The Best 80s TV Theme Songs

For our summer rewatch series on Survivor: Philippines, I decided to end Emma and Matt’s most recent podcast with The Facts of Life theme song to celebrate the history of contestant Lisa Welchel. In doing so, I kicked up a whole lot of nostalgia for the entire genre of 80s TV theme songs and it wasn’t long until we spent the better part of a Sunday deciding which was the best. This was a debate that couldn’t hope to be settled in comments or on Twitter. No, it deserved more.

The first thing you notice when listening to a bunch of TV theme shows from the 80s is that they exist in the first place. Nowadays, if a show even HAS an opening sequence (and some don’t have more than a title card), it’s either instrumental or a repurposed previously-existing pop song. And sure, I get that a lot of today’s prestige television would feel odd with an accompanying jingle that explained the premise of the show. But listen to some of the best songs on this list and tell me they wouldn’t be value-added to a sitcom or even a cable dramedy. Hell, we’re so thirsty for theme songs that many of us couldn’t listen to the Parks and Recreation theme without singing “Jabba the Hutt” over and over again.

While the form of original theme songs continued into the 90s, I truly believe that they peaked in the 80s (which I’m sure has nothing to do with the fact that I was a child in the 80s). There you could find some classics and some classically cheesy themes side-by-side, with or without synthesizers. For me, it’s the lyrical themes that best represent the era, with bonus points if they describe the plot. That said, there were also some classic instrumental themes that demand mention, so we’ve decided to break this up into two parts and let you vote on which was the best representative of each category.

Before we could do that, we had to establish some ground rules. First, the show had to exist primarily in the 80s, with a preference for themes that started in or near the decade (thereby disqualifying The Jeffersons, Happy Days, and Laverne & Shirley for beginning in the mid-70s and A Different World for not debuting Aretha Franklin’s theme until 1988). The theme had to be an original song written for the show, not a borrowed pop song (disqualifying The Wonder Years, Life Goes On, Bosom Buddies, and China Beach, among others). We also considered doing a category for children’s shows (AKA the ones you millennials may actually remember), but then I decided that only one of them could stand up to the others, and it didn’t need to be segregated into a different category.

Lyrical Themes

Cheers

“Where Everybody Knows Your Name” written by Gary Portnoy, Judy Hart Angelo, Julian Williams. Performed by Gary Portnoy.

The first theme song I came up with when we were initially discussing greatest theme songs of the 80s was Cheers, because A) it’s one of the best sitcoms ever and B) it was once parodied on The Simpsons, and even that parody was memorably great. But even though I could effortlessly sing along with the theme despite not having seen the show in years, I took a listen again to try to discern the exact qualities that made this song so great.

“Making your way in the world today takes everything you’ve got”? Yikes, we’re off to a depressing start here. I’m turning on the TV for an escape, not to be reminded of the world pushing the pedal to the metal on the path to dystopia.

But hang on. What’s this? Wouldn’t I like to get away? Yes! In fact, I was just saying that in the last paragraph! The song now shifts into a more upbeat, welcoming tone. We’re shrugging off the crippling weight of the world for a while and going somewhere familiar, surrounded by people we care about. By the end of these 60 seconds, you’ve gone from world-weariness to comfort.

A theme song doesn’t necessarily need to explain the plot of a show, but it should set the mood for the viewer. The Cheers theme manages to do both flawlessly, giving you a sense of why the flimsy premise of “a bunch of people hang out at the same bar frequently” managed to work as a show – they’re not at the bar to get drunk, they’re at the bar because they’ve developed strong relationships with these weirdos and enjoy spending time with them. Getting drunk is just an added bonus.

So why did I pick the Cheers theme as the best theme song of the 80s? Because this place – this absurd Survivor website with its wacky cast of characters – is my Cheers. Just as I once looked forward to hanging out with Norm, Woody, Lilith, Frasier, Carla, and the rest, I now I look forward to spending time with you guys.

(Except Saturday Night Palsy. Fuck that guy.)

-John

(Editor’s note: Yes, I did that partially to lock up your vote for Cheers as best theme song. And it better work).


Diff’rent Strokes

“It Takes Diff’rent Strokes” written by Alan Thicke, Gloria Loring, and Al Burton. Performed by Alan Thicke.

The world don’t move to the beat of just one drum, but all 183 episodes of Diff’rent Strokes began with the greatest theme song in television history. “It Takes Diff’rent Strokes” was composed by Alan Thicke, the grandfather of “Blurred Lines”. Thicke, later immortalized on Canada’s Walk of Fame, expertly set the stage for a show that tackled timely topics like racism, bulimia, and red-headed step-children. In the 80s, young Palsy raced home from school each day to watch syndicated reruns of Diff’rent Strokes where he learned valuable life lessons – like pitying the fool who broke a real bottle over Mr. T’s head, never playing Tarzan with the creepy guy who owns the bike shop, and listening to first lady Nancy Reagan and “just saying no” (okay the last lesson didn’t take). But the big take-away from the show – and from the theme song especially – is that no matter how tough life gets, together we’ll be fine. To any doubters out there I have but one thing to say: What’chu talking ’bout, [insert name here].

-Saturday Night Palsy


Ducktales

“Ducktales” written by Mark Mueller. Performed by Jeff Pescetto.

Most 80s and 90s sitcom theme songs are fun little earwigs that remind you of the show’s core theme, and the lovable cast of characters you will spend time with every week. Kids cartoons? Ain’t nobody got time for that. One of the best on the air in the 80s, beloved by both boys and girls, hits you like a “hurricane” (see what I did there?) right off the bat with its upbeat intro and never lets up for the next 60 seconds. This show has got everything: Race cars. Lasers. Aeroplanes. Mysteries. Time-Travel. D-d-d-danger! Shows about family values and life-long friendships are great, but these ducks are LIVING LIFE, and I am HERE for that.

Oh, and what’s a “tale of derring-do?” I have no friggin’ clue. But this song (and the show) is a duck-blur of fun. Woo-ooo!

-Violina23


The Facts of Life

“The Facts of Life” written by Al Burton, Gloria Loring, and Alan Thicke. Performed by Gloria Loring.

There was actually a different version of this theme for the first couple of seasons sung by star Charlotte Rae that contained elements of this theme, but didn’t quite get it right. It was probably more on brand with the concept of the show being the misadventures of a group of prep school girls and their dorm den-mother, but was a little too bloated and weak (much like how the early season’s cast was too bloated and weak).

This one cuts through the clutter and starts strong with the lines we all wished Lisa Welchel had worked into her final jury performance: “You take the good, you take the bad, you take them both and there you have… The Facts of Life”. Such a lost opportunity. I’m sure that would have scored her at least one jury vote. Maybe two. (Of course, the rest of the jury would have zero clue as to what she was getting at. But still… worth it).

-Andy


The Golden Girls

“Thank You for Being a Friend” written by Andrew Gold. Performed by Cynthia Fee.

How iconic is The Golden Girls theme song? It’s so amazing that I wasn’t even a huge fan of the show, and I can still sing every word of it to you. Simply put, it inspires happiness. The beginning of the song, “thank you for being a friend”, is instantly recognizable and bound to inspire a sing-a-long among avid fans and non-fans alike. This is no accident. Originally, the song was recorded by Andrew Gold. He viewed it as a fun song that took him barely any time to write. However, for The Golden Girls, the song was re-recorded by Cynthia Fee, a brilliant choice. Cynthia Fee was a jingle singer, noted for Hoover Vacuum (“nobody does it like you”) and Pontiac commercials. Thus, the perfect combination of Ms. Fee’s smooth voice and Mr. Gold’s lyrics were combined to represent the friendship between The Golden Girls. I dare you not to love it. While the 80s has a plethora of earworm themes from which to choose, “Thank You for Being a Friend” will always be number one.

-EmandScoutinBK

(Editor’s note: Sure, you could argue this being a remake of an early song should disqualify it based on my qualifications. I don’t care. It NEEDS to be in this list and it might need to win).


The Greatest American Hero

“Theme from Greatest American Hero (Believe It or Not)” written by Mike Post and Stephen Geyer. Performed by Joey Scarbury.

Yes, of course the only reason we remember this theme song from a low-rated, three season superhero schlock-fest is because Seinfeld once paid homage to it with George Constanza’s answering machine message. But the reason they did that is because it’s such a great theme song. Well… “great” in terms of what we mean when we say something was a great 80s TV theme song. Instantly catchy (it peaked at #2 on the Billboard charts) and unabashedly earnest, it was probably the only reason to watch the show associated with it. Well, that and William Katt’s epic blonde afro.

-Andy


Growing Pains

“As Long As We Got Each Other” written by John Bettis. Performed by BJ Thomas & Jennifer Warnes.

For me, the pinnacle of the 80’s TV show theme (with words) is that of Growing Pains, “As Long As We Got Each Other.” It ticks all the boxes: it’s cheesy, it has harmonies, it’s ever so vaguely reminiscent of the song “Hungry Eyes,” and, perhaps most importantly, it has an unnecessary little tinkly flourish at the end that seems to imply that the show we’re about to watch has retsyn.

The only real debate here is choosing which version of the theme song to include. Version 1, for the first season, just features B.J. Thomas (and some odd paintings of old-timey people). It’s fine, but if you know where the second vocals are supposed to be, feels a bit empty. Version 2 has Thomas along with Jennifer Warnes. I’d call this one “Classic Pains.” Version 3, used in the fourth season, features Thomas and Dusty Springfield. Version 4 is an acapella rendition which apparently was used for season 6 but which I will continue to believe is a myth, despite having been shown ample evidence of this version by YouTube. I’d have to go with Version 2 as the favorite here. It drives and surges, and Thomas and Warnes just sound good singing together, in a way that makes the listener feel that they too can share in the laughter and love.

-Mike Hirsch

(Editor’s note: Growing Pains beat out Family Ties and Who’s the Boss for the “schmaltzy family sitcom theme” slot. It is clearly the best of the genre).


The Littlest Hobo

“Maybe Tomorrow” written by Terry Bush and John Crossen. Performed by Terry Bush.

Look, I realize that only the Canadians in the audience will get this one (although it was syndicated in the US and UK). But for Canadians of a certain age, Terry Bush’s “Maybe Tomorrow” is basically a second national anthem. Even if you’re unaware of the series, give it a listen and tell me it doesn’t belong on this list. You can’t.

Well, maybe you can, since a large part of the deep, passionate attachment my countrymen and I have for the song is the attachment to the show. Detailing the ongoing travels of an unnamed German Shepherd who wandered from town to town helping strangers, The Littlest Hobo was probably the highest achievement in 80s Canadian television (yeah, that’s right Beachcombers fans – I said it. Fight me). It’s important to note that he wasn’t a talking dog or a super-powered dog or anything. Just an ordinary dog helping people every day. He wasn’t just a good doggo. He was the best doggo. Here’s hoping he found his tomorrow and settled down.

I… I told myself I wasn’t going to cry.

-Andy

(Editor’s note: This entry was included because of mandatory Canadian content rules).


Perfect Strangers

“Nothing’s Gonna Stop Me Now” written by Jesse Frederick and Bennett Salvay. Performed by David Pomeranz.

The best theme song of the 80s is Perfect Strangers. You know why it is so great? Because we remember it despite the show being terrible. Who actually has any affection for Bronson Pinchot and Mark Linn-Baker? But you listen to that theme song and suddenly you trick yourself into thinking, “Hey, I want to watch some Perfect Strangers!” Don’t do that. Just listen to the theme song and sing “Standing tallll, on the wings of my dream!” Heck, even The Leftovers love the theme song so much that they used it to introduce an episode! This song is as great as the show is bad, and that is why it’s the best theme song of the 80s.

-Matt


WKRP in Cincinnati 

“WKRP In Cincinnati Main Theme,” written by Tom Wells and Hugh Wilson. Performed by Steve Carlisle.

I’ll admit, this one might circumvent the rules I set out, having debuted in 1978 and ended in 1982, but I figure since WKRP got a big second life through syndicated reruns in the 80s, it fits. And the song is so great. You could take a similar theme and apply it to a new show today and it would work. Such a perfect blend of pep to make you excited to watch a comedy show and melancholy was at the root of a lot of the series’ humour. Happy/sad songs are the best.

-Andy


Instrumental Themes

The A-Team

Composed by Mike Post and Pete Carpenter.

I listen to this today and can’t help but get FUCKING PUMPED. I am READY for the guns that can’t hit their targets and the helicopters and big-ass explosions that make you leap off the ground and Mr. T pitying fools and OHMYGOD IT’S. ALL. TOO. FUCKING. RAD!1!

I am almost 40 years old.

-Andy


Hill Street Blues

Composed by Mike Post.

The Theme from Hill Street Blues earns its spot on this list by virtue of its instant recognizability some thirty years after the show’s finale, where even someone such as myself who never watched a minute of the show can identify it from its opening three piano notes. Mike Post’s theme starts out slowly, almost hesitantly, before hitting its proper stride as the strings, drums and guitar join in with the ever-present piano, and the overall feeling it evokes is akin to a slow clap that gradually turns into a normal-speed ovation that only ever seems to happen in tv shows or movies. The theme perfectly captures a feeling of the day-to-day drudgery endured by a bunch of people who are sad that they live on a street that has a hill on it, which is what I presume the show is about.

-Mike Hirsch


Knight Rider

Composed by Stu Phillips and Glen A. Larson.

“Instrumental?” you say, incredulously, “but there are words involved!” Yes, there are technically words here. But they are meaningless. The beat is why you’re here. The beat is certainly why Busta Rhymes was here, because he recognized that it was so fucking fire that it was worthy of having Busta Rhymes rap over it in a Matrix-inspired music video because the 90s were amazing.

Just imagine the pitch meeting with the composers that yielded this song:

“We need a theme song for our show. We want something really catchy, but something that suggests suspense and excitement.”

“Ok, what’s the show about?”

“It’s about a guy who eventually becomes a lifeguard and a surprisingly well-known singer in Germany. And he solves crimes with his friend, a talking car.”

“…We’re going to need to be paid up front. In cash.”

And then, because they’re professionals, the composers made this masterpiece.

-John


Magnum, P.I.

Composed by Mike Post and Pete Carpenter.

The Magnum, P.I. theme song is not only one of my favorite 80s TV theme songs, it’s one of my favorites from any era. A theme song should help describe what the show’s about; this one doesn’t have any lyrics to help do this, but right from the beginning the beat starts and never stops – it tells you “this show is going to be action packed, and it’s going to be fun”. I haven’t seen an episode in over 20 years, but if I hear this theme it instantly takes me back to watching the show; my head starts bobbing and I can’t not smile – it’s just so much fun to listen to. Besides being great music, the sign of a great TV theme song is that it reminds you why you loved the show. This song does that for me.  Also, bonus points for Selleck arching his eyebrows at the very end of the theme in the opening credits – that’s just awesome.

-Hornacek


Murder, She Wrote

Composed by John Addison.

I’m not sure if Murder, She Wrote has the theme song that is the most incongruous to the premise of its show, but it certainly has to be up there. While the show chronicled mystery writer and amateur sleuth Jessica Fletcher as she solved an endless parade of murders in the sleepy wharf town of Cabot Cove, Maine (murder capital of the world, apparently), the theme song merrily skips along as if murders were the most whimsical things imaginable. If the upbeat piano and Disney-ish string section weren’t enough, they also throw in some tubas for an oompah-band feel. It makes absolutely no sense, but is magnificent. It makes me wish more shows and films attempted this. If someone who knows how to do such a thing were to replace the “ki ki ki, ma ma ma” soundtrack from Friday the 13th, or the Jaws theme, with oompah music? Let me know, because I would watch the hell out of that.

At least once, anyway.

-Mike Hirsch


Night Court

Composed by Jack Elliott.

Sitcoms that are star vehicles (rather than pure ensemble comedies) tend to center on a normal, or maybe slightly eccentric, person who tries but mostly fails to corral a bunch of nutjobs (Parks and Rec, WKRP in Cincinnati, Newhart). Less commonly, the main character IS the nutjob, and there may or may not be any “normal one” in sight (I Love Lucy, Mork and Mindy, The Office). Night Court started as one and ended up the other. The first thing you may notice about the Night Court theme is that it’s an awful lot like the Barney Miller theme: Slap bass intro, funk/jazz groove, Manhattan skyline, freeze frames. That’s no accident – showrunner Reinhold Weege was a veteran of the Barney Miller writer’s room. But partly because Night Court was built around comic/magician/weirdo Harry Anderson (who had played conman Harry the Hat on Cheers in what was effectively an audition) rather than comedic actor Hal Linden, the show got weirder and weirder, gloriously so, over its nine seasons. Also, like many classic sitcoms, the show lucked into an amazing supporting cast that included Dan Larroquette, Markie Post, and Richard Moll (alas, Father Time caused a Andropov/Chernenko-style series of gruff female bailiffs, each of whom was brilliant in her own right). The Night Court theme is 40 seconds of musical bliss from an age when it was more important to set a mood than to cram in one more commercial.

-Assistant Dragon Slayer


thirtysomething

Composed by WG Snuffy Walden.

Thirtysomething was the original show about nothing. Prior to thirtysomething, TV dramas were almost always escapist fare about exciting people (Dallas oilmen! LA Lawyers! Miami cops!) leading lives utterly different from yours and mine. In contrast, thirtysomething was about ordinary people and their quotidian lives. Pretty much every slice-of-life dramedy about regular (if hyper-verbal) people – your Gilmore Girls, your Parenthood – has thirtysomething in its DNA. Appropriately, the theme song also went completely against the grain for an 80s show by being tiny (mostly acoustic guitars). The result was a timeless TV show and theme song (give or take some pleated pants here or a pan-pipes synth patch there).

Personal note: I watched the full run of thirtysomething when it first aired in my early 20s, mainly because my college girlfriend was a doppelganger for Melissa, asymmetrical haircut and all (and yes, she was – wait for it – in her thirties). At the time, I was super-frustrated by how self-absorbed these dummies were by their tiny, tiny problems (work/life balance! tenure! making payroll! tractor/trailers!). However, even at the time I was mystified by the furious backlash the show engendered, from people who obviously didn’t actually watch it and were more interested in bashing the show as a scapegoat for the excesses of the age (quite similar to the rage Girls would incite decades later). Somehow, I went through all of my 30s without seeing a single episode, then rewatched a fair chunk of it in my 40s and was shocked at how they nailed it. And oh yeah – Susannah really is the worst, right?

-Assistant Dragon Slayer


There’s your nominees. Now it’s your time to vote. And feel free to share your thoughts in comments, even if you think the best theme isn’t here. (It is, though. Trust me).

What is the best lyrical 80s TV show theme?

  • Cheers (23% Votes)
  • The Golden Girls (23% Votes)
  • Ducktales (16% Votes)
  • Perfect Strangers (8% Votes)
  • The Littlest Hobo (8% Votes)
  • Growing Pains (6% Votes)
  • The Greatest American Hero (6% Votes)
  • The Facts of Life (3% Votes)
  • Diff'rent Stokes (3% Votes)
  • WKRP in Cincinnati (2% Votes)
  • Other (2% Votes)

Total Voters: 62

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What is the best instrumental 80s TV show theme?

  • Magnum, P.I. (29% Votes)
  • The A-Team (22% Votes)
  • Knight Rider (22% Votes)
  • Murder, She Wrote (10% Votes)
  • Night Court (8% Votes)
  • Hill Street Blues (6% Votes)
  • Other (4% Votes)
  • thirtysomething (0% Votes)

Total Voters: 51

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Andy
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Andy

Co-host of the Purple Rock Survivor Podcast and the Canadian of the group, Andy has been watching Survivor continuously since the very beginning and likes to treat that as some kind of virtue to lord over others.

Favourite seasons: Heroes vs Villains, Cook Islands, Palau, The Amazon, Cagayan
Favourite players: Boston Rob, Kim Spradlin, Tony Vlachos, Cirie Fields, Yul Kwon, Rob Cesternino
Andy
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  • Mike Hirsch

    The Littlest Hobo will always have a warm place in my heart due to its use in a scene of Spaced. Not enough to vote for it here, though.

    • Hornacek

      With that attitude, it sounds like at every stop you make you’re not making new friends.

      • Mike Hirsch

        Eh. Maybe tomorrow.

        • Hornacek

          But until tomorrow you’ll just keep moving on?

  • PurpleTally

    Maybe Tomorrow is a garbage song that is now going to be stuck in my head for weeks. Dammit, Canada.

    • I have only heard for the first time a few months thanks to some Canadian YouTubers that I like and I thought it was enchanting. It reminded me of Benji.

    • Hornacek

      To paraphrase the South Park movie, the Canadian government has repeatedly apologized for The Littlest Hobo theme!

  • Alkanarra

    If you do animated childrens’ themes, consider extending it into the 90s. That way it can be Batman and all the shows that will lose to Batman.

    • Mike Hirsch

      That’s the theme from the movie though.

      • Alkanarra

        Oh right. I forgot on account of how iconic the show made it. I suppose the animated X-Men show will have to win instead then.

        • Of course it will. X-Men is the second best kids animated show of the 1990s.

          • purplerockandy

            Animaniacs beats them both. Handily. (Theme song wise).

          • I forgot about Animaniacs TBH.

          • Mike Hirsch

            I would absolutely, 100%, argue for Street Frogs. It is Street Frogs all day and all night!

          • Hornacek

            We’re tiny
            We’re toony
            We’re all a little looney …

          • This was the one that jumped to mind as a possible competitor to Animaniacs. Tiny Tunes had a killer theme song.

        • Hornacek

          I’m sorry, but the obvious answer here is the 90s animated Spider-Man show.

  • TheForRealDeal

    Your criteria are flawed in that they disqualify the Barney Miller theme song, and more specifically, that sweet, funky bass.

    • purplerockandy

      That show is barely 80s.

      • TheForRealDeal

        I reject strict delineations between time periods.

        • Hornacek

          I Love Lucy theme was robbed!

        • I finally understand why you disliked Millennials vs Gen X.

          • TheForRealDeal

            Yes, let’s go with that explanation.

  • purplerockandy

    Important poll:
    Which theme song better represents the PRP community: “Where Everybody Knows Your Name?” or “Thank You for Being a Friend?”

    • I personally think it is “Where Everybody Knows Your Name” because that fits the mood of this community. As John explains in his description, people come here to escape the weary mood of the world and the Survivor community at large because they know that they will have friends here. Friends who they wouldn’t have met if it wasn’t for Survivor.
      As much as I love “Thank You for Being a Friend”, this song seems to express more of a long-term friendship, which makes it perfect for women living together in a retirement home but not great for Internet friendship.

      • Mike Hirsch

        What she said.

      • purplerockandy

        Good point.

        Counter: we actually don’t know a lot of people’s names here.

        • It’s the Internet. Most people are afraid of getting Doxxed.

          • I enjoy the fact that you made that comment, since you presumably post under your real name.

            But then, what if that’s *not* your real name? I’d actually be kinda entertained if you were racking your brain for a good Disqus screen name and came up with Barbara Anderson.

          • If only I was that creative…also, it helps that my legal name is not the name I use most often.

          • Hornacek

            Ooh, a mystery!

          • Alkanarra

            The twist is that her name is actually Taako From Teevhii, but she decided it was too ridiculous to use as an avatar.

          • Taako From Teevhii

            Solid form, but considering that I was previously a football star-turned-felon composed of a condiment, the execution was lacking. 7/10.

          • But if I did it, I wouldn’t write a book about how I would do it had I done it.

          • DrVanNostrand

            Pickle Relish Aaron Hernandez?

          • Taako From Teevhii

            So I guess no one remembers my time as GuacaMichael Vick?

          • BadPlayer91

            I just like to assume you are actually Amy Poehler. It makes all our conversations that much more enjoyable for me, even when you are schooling me.

          • Purple Rock Emma

            Yeah, what kind of weirdo would use a pretty normal name as their fake name?

          • Hornacek

            Are you saying that “Matt” is not a pretty normal name?

        • Saturday Night Palsy

          But you know our internet names. And you eventually get a sense of what each person here is like. I mean, sure you’re gonna get the occasional “bob1365” or “Gabon4evuh!” or “purplerockmatt” but you know the people who make up this community.

          And this is apparently a community that doesn’t like to see a couple of poor kids catch a break for a change. Diff’rent Strokes is getting beaten by Perfect Strangers right now for Arnold’s sake!

      • EmAndScoutInBK

        See, for me, it’s Thank You for Being a Friend, because of how grateful I am to have found this community and how grateful I am for the friendships I’ve made here.

        • I like that both of them give us to assign characters to people here, though. “Who is PRP’s Blanche Devereaux?” is gonna be a great staff chat conversation.

          Saturday Night Palsy is definitely Norm, though.

          • Hornacek

            Does that make the AVClub’s Survivor pages St. Olaf?

          • Saturday Night Palsy

            I’ll drink to that. He’ll, I’ll drink to anything!

          • Hornacek

            “Let’s burn him in effigy!”
            “The hell with that, let’s burn him right here in Boston!”

          • purplerockandy

            Andy: Frasier
            John: Rebecca
            Emma: Carla
            Matt: Cliff
            Mark: Paul

          • Hornacek

            Which of the additional contributors is Gary from Gary’s Tavern?

          • It has to be SNP, right?

          • Saturday Night Palsy

            No, Gary is evil and everything tends to fall his way, kind of like a warlock. It would have to be someone warlock-like…

          • Hornacek

            I would say that @disqus_GpYJ355BVM:disqus would be more of a Lilith

            Note: that is solely based on the character, not her romance and eventual marriage to Frasier (i.e. Andy).

          • If you knew me in real life, then you would know that I am not a Lilith.

          • Hornacek

            If we’ve learned nothing else about you in this specific set of comments, it’s that in real life you are actually Leslie Knope.

          • Hornacek?

          • Hornacek

            hey, I would love to own a successful tavern and always get one over on a former professional ballplayer and his bar of losers.

            I love the episode where Gary challenges Cheers to a bowling tournament. But everyone at Cheers doesn’t want to do it because they’re sure this will likely be another in a series of defeats at the hand of Gary. But then Carla (i.e. Emma) rallies them by saying “Who do you see when you watch bowling? A bunch of out-of-shape losers drinking beer!” and Norm says “That’s us!”

          • purplerockandy

            Redmond

      • Hornacek

        @disqus_GpYJ355BVM:disqus stole my answer.

    • EmAndScoutInBK

      Thank You for Being a Friend. 100%. Every Day.

    • Violina23

      “Where everybody knows your name” for this community as a whole. Because this community has been way too much fun, and I like most of you.

      But a select few have graduated to “thank you for being a friend”. You know who you are.

      #InternetFriendsAreRealDamnit

    • StormofCuteness

      One more vote for Where Everybody Knows Your Screen Name!

      Unless you freakin’ change it, then it takes me a very long time to figure out who you are or were.*
      *Does not apply to BlurryDenzel

  • Assistant Dragon Slayer

    The Perfect Strangers theme, depressed after an hour of watching The Leftovers:

  • Maritimer

    I know very few of these songs or shows. I was tempted to vote for WKRP but as a Canadian, I’m constitutionally obligated to vote for the Littlest Hobo.

    I voted for Knight Rider because of Knightboat.

  • Kemper Boyd

    This post is racist against British people.

    • purplerockandy

      I should’ve made another qualification: “the show had to air more than 6 episodes a season”. That would’ve taken British TV out of the running.

      • Kemper Boyd

        *series.
        Postman Pat has 13 episodes.
        Poddington Peas has 13 episodes.
        Pingu has 157 episodes (they are 5 minutes long).

        • purplerockandy

          Heh. I love the fact that 13 episodes in the 80s seemed long. Meanwhile, in America, I think they did, like, 25 a season.

          Also: I’m convinced you made up one of those, but I can’t tell which one.

          • Kemper Boyd

            Pingu is a claymation penguin show. It’s brilliant.

          • purplerockandy

            Pingu is the one I’m aware of.

          • Kemper Boyd

            Postman Pat is a fucking classic

          • Max_Jets

            Definitely Poddington Peas.

        • Maritimer

          PINGU! Didn’t realize that was an 80s thing though. It was always on when I was watching CBC Kids in the late 90s

          • Kemper Boyd

            Premiered in 86

          • Maritimer

            Maybe didn’t make it over here then. Or I just don’t remember it from my early childhood days

      • Alkanarra

        Counterpoint: Blackadder.

        Counter-counterpoint: would definitely not win “best theme song”.

        • Alycia Swift

          Wouldn’t win but it belongs in the running.

    • Hornacek

      “Purple Rock doesn’t care about British people.”
      (@MikeMyers looks on uncomfortably)

      • Don’t worry..he’s got the Gong Show to keep him company now.

    • Saturday Night Palsy

      Kemper’s right. You left out Mr. Belvedere.

  • Purple Rock Emma

    Awww, John.

    I still voted for Ducktales though.

    • Mike Hirsch

      I stumped for Fraggle Rock, but alas.

      • purplerockandy

        We originally were going to do a children’s category, with Ducktales, Fraggle Rock, Punky Brewster, Chip n’ Dale’s Rescue Rangers, and Reading Rainbow. But as you can see, the post is already long as it is.

        • StormofCuteness

          Reading Rainbow, yes!

      • Hornacek

        Hmm, I do dance my cares away, and leave my worries for another day …

      • Violina23

        I never “got” Fraggle Rock as a show, but I always loved that song…

        • Hornacek

          What’s to get? The Fraggles are hippies, the Doozers are communists, and the Gorgs are the monarchy.

          Not sure what the Trash Heap is, while Doc and Sprocket are a bit up in the air.

          • The Doozers can’t be Communists. They actually do work.

          • Hornacek

            That sounds like something a silly creature from outer space would say.

          • Violina23

            My husband took out the first season from the library to show my (then) 6 year old. I think she was as weirded out as me.

            (BTW, I’m fairly certain the early seasons are available on HBO Go/Now if you have it)

      • Alycia Swift

        I would have voted for that one.

        Even though it was not 80s, the greatest theme ever is The Muppet Show.

    • Saturday Night Palsy

      I don’t know. John had some fair points but he kinda lost me at the end.

      • Hornacek

        This comment could be posted after every regular Survivor podcast episode.

  • Mike Hirsch

    Mike Post is all over those instrumental themes. I suppose he wins, really.

    • Hornacek

      I had the Mike Post Television Theme Songs album on cassette. It was a sad day when I lost it.

      It only had 6 songs but 4 of them were classics: Hill Street, Rockford, Greatest American Hero (i.e. George Isn’t At Home), and of course, Magnum, P.I. Well worth the purchase.

      I still have no idea who Richie Brockleman, Private Eye is.

    • StormofCuteness

      I’m pretty impressed with Mike Post and Alan Thicke who appear multiple times on this list. Who knew?

  • Violina23

    I dispute the suggestion that Perfect Strangers was a terrible show. I loved it. It was part of the beloved TGIF lineup. Of course I remember practically nothing except the dance of joy….

    Does anyone remember “Just the 10 of us?” Nobody else seems to besides me…

    • Purplerockmatt

      you remember nothing because it was a terrible show. and the after effect of a great theme song made you accept this fondly

      • purplerockandy

        Dont be reedickulus.

      • Mike Hirsch

        What about the time they made bibby bobkas? Or the time they went camping and got stuck in quicksand? I remember. I REMEMBER.

        • Violina23

          BUT BUT…. The Dance of Joy!

    • Hornacek

      Although I remember bits and pieces of PS (i.e. Mr. Twinkie, “AMERICA OR BURST”), the only full episode I can remember is the one where Cousin Larry has a dream that Balki is actually an alien from Planet Meipos.

      “Does anyone remember ‘Just the 10 of us?'” The spin-off of Growing Pains? No, I don’t remember it.

      • Violina23

        Was it a spin off? I had no idea…

        • Hornacek

          The coach appeared in at least 1 episode of Growing Pains. He wasn’t an established character before he was spun off – pretty sure they created the character on GP with the plan already made to spin him off.

          • purplerockandy

            Backdoor pilot.

          • Saturday Night Palsy

            Pretty sure that’s the title of a ZZ Top song.

          • Hornacek

            I guess that’s what it’s called. We’re not all industry insiders like you.

          • StormofCuteness

            Hrm, sounds kinky. Just saying.

          • Hornacek

            “Hey baby, why don’t you and I make a backdoor pilot, if you know what I mean?”

          • StormofCuteness

            Eek, now it just sounds creepy!

          • Hornacek

            If you add “if you know what I mean” you can make pretty much anything sound creepy.

            i.e. “Why don’t you and I go to the restaurant, if you know what I mean.

          • StormofCuteness

            I know what you mean.

          • Hornacek
          • Violina23

            Wow, what did I unleash there?

      • Mike Hirsch

        Ok, glad I was remembering correctly.

    • Mike Hirsch

      I remember Just The 10 Of Us. Was it a spin off of Growing Pains? It featured several cast members of the Nightmare on Elm Street series.

      • Hornacek

        Nancy, right?

        • Mike Hirsch

          Yup, and also Debbie in part 4.

    • Alycia Swift

      I remember.

  • Saturday Night Palsy

    How in the he’ll is a damn dog show beating out Diff’rent Strokes? This is a crime! I blame Andy and I blame Hornacek! No wonder Tally hates Canadians, they ruin everything!

    • Saturday Night Palsy

      Also, that dog is dead by now.

      • purplerockandy

        “That” dog was about five different dogs that they’d throw in when appropriate.

        “London 1 won’t jump on to this moving truck. Bring in London 2”.

        • Saturday Night Palsy

          Way to make it just that much more depressing. Five dead Londons.

          • Hornacek

            “Is there a Doggie Hell?”
            “Well… of course, there couldn’t be a heaven if there weren’t a hell.”
            “Who’s in there?”
            “Oh, uh… Hitler’s dog… and that dog Nixon had, what’s his name, um, Chester…”
            “Checkers.”
            “Yeah! One of the Lassies Londons is in there, too. The mean one! The one who mauled Timmy the Mountie!

      • Hornacek
    • Hornacek

      (brushes dirt off of hands) Well, my work here is done.

      (walk off into sunset humming the Mr. Dressup theme)

    • PurpleTally

      FINALLY someone gets it!

      • Hornacek

        I do not agree that Canadians ruin everything. But as a Canadian, I must nevertheless apologize and promise not to do it again.

  • BadPlayer91

    I’m a 90s kid, and thus have little to contribute. So hate me.

    That being said, shout out to 90s kids. I would like to remind you all of the All-That and Kenan & Kel theme songs, made by TLC and Coolio respectively.

    OHHHHH, OOOHHHH, This is ALL That, This is ALL THAT!

    Bye Forever

    • Alkanarra

      I like to think that Legends of the Hidden Temple was my introduction to Survivor. Pointless and unbalanced challenges, deeply vested rooting interests based on marginal screen time, and various anger-inducing displays of stupidity. Like, how many times can one kid keep looping back into the same room before they realize there’s nothing there?

      • BadPlayer91

        GAWD you’re right! Legends of the Hidden Temple was golden. It combined all the hallmarks of good reality TV competitions, but with a kid-friendly, adventure based candy coating. Also, there were so few times that the episode ended with someone winning that you were always coming back to see if you could actually see someone win. So good.

        • Heck the host is almost wearing the exact same outfit as Jeff Probst.
          #RIPNickGAS

      • Mike Hirsch

        THOSE DAMN IDIOTS.
        Sorry, sorry, flashbacks, man.

      • Hornacek

        As an 80s kid, I read “Legends of the Hidden Temple” too fast and thought you said “Tales of the Gold Monkey”.

        • Saturday Night Palsy

          “Bark, bark!”

          • Hornacek

            (from the episode where Jack gets hit on the head and suffers what appears to be a doggie-concussion)

            “I know one bark means ‘no’, and two barks means ‘yes’, but what does three barks mean?”

      • Violina23

        I used to get legitimately anxious watching people fail at the temple run. I don’t think I ever saw anybody beat it. At least in GUTS, you knew that SOMEONE would make it up the mountain thingie (Crag?)

    • indescribable hat

      As a 90s kid who didn’t watch TV as a kid, I have even less to contribute!

  • Taako From Teevhii

    I can’t believe that not a single Millennial was included on this post! So much for the tolerant left.

    • purplerockandy

      Millennials killed the TV theme song. My column:

      • Hornacek

        “Millennials killed the TV theme song”

        Wasn’t that the first video ever aired on Much Music?

      • Alycia Swift

        Set to the tune of Video Killed the Radio Star.

      • indescribable hat

        I’ll have you know I sing annoying lyrics over many an instrumental theme!

        • Hornacek

          There was an Emmy Awards in the 90s (?) where Jason Alexander hosted and his opening bit was complaining how TV shows didn’t have opening credits with a theme song with lyrics anymore. He either made up and sang theme songs for current shows that didn’t have one, or they played the instrumental theme of current shows and Alexander would sing made up lyrics for them.

    • Violina23

      If there is a 90’s post, I could probably write more about that than the 80’s TV. We don’t need you, millennials.

  • Alycia Swift

    I voted other on instrumental. The Simpsons was not there. It began in 1989. And yes, I realize there are the words at The Simpsons at the beginning,

    • purplerockandy

      Yeah, it didn’t fall within the “First, the show had to exist primarily in the 80s, with a preference for themes that started in or near the decade” qualification. That’s a 90s show.

  • TheForRealDeal


    Relevant, or the most relevant?

    • StormofCuteness

      ZOMG, thank you for posting this. I laughed and laughed…and yes, it was out loud.

  • StormofCuteness

    This whole thing made me feel really old and reminding me that I have always been a tv junkie.

    Also that I love a lot of theme songs from the 70s. Choosing between Mary Tyler Moore and The Jeffersons would be hella painful, for instance…and there are soooo many others.

    • The Jeffersons theme song is great. It was one of my initial nominees for this list before I looked at the air dates of the show.

      • StormofCuteness

        Much like the Canadians mentioned above, I have heard The Jeffersons theme song at concerts and the audiences just go wild singing along. Or was that just me?

        • I have not heard The Jeffersons theme song at concerts. But I’d kind of dig it if I did, especially considering the musical acts I’ve seen in concert. Outkast covering The Jeffersons theme would be fun.

          • StormofCuteness

            *burns with the envy of a thousand suns*

            Outkast in concert?!! Hells ya!

  • Hornacek

    Wait, how did we forget the theme to “It’s Gary Shandling’s Show”?

    • purplerockandy

      I thought about it. Decided against it.

      • StormofCuteness

        That’s just wrong. I demand a recount. (Haha, just kidding, nothing will stop the Cheers/Golden Girls juggernaut.)

        But it is the most earwormy of them all.

  • Hornacek

    How could we forget the greatest lesson that Diff’rent Strokes ever taught us? That washing your hair with acid rain turns your hair green.

    http://s1.dmcdn.net/vU_u.jpg

  • Hornacek

    More than once I have been at a bar where the guy on stage with a guitar has stopped doing covers of popular music and sung “Maybe Tomorrow”. The entire bar goes nuts with everyone (including staff) singing along. It’s a true Canadian moment.

    Why there isn’t a Heritage Minute about this show/song I don’t understand.

    • PurpleTally

      There’s zero chance in hell I’d have heard of it apart from it being a running gag on a hockey podcast I listen to. It’s so bizarre how culturally entrenched it is up there.

      • Hornacek

        Oh yeah, it’s definitely a Canadian thing. I agree with Andy – if you weren’t a Canadian watching TV in the 80s, there is no reason for you to be aware of this song’s existence.

      • purplerockandy

        The thing to remember about the 80s and Canada is that those without cable only had 2-5 channels:
        -CBC
        -French CBC
        -1 to 2 local channels
        -PBS-like channel

        So things could penetrate the monoculture more easily.

        • Maritimer

          I live out East, and I only had CBC, CTV, TSN. That was it and that was in the 90s. I think only you Upper Canadians had TVO (which I assume is your PBS-like channel)

          • PurpleTally

            This maybe explains why the only TV show my Canadian ex-boyfriend ever talked about was The Simpsons. Options were limited. He’s from Halifax.

          • Maritimer

            I watched a lot of Simpsons

          • Hornacek

            Hey, that’s where I am right now!

          • purplerockandy

            Calling me an Upper Canadian is the most insulting thing you’ve ever said to me.

          • Maritimer

            I’m sorry, I thought you were from Ontario for some reason. I apologize for the grave insult

          • Hornacek

            Andy’s obviously from Alberta. In every video podcast he’s always wearing a cowboy hat.

          • Hornacek

            I had a classmate in Grade 6 Georgraphy class who was completely confused by Upper Canada being the lower part of Ontario and Lower Canada being eastern Quebec. He would tell the teacher “But Upper Canada is further south than Lower Canada! How can that be ‘Upper’ and the other be ‘Lower’? It should be the other way around!” He was never able to understand it.

          • Hornacek

            In Nova Scotia we originally only had ATV (called CTV nationally) and CBC (3 and 5). Later we got ASN (7) which lasted a few years. Then MITV (8) which later became the Survivor-providing channel called Global.

          • Maritimer

            Oh yeah, we had ASN for a while. I forgot about that one. I never totally understood how/why we got TSN

  • Hornacek

    I already posted this last week in the Philippines comments that inspired this competition, but damnit, this reworking of the Magnum, P.I. theme with Han Solo and his Millennium Falcon crew is just awesome and should always be enjoyed.

  • DrVanNostrand

    Cheers is the obvious winner of the first. i’m not sure it’s the *best*, but Magnum PI has to be my favorite instrumental. I just loved Magnum PI. My cat is named Thomas Magnum, and the theme song is the ring tone for my phone.

    • Hornacek

      Although I prefer cats to dogs, a little part of me always wanted 2 dogs that I could name Zeus and Apollo.

      • DrVanNostrand

        If I got another cat, I would poll my friends to see if it looked more like Higgins, TC, or Rick to determine the name. Or I’d just look for one that looks like Higgins so I could call it Higgy-baby.

        • Hornacek

          You can just tell your friends you have a cat named Robin Masters but they’ll never see it. Every time they stop by you tell them that Robin is travelling.

  • the sky is falling

    A bit late to the offseason post party, but I’d like to compile a list of theme songs for every Survivor.

    Obviously Tony is Song 2 by blur. obviously.
    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=SSbBvKaM6sk

  • forever1267

    WKRP is the best, BUT it really really feels like a 70’s show, with the music and fashions (always the passion), so I went with “Greatest American Hero”. I don’t remember the TV show that well, but I certainly remember singing the theme song in the carpool to school.