The 15 Most Recognizable TV Theme Songs from the 90s

The X-Files

After giving you a list of some of the best theme songs from the 1980s, we here at TVOvermind thought it was only fitting that we delve into the next decade: the 1990s, which had just as many, if not more, memorable themes from some of the best shows to ever air on TV. Whether they were opening chords to a sci-fi thriller, a teen drama, or a wacky sitcom, here are the 15 most recognizable TV theme songs from the 90s. (And don’t worry: we’ll most likely be doing one for the 2000s soon as well.)

Photo via Fox

Step By Step

Step By Step

Anytime I catch a rerun episode of Step By Step I can never get its theme song out of my head. That refrain, which starts with the words of the title and then goes on about how “we’ll make it better the second time around,” is so catchy and well-known that it certainly qualifies this beloved sitcom’s opening to be one of the most recognizable TV theme songs of the 90s. And while the theme itself was great, the show was also pretty solid, too.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SzII_m_a8lE]

Photo via ABC

seinfeld new

Seinfeld

No words accompany the Seinfeld theme which has become almost as legendary as the show. While there’s not really a whole lot of music going on in it (the theme is strictly percussion – synthesized bass riffs played from composer Jonathan Wolff’s Korg M1), the unusual sounds fit with the awkward and frequently absurd humor that can be found on Seinfeld. Wolff’s theme is perfect music to go along with such memorable moments as The Soup Nazi, The Puffy Shirt, The Rye, and I could keep going on and on but I think you probably get what I’m saying.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=epb5HCZNBZQ]

Photo via NBC

Dawson's Creek

Dawson’s Creek

Although it’s been mocked numerous times since the show went off the air, the theme to Dawson’s Creek, Paula Cole’s “I Don’t Wanna Wait,” is certainly one of the most recognizable TV theme songs from the 90s. And it truly fit the tone and characters of the series and, quite frankly, the teen drama genre entirely. When you’re in high school, everything feels so pressing and necessary to happen at this very moment right now. Like the song says, you don’t want to wait, and neither did the characters on Dawson’s Creek.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=raGFI8pUau0]

Photo via The WB

Frasier

Frasier

The theme song for one of my personal favorite sitcoms of all-time, the incredibly successful Cheers spin-off, Frasier, may be the most unique TV theme song from the 90s not because of its melody or its lyrics (although I’m still not sure if I get all the talk about scrambled eggs). No, what made the theme for Frasier so unusual was that it was played at the the end of an episode instead of the beginning. A wordless final scene, with the credits displayed, would conclude a typical episode of Frasier, as Kelsey Grammer sang over top of it. It was a winning philosophy that lasted throughout all 11 seasons of the show.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0DeQDv7P3QY]

Photo via NBC

The X-Files

The X-Files

When you’re creating a sci-fi series, especially one that deals regularly with cases of the extraterrestrial variety, you can’t have a happy-go-lucky theme song. That’s what made the eerie, ominous tones that created the theme to The X-Files so special. In just a few, short, simple notes, the entire tone of the series was created, and viewers knew that they were in for a sometimes scary, sometimes mysterious, and always thrilling ride.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HQoRXhS7vlU]

Photo via Fox

Party of FIve

Party of Five

“Everybody wants to live like they wanna live/Everybody wants to love like they wanna love” and so and so forth goes BoDeans’ “Closer to Free,” the theme song to Party of Five. Like I’ve been saying about a lot of series on this list, the theme song to Party of Five did a great job at telling the audience what the show was going to be like. By telling viewers that everyone wants to be “closer to free,” the show was able to capture the youthful spirit and teen angst that filled most of Party of Five‘s six seasons.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TCNumbMqWjg]

Photo via Fox

Boy Meets World

The Wonder Years Boy Meets World

There’s no argument here: the theme song to the The Wonder Years (“With a Little Help from My Friends”) is, unarguably, one of the most recognizable TV theme songs of the 90s. However, I would make a counter argument that the theme songs throughout seasons 4-7 of Boy Meets World have become just as well-known and iconic throughout the years, especially recently as more and more people are re-discovering their love for the show with the emergence of Girl Meets World on Disney Channel. Ultimately, I decided that I couldn’t break up Fred Savage from his brother Ben so I kept both of their shows on here in a combined slot, and even though the theme to The Wonder Years may be more deserving, Boy Meets World is, without question, the better of the two shows.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-Ob59hsRaFU]

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8hZRWhlW_do]

Photo via ABC

Fresh Prince

Fresh Prince of Bel-Air

One of the best moments of my childhood was back when I was ten or eleven and had memorized every single word to this iconic theme song. The opening tune from the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air is one of the catchiest (if not the catchiest) TV theme songs from the 90s,  and it was the beginning of what would become an amazing career for the always talented Will Smith. Plus, it’s led to great parody videos like this one, which is especially awesome if you’re a Lord of the Rings fan.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uGZJlZJiBI0]

Photo via NBC

Law and Order

Law and Order

Boom-boom.  And with that, history is made. Seriously, though, the minimalist theme song that accompanies Dick Wolf’s iconic television series works because it doesn’t try to do a lot. The music, which comes from composer Mike Post, is a combination of an electric piano, guitar, and clarinet, and it mimics the hard-nosed, “no nonsense” attitude of the show’s main characters, proving to be the perfect introduction to the series, which lasted 20 seasons and has spawned numerous spin-offs, including the still running Law and Order: Special Victims Unit. 

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0DeQDv7P3QY]

Photo via NBC

simpsons6

The Simpsons

“The Simpsons….” And those are the only words spoken throughout The Simpsons theme song, and with an opening credits sequence that perfectly illustrates who these characters are, that’s all the show really needs. However, the fast-paced tune, which continues accelerating in tempo as the opening credits keep going, is pretty great in its own right and is certainly one of the most recognizable TV theme songs of the 90s and probably of all-time.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-cOdYyx1oKI]

Photo via Fox

south park

South Park

The second (and final) animated show to make this list after The Simpsons is South Park, which has seen its theme song slightly evolve over the years, but no doubt was, and remains, one of the most well-known and popular TV theme songs of all-time from any decade. The opening tune is weird and a little wacky, which gives viewers only a little insight into the absolutely insane world that Trey Parker and Matt Stone have created within this series, which premieres its 18th season this September.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7XKY66PKzCw]

Photo via Comedy Central

Sister Sister

Sister, Sister

Corny, catchy, and rhyming, the theme song for Sister, Sister certainly matched with the wacky, funny content of the twin-sibling sitcom. The opening tune, which as you can see in the video below did evolve throughout the years, is incredibly literal and very repetitive, but it’s definitely one of the most recognizable TV theme songs of the 90s. And also, you won’t hate it (too much) when it gets stuck in your head (and it will).

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pH48FM-8P9I]

Photo via ABC

7th Heaven

7th Heaven

While 7th Heaven as a television series dealt with many topical issues such as religion, identity, and romance (between both teens and adults) and was, overall, an incredibly successful family drama, I’m still not sure what the show’s creators (or the network) was thinking when they gave the greenlight to the series’ theme song. Even though it fits the moral, wholesome tone of the series, the theme almost lays it on too thick, as if it’s a Christian evangelical commercial for how to raise your kids. However, that doesn’t stop it from being one of the most recognizable TV theme songs from the 90s, and one that you’ll never stop singing once you start. “Where can you gooooooooooooo? When the world don’t treat you right. The answer is hoooooooooooome.”

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FLBDjpLuYaY]

Photo via The WB

Beverly Hills 90210

Beverly Hills, 90210

God, the clip below showcases just how 90s this theme song truly was. The opening theme to Beverly Hills, 90210 found the great balance between slick, seductive, and just plain silly. It certainly fit with the teen soapiness of the series and prepared audiences for all of the absurd antics that were to come from some of the show’s more outrageous characters.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZIH-2fEEk3M]

Photo via Fox

Friends

Friends

I’m not sure if the word “recognizable” does the theme song to Friends justice. “I’ll Be There for You” by The Rembrandts has become as culturally important as the beloved sitcom itself – the two are essentially indistinguishable from one another. Plus, this is another case where the theme song to a show really does a phenomenal job of setting the mood and tone for the series. Despite all their goofy back-and-forth shenanigans and relationship drama, the characters on Friends were truly always there each other.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=esJPVkJDgAU]

Photo via NBC

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