Dusting Off: The Sitcom Theme Song

Ah, those were the days. Archie and Edith agreeing in song, “Gee, our old LaSalle ran great.” The All in the Family theme song — she wailing, he demonizing “the welfare state,” — had as much to do with setting the voice and tone of the working-class show as Meathead, George Jefferson and anti-Semitism.

That’s because sitcom theme songs used to be epic.

They contained second verses, pre-choruses, wholly unnecessary transitional bridges and a cappella clap breaks — seemingly none of which played with a great deal of urgency, at least when compared to the frantic, auctioneer-like cadences of theme songs today.

Seinfeld was the first to do away with the theme song altogether, favoring a series of bass slaps, tongue pops and guttural hiccups.

A couple years ago, I organized my favorites into eight categories: Expositional Ditties, Anthems, Liberated Women, The Jazz Age, Caucasian Sap, Funk Brothers, The Thinkers, Optimistic Groovers and, finally, The Bummers.

Did I miss any?

EXPOSITIONAL DITTIES Gilligan’s Island (above) The Brady Bunch Arrested DevelopmentThe Fresh Prince of Bel-Air The Beverly Hillbillies The Flintstones The Jetsons The Odd Couple

ANTHEMS Perfect Strangers (above) The Office (BBC) The Bob Newhart Show The Mary Tyler Moore Show Angry Boys Summer Heights High

LIBERATED WOMEN Alice (above) Laverne & Shirley Kate & Allie Gimme a Break!

THE JAZZ AGE The Cosby Show (above) Everybody Loves Raymond Frasier

CAUCASIAN SAP The Golden Girls (above) Cheers Silver Spoons Friends Punky Brewster The Courtship of Eddie’s Father (Sung by Harry Nilsson, incidentally.)


UPDATE: On January 15 2016, Richard Morgan publically rebuked my findings on Facebook.

Richard Morgan how dare you ignore DuckTales
Richard Morgan yes of course also:

Charles in Charge
GI Joe
Small Wonder
Growing Pains
Silver Spoons
Happy Days
The Love Boat
Knight Rider
LA Law
Doogie Howser MD
Full House
Gummy Bears
Going Places
Marblehead Manor

C. Brian Smith  What the fuck is this Richard.

Richard Morgan it’s a grand life! was that not clear? also:

The Charmings
In Living Color
The Facts of Life
Welcome Back, Cotter
The Head of the Class
Are You Being Served?
A Different World
Hi Honey, I’m Home
Sesame Street
Square One
Danger Mouse
Empty Nest

Out of This World
Batman the animated series
Too Close For Comfort
…ok, gotta have breakfast


—C.B.S (via UrbanDaddy) (via C.B.S.)


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