Twitter has been abuzz today about which cartoon theme song is best.
This is no doubt a ploy by Disney to get everyone nostalgic enough to sign up for Disney+, and everyone has been predictably biased to focus on the shows that they loved when they were kids. But as someone who grew up in the 1990s—the true golden age of Saturday Morning TV—I felt the need to step in and provide the objective analysis the topic required. Without further ado, here is the definitive list of the greatest cartoon theme songs of all time. Don't even try to argue.
11. Batman: The Animated Series
This one has the distinct advantage of being composed by legendary film composer Danny Elfman, and borrows heavily from his work on Tim Burton's Batman, for which he won a Grammy. The dark, orchestral intensity sets the tone for one of the most serious and intense children's cartoons of all time.
Life is like a hurricane. If you don't already have the words "here in, Duckburg" playing in your head, you are a broken soul. Hughie Dewey and Louie, along with their uncle Scrooge, were the definition of cartoon adventure in the early 1990s, but the simple, catchy lyrics of the theme song are truly what keeps this show alive in our hearts. It's the reason I can't hear the word racecars without immediately thinking of lasers and "aeroplanes."
9. Darkwing Duck
Synthesizing the previous two entries with a duck-themed slapstick parody of the Batman universe, we have Darkwing Duck. While the content of the show was less memorable than Ducktales, the driving bassline and the high-energy vocals of the extremely 90s theme song are somehow timeless. The refrain of "When there's trouble, you call DW," and Darkwing's interlude, "Let's get dangerous," will live forever in my memory.
Arthur was always kind of boring compared to other cartoons, yet I watched it a lot as a kid, because it was boring in the same way a big comfy sweater is boring on a cold day. It's a show full of sweetness and optimism, and never has a theme song so perfectly captured the hopeful and positive message of a show better than Ziggy Marley's "Believe in Yourself." You know you want to sing along to this one.
7. Gravity Falls
Gravity Falls taps into the weirdness and mystery of childhood to deliver one of the best cartoons of the past decade. And the instrumental theme song somehow manages to be eerie, mysterious, and madcap all at once, in a way that only the supernatural adventures of Dipper, Mabel, and Gruncle Stan could live up to. The snappy, fast-paced percussion combine with the playful penny whistle to instantly put me in a good mood.
6. Teen Titans
Teen Titan's Go! has gotten a lot of love and a lot of hate in recent years, the latter coming mostly from fans of the show's 2003 predecessor. Whatever you think of the two shows, there's no denying that the original show's high-energy Japanese surf rock theme song by Puffy Ami Yumi absolutely slaps. It's worthy of a listen even if you don't care about the show.