10 Greatest TV Themes of All Time

Categories: Lists

Portlandia

Fun fact: Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein, the stars of IFC's screwball hit Portlandia aren't even from Oregon at all. How's that for your hipster statement of the day? The show gleefully lampoons Portland's larger-than-average population of scenesters, hippies, lefties, environmentalists, feminists, and anyone so uptight about their cultural identity it deserves and -ist or an -ism. And unlike Breaking Bad, it isn't purposely written to keep you watching so you spend hours zoning out on the couch. You can watch an hour or so and then get back to your life.

The theme song, "Feel It All Around You" by Washed Out doesn't really fit in with the quirky tone of the rest of the show. Who cares. When those warm synthy waves hit, it makes me happy the way only synth-driven music can. Part of me wants to dance, part of me wants to do drugs, part of me wants to keep watching. So whoever chose this song for this show, thank you, you have good taste.

If you say Washed Out sounds exactly like Porcelain Raft, M83, Youth Lagoon, Toro Y Moi, Small Black, SBTRKT, or Neon Indian, you may be right. But it sounds distinctly different to my ears. Why are you looking at me that way? Oh, right. Me and my hipster statements.

Bonus: All the musical cameos in Portlandia, including Colin Meloy, Jack White, Aimee Mann, Eddie Vedder, and Isaac Brock (the latter comes bearing Temple of the Dog LPs). -- Troy Farah

Lost

Lost set a new standard for dramatic television. Even with its complicated story lines and intriguing characters, it's the simple yet effective "theme music" that remains the most iconic factor of the show.

The funny part is that Lost doesn't even really have a theme song, rather a thunderous "boom" noise followed by eerie sound effects. But that "boom" has had more effect on me than any other noise in television history. It's one of the first "theme songs" that doubled as a plot device (see the season five finale).

Shows like Heroes have copied the whirlwind story technique with subtle hints wrapped in a basic theme intro. Lost is mostly known for the dramatic plot twists and seemingly confusing plot lines, but its simple white letters on black background intro is what most people remember from the show, even if they have never seen an episode. Hardcore fans know that even the black-and-white intro provided clues to the overall story -- because Lost fans are obsessive, and they know the value of digging deep. Sometimes, even simplicity can be complex. -- Jaron Ikner

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23 comments
WeWhoEat
WeWhoEat

Am I the only one that's completely shocked that this list contains nothing (save taxi) from the golden era of TV themes; the 70s?  Hawaii 5-0, SWAT, Streets of San Francisco, Dallas just to name a few.  Although not from that era, but definitely along the same lines are Hill Street Blues and Cheers and Miami Vice.  Those themes hit you with impact and you enjoyed every moment of the opening credits; they were nearly as much an experience as the show was.

Robden Brethauer
Robden Brethauer

Dallas, Boston Legal, The Sopranos and The Dukes of Hazzard!

Leah Miller
Leah Miller

Nanny and the professor - look it up!

Brad West
Brad West

Sledge Hammer! or the original Lalo Schrifin Starsky & Hutchison.

Natalie Gossen
Natalie Gossen

Why the heck was Fresh Prince of Bel-Air not listed?

JohnQ.Public
JohnQ.Public

You missed Movin' On Up from the Jeffersons.

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