Special Features – The Top 13 Kid’s TV Show Theme Tunes

Luke Owen takes a stroll down memory lane as he selects his Top 13 Kid’s TV Show Theme Tunes…

If there is one thing I notice on the YouTube comments section (other than utter stupidity), it’s that “kids of today don’t have good cartoons like we did”. Is this really true? Perhaps. But I’m sure this new generation will say the same thing to the next generation about their Ben 10s and the like.

However, one thing is for sure – cartoons don’t have theme tunes like they used to. Theme tunes were used to get us hyped to watch the show and would stick in our heads for the rest of the day. They had lyrics we could sing / shout along to that make up part of the glue of nostalgic conversations about them. To this day I still find myself humming these theme tunes and if they do creep into my subconscious they don’t leave quite so easily.

So, without further ado, I count down my personal Top 13 Kid’s TV Show Theme Tunes. It would have been a Top 10, but I thought of 13 themes and couldn’t whittle the list down. Perhaps this shows I have no back bone. To be honest, I actually thought of 14 but by that point I felt like I was taking the Michael.

Sing along if you know the words…

13. The Transformers

Now many of you will be wondering why this is so far down the list being the absolute classic it is and the amount of nostalgic value the theme holds. Well, it simply boils down to that, despite being incredible, it’s not very well put together as some of the others on my list and the “Autobots wage their battle to destroy the evil forces of The Decepticons” line has always bugged me. Nevertheless, this is an epic theme that would get us pumped to watch the cartoon just to see this awesome battle. Plus, it was made into a superb 80s Hair Metal track by Lion for the movie:

12. ThunderCats

THUNDER, THUNDER, THUNDERCATS HOOOOOOO!

Do I really need to say more? It really is just a few steps shy of utter perfection. The epic guitar riffs, easy to remember vocals and incredible animation just make this one of my all-time favourite cartoon tunes. The show itself sucked (oh come on it did) but this theme tune is just amazing and would be worth putting the show on just to hear it.

11. Count Duckula

Maybe a little less known than the others on my list and, a lot like the number 10 slot, doesn’t really have much in the way of song. Even though it’s around a minute long, 40 seconds of it are made up of the awesome introduction parodying Vincent Price before leading into 20 seconds of a fist-pumping sing-a-long jaunt. With such a small amount of actual song time in the theme, it just shows how amazingly composed this theme was. And, as a side note, this show was so much better than Danger Mouse (*gets ready for abuse*).

10. Trap Door

As I said with Count Duckula, this is a theme that is actually mostly narration setting up the shows premise. This shouldn’t really be a good thing, but goddamn when that theme kicks in and the woman screams at you to never open that trap door, it send shivers down my spine. I think every kid of my generation knows this theme tune and hold it in as much nostalgic value that I do.

9. The Raccoons

Now I know what you’re thinking, this show doesn’t have a theme tune. And you’re right, it doesn’t. The opening of the show (as seen above) is just some narrator talking a lot of guff. But what I am talking about is the epic end credits music:

Oh my God. Just listen to how awesome that song is. Why was this used to close the show?! Just listen how amazing the song is full length and fully produced:

Okay, so this is technically cheating as it’s not really a theme song. But when it’s this damn cool, I don’t care. I didn’t even like this show but I would watch it just for that awesome song at the end.

8. Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventures

Another little known ditty from the nostalgic back catalogue is the theme tune to the cartoon version of Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure. For those of you who don’t remember the show, it was a lot like the Back to the Future cartoon in that it had little to do with the movie apart from character names and the basic premise. So this had Bill, Ted, Rufus and the phone booth but there wasn’t much about becoming the band that will create world peace. Instead, there was a lot of History reports for them to complete, which I guess is what the first film is mostly about. But do you know what – I didn’t care because this theme is amazing. Like the film’s soundtrack, it’s 80s metal inspired rock which even features the lyric, “it’s outrageous, so bodacious!”. How can you hate that?! You can’t, because it is most triumphant.
7. Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles

Yeah you read that right, Hero Turtles. This was out in the days before the Internet and unless you knew an American, they were simply Hero Turtles. I still to this day remember being confused as to why the film was called Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles when the show clearly wasn’t. But I digress.

This theme is just so awesome. It does what every good theme song does – it lays out the premise, gives you a background of the characters and, most importantly, gets you pumped for the show. Also, it takes a lot of song writing talent to make “Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles” sound convincing as a song lyric. With the popularity the show had, it’s no surprise that this theme holds up today amongst kids of my generation. Everyone knows the tune, everyone knows the words and everyone still gets hyped listening to it. Turtle power indeed.

6. Animaniacs

Richard Stone worked with Steven Spielberg to create some of the best and loved cartoon themes during the 90s. From Taz-Mania, Sylvester and Tweety Mysteries to Freakazoid, he created well written, fun to sing and all-round perfect themes. But none remain with people so much (Pinky and the Brain notwithstanding) as Animaniacs. This song is just so much fun to sing which is what makes it so great. It’s bouncy, it’s light, it’s funny and it’s insane. It’s a song that makes you want to watch the show again and again just so you can learn all of the lyrics (remember this was pre-Internet so the only way you saw the show was to tune in and watch it).

I only wanted to pick one from the Stone back catalogue because I didn’t want to fill the list up with just his work. But if I could, I would have had Tiny Toon Adventures because that theme rules. He also created the only song in the world that has made me interested in learning all of the countries in the world:

5. DuckTales

No, it’s not number one and I’m sure I will get some flak for this.

Don’t get me wrong, I love this theme tune with an unmatched passion and it is far and away the best and most memorable thing about the show but it’s not my number one theme. That said, this is just about as perfect as a theme song gets. Easy to remember lyrics, catchy tune and a guitar solo that sounds like a duck quacking. It may not be my all-time favourite, but this is one of the best examples of what theme music should be. Just the mere mention of the show’s title will prompt anyone to shout “Woo Hoo” like it’s a reflex action. Plus, once it gets in to your head, boy will it never leave you…

4. X-Men

That… that… that guitar riff…. oh my… it just makes me want to grow back my hair, throw up my devil horns and headbang until I pass out. ‘Nuff said.
3. Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers

It really wouldn’t be a complete list without this track. Looking back on the show, it doesn’t hold up all that well but this theme song is absolutely timeless. Fist pumping brilliance accompanied with a rocking guitar track, thumping drums and shout-a-long lyrics makes this just one of the greatest theme songs not just for kid’s TV, but for all TV of all time.

And if this theme couldn’t get any better there’s an extended version of it, which makes the song more epic. Can you imagine that?! Well, just listen…

Oh my… Where’s my make-shift Power Ranger suit I made when I was a kid? I think there are some Putty Monsters that need a damn good hiding! GO, GO POWER RANGERS!

2. Bucky O’Hare

It still annoys me to this day that this show only ran for one season as it captured my imagination like you wouldn’t believe. I appear to be one of the few that do actually remember this show and can happily recite the lyrics verbatim and could you blame me? If you’ve never heard this tune before you owe it to yourself to check it out because it is simply epic. It tells the tale of our valiant hero Bucky and his battle against the evil Toads along with his spaceship and crew in such a rocking manner that you can’t help but want to strap your eyes open to see it all unfurl. Upon more recent watching, the show was actually kind of naff but this theme blew me away and it still does to this day. If this comes on shuffle on my iPod it makes me headbang like there is no tomorrow.
1. Inspector Gadget

Could it have really been anything else? If you don’t consider, “hoo-hoo” a word, then Inspector Gadget has just 3 words in its lyrics: ‘Inspector’, ‘Gadget’ and ‘Go’. And with just three simple words, my all-time favourite theme tune plays consistently throughout my subconscious. It’s just so damn fun to ‘dum-dum’ the music and sing ‘Inspector Gadget’ before crescendoing up to the top-of-your-lung shouting of GO GADGET, GO! If you listen to this song once a day I swear your life will be 5% more awesome. It will burrow into your brain and it will never leave. But to be honest, I never want this glorious 45 seconds of pure genius to ever leave.

While the English speaking version of the theme, the original French intro had actual lyrics. Apperantly they explain who he is and the sort of things he can do. I only discovered this recently and it blew my mind. I had no idea there were other lyrics to this song…

I don’t know what those words are, but there are some there!


So, there you have it. I started out this list to be just a Top 10 but then thought of 3 I’d missed and had to extend it out, but this is my definitive kid’s show theme tune playlist. It’s the soundtrack to my Saturday mornings and my nostalgic memory trips. And while the next generation will claim that their shows were better than the generations that follow, they will never be able to take away the mantle of ‘best theme songs’. That award belongs to our generation and we are damn proud of it!

GO GADGET, GO! THUNDERCATS HO! TURTLE POWER! DID YOU SAY BUCKY? I SAID BUCKY! RUN WITH US AND GRAB ON TO SOME DUCKTALES! WOO HOO!

Do you think I missed any? What are your top kids show theme songs?

Luke Owen is a freelance copywriter working for Europe’s biggest golf holiday provider as their web content executive.

Around the Internet…

  • David Brook

    Awesome. We&#39;re clearly a very similar age as I remember every single one of these shows – even Bucky O&#39;Hare and the Bill and Ted animated series. As for the Racoons – God I loved that show. Didn&#39;t get into Power Rangers though, I was slightly too old for that.<br /><br /><br />And yes Inspector Gadget is in the correct position.<br /><br /><br />I would maybe add Sharky and George

  • http://www.facebook.com/alan.ross.wilkinson Ross Wilkinson

    Some notable absences on this list for me, but I suppose you&#39;re keeping it short and sweet<br />Jayce &amp; the Wheeled Warriors http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hLU1GfIIGLE<br />Pole Position http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2NpgsUOKQs8<br />M.A.S.K. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o2Z1yLO9C-Q&amp;feature=related<br />and of course Defenders of the Earth http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-Nm_jJBkHtU

  • http://twitter.com/HolyFranchise HolyFranchiseBatman!

    Good call on M.A.S.K. – quality theme tune.

  • http://twitter.com/CGLuke_O Luke Owen

    Sadly I think M.A.S.K was just before my time (born at the tail end of &#39;85). Whereas Transformers and Thundercats had repeats during my formative years (and my older brother had VHS tapes), M.A.S.K slipped me by. Sad to see because the show looks class and that theme tune rocks!

  • http://twitter.com/CGLuke_O Luke Owen

    Sharkey and George had an amazing theme! I am one of the few people I know who actually didn&#39;t like the Raccoons, but I sure loved those end credits.