There’s just something special about cartoon theme songs, especially the ones during the 80’s and the 90’s. No offense to the animated shows of today but cartoons of the past seemed to go all out for their intros. Not only did they spend a little extra on the animations of the openings, they also went to the trouble of adding lyrics to their theme songs. And some of them eventually just get stuck on your head for as long as you live.
So I have to apologize to some of you in advance. It may have taken you months or even years to get some of these songs out of your head and I’m only going to re-integrating them back into your brain. But, honestly, it’s not like you’re never going to forget them anyway. No harm, no foul?
With all of that in mind, here are just five classic cartoon theme songs you still remember the lyrics to even up to now.
Glad Disney knew that, when the rebooted the series in 2017, the show wouldn’t be Ducktales without the theme song.
Personally, I don’t think the original 1987 Ducktales was all that great. Blasphemy, I know. It was good but, ultimately, not all that groundbreaking. It, along with other flagship cartoons like Chin ‘n’ Dale’s Rescue Rangers, Gummi Bears and Talespin, brought about the Disney Afternoon programming block and brought Disney out of their doldrums. Honestly, a lot of the Disney Afternoon cartoons could have dominated this list but they all fall under the shadow of the original Ducktales.
Still, I did see Ducktales as a fine but, generally, typical adventure cartoon with enough fun elements that did keep me interested. The 2017 reboot, however, was more my speed as it brought an overarching storyline, actually differentiated Huey, Dewey and Louie, and was just a tinge darker and more serious than the original.
Binding both shows together was, of course, the extremely kickass and catchy theme song. Even without the 2017 reboot, I bet anyone who’s just heard the opening notes of that familiar bass guitar intro immediately will have the lyrics to Ducktales streaming into their brain. There’s just something about the song that drills into your brain and it’s a song that will stay there forever, waiting to crawl out at a moment’s notice to remind everyone who’s heard it that life is like a hurricane.
Gotta catch ’em all, after all!
To say Pokemon was a phenomenon would be one of the biggest understatements ever made. Call it perfect timing or really good marketing but Nintendo really hit it big with the franchise. It all started with the original video games for Nintendo’s Gameboy series and soon grew to take over other media like card collectibles and, more importantly for this list, an anime.
When the Pokemon anime hit Western audiences, the importers of the show, specifically 4Kids, decided to give the show a new theme song because they really wanted to tag in the “Gotta catch them all!” catchphrase right into the tune. And with that, a new, memorable theme song was created. I personally never watched Pokemon as a kid but I still miraculously know the lyrics to it just by virtue of osmosis because it was a song that was just catchy as all heck. That’s just how catchy it is!
#3 SpongeBob Squarepants
Yes, I guess an old-timey, sea-shanty sounding song can be unforgettable… under the right circumstances.
Can a cartoon about an anthropomorphic sponge who wears clothing like square pants and lives in a giant pineapple under the sea would become an extremely beloved cartoon and watched not just by kids but adults as well? Apparently, that answer is “yes” and Spongebob Squarepants is the answer. It certainly helps that the show has a weirdly adorable but out-of-left-field theme songs out there. I mean, a sea shanty? Really?
There is something strangely charming about Spongebob Squarepant’s theme song. While most other theme songs try to capture some earworm and distill it into musical form, Spongebob Squarepant’s theme song sounds extremely silly and not catchy, almost the antithesis of a catchy song. But because of how silly it is, it somehow became unforgettable as well.
#4 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1987 series)
Heroes in a half shell indeed.
I think by now every generation of kids from the late 80’s until now has had their own version of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cartoon. There have been four versions of the cartoon, spanning just over three decades now, which is proof of the longevity of the franchise. What’s equally amazing is how all these separate versions of the cartoon have different theme songs and I bet each generation will have their own favorite. However, for my money, the most memorable one has to be the original 1987 theme song.
There must have been something about 1987 because, when it came composing catchy songs for cartoons, this was the year. Not only did it have Ducktales and the original Disney Afternoon block, there were also other cartoons like Alf: The Animated Series, Saber Rider and the Star Sherrifs, TigerSharks and a whole lot more. Yet Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles still stands head above shoulders among the crowd. It’s just that special.
#5 Spider-Man (1967 series)
And now for something truly old and classic…
Not to say that anyone is old but I’m going to assume not many of you reading this right now grew up have even seen a full episode of the 1967 animated Spider-Man cartoon. In fact, the only extent a lot of you may have close to seeing an entire episode would be researching the entire “pointing Spider-Man” meme or that after credits scene from Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse… which is all about the meme so it’s the same thing.
So why do you know the Spider-Man theme song?
I bet you know the song and I bet you can even sing along to it. But how is that even possible when you’ve never seen the show? It’s kind of weird because, for some strange reason, there are kids like me who grew up in the 80’s yet are totally familiar with the like “does whatever a spider can.” It’s just something that seems embedded in our DNA or something because we seem to know that old Spider-Man theme song but we can’t really say when we heard it.
BONUS: The Super Mario Bros. Super Show (Ending Credits)
And now for the easiest dance ever.
The Super Mario Bros. Super Show was weird. The cartoon itself was fine and needed to be made because Nintendo had basically taken over the world by then. But instead of a full-fledged cartoon, the producers decided to make it have a live-action segment showing Mario and Luigi before they were warp zoned to the Mushroom Kingdom. Doubly odd is they chose professional wrestling manager Captain Lou Albano to both voice the cartoon and act out the live-action portion!
Triply odd, they got him to sing the end credits theme song all about how to “do the Mario” dance… which is just swinging your arms and taking a couple of steps forward. Still, the very simplistic lyrics combined with the original Super Mario Bros song made it extremely catchy.
What other catchy cartoon theme songs are still ringing in your brain up to now? Let me know what they are in the comments section below!