The 30 Best TV Theme Songs of the Millennium

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by Brian Morin on September 19, 2013

in Lists, Television, The Walking Dead

One thing you’ll notice about today’s television theme songs when compared to those from pre-2000 is that there is a definite move toward the short, mostly instrumental theme.  Shows today seem to be more focused on setting the stage with visual intros rather than with music.

That being said- there were many fine show-opening tunes in the past 13 years, and I can safely say that the TV theme song is not dead, it has merely evolved. This list represents shows that debuted from 2000 on, so yes, that means Freaks and Geeks missed the cut by 3 months and 5 days. But the theme is rad, so here it is anyway.

30. 30 Rock

In what was no way spousal nepotism, the instrumental theme to 30 Rock was composed by Jeff Richmond, the husband of Tina Fey.  Fans of Saturday Night Live might recognize him as the Russian Hat Guy.


29. How I Met Your Mother

The theme, which is accompanied by a photo montage of the characters at their favorite bar, McLaren’s, is a 12 second clip of the song  Hey Beautiful by The Solids. Don’t try to fast forward through it, you’ll just miss the first few seconds of the show, then have to rewind, and the whole process takes longer than the :12 you would have spent sitting though it.


28. Angel

The theme to Angel was performed by Darling Violetta, a Dark Pop band. I was never into the show but listened to the theme as part of this research and was immediately hooked by the prominent use of a cello. Not an instrument you hear in theme songs every day.


27. Gravity Falls

Listen to it once and I promise you two things: 1.) instant mood lift, and 2.) the tune will be in your head all day.


26. The Unit

I’m not sure why we don’t see more shows like The Unit.  There are plenty of police procedurals, but I can’t really think of any others that involve the military.  The theme song features, from what my research tells me, the USMC running cadence.  Any Marines out there, correct me if I’m wrong.


25. House

Performed by Massive Attack, Teardrop served as signal to one of the best shows of the early 2000s.


24. Veronica Mars

The Dandy Warhols’ We Used to Be Friends just gets going as the theme song for Veronica Mars and then cuts off way too quickly, an injustice almost as egregious as the fact that these guys (and girl) from Portland never had sustained mainstream success.


23. It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia

Calming classical piece juxtaposed with hilarious chaos.


22. Parks and Recreation

The theme to Parks and Recreation in completely instrumental and pretty short and to the point. I think the best part about it is the opportunity for Star Wars fans to sing along.


21. Community

Performed by The 88. They also performed the theme song for the short-lived show Free Ride, and have songs heard on Grey’s Anatomy, How I Met Your Mother, and the OC.


NEXT PAGE: superheroes, soldiers, cops, and lots of Bryan Cranston —>


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Corey Chapman (@chapmanrunner) September 19, 2013 at 9:44 am

Home run, Morin. I was scared that you would have missed the PERFECT companion to Rescue Me, with C’Mon C’mon, but you nail it bro! (It doesnt hurt you ranked Mad Men as high as you did) Bravo!

Batfan September 19, 2013 at 4:52 pm

Nice list but, no Sopranos?

Howard Decker September 19, 2013 at 11:27 pm

It debuted in 1999. Same reason Family Guy and Freaks and Geeks didn’t make it. Had to debut 2000 or later.

Hail Mary September 19, 2013 at 4:58 pm

I can’t believe that I failed to include Game of Thrones. An egregious omission on my part. It should be top 10.

T2H September 20, 2013 at 12:12 am

Six Feet Under, anyone?

Dex (@Dex1138) September 20, 2013 at 12:50 pm

Bones theme by Crystal Method

Jason Gross (@SockOfFleagulls) September 20, 2013 at 1:39 pm

House and CSI would be top ten for me. Nice job, Hail Mary!

T2H September 21, 2013 at 3:11 am


B. Jones October 5, 2013 at 1:11 am

No Dexter or Sons of Anarchy?

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