comes to mind and the lead actor did a lot in H’wood, but after this TV series I simply never was interested…. “He wore a kane and derby hat, they called him Bat… Bat Masterson.”

Cop & Spy shows?

Car 54!

The orig ‘M.I.F.’… was just killer.

S.W.A.T. and Hawaii 5-0 were super! Only S.W.A.T. made it onto the disco scene club’s dance floors as I recall.

Magnum P.I. & Hill Street Blues…. Were quite unique.

N.Y.P.D. Blue…? Not sure about the song/tune… but loved the show. You go Bocchco!

‘Boston Legal’ got sort of fancy, hip, and bluesy all at the same time following in the NYPD Blues footsteps.

Nearly 3 full decades of Doc Severenson playing intro’s for Ed McMahon’s “Here’s Johnny!” on the Tonight Show.

… and the current top fav… ‘Family Guy’.

Music… be they quality tracks or simply memorable melodies, always make the TV show, Film, etc., come alive… engage…. Adds texture and whet the appetite. The theme songs live on longer than the characters in the episodes.
Perry Mason theme song:
Fred Steiner:
Another of Steiner's famous works, "Park Avenue Beat", was used from 1957 to 1966 as the theme song to Perry Mason.

Nothing like it on TV.
Here is the full version of Park Avenue Beat:
Second Twilight Zone, and Mission Impossible,

Lets not forget the theme to "Sanford and Son"; great tune.
This thread brings back memories.
What about Mr. Ed ? Me thinks the guy who wrote this wrote The Addams Family theme too.
What is this TV thing? I remember getting very excited about hearing "The Lone Ranger" on the radio. I think my earliest memory was standing up in my crib listening to the Popeye theme on the radio.
I guess I do remember, after a while, the radio came with pictures and they moved. Wow!
I still listen to my Henry Mancini "Peter Gunn" music and I even remember Mr. Lucky. Now how lucky is that?
I think my favorite theme from that CD is "Experiment in Terror", which was a movie, not a TV show. It was funny seeing the movie and realizing I already knew the theme music. Great!
The Jonny Quest was a great call. Now it's humming in my head. Thanks ;)

Great version of Johnny Quest theme by Reverend Horton Heat on the "Saturday Morning Cartoons" CD. Nice transition into "Stop the Pigeon" from "Dastardly and Mutley in their Flying Machines". Classic baby boomer stuff!

That's a very good CD chock full of nice, energetic versions of old cartoon themes overall actually!

LEt's not forget the "Groovy Goulies". They're gonna do their thing for you!

Don't ask what that is!
Hmm. So many good ones, not easy to choose but my overall favorite theme is the Hawaii Five-0 theme.

Other favorites:

The Sopranos
Miami Vice
The Munsters
Magnum P.I.
Happy Days
I Dream of Jeanie
Gilligan's Island
Mission Impossible
Thought about it and my old school favorite of all, is "I Spy." Very "cool," "jazzy," and "hip," for the times. Surprised it didn't get mentioned.
Love the tune of JAG !
Not exactly in same frame as most others but I love the current opener to "Meet the Press" the compositions triumphant close at opener is something I really like.
While the show isnt my style the song to "True Blood" is pretty cool.
The Dating Game ("Spanish Flea")
Rescue Me ("C'mon, C'mon")
HR Pufnstuf
The Monkees
Fat Albert
There are some really great themes on the list that I like but two from my childhood are : The Lone Ranger (William Tell Overture) and of course Roy Rogers "Happy Trails".
The Bob Newhart Show (the original series), but I was a trumpet player so I have a built in bias.

SportsNight: "Snuffy" Waldron does the theme song, but I've never found a way to buy it...

"Suicide is Painless" (MASH) is a classic.
''The Munsters'', ''Cheers'' and ''Hawaii 5-0'' !!!