There’s nothing better than great TV shows. Over the years, literarily hundreds of shows have come and gone, many of them forgotten almost immediately.
So what are the qualities that make a TV show memorable? Great question.
One of the key factors of a show we never forget is a great theme song. TV theme songs keep us humming along decades after the show has gone off the air.
In this article, we take a look at some of the best theme songs from the 1980s. Keep reading to see if any of your favorites made the list.
1. Family Ties
Family ties was one of the most popular sitcoms of the 80s. This was the show that literally plucked Michael J. Fox from obscurity and made him a TV star. A few short years later, he transformed from a TV star into one of the biggest celebrities in the world thanks to Back to the Future.
The theme song for Family Ties was a sweet song about love and family and sticking together through both good and bad times, and helped elevate the show above the level of a standard sitcom to be something truly special.
Moonlighting resurrected the career of Cybill Shepherd and launched the career of Bruce Willis. It was a great romantic comedy with the perfect theme song. This was a great tune sung by Al Jarreau.
In fact, given the chemistry of the two leads combined with Bruce Willis’s comic timing and the perfect theme song, it’s no wonder that this was one of the most popular shows of the 1980s.
3. Miami Vice
Famous at the time for its cutting-edge direction, cinematic style, use of contemporary fashion, and Crocket’s lack of socks, Miami Vice was an instant hit. Creator Michael Mann certainly knew what he was doing.
Yet the show wouldn’t have become such an instant classic if not for the incredible theme song. The music elevated the cinematography, flashy colors, and the sexy vibe of Miami in the mid-80s. This was the perfect show and the perfect theme song to catch the vibe of the era.
4. The Simpsons
The Simpsons now ranks as one of the longest lasting shows in TV history. In fact, it has continued to air new episodes weekly for over 30 years. And with one of the catchiest theme songs ever, it will surely remain near and dear to our hearts for many decades to come.
5. Greatest American Hero
The Greatest American Hero might have been a relatively short-lived series of the early 80s, but that didn’t make the theme song any less popular. We can all remember singing the lyrics, “believe it or not, I’m walking on air.” Such a catchy chorus!
As with many classic shows from the 80s, it wouldn’t have been nearly as memorable without the perfect song.
6. Knight Rider
Michael Knight and his super cool talking car are both classic TV characters of the 80s. Kitt is, without a doubt, one of the most awesome cars to ever appear on television. But without the thrumming electronic vibe of the soundtrack, we likely wouldn’t still be talking about Knight Rider today.
7. Facts of Life
Believe it or not, the theme song for Facts of Life was written by Alan Thicke, who wrote a number of other iconic theme songs as well as being a popular actor of the 80s and 90s.
Facts of Life introduced us to Blair, Tootie, Natalie, and Jo, but it’s that great theme song that we all remember easily.
8. Magnum, P.I.
Magnum just wouldn’t have been the same show without that classic electric guitar riff over the opening shot of the title credits. Tom Selleck was the perfect actor to play the lead role, and this instrumental piece was the perfect theme to capture the spirit of the show. Believe it or not, it was also a minor radio hit at the time.
This theme is as familiar to TV fans of the 80s and 90s as any hit on the radio. The moment the song would start at the beginning of an episode of Cheers, everyone immediate felt that they were among friends.
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10. Growing Pains
Mentioned early for writing a number of classic TV theme songs, Alan Thicke didn’t write the theme for Growing Pains. But he did star as TV dad of the Seaver family. This is the 80s sitcom that made Kirk Cameron a TV star.
This song was actually written by and performed by BJ Thomas, who was a hugely popular recording artist at the time.
11. The Fall Guy
Believe it or not, the catchy theme song for The Fall Guy was actually sung by star Lee Majors. True, his singing voice didn’t exactly set the world on fire, but the lyrics were catchy nonetheless, and the song was a perfect fit for a show about a Hollywood stuntman and his long list of romantic relationships with beautiful starlets.
12. The Golden Girls
This show about lifelong friends living together during their golden years was one of the biggest hits of the 80s. The theme song was so popular that it has even outlasted the show. This just goes to show that a great theme song makes all the difference.
13. Night Court
One of the best sitcoms of the decade, the Night Court theme song served as both the intro and outro for the show. It perfectly captured the atmosphere of the crazy antics of a New York City night court, featuring a cast of some of the most memorable characters ever seen on television.
The Best TV Theme Songs Ever
Great TV theme songs can take average shows and turn them into major hits. The list contained in this article is proof of that. Even though most of these shows have been long forgotten, the theme songs remain as familiar as the first time we ever heard them.
Click here to learn more about popular TV songs from years gone by.