The Top 10 Cartoon Theme Songs Of The ’90s, Ranked
The task of whittling down every ’90s cartoon theme song to the ten best is nearly impossible, not to mention debatable to no end. With that in mind, we developed our own set of criteria with which to rank them.
- First and foremost, the series had to have PREMIERED between 1990 and 1999, knocking out what we assumed were sure things such as Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and DuckTales, both of which actually premiered in 1987.
- No adult-oriented TV shows were allowed. Bye-bye Family Guy.
- All theme songs had to be original, catchy, and/or memorable, while sufficiently explaining the concept of the series in a nutshell through its visuals or narration. Furthermore, while not necessarily a disqualification, excessive narration or use of clips from the series in lieu of original animation for the theme song were highly discouraged. The Gargoyles opening would be a perfect example of both no-nos in one.
- If the series was based on a movie, the theme song can’t just be a variation of a song or theme from said movie. You won’t be seeing Aladdin or Beetlejuice anywhere beyond this point.
- Rankings do not take into account the quality of the series themselves. This is based on opening theme song only.
Now without further adieu, we give you our Top 10 Cartoon Theme Songs of the ’90s. (Click on the show title for a video link.)
The Top 10 Cartoon Theme Songs of the ’90s
No. 10 – Eek! the Cat (1992)
A toss-up between a number of great opening credits from CatDog to Ace Ventura: Pet Detective, our #10 pick won out by a singed hair. Ultimately, this theme song had everything we were looking for and then some. Anyone who watched this series would instantly recognize it, and anyone new to it can guess how the title character’s life shakes out on a day-to-day basis. To top it off, the song is zany fun and shows you exactly the kind of madness you are in for.
No. 9 – Captain Planet and the Planeteers (1990)
We heavily debated this one, as while the Captain Planet theme song is indeed memorable and probably known by even those who’ve never seen a single episode, it suffers from heavy narrative. On top of that, it wasn’t even played during the opening credits, only heard at the end of each episode. However, it’s still catchy and sets up the plot well, so we’ll give it a pass as a theme song. After all, we never specified that it had to be at the beginning of the show. Plus, some nice person cut the end credits music with the opening credits animation, sealing the deal.
No. 8 – Darkwing Duck (1991)
We wanted to put this one towards the top of our list — we really did — but catchy as it is, it consists of almost all clips from the series with very little original visuals. Why do we need to see snippets of a show we are about to watch? That said, they’re still edited together quite well and show off a number of characters from the show. Coupling that with the amazing song itself, this theme still comes out a winner, just not THE winner.
No. 7 – Rugrats (1991)
Simple, entertaining, and shorter than most theme songs, the fact that it’s still so memorable is a testament to its greatness. Best of all, the animators do a wonderful job with scope here, as you not only get to see these babies from a viewer’s perspective, but also the big world around them through theirs. All that aside, we challenge you to walk past a piano or xylophone and not try to play the Rugrats theme immediately (okay, maybe after you play the “Jaws” theme first to get warmed up).
No. 6 – Kablam! (1996)
Let’s face it, there has never been a show quite like “Kablam!” either before or since “Kablam!” While that may sound like we are praising the series itself, blatantly disregarding our own Criteria #5, we’re simply pointing out how well the intro captures its essence. The opening credits are as fun and original as the material to come, and its unique blend of cartoons and comic books assures it won’t soon be forgotten (even though many people probably have forgotten it).
No. 5 – Bobby’s World (1990)
Bobby’s World was all about the imagination of a child. But if you just watched the intro theme song, you already knew that. While the animation alone warrants these opening credits a spot here, it’s the music that accompanies it that really takes it to the next level. The carnival-like vibe it instantly puts out lets you know you are in for a fun ride, while it also works to seamlessly transition the visuals from reality to the inner workings of Bobby’s mind and back again. Best of all, it hasn’t lost an ounce of its punch in 25 years. That’s right, Bobby’s World is now 25 years old. Go ahead and let that sink in.
No. 4 – Doug (1991)
Combine the simplicity of the Rugrats theme with the imagination of Bobby’s World and you’ve got yourself the opening credits seen here. Seriously, there’s creative ways to get people to watch your show, and then there’s Doug, an intro that introduces you to all the key players and their relationships with each other with no more than a pencil line. The fact that the theme song itself will be stuck in your head the rest of the day is just a bonus. While the later iteration of the opening credits is not without its charms, even with better visuals it still pales in comparison to its simpler yet more charming predecessor.
No. 3 – X-Men (1992)
While we fully expect death threats or worse for placing the X-Men opening credits here instead of Batman: The Animated Series, let’s not forget trusty Criteria #5. Don’t get us wrong, we consider Batman: TAS one of the best ’90s cartoon series of all-time, but as far as opening credits are concerned, it’s got nothing on X-Men. Not only does X-Men showcase just about every major player on the series, but it does so with loads of action and fitting dramatic music to match. If there can only be one best superhero theme song from the ’90s (which, for the sake of not overloading this list with them, there can), then X-Men is hands down the way to go.
No. 2 – Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog (1993) & Sonic the Hedgehog (1993)
We didn’t realize both of these series were running at the same time back in the ’90s, but apparently they were. That said, it’s impossible to choose which intro is better, as not only was the visual style of each one completely different, but so was the tone. Not to fall back on Batman again, but if Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog was ’60s Batman, then Sonic the Hedgehog was Christopher Nolan Batman. That extends to the theme songs, too, which are both great in their own right depending on which style you prefer. Regardless, each captures its respective tone perfectly, leaving neither ahead of the other.
No. 1 – Animaniacs (1993)
Anyone who was either a child or had children in the ’90s will know the Animaniacs intro by heart, and with good reason. The creme de la creme of cartoon theme songs (sorry, Tiny Toon Adventures) not only captures everything about the series perfectly, it does so with complete self-awareness and satire throughout. It’s greatness doesn’t stop there, either. By the time the theme song is over, you feel like you’ve already watched a whole episode, with introductions to both main and side characters given, a general plot for each laid out, and best of all, a variant ending every time. We would expect no less from our #1 spot.