The Absolute Best Cartoon Theme Songs of All Time Ranked

If You Disagree, You're Wrong

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.

5. Pinky and the Brain

All the segments on the Animaniacs had great music to go along with them, which is not that surprising when you consider that the show was Steven Spielberg's baby. Pinky and the Brain was eventually spun off into its own show, but the theme song remained intact, with some of the most memorable lyrics in the history of theme songs. But the real power of the song is revealed when you begin to question which of the mice is the real genius?

4. Aaahh!!! Real Monsters

This theme song is unique for it's use of sound effects to set the tone of comedic horror. From scuttling of cockroaches to a crash of thunder and a creaking door, it feels appropriately like it was sampled from one of those Haunted House CDs they sell in Halloween stores. Whatever sound engineer had the joy of putting this theme song together even finished with the classic Howie Scream of Hollywood fame.

3. Dexter's Laboratory

The intro and outro for Dexter's Laboratory pair into a perfect operatic epic, with Deedee's twinkling, Sugar Plum footsteps and the deep ominous tones of Dexter's genius oppose each other in a balletic beauty that is summed up in the outro's lyrics: "There is doom and gloom, while things go boom, in Dexter's lab!"

2. Steven Universe

Steven Universe creator Rebecca Sugar is a serious musical talent. Along with some great vocalists, she has filled the show with some really amazing songs, but what's particularly great about the show's theme is that it preserves the innocent fun and optimism of the show's early episodes, keeping that heart in place even as the show has evolved to explore some dark and complex themes.

1. Spongebob Squarepants

Painty the Pirate's gruff cheerleader energy leading into this song invites you to sing along with all the nautical nonsense, and continues to perfectly capture the whimsical absurdity of Spongebob more than 20 years after the show first aired and became an instant classic. Now, if only I could play the nose-flute as well as Spongebob.

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