There’s nothing like music to take you right back. The near-time-machine quality of the perfect song is a powerful thing. And TV themes and theme songs often offer that in an even more concentrated way. From Black sitcom opening tunes to powered-up anime openings, the perfect TV theme song can make you feel like a little kid once again. So we’ve dug into the theme song bins of the past to make a perfect list of songs from iconic ’90s genre shows to take you back. From vampire slayers to alien investigators, the Dark Knight to Marvel’s First Family, all the way through some deeper cut themes that’ll make you gasp, we’ve got it all right here.
The Best ’90s Theme Songs From Genre TV Shows
Buffy the Vampire Slayer‘s Theme
If you grew up in an era that included the halcyon days of 1997, then the opening bars of the Buffy the Vampire Slayer theme likely get your adrenaline racing. Played by pop-punk band Nerf Herder, the lyric-less track is instantly recognizable. It’s the kind of high-octane fun ride that sets up the quippy horror dramedy perfectly. Because of that, the song became synonymous with Buffy. So if you feel the need to kick some butt and do it with non-stop sass, this is the ’90s TV show theme for you.
The X-Files‘ Theme
Even outside of our genre-specific list, the Mark Snow’s X-Files theme is one of the most well-known and famous TV themes ever written. It perfectly encapsulates the supernatural and extraterrestrial nature of the series, as well as establishing an unsettling atmosphere. This is the kind of theme that adds to not only the tone of the show but also its impact and legacy. It’ll also likely transport you right back to watching The X-Files episodes and being too scared to sleep, sorry!
Charmed‘s Theme Song
Using Spit Love’s cover of The Smith’s classic “How Soon Is Now” for the opening of Charmed was a masterstroke. Not only does it fit the edgy contemporary witch tale, but it gives the show its own sing-a-long moment. Really happy for all the kids who discovered this incredible track via the magic of Charmed. Sadly, the currently streaming version of the show—on Peacock and Tubi—doesn’t feature this most ’90s of openings. But luckily, YouTube is still keeping this ’90s theme song alive.
Twin Peaks‘ Theme
Regular David Lynch collaborator Angelo Badalamenti delivered what might be his masterwork when he crafted the score for Twin Peaks. The theme sums up his power with a dulcet, sweet piece that proffers the promise of the American Dream. Underneath that, of course, is the darkness at the heart of Twin Peaks. This is a stylish and sensual song that immediately invokes the twisted David Lynch show that turned the TV landscape upside down.
Batman: The Animated Series‘ Theme
Danny Elfman continued his stellar work from Batman Returns with this gorgeously composed theme. While Elfman wasn’t able to score the whole series, he really made his mark with this cinematic opening tune. It perfectly compliments the bold choice to have each episode of BTAS essentially begin with an action sequence establishing the world. Together, those choices create one of the coolest and most original TV openings of all time.
X-Men: The Animated Series‘s Theme
The X-Men ’97 (nee ’92) theme is up there with the most beloved TV themes of all time. As recently revisited in both Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness and Ms. Marvel, the electronic theme is so beloved and impactful that as soon as you hear it you can only think of one thing: the X-Men. To have a few bars so powerful they can be used as a narrative reveal is a rare thing, but it’s something that this fan-favorite ’90s theme has proven it can do more than once.
Fantastic Four‘s Theme Song
Composed by famous italo-disco icon Giorgio Moroder, this unbelievably catchy and silly ’90s theme song does one of the best possible things a theme can do: tells a narrative-heavy story in song. In this case it’s about the Fantastic Four who got their powers when they were “hit by cosmic rays!” That’s the good stuff! But, incredibly, this isn’t even the best song in the series. Episode 11 “Mole Man” features an unexpected Johnny Storm backpack rap performance from Brian Austin Green… yes, really.
Mummies Alive‘ Theme Song
This is one of our deeper cut choices, but it’s such a banger that we couldn’t not include it. This ’90s theme song opens DiC’s creepy cartoon about a kid named Presley, who’s the reincarnation of an Ancient Egyptian prince. When his age-old nemesis comes back to life in the modern day, he has to team up with a cadre of deities to save the day. You’ll learn even more if you listen to the speedy spoken word song that explains it all over a pumping dance beat.
This is the kind of earworm that will often pop up in your brain and won’t leave for weeks. That’s the power of the Goosebumps opening. Creepy and catchy, this theme song haunted and excited children for decades—and probably still does as the entire series is on Netflix. Combined with the eerie imagery from your favorite R.L. Stine stories, it’s hard not to get goosebumps when you listen to this, one of the spookiest entries into the canon of TV themes.
Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers‘s Theme Song
Maybe the most amped up kids TV theme song of all time? The iconic strains of this classic track will make any ’90s kids—and anyone else listening—feel ready to do anything. That’s before we even get to the ultimate singalong of “Go Go Power Rangers.” Not only did this theme launch one of the most long-running kids TV shows in America, but it also made a comeback in the underrated 2017 movie in one of the most “Hell Yeah!” moments in recent cinema history.
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