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Real Song Theme Tune
A Theme Tune which already existed as a well-known song. Most often, a cover of the original by an unknown artist is used, though use of the original is increasingly common.

Tends to be more common for dramatic series, though it is not unheard of for the Sitcom. Rarely occurs in children's shows.

In some cases the new version may become better-known than the original. In some rare cases it might blow the first popular version out of the water, leaving future generations to assume that the song hadn't been all that popular beforehand. See The Lone Ranger below for an example.

This trope does not cover cases where the theme music already existed, but is not well known in its own right. (Thus, the use of "As Time Goes By" in Casablanca does not count.) Most Anime have J-pop theme tunes that change every season, but that doesn't count, either - Anime Theme Song is its own "trope".


Examples

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    Anime & Manga 
  • Knights of the Zodiac, the DiC dub of Saint Seiya, used the Bowling for Soup cover of A Flock Of Seagulls song "I Ran (So Far Away)".
  • Neon Genesis Evangelion: Every episode ends with a different cover of the standard "Fly Me To The Moon"; several were performed by Megumi Hayashibara, both in and out of character as Rei Ayanami.
    • The Rebuild films have another cover of "Fly Me to the Moon", this time by Utada Hikaru, as well as a cover (once again by Hayashibara) of the Japanese standard "Tsubasa o kudasai", originally released by the group Akai Tori in 1971.
  • Speaking of Gainax, the ending theme of Kare Kano is a cover of "Yume no naka e", a 1973 song by Yousui Inoue. In the West, it's known only through its use in this show.
  • Paradise Kiss used Franz Ferdinand's "Do You Want To" for its ending theme. Somehow, the American release managed to keep the rights for it.
  • In the older times, frequently used by MTV and VIVA for the various anime they showed in Germany. This had some, ah, "interesting" results, like the song "Star" from Nova International (which has the line "I wanna drive a big fat Cadillac" as part of its lyrics), set to the opening - of all things - of InuYasha. Yep.
    • They also changed one of the smoothest opening songs (Hellsing's Logos Naki World) to some random heavy metal song by Keith Flint of the British techno group The Prodigy.
    • Speaking of Hellsing, the ending used the song Shine by Mr Big, a band who was actually quite popular over in japan.
  • Speed Grapher uses Duran Duran's "Girls on Film" in the original Japanese version.
  • Serial Experiments Lain used "Duvet", by British rock band Boa, for its opening theme.
  • Gunslinger Girl used "The Light Before We Land" by The Delgados for its opening theme.
  • Maria†Holic uses a cover of Yellow Magic Orchestra's "Kimi ni Mune Kyun" for its ending theme.
  • Eden of the East uses "Falling Down" by Oasis for its opening theme. Due to copyright reasons, The Dub uses Falling Down for the first episode and generic J-pop for the rest.
  • Ergo Proxy's ending theme is "Paranoid Android" by Radiohead.
  • Mushishi uses "The Sore Feet Song" by Ally Kerr as its opening theme, and the second season does it again by using "Shiver" by Lucy Rose as its opening theme.
  • Maison Ikkoku used Gilbert O'Sullivan's "Alone Again (Naturally)" as an OP, and "Get Down" by the same singer as the closing theme for episode 24. This was apparently a bit of cross-promotion that didn't pan out. The US release did not get the rights and doesn't use either.
  • Romeo X Juliet uses a Japanese translation of "You Raise Me Up" as an OP... then uses the original version in the finale.
  • Texhnolyze had "Guardian Angel" by Juno Reactor as its opening theme.
  • Every ending theme of Heaven's Lost Property from episode two onwards. Most of them are covers by the anime's cast members, but episode five's song ("Yuke! Yuke! Kawaguchi Hiroshi") is a self-covered version by the original singer.
  • The opening theme of A Little Snow Fairy Sugar is a Japanese remake of "Sugar Baby Love," the 1974 debut single of the British band The Rubettes.
  • The Legend of Black Heaven uses a shortened version of John Sykes' "Cautionary Warning" both as the show's theme and as a song played by the main character...to save the universe.
  • While not an entirely straight example Full Metal Panic? Fumoffu uses a variation of Santana and Michelle Branch's song "Game of Love" for the ending.
  • The Italian opening for the first of the Time Bokan series is a cover of Video killed the Radio star.
  • Ookami-san uses a cover of '78 pop hit "Akazukin-chan Goyoujin" ("Little Red Riding Hood Beware") as its ending theme. Given the motif of the show, an appropriate choice.
  • Soredemo Machi Wa Mawatteiru uses a cover of Sugar Babe's "DOWN TOWN". It makes it into a Dancing Theme too.
  • Another Shaft example is Dance in the Vampire Bund. It uses a cover of "Friends" by Rebecca.
  • The Deltora Quest anime uses Delta Goodrem's "In This Life" for one opening. Strangely both the Deltora Quest author and Delta Goodrem are Australians.
  • JAM Project was formed specifically to counteract this trend.
  • The theme to One Piece, "Believe", is a reworded version of Lolita's "Dreamin' of You".
  • Supernatural: The Animation uses "Carry on My Wayward Son" as its ED.
  • Kamisama No Memochou's ED is Mr. Big's "Colorado Bulldog", of all things.
  • The voice actors of the three female leads of Ano Hana The Flower We Saw That Day did a cover of "Secret Base ~Kimi ga Kureta Mono~ (10 Years After Ver.)," which was sung beforehand by Scandal. The song itself was a revival of the song "Secret Base ~Kimi ga Kureta Mono~," which was originally sung by Zone—and this version was covered by the cast of Kyou No Go No Ni, two and a half years before AnoHana! Since the lyrics were essentially the same, this means that the song has been used in at least two shows!
  • The song "Roundabout" by British band YES is used as the ending theme of the 2012 anime adaptation of JoJo's Bizarre Adventure.
    • The Part 3 adaptation uses "Walk Like An Egyptian" by The Bangles.
  • Studio Ghibli's Whisper of the Heart featured John Denver's "Take Me Home Country Roads" performed by Olivia Newton-John. The song figures in the storyline; as part of a school assignment, Shizuku writes a set of original lyrics to the song.
    • Another Ghibli example: Only Yesterday closes with a Japanese-language translation of "The Rose", originally a hit for Bette Midler.
  • Deadman Wonderland's theme tune "One Reason" is a reworded version of Fade's song "Black Hearts and Dollar Signs", bonus points as Fade performs both.

    Comicbooks 
  • Invariably, every time Iron Man's radio malfunctions, the song blaring out through his speakers is the Black Sabbath song of the same name.

    Fan Fic 

    Film 
  • Quincy Jones' Soul Bossa Nova was used as the main Theme for Austin Powers. Jones even cameo's as himself actually performing the song in Goldmember.
  • The Dueling Banjo Arrangement by Arthur "Guitar Boogie" Smith became famous for it's appearance in Deliverance and is rarely mentioned without Deliverance also being mentioned, so much so that the song is often referred to as the song from Deliverence.
  • although not completely associated with the movie, Joplin's "The Entertainer" was long since forgotten until it was the main theme in The Sting.
  • An American Werewolf in London used three different covers of "Blue Moon": Bobby Vinton in the opening, Sam Cooke during the Painful Transformation, and the Marcels for the end credits. Also used "Bad Moon Rising", by Creedence Clearwater Revival.
  • Brazil used several versions of "Aquarela do Brasil" as its theme music. Jeff Muldaur does the comical, yodelling version heard on Sam's car radio; Bachianos Brazil Samba the one on the end credits; and no less than Kate Bush provided a further one which was supposed to be heard over Sam's first flying dream. For some unfathomable reason, the last one was cut, but can be heard on the soundtrack album.
  • The Graduate used Simon & Garfunkel's "The Sounds of Silence", "April Come She Will", and "Scarborough Fair". The best-known Simon & Garfunkel tune in the movie, "Mrs. Robinson", was debuted in the movie so it doesn't quite fit this trope.
  • The Doors' "The End", in Apocalypse Now.
  • 2001: A Space Odyssey uses a climactic fanfare that comes from Richard Strauss's "Also Sprach Zarathustra", written in 1896. The work wasn't that popular in the English-speaking world at the time, so it's understandable that many viewers assume it was written especially for the movie.
  • Yellow Submarine used The Beatles' titular song.
  • They Shoot Horses Dont They, set in The Great Depression, used a popular tune from that era, "Easy Come, Easy Go."
  • Girls Just Wanna Have Fun uses a faster cover version of the titular Cyndi Lauper song.
  • Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow ends with a cover of "Over the Rainbow" from The Wizard of Oz.
  • I Wake Up Screaming uses "Over the Rainbow" as its Love Theme. This is somewhat odd considering that studios in this era preferred to recycle songs from their own song publishers' catalogs, but I Wake Up Screaming was made by 20th Century-Fox and "Over the Rainbow" was, of course, written for MGM's The Wizard of Oz.
  • David Lynch's Blue Velvet uses Bobby Vinton's song of the same name - not only as its title, but also as a theme song.
    • Ironically though, the song that became more identified with the movie was Roy Orbison's "In Dreams."
    • Which in the movie is referred to as "Candy-Colored Clown" after its opening line "The candy-colored clown they call the sandman."
  • Stand by Me uses the Ben E. King song of the same name.
  • Midnight Cowboy used Harry Nilsson's version of "Everybody's Talkin'".
  • The Death Note films and "Dani California".
  • The film Freddy vs. Jason used Ill Nino's song 'How Can I Live' as the main theme in the end credits. The song eventually came out on their 2003 album Confession, but they thought the song fit the mood of the film so well they decided to use it before release.
  • Watchmen used Bob Dylan's 'Desolation Row' as the theme over the credits - except that My Chemical Romance covered the rather folksy lyrics as a punk song, which worked surprisingly well. The very memorable title sequence had another Dylan song, though this time his original version - 'The Times They Are A-Changin'.
  • For its opening theme tune, Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Love The Bomb uses a lush arrangement of the old standard Try a Little Tenderness over B-52 aerial refueling footage, turning it into machine porn.
    • Closing the film with stock footage of nuclear explosions overlaid with Very Lynn singing We'll Meet Again is also quite memorable.
  • The Transformers Films seem to have this strange obsession with Linkin Park's music and managed to utilize this with What I've Done playing in the credits of the first filmnote . The it got subverted with New Divide being recorded specifically for the second film, and was mixed into the film's actual score at various points. The third film continued the tradition by having the song Iridescent as its theme, though slightly re-recorded to better fit with the film's grim mood.
    • There's also the liberal use of Green Day's 21 Guns in Revenge of The Fallen. Bumblebee meanwhile, ends up using bits from The Cars' Drive, Player's Baby Come Back, James Brown's Superfreak and the Pointer Sisters' I'm so Excited at different points in the films as part of his speech.
  • Little Manhattan used Only The Strongest Survive by Elvis Presley as its opening credits song.
  • Hatari! opens - after a cold opening - with Henry Mancini's arrangement of Just For Tonight by Hoagy Carmichael.
  • Se7en uses a remix of the Nine Inch Nails song Closer in the opening credits.

    Live-Action TV 
  • WGNA's Salem uses the song "Cupid Carries a Gun" by Marilyn Manson, which is a track from his next, currently unnamed album.
  • Absolutely Fabulous uses "This Wheel's On Fire". Julie Driscoll's recording of the song in the 60's was a hit in the UK, and she re-recorded the song for the show.
  • Arli$$ had Dusty Springfield's "I Only Want to Be With You".
  • As Time Goes By uses a rendition of the song "As Time Goes By".
  • Ax Men uses the Jimi Hendrix version of "All Along the Watchtower" for season 1.
  • Barter Kings uses Bachman-Turner Overdrive's "Takin' Care of Business".
  • Beauty and the Geek used Pet Shop Boys' "Opportunities (Let's Make Lots Of Money)".
    • The Australian version uses Wes Carr's cover of "Is She Really Going Out with Him?"
  • Betty White's Off Their Rockers uses Twisted Sister's "We're Not Gonna Take It."
  • The Benny Hill Show used a fast version of Boots Randolph's "Yakety Sax" as its closing theme.
  • Big Love uses the Beach Boys' "God Only Knows."
    • In season 4, it was replaced with "Home" by The Engineers.
  • Boardwalk Empire uses "Straight Up and Down" by The Brian Jonestown Massacre.
  • Bosom Buddies used a version of Billy Joel's "My Life". (It's replaced by something generic and instrumental on the DVDs.)
  • Bottom uses "BB's Blues" over its opening credits, and "Last Night" over the closing credits. Both covered by the show's house band, The Bum Notes.
  • Cake Boss uses a cover of "Sugar (Honey Honey)" sung by The Nerds.
  • Campus PD uses The Clash's "Police On My Back".
  • CSI: Crime Scene Investigation: Each show in the franchise takes its Theme Tune from a song by The Who: "Who Are You" for the original, "Won't Get Fooled Again" for CSI: Miami, and "Baba O'Riley" for CSI: NY. As TIME Magazine said, "[the fact the album Who's Next has only eight tracks] provides the only natural curb on the expansion of the C.S.I. franchise."
  • Charmed used Love Spit Love's version of The Smiths' "How Soon Is Now?", which was first used in the movie The Craft, which was thematically similar to the first few seasons.
  • El Chavo del ocho used Jean Jacques Perrey's "The Elephant Never Forgets" as its theme tune, which in turn is an arrangement of Beethoven's Turkish March (aka Marcia Alla Turca)
    • Chespirito's other series, El Chapulín Colorado, used Perry-Kingsley's "Baroque Hoedown"note  as the closing theme.
  • China Beach opens to the Diana Ross and the Supremes song, "Reflections".
  • Chuck opens to an instrumental cut of "Short Skirt Long Jacket" by Cake.
  • Cold Case uses ES Posthumus' Nara.
  • The US and UK versions of Coupling each used different covers of "Perhaps, Perhaps, Perhaps". The UK original uses a version by Mari Wilson. The US remake uses a sped-up version by CAKE.
  • Community uses "At Least It Was Here" by The 88.
  • Cosmos, the Carl Sagan documentary series, used Heaven and Hell [side 1, third movement] by Vangelis as its theme tune. Several other Vangelis pieces were used in the soundtrack, including "Pulstar" and "Alpha".
  • Cover Up, a short-lived CBS action-drama, used Bonnie Tyler's "Holding Out For A Hero" as its theme.
  • Crime Story, set in the Rat-Pack '60s, used Del Shannon's "Runaway", redone by him with lyrics tweaked for the show.
  • Dave's World used (a cover of) "You May Be Right" by Billy Joel.
  • The first three seasons of The Dead Zone used Jeff Buckley's song "New Year's Prayer".
  • De Pies a Cabeza, a Colombian soap opera, not only used the song of the same name from Mexican group Maná, as theme tune. All the ambient music was taken from their studio album "¿Dónde Jugarán los Niños?".
  • Deadliest Catch uses "Wanted Dead or Alive" by Bon Jovi.
  • Dejémonos de Vainas, a very famous Colombian soap opera, used the song "Yo-yo" from Rose Royce.
  • The Dennis Miller Show on HBO originally opened with Tears for Fears' "Everybody Wants To Rule The World".
  • Designing Women used Ray Charles's "Georgia on my Mind".
    • The first 5 seasons used an instrumental that featured Johnny Carson's bandleader, Doc Severinson, on the trumpet. In the 6th season, the opening credits featured Ray Charles himself on the piano, singing, while the Designing Women hung around looking pleased.
  • Densha Otoko: (a Japanese live-action drama) used The Electric Light Orchestra's Twilight as its theme song.'
    • This was of course a Shout-Out to the legendary "Daicon IV" con opening animation from 1984, which also used the song.
    • The first episode used "Mr. Roboto" by Styx.
  • Dirty Jobs uses "We Care A Lot" by Faith No More; some older episodes use a replacement written by the show's composer due to rights issues, though.
  • Doctor Doctor used "Good Lovin'" by the Rascals.
  • Don't Forget The Lyrics (FOX Game Show) uses the Doobie Brothers' "China Grove".
  • The Drew Carey Show used "Moon Over Parma", "Cleveland Rocks", and "Five O'Clock World" at various times.
  • Drive used Can't Stop The World by Gavin Rossdale.
  • Duck Dynasty uses ZZ Top's "Sharp Dressed Man" for the TV broadcasts, and The 4onthefloor's "Workin' Man Zombie" on the DVD releases.
  • The video game review show The Electric Playground has "Skybike 1" from the Skeleton Warriors video game as its title tune.
  • Entourage uses "Superhero" by Jane's Addiction.
  • Ever Decreasing Circles uses Dmitri Shostakovich's Prelude in D-flat major, Op.34 No.15.
  • Extras uses Cat Steven's "Tea For the Tillerman" over the end credits, much like The Office example below.
  • Family Matters used Ray Charles's "What a Wonderful World"...for all of one episode, before switching to an original tune.
  • Another Billy Joel example comes from The Fanelli Boys, which uses "Why Should I Worry" (Joel's contribution for Oliver & Company
  • The Fast Show: The first series featured Paul Whitehouse singing Esther Phillips' 'Release Me' as a theme, with the comedy element provided by Whitehouse's crooner being grotesquely distorted as if in a hall of mirrors.
  • A Fine Romance (1980's British sitcom) uses a version of the song "A Fine Romance" sung by the show's star Judi Dench.
  • Frank's Place used Louis Armstrong's "Do You Know What It Means to Miss New Orleans?"
  • Frankie Howerd Rather You Than Me opened and closed with Young Love by Frankie Avalon.
  • Freaks and Geeks uses Joan Jett's "Bad Reputation".
  • Game On, a BBC sitcom, used "Where I Find My Heaven" by the Gigolo Aunts.
  • The George Lopez Show opens every episode with "Low Rider" by War.
  • Get a Life (Chris Elliot's sitcom) opened every show with REM's "Stand".
  • Gilmore Girls opens with a version of "Where You Lead" which Carole King re-recorded with her daughter.
  • Gimme Gimme Gimme naturally opens with the ABBA song, albeit a Kathy Burke and James Dreyfuss cover.
  • The Golden Girls had a cover of Andrew Gold's "Thank You for Being a Friend" as its theme.
  • Grace Under Fire used Aretha Franklin's cover of Lady Madonna by The Beatles.
  • Grey's Anatomy used Cosy On The Rocket by Psapp with its opening credits.
  • Happy Days used "Rock Around the Clock" by Bill Haley and His Comets before switching to an original theme song. The version of "Rock Around the Clock" the show used wasn't the original 1954 recording either: they had the aging Haley re-record the song.
    • "Rock Around the Clock" was the opening theme for the first two seasons. The original "Happy Days" song ("Sunday, Monday, happy days...") was always the closing theme. For the third season, they started using their own song at the beginning and end, probably to make more money off royalties. The version of "Happy Days" used as the end theme for seasons 1 and 2 was performed by Jimmy Haas, and when it became the main theme, it was replaced by a version from Pratt & McClain (and that version was replaced again for the show's final season with a more modern arrangement from Bobby Arvon).
      • It was also kept for the syndicated rerun version of the series that was circulated while the original series was still on the air. Entitled Happy Days Again, the original 1954 recording of the song by Bill Haley and His Comets was used instead of the 1974 re-recording.
  • Hearts Afire used "That's the Way of the World" by Earth, Wind, and Fire as one of its ending themes. It also derived its title from the song's lyrics.
  • Hex used Garbage's "#1 Crush".
  • The 2002-2004 opening theme of Tom Bergeron's (The) Hollywood Squares was Teena Marie's 1981 single "Square Biz" with new lyrics.
  • Homefront, an early '90s drama set during World War II, had a rendition of Johnny Mercer's "Ac-cent-tchu-ate the Positive" as its theme.
  • Hotel Hell uses the eponymous "Hotel Hell" by the Australian band Skyhooks, thus also making it a Title Theme Tune.
  • Canadian talk show The Hour once used "Use It" by The New Pornographers, before switching to "The Good in Everyone" by Sloan (not coincidentally, both Canadian bands.)
  • House uses an instrumental version of "Teardrop" by Massive Attack for its theme. In other countries a different song is used called 'House', composed by Scott Donaldson and Richard Nolan for the show. Once you've heard the Massive Attack version of the credits, the other one will really grate, because the cuts in the credits are perfectly timed to fit with "Teardrop", and they are a lot less powerful with a different song.
    • Notably, in one episode a cover of "Teardrop" performed by José González, complete with lyrics, is played at the end.
    • And, on the DVDs (at least the ones available for purchase in the UK), the two songs ("House" and the "Teardrop" instrumental) alternate with each episode.
    • Additionally, the intro for the first episode of Season 6 used "No Surprises" by Radiohead.
  • How To Make It In America uses Aloe Blacc's I Need A dollar.
  • Human Giant uses "Romantic Rights" by dancepunk band Death From Above 1979
  • Hung (HBO) uses "I'll Be Your Man" by The Black Keys.
  • Ice Road Truckers uses Aerosmith's "Livin' On The Edge" for its first four seasons.
  • The Inbetweeners uses "Gone Up In Flames" by Morning Runner.
  • The Insiders, an obscure 80s cop show and Miami Vice knockoff, famously used "Just A Job To Do" by Genesis.
  • InSecurity uses "The Sun Ain't Shining No More" by The Asteroids Galaxy Tour
  • The American dub of Iron Chef uses several songs from Hans Zimmer's Backdraft soundtrack.
  • The Jack Benny Program used a medley of "Yankee Doodle Dandy" and "Love in Bloom" as its opening theme, and "Hooray for Hollywood" as its closing theme.
  • Jack Horkheimer Star Gazer uses Isao Tomita's version of Claude Debussy's ""Arabesque No. 1"
  • Jackass: The jangly polka is "Corona" by Eighties alternative punk trio Minutemen. An interesting choice, considering that it's a recording that's as old as most of the show's audience.
  • Jam And Jerusalem uses Kate Rusby's cover of The Village Green Preservation Society, originally recorded by The Kinks, as its theme music.
  • Joan of Arcadia used a version of "One Of Us" that Joan Osborne specially re-recorded to fit the length and pace of the credits better.
  • Joan Jett's "Bad Reputation" was used as a theme by two very different shows- Freaks and Geeks and American Chopper
  • The game show The Joker's Wild in its first seasons used "The Savers" by Jean-Jacques Perry and Gershon Kingsley.
  • FOX TV's short-lived legal procedural “Justice” used Warren Zevon's “Lawyers, Guns and Money” as its opening theme.
  • Kitchen Nightmares uses "Misirlou" by Dick Dale.
  • In the early 1980s, KQTV (the ABC affilliate in St. Joseph, MO) used the instrumental opening of Devo's "Snowball" to open their nightly news program. The viewer demographic for KQTV did not overlap greatly with the listener demographic for Devo, so most viewers probably thought it was original music.
  • Lie to Me uses Ryan Star's "Brand New Day" (no relation to the Sting song).
  • Life Goes On: "Ob-La-Di Ob-La-Da", a cover version sung by the cast.
  • Life on Mars (2006) uses David Bowie's "Life on Mars". The song is also a plot theme.
  • The Lone Ranger: The opera William Tell reached the pinnacle of its popularity in The Thirties. Everyone had heard of it, and more importantly everyone knew the overture by heart. Unfortunately, the use of the final movement of the overture as the theme song for The Lone Ranger associated it so strongly with the Western genre that the opera basically became unstageable in America. Because of this, some might assume the song doesn't fit the trope because the opera isn't popular now. In any case, it's also an example of Public Domain Soundtrack.
  • Louie uses "Brother Louie" by Stories.
  • Married... with Children uses "Love and Marriage" by Frank Sinatra.
  • Made In Canada used "Blow At High Dough" by The Tragically Hip.
  • MasterChef Australia uses the Katy Perry song "Hot 'N' Cold".
  • Misfits uses "Echoes" by The Rapture.
  • Mock the Week uses a short clip of News Of The World by The Jam.
  • Monday Night Football uses a lyrically-modified version of Hank Williams Jr's 1984 hit "All My Rowdy Friends Are Coming Over Tonight" - or it did until Williams made some inappropriate remarks about President Obama. ESPN announced that it was discontinuing use of the song.
    • Similarly, NBC's Sunday Night Football uses a theme adapted from Joan Jett's "I Hate Myself for Loving You".
    • And now the NFL Network uses a modified version of The Ramones' "Blizkreig Bop" sung by Cee Lo Green for Thursday Night Football.
  • TV coverage of the Barclays Premier League uses "Fire" by Kasabian.
  • Monty Python's Flying Circus uses John Phillip Sousa's "Liberty Bell" march as theme music, and such was their influence they've effectively made it their own. The original, like most Sousa marches, goes into a different melody which is nowhere near as well-known. The original also has no razzberries.
  • Newton's Apple, from 1983 to 1990, used Kraftwerk's "Ruckzuck", from their 1971 self-titled debut album, then from 1990-1994, a remixed version, then an original song afterwards. For the home video releases, they used a different but similar-sounding tune, due to licensing issues.
  • The Newlywed Game used "Summertime Guy".
  • Many live-action shows on Nickelodeon do this - a lot. Below are a few examples...
    • Drake & Josh used "I Found a Way" by Drake Bell.
    • Unfabulous used "Unfabulous" by Jill Sobule.
    • Zoey 101 used "Follow Me" by Jamie Lynn Spears.
    • iCarly uses "Leave It All To Me" by Miranda Cosgrove and Drake Bell.
    • Victorious uses "Make It Shine" by Victoria Justice.
    • Sam & Cat uses "Just Fine" by Backhouse Mike.
  • Noah's Arc: The remixed variety of "Remember the Love" by Adriana Evans.
  • The Norm Show used "Too Bad" by Doug and the Slugs.
  • In a rare game show example, the short-lived Mark Goodson-Bill Todman game Now You See It used Quincy Jones' "Chump Change" as the theme on both versions. Bill Cosby also used this same music on The New Bill Cosby Show. Other game shows that used actual recordings as themes:
    • The Price Is Right: From 1956 to 1961, they used "Sixth Finger Tune," which was taken from a stage show called "Six Fingers For A Five-Fingered Glove."
    • Password: Its 1961-1963 theme was called "Holiday Jaunt" and was used as early as 1958.
    • Seven Keys: "Everything's Coming Up Roses."
    • Match Game: From 1962 to 1967, it was "A Swingin' Safari" by Bert Kaempfert. The pilot used the Billy Vaughn arrangement.
    • Eye Guess: For the first two years the theme was Al Hirt's "Sugar Lips."
    • The Face Is Familiar (a short-lived CBS nighttime show from 1966): "Brasilia" by Herb Alpert.
    • The Love Experts, a short lived game show-panel game hybrid hosted by Bill Cullen, used Bebu Silvetti's "Spring Rain".
  • NUMB3RS used a sample from Talking Heads' "Once in a Lifetime" in the first season.
  • The O.C. used Phantom Planet's "California."
  • The Office (UK) uses a cover of Handbags and Gladrags, as made famous by Rod Stewart.
    • In one episode, Ricky Gervais as Brent sang the song over the closing credits.
  • The Osbournes used a cover of Crazy Train by Ozzy Osbourne, as remade by Pat Boone- in a jazz style.
  • One Tree Hill used Gavin DeGraw's I Don't Want To Be as its theme song for its first four seasons. From Season 5 onwards, they did away with the credits.
    • A few seasons later, they brought back the theme song, this time having it performed by a different artist every week.
  • Out of This World used David Lee Roth's cover of "Swinging on a Star", with reworked lyrics.
  • Party of Five used "Closer to Free" by the Bo Deans.
  • Peep Show uses Harvey Danger's "Flagpole Sitta", starting in season 2.
  • Pit Boss uses a hip-hop remix of Keith Mansfield's "Funky Fanfare" (as heard in those "feature presentation" bumpers in Kill Bill and Grindhouse).
  • Pretty Little Liars uses "Secret" by The Pierces.
  • Primeval uses "All Sparks" by Editors for its ending theme.
    • Unless you're not in the UK. It recycles the opening theme for the ending theme in overseas broadcasts (at least in Australia it does).
    • "All Sparks" was only used for the televised broadcast of the show's first season. When season 1 was released on DVD, the credits used the opening theme.
  • Portlandia uses "Feel It All Around" by chillwave artist Washed Out.
  • Providence used a cover of the Beatles' "In My Life".
    • The cover was done by Chantal Kreviazuk, if any one wants to know.
  • Reba, the eponymous sitcom of country singer/actress Reba McEntire, used a partial rewrite of her single "I'm a Survivor."
  • The Rebel Billionaire: Branson's Search for the Best, the globetrotting reality show by borrowed mostly the instrumental section of the theme from the film Live and Let Die
  • Rescue Me (The BBC version, not the American firefighter show) uses a male cover of the Fontella Bass song of the same name as its theme.
  • Rescue Me, the American firefighter show, also falls under this: it uses "C'mon C'mon" by the Von Bondies.
  • Roswell used a shortened version of "Here with me" by Dido.
  • Russell Howard's Good News uses an abridged instrumental of "Fast Fuse" by Kasabian.
  • The Royle Family used "Half The World Away" by Oasis.
  • Scrubs used the song "Superman" by Lazlo Bane, with a cover being used in the Postscript Season. The version of "Superman" used as the theme is faster and in a different key than the original version.
  • Los Simuladores, being an Argentine show, uses Astor Piazzolla's "Cité Tango".
  • Sharpe uses an extended version the traditional British military song "Over the Hills and Far Away", using the lyrics from George Farquah's 1706 play The Recruiting Officer. Although written about earlier conflicts in British history, they are wholly appropriate for the Napoleonic Wars setting.
  • Southland uses an instrumental version of Dulce Pontes' version of Cancao Do Mar.
  • Soul Man (and possibly another show) used, appropriately enough, "Soul Man". Doubly appropriate as the lead actor is also one of The Blues Brothers.
  • Smallville uses Save Me by Remy Zero.
  • The Sopranos uses "Woke Up This Morning (Chosen One Mix)" by electro-blues group Alabama 3. The difference between the original and the Chosen One Mix (both of which predate their use in The Sopranos by a couple years) is that the former is in the first person, and the more famous latter version is in the second person.
  • Star Trek: Enterprise was the first of the series not to have a symphonic theme tune — it used "Faith of the Heart", performed by Russell Watson. (A more well-known version of the song is performed by Rod Stewart on the soundtrack of Patch Adams.) In the third and fourth seasons, they decided something was missing—a thumping backbeat. In what was essentially a country song.
    • The closing credits music, now known as "Archer's Theme", was originally intended to be the Enterprise theme, and was written by the same man who wrote the theme for Deep Space Nine. Executive Meddling ensued, and it was replaced with "Faith of the Heart". This is what that would have looked like. An even earlier concept, however, was a throwback to other Trek series, including the Opening Narration and footage of the ship.
  • Starting in its third season, the Discovery Channel show Storm Chasers used Bon Jovi's "Blaze of Glory" as its theme tune.
  • Sue Thomas: F.B.Eye used "Who I Am" by Jessica Andrews.
  • Sugar Rush uses Blondie's "One Way Or Another".
  • Super Nanny uses Men At Work's "Be Good Johnny" as its theme: it's actually a re-recorded version from a Colin Hay solo album, but it sounds practically identical to the original.
  • Suits uses "Greenback Boogie" by Ima Robot as it's theme.
  • Supernatural, as stated above, uses Kansas' "Carry On Wayward Son", though the series only used it in the first season before it was relegated to being the theme for the Season Finale recap.
  • The Australian-set BBC sitcom Supernova used I Can See for Miles by the Who.
  • Teachers uses Belle & Sebastian's "The Boy With the Arab Strap".
  • That '70s Show uses a cover of Big Star's "In the Street". Obscure, but kinda famous in an underground way. From season 2 on it was performed by Cheap Trick.
  • Third Watch used "Keep Hope Alive" by the Crystal Method.
  • Tour of Duty, a Vietnam War series, used the Rolling Stones' "Paint It Black" over the opening credits.
  • Top Gear uses 'Jessica' by the Allman Brothers Band.
    • The Top Gear presenters lampshaded their use of the song during the second America special, when the original song came on over the radio. "On tonight's program..."
    • Orignally the closing theme was "Out of the Blue" by Elton John.
  • True Blood uses "Bad Things" by Jace Everett.
  • Twin Peaks used an instrumental version of Falling by Julee Cruise.
  • 2 Broke Girls uses "Second Chance" by Peter Bjorn and John
  • Soul Train used several real songs as its theme: most famously "TSOP (The Sound of Philadelphia" by MFSB. Though "TSOP" was only used for nine of the show's 28 seasons (six of which used remixed versions), most fans consider it the theme song for the show.
  • Veronica Mars used "We Used To Be Friends" by The Dandy Warhols. For the third season, The Powers That Be switched to a slower, ostensibly Darker and Edgier version of the song.
  • Vikings uses "If I Had A Heart" by Fever Ray.
  • Vision On, a BBC children's series of the '60s and '70s, used Al Hirt's "Java" over its end credits.
  • Weeds uses "Little Boxes" by Malvina Reynolds- the original in the first season, a different cover by a different artist every episode after that.
    • Including, on at least one occasion, a French version.
  • Whale Wars uses The Smashing Pumpkins' "Bullet with Butterfly Wings"
  • What I Like About You used the song of the same title, covered by Lillix.
  • Wings: Piano sonata No. 20 by Franz Schubert
  • The Wire uses Tom Waits's "Way Down In The Hole". Each season is done by a different artist - season one was by The Blind Boys of Alabama, season two was Waits's original version and season three was by The Neville Brothers. Season four's version was a specially recorded R'n'B version to represent the show's shift in focus to children on the streets. Season five was sung by Steve Earle, who also played a recurring role in the show.
  • The Wonder Years: The Joe Cocker version of "With a Little Help From My Friends".
  • You Bet Your Life (Groucho Marx's Game Show) used an instrumental version of the song "Hello, I Must Be Going/Hurray for Captain Spalding" from the classic Marx Brothers musical Animal Crackers.
  • NYC 22 uses Jay-Z's "Heart of the City (Ain't No Love)".
  • The opening theme of Retro Game Master is a remix of Ode To Joy.
  • The Flipside Of Dominick Hide uses "You'd Better Believe It Babe" by Meal Ticket.

    Pinball 
  • The Getaway: High Speed II features ZZ Top's "La Grange" as the main theme music.
  • The main background music for The Twilight Zone is an instrumental version of the 1982 song "Twilight Zone", by Golden Earring.
  • As one would expect, Star Wars Episode I uses John Williams' score from the movie.
  • Star Trek: The Next Generation has Dennis McCarthy's reworked version of the original Star Trek theme.
  • Three of Daft Punk's soundtrack tunes are used in the TRON: Legacy pinball.
  • The Addams Family, unsurprisingly, uses the original theme.
  • Creature from the Black Lagoon has five '50s pop hits licensed for its main theme: "Rock Around the Clock", "Get a Job", "Summertime Blues", "Willie and the Hand Jive", and "Red River Rock".
  • Data East Pinball's Back to the Future uses ZZ Top's "Doubleback," along with Huey Lewis and the News' "The Power of Love" and "Back in Time".
  • Red & Ted's Road Show uses country singer Carlene Carter's "Every Little Thing" for its signature theme. Appropriate, given she voices "Red" in the game.
  • Bally's Playboy pinball has Cy Coleman's "Playboy's Theme", from the TV show Playboy After Dark, as its main tune.
  • Gottlieb's Rocky plays "Gonna Fly Now", otherwise known as the "Rocky theme".
  • Indiana Jones: The Pinball Adventure plays "The Raider's March" and other songs from the series.
  • Junk Yard uses an instrumental version of "Money (That's What I Want)" by The Beatles.
  • Data East's Secret Service features "Nobody Does It Better" (from The Spy Who Loved Me), along with music from Mission: Impossible, Get Smart, Secret Agent Man, and other spy programs.
    • At the end of a game, the table plays the chorus from "Nobody Does It Better" while lyrics are shown on the display.
  • Aside from using James Horner's theme song for its main play, Apollo 13 uses Norman Greenbaum's "Spirit in the Sky" for its Jackpot theme.
  • No points for guessing what real song gets used in the various Star Wars pinball games.
  • Stern Pinball's Shrek plays the first verse of Smash Mouth's "All Star".
  • Data East's The Who's Tommy includes twenty-one songs from the Broadway musical, sung by the original performers.
  • Bally's KISS pinball plays a short version of "Rock and Roll All Nite" when starting a game, and ends the game with a tinny version of "Shout it Out Loud".
  • Not surprisingly, Guns N' Roses features nine of the band's songs, including "Welcome to the Jungle," "Night Train," and the exclusive "Ain't Going Down". Also, Slash confirms that the game has eight more original recordings which were taken off the masters.
  • Lethal Weapon 3 lets players choose from C+C Music Factory's "Gonna Make You Sweat (Everybody Dance Now)", ZZ Top's "Sharp Dressed Man", or the game's own music.
  • NASCAR features Sammy Hagar's "I Can't Drive 55," a popular song among NASCAR fans.
  • Unsurprisingly, The Wizard of Oz uses music from the MGM movie it's licensed from, most notably "We're Off to See the Wizard".
  • And the Gilligan's Island pinball uses the theme tune from the television series.
  • The Party Zone plays several Real Life songs throughout the game, such as "Pinball Wizard" by The Who, "De'funkt" by Defunkt, "Feelings" by Morris Albert, "Come Fly with Me" by Frank Sinatra, and "Purple Haze" by Jimi Hendrix.
  • The Pink Panther pinball plays Henry Mancini's famous song during multiball.
  • Unsurprisingly, AC/DC features twelve songs from the band, and smart players can choose different songs at appropriate times to maximize their score. The Limited and Preimum Edition tables even include a more advanced sound system to augment the experience.
  • Subverted in Crüe Ball — while the game features the Mötley Crüe songs "Dr. Feelgood", "Live Wire", and "Home Sweet Home", they are only available in the Music Demo on the title screen. The in-game music consists of cycled PCMs by arcade Pinball composer Brian Schmidt.
  • The main game theme in WHO dunnit is Henry Mancini's "Peter Gunn".
  • Metallica features a dozen songs for the player to choose from, including "Creeping Death," "One," "Master of Puppets," "Battery," "For Whom the Bell Tolls," and "Fade To Black". An Expansion Pack update added "Ride the Lightning" and "Blackened".
  • As one would expect, Bugs Bunny's Birthday Ball plays the Looney Tunes theme.
  • Gottlieb's Haunted House plays segments of Toccata and Fugue in D Minor throughout the game.
  • Stern Pinball's Mustang has a soundtrack of road tunes from Sony; the Pro edition has four songs, while the Premium and Limited Editions add four more. Selections include "Ace of Spades" (Motorhead), "Free Ride" (Edgar Winter), "Drag City" (Jan & Dean), and "My Own Worst Enemy" (Lit).
  • Harlem Globetrotters On Tour plays "Sweet Georgia Brown," the Globetrotters' theme, at the start of each game.
  • Rollergames uses a remixed version of the TV show's theme for its main game music. The design team wanted to use the original music, but Williams' German distributor refused to carry the machine if that had happened.
  • The music for Full Throttle is from the British metal group Redline, who compose the music for the television coverage for the annual Isle of Man T.T. motobike races. The game's main theme is "King Of The Mountain" from the album Vice.
  • Sega Pinball's Mary Shelley's Frankenstein lets the player choose the game theme from either the movie soundtrack or Edgar Winter's rock anthem "Frankenstein".
  • Stern Pinball's Harley Davidson games play instrumental versions of "Born to Be Wild" and "Bad to the Bone".

    Professional Wrestling 
  • Pro Wrestling This Week, a syndicated wrestling program in the late 1980's with Gordon Solie and Joe Pedicino, used the intro to the Eddie Murphy hit "Party All the Time" (Which was also the theme for Knoxville, TN's Continental Championship Wrestling).
    • Heck, lots of local Pro Wrestling shows used well-known songs as their themes. WWE used to use Michael Jackson's "Thriller", the Pointer Sisters' "Jump", and later Animotion's "Obsession" as themes. And Memphis' CWA Promotion used a techno version of "Also Sprach Zarathustra."
  • WWE has used several "real" hard-rock and heavy-metal songs as theme tunes for their various programs, including Marilyn Manson's "The Beautiful People" and Papa Roach's "To Be Loved". When they don't use a real song, they often use a Thematic Theme Tune recorded by a popular artist (such as Smackdown's theme, "Rise Up" recorded by Drowning Pool, and Raw's former theme, "Across the Nation" by Union Underground)
    • This was pretty much the case for most wrestler's entrance themes, until the music industry started cracking down on "unauthorized use" of copyrighted music and demanding royalties. After that, in all but a few exceptions (Ex. Hulk Hogan shelled out of his own pocket for the rights to "Voodoo Child"), organizations either switched to a Suspiciously Similar Song version of songs (Sting's late run WCW music was Metallica's "Seek And Destroy" with the serial numbers filed off), original tunes, or public domain ("Macho Man" Randy Savage's use of "Pomp And Circumstance").
      • Examples in the mid-1980s WWF included Survivor's "Eye of the Tiger" for Hogan, Queen's "Another One Bites the Dust" for the Junkyard Dog, Cyndi Lauper's "Girls Just Want to Have Fun" for Lauper's protege Wendi Richter, and Bruce Springsteen's "Born in the USA" for the U.S. Express (Mike Rotundo and Barry Windham, real-life brothers-in-law). The first few WrestleMania events also used real songs, including Phil Collins and Phillip Bailey's "Easy Lover" for the first WrestleMania, and Aretha Franklin's "Who's Zoomin' Who" for WrestleMania III. Also, "Ravishing" Rick Rude used "The Stripper" by David Rose as his entrance theme during his "chippendale" gimmick.
      • The biggest exception would be ECW, who continued to use real songs as entrance themes as part of their image as an "outlaw organization". Even their TNN/SpikeTV theme counted (White Zombie's "More Human Than Human").
    • CM Punk started using "Cult of Personality" by Living Colour during the "Summer of Punk" in Ring Of Honor and eventually returned to using that, with people in the industry remarking that since Vince McMahon hates paying music royalties, it meant Punk got exactly what he wanted to re-sign for the company.

    Videogames 
  • Both Twisted Metal: Black and Conflict: Vietnam used Paint it Black by the Rolling Stones.
    • The use of Paint it Black in Conflict: Vietnam might have been intentional, to promote a mood similar to and as a Shout-Out to Tour of Duty.
  • Burnout Paradise uses Guns N' Roses' "Paradise City" in all its glory.
  • Perfect Dark Zero uses real songs by Morisson Poe for its opening and ending themes; Glitter Girl (Evil Side) and Pearl Necklace, respectively. The Nightclub Stakeout mission features Kepi & Kat's "Limelight".
  • Cool Spot used The Surfaris' "Wipe Out" as its opening theme.
  • Urban Chaos Riot Response used Metro Riot's "Modern Romance" as its intro and main menu music. The riff is fitting, but the lyrics are about STDs and rejecting love.
  • Here's a somewhat obscure one: Did you know that the main theme from Frogger is the original Japanese opening theme from the anime Rascal The Raccoon? See for yourself here. Naturally, this one wouldn't have been obscure to Japanese kids who watched the cartoon, but since the show's theme was changed for international release, it went completely unnoticed even in other countries where the show aired.
    • Additionally, among the little jingles that play when you safely guide the frogs to their homes, three of them are snippets of other anime themes. They are "Oshiete" from Heidi, Girl of the Alps, "Hana no Ko Lunlun", from the show of the same name (split into two jingles), and "Ore wa Arthur" from Moero Arthur: Hakuba no Ouji.
  • Rock N Roll Racing, as the name suggests, used a number of actual classic rock songs: George Thorogood's "Bad to the Bone", Black Sabbath's "Paranoid", Deep Purple's "Highway Star", Henry Mancini's "Peter Gunn" (also used in Spy Hunter), and Steppenwolf's "Born to be Wild". Admittedly, since it was an SNES game, they were instrumental arrangements, but they were arrangements that pushed the SNES' sound chip to its limits (largely thanks to Tim Follin's sound programming).
    • Even more impressive was that he did this without the manual, and actually did a better job than the people who developed the program Tim used. When Shigeru Miyamoto heard it he wanted to know how it was done.
  • The Need for Speed series had many theme songs. The first time a theme song was used was in Hot Pursuit 2 with two songs by Hot Action Cop: "Goin' Down On It" and "Fever For The Flava".
    • Underground 1, uses "Get Low" by Lil Jon and The Eastside Boyz and Ying Yang Twins as theme song.
    • Underground 2 uses as its theme song "Riders On The Storm" by Snoop Dogg and The Doors.
    • Most Wanted 2005 has 2 theme songs: "Nine Thou (Grant Mohrman Superstars Remix)" by Styles of Beyond, and a specifically made song, "Shapeshifter" by Celldweller and Styles of Beyond.
    • Carbon has as theme song "Bounce" by Dynamite MC.
    • Prostreet didn't have a specific theme song, but many of the most recognizable songs in the game were made by Dutch musician Junkie XL. The most known of these songs is "Castellated Nut", as it had an appearance in World, thanks to the Mitsubishi Eclipse ELITE.
    • Undercover, like Prostreet, didn't have a specific theme song, but by far the most recognizable songs of the soundtrack are Combichrist's remix of "Never Wanted To Dance" by Mindless Self Indulgence and "The Mark Has Been Made" by Nine Inch Nails.
    • Shift 1 had as theme song "Kalemba Wegue Wegue" by Buraka Som Sistema and Pongolove.
    • Nitro has as theme song "Code of the Road" by Danko Jones.
    • Hot Pursuit 2010 has as theme songs "Born Free" by M.I.A., "Nothing From You (Redanka Remix)" by Pint Shot Riot and "Edge of the Earth" by 30 Seconds to Mars.
    • Shift 2 had "Night of the Hunter" by 30 Seconds to Mars as its theme song.
    • Most Wanted 2012 has 2 theme songs: "Firestarter" by The Prodigy and "Butterfies & Hurricanes" by Muse.
    • Rivals has "Troublemaker" by Haezer, and "Lootin' in London" by RDGLDGRN.
  • Fat Princess has, of course, "Baby Got Back" by Sir Mix-a-lot.
  • SSX Tricky uses "It's Tricky" by Run-D.M.C..
  • The arcade game Bomb Jack uses the ending theme from Spoon Oba-san (the anime version of Mrs Pepperpot) as the first round theme. The second round theme is The Beatles' "Lady Madonna."
  • When you get an extra life in the arcade game Mr. Do!, the round (or "scene" as the case may be) is cleared and you see an intermission with the Astro Boy theme playing in the background.
  • Every FIFA game since Road to World Cup '98 has had a soundtrack of popular contemporary music including one of these.
  • "Getting Away with Murder" by Papa Roach from Mech Assault 2.
    • With "Right Now" by Korn being used for the final boss.
  • Borderlands uses Cage the Elephant's "Ain't No Rest For The Wicked" as the game theme in both the opening video and commercial trailers. It fits the setting quite well, and is quite the Ear Worm to boot.
    • It also plays Champion's "No Heaven" in one of the trailers and during the end credits.
  • Borderlands 2 uses "Short Change Hero" by The Heavy in it's opening.
  • Some of the Paradox Interactive games use classical (and in the case of Victori An Empire Under The Sun and Europa Universalis, period) music. The most famous example is probably Hearts of Iron and its use of "Ride of the Valkyries".
  • inFAMOUS features Silent Melody by Working For a Nuclear Free City.
    • The two trailers for the third game in the series - inFAMOUS: Second Son - heavily feature Dead Sara's cover of Nirvana's Heart-Shaped Box. Not surprising, considering the game is the first to be set in a real city: Seattle.
  • Omega Boost has this in spades: The Japanese release features "Shade" by Feeder, in US, "Otsegolation" by Static-X, and in Europe, "Fly" by Loudmouth. And this is just the openings. It has three diferent endings as well: "Dip in the pool" by Ismeel (apparently a Japanese Enka), "Dreamer" by Cast, and "The Road" by Loudmouth.
    • Although in the AUS version they only used Dreamer for some reason. Plus it seems to be a recording of the song specifically for the game, when you listen to it from the cd's and so forth it sounds completely different.
  • The American version of R-Type Final uses "Piano Smasher" by the Blue Man Group as its credits theme.
  • Scarface: The World is Yours features a version of "Burning Inside" by Ministry as its theme song for the movie-style opening credits.
  • A number of Bitmap Brothers games in the late 80s and early 90s used music from Rhythm King artists:
    • Xenon 2 Megablast used "Megablast (Hip Hop On Precinct 13)" by Bomb the Bass.
    • Magic Pockets used "Doin' The Do" by Betty Boo.
  • Tony Hawk: RIDE which brought the series out with a musical bang with The Meters' "Cissy Strut".
  • Bayonetta also uses remixes of "Fly Me To The Moon", and the song usually only plays whenever the title character starts kicking a lot of ass.
  • The Gran Turismo series releases in Japan tended to open up with a variation of an original piece called "Moon Over the Castle". The European releases, however, have opened up with "Everything Must Go" by Manic Street Preachers, "My Favorite Game" by The Cardigans, "Just A Day" by Feeder and "Reason Is Treason" by Kasabian respectively.
    • GT 2's use of "My Favorite Game" by The Cardigans counts as a bit of Fridge Brilliance considering that the name of the album the song came from is also called Gran Turismo and the song itself was about how much the band loved playing the first game on their bus while on tour.
    • The US version of Gran Turismo 4 uses a choral version of Moon Over The Castle, followed by Van Halen's "Panama". It also has a techno remix of Mo TC.
    • GT 3 used "Are You Gonna Go My Way" and "Again" by Lenny Kravitz for its opening and ending themes, respectively.
    • GT 5 instead, in the American and European releases, used "Planetary (GO!)" by My Chemical Romance.
    • GT 6 uses, instead, an original song: "All My Life" by Daiki Kasho.
  • Forza Motorsport 2 had "Rockstar (Jason Nevins Remix)" by N.E.R.D.
    • 3 had "Tick Tick Boom" by The Hives.
    • 4 had "It Starts" by Alex Metric, and Horizon has "Show Me a Sign" by Modestep. 5, instead, has no specific theme song.
  • Wolfenstein 3D uses "Horst Wessel Lied", the Nazi national anthem, as its theme tune.
  • Sled Storm, at least the PS1 version, used Rob Zombie's "Dragula" (Hot Rod Herman remix).
  • The first version of the arcade game Pengo features the late 60's-early 70's electronic instrumental "Popcorn" which was famously (though not originally) recorded by a group called "Hot Butter" in 1972. A later version used an original composed tune.
  • In Parappa The Rapper, the intro to the fourth stage plays a slightly slow-tempo snippet of "Tijuana Taxi" by Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass. It can be heard after the "I gotta believe" part during the part where the announcer announces Cheap Cheap the Cooking Chicken (Parappa's opponent in this stage).
  • The rock band Journey got their own video game during The Golden Age of Video Games, which consists entirely of these (in electronic form; this is an important point). Moreover, a tape drive in the machine plays an edited, looped version of Separate Ways (not an electronic rendition, but the real song) during the bonus stage.
  • The SNK arcade game TNK III uses "The Yellow Rose of Texas" for its opening theme, and part of "When Johnny Comes Marching Home" for the Game Over jingle.
  • Ace Combat 5: The Unsung War used Puddle of Mudd's "Blurry" in the trailer and over the end credits.
  • The English-language versions of Final Fantasy XIII use Leona Lewis' "My Hands" in the trailer, and during the final cutscene and end credits.
  • Taito's Wild Western uses Stan Jones' "Ghost Riders in the Sky" for its main theme. Which in turn, is a a Suspiciously Similar Song version of the public domain song "When Johnny Comes Marching Home".
  • Both the Medal of Honor 2010 Continuity Reboot and Gundam Extreme Vs. use "The Catalyst" by Linkin Park; the band has noted themselves as being both video game players and Gundam fans, hence why they let Electronic Arts and Namco Bandai go ahead.
  • An obscure arcade game by Midway called Domino Man uses Scott Joplin's Maple Leaf Rag as its main theme.
    • Which was also used in speaker bleep form in the DOS pseudo-3D Pac-Man clone 3-Demon, along with "The Entertainer".
    • It also appeares in the Pinball game The Champion Pub.
  • The Iron Helix used the Xorcist song of the same name. The rest of the soundtrack was also by Peter Stone.
  • Call of Duty: Black Ops uses Eminem's "Won't Back Down" as its theme.
  • All of the canonical Fallout games have this: "Maybe" by the Ink Spots for the original, "A Kiss to Build a Dream On" by Louis Armstrong for Fallout 2, "I Don't Want to Set the World on Fire" by the Ink Spots for Fallout 3 and "Blue Moon" sung by Frank Sinatra (originally by Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart) for Fallout: New Vegas.
    • Fallout 3 and Fallout New Vegas feature "radio stations" one can listen to; in each, there's a "news station" that features "announcements" related to the player's progress through the game, but features real music in between announcements (in Fallout 3, Galaxy News Radio plays mostly 1940s "pop" while Enclave Radio plays mainly American patriotic standards; in Fallout New Vegas, New Vegas Radio plays 1950's songs while Mojave Music and Black Mountain Radio play country/western songs. Old World Blues adds the Mysterious Broadcast, which plays jazz and, you guessed it, blues.)
  • The MSX and NES/Vs. versions of The Goonies video game feature Cyndi Lauper's "The Goonies R Good Enough" from the movie in question.
  • Wizard Of Wor used the "Danger Ahead" portion of the Dragnet theme to open each stage. If the player is able to shoot the Worluk, the "DOUBLE SCORE DUNGEON" screen will appear, and the fifth note of the theme will play.
  • Punch-Out!! uses the "Look Sharp/Be Sharp March" by Mahlon Merrick for its opening theme, and the character's themes are all based on real folk songs from their countries of origin (although this part only happens in the NES version).
    • Ironically, the NES version would use a Suspiciously Similar Substitute for the title screen... but the real versions of the folk songs for the characters.
  • Though it should be obvious, each of the Rock Band games has one of the songs from the game play during the opening cutscene from each iteration. The original Rock Band had "Highway Star" by Deep Purple, Rock Band 2 had "Hello There" by Cheap Trick, and Rock Band 3 has "Break On Through" by The Doors. In addition, both Green Day Rock Band and The Beatles Rock band had mashups of several songs by each respective band, and LEGO Rock Band used "Grace" by Super Grass.
  • Jet Set Radio Future had a remix of "Concept of Love" by Hideki Naganuma, as well as a soundtrack mostly comprised of remixes from the first game.
  • Primal for the Playstation 2 uses 16Volt's And I Go for the theme music, along with instrumental versions and edits of other 16Volt songs for the game's soundtrack.
  • Inverted in the case of Silent Hill 2. One of the songs from the game, "Promise (Reprise)" was used by the Philadelphia Eagles' splash page on their official website.
  • In a crossover with Public Domain Soundtrack, the original Mario Bros. used the first phrase of Mozart's "Eine Kleine Nachtmusik" for its game start jingle.
  • Spy Hunter had the theme from "Peter Gunn" as its theme, which was then updated into "The Spy Hunter Theme" by Saliva for the PS2/XBOX installment. The sequel to the PS2/XBOX game had "Dark Carnival", a Bond-esque tune by Vanessa Carlton.
  • Enter the Matrix used Evanescence's "Going Under" as its credits theme.
  • Subverted with Sonic And Sega All Stars Racing. In the DS version, part of the credits was accompanied by "Into the Wind" by Crush 40, which was off of their album Thrill of the Feel when they were known as Sons of Angels (that is, before they got busted for using another band's name. Also, in both versions, the Ending Theme, "So Much More..." by British pop singer Bentley Jones, was released on a later EP of the same name.
    • Although not being used in the game, the sequel, Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed, uses "Promises" by British dubstep duo Nero as theme song.
  • The opening theme and the Final Boss battle's soundtrack of Necro Visio N, is "Preliator" by Globus.
  • Going by the trailers, Duke Nukem returns to kick some alien ass to the tune of The Prodigy's aptly-named song, Invaders Must Die.
  • The first Homeworld game had the titular progressive rock song from Yes as the credits theme, to great effect due to how closely the lyrics match the game's central theme.
    • Yes wrote the song because they really, really liked the premise of the game, and the devs asked them if they could use it.
  • In an unusual subversion, Mass Effect's use of M4 (Part II) from Faunts as credits theme is what catapulted the group into fame in the first place.
    • Another Faunts song, "Das Malefitz", is used for Mass Effect 3's closing credits.
    • An in-universe example: the romantic theme for Mass Effect 3 is called I Was Lost Without You. In the Citadel DLC for the game, Shepard and Tali watch Fleet and Flotilla, the romantic theme for the movie is the same tune.
  • The Amiga game Putty (also known as Super Putty for the SNES) used the Joe90 theme song as its opening theme.
  • Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver used "Ozar Midrashim" by Information Society, from their 1997 album Don't Be Afraid.
  • Speed Punks uses "Travelling Without Moving" by Jamiroquai as its opening theme.
  • Phantom Dust prominently features classical music mixed into an ambient-industrial tone, to fit the mood of the game.
  • Saints Row: The Third uses "Power" by Kanye West as the Villain Song of the protagonist.
  • "Way to Fall" by Starsailor plays during the ending credits of Metal Gear Solid 3.
  • Never Dead uses the song by the same name from Megadeth as it's theme song.
  • Hatoful Boyfriend uses Tchaikovsky's "Dance of the Sugarplum Fairy" as Shuu's character theme.
  • EV Nova uses "Mars, the Bringer of War" from Gustav Holst's The Planets Suite.
  • The arcade and Sega Genesis versions of Michael Jackson's Moonwalker featured OPN2 remixes of Michael Jackson's "Smooth Criminal," "Beat It," "Another Part of Me," "Billie Jean" and "Bad" as stage themes.
  • Indigo Prophecy had several Theory of a Deadman songs, with "Santa Monica" playing over the credits.
  • OFF uses Judy Garland's "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" as its ending theme.
  • Zap Dramatic's Move or Die uses "Newton's Apple" by Danny Michel.
  • Endless Ocean uses several Hayley Westenra songs, with "Prayer" being mostly closely identified as the title screen music and "The Water is Wide" for the credits.

    Web Originals 
  • The Twilight Chronicles uses Ke$ha's "We R Who We R". Episode 7 had a special opening credits montage consisting of:
    • "Yes" by LMFAO (Jacob)
    • "Miss New Booty" by Bubba Sparxx (Edward's Mom)
    • "Cherry Lips" by Garbage (Edward)
    • "Party Rock Anthem" by LMFAO (Bella and Carlisle).
  • From That Guy with the Glasses we have:
  • Kit Harrison's Machine CAST starts with Pendulum's "Showdown" and ends with "The Other Side".
  • Two Best Friends Play uses "Green Greens" from Kirby, but with their own lyrics on top of it.
  • Movie Dorkness: 'Brazil - The Office' during the 'Red Suitcase' era.
  • The first Ponies The Anthology uses a pony-version of "Power" by Kanye West for its opening short.
  • The Brian And Jill Show used the song "I Want to Singa", originally from a Looney Tunes cartoon (though most today would know it from the first episode of South Park), as the theme song for their first week. The plan had been to choose different theme song each week, but instead had a listener or someone in the show's crew choose a new theme song each day.
    • Their trivia game, "No Apparent Reason," gets the William Tell Overture while their "What's News" segment gets What's New Pussycat by Tom Jones.
  • Fans of NextG Poop are more likely to call The Rembrandts' "I'll Be There for You" "the NextG Poop theme" rather than "the ''Friends theme".
  • The theme song of the Global Guardians PBEM Universe was "Fanfare for the Common Man" by Aaron Copeland.
  • Zero Punctuation originally opened and closed each video with a short snippet of a song that was vaguely appropriate to the game he was covering. He eventually stopped doing this and got an official theme song.

    Western Animation 
  • The Baby Blues cartoon used "It's All Been Done" by Barenaked Ladies. And thanks to uncleared song licensing rights that is the reason why that show won't be able to be released on DVD.
  • The Back to the Future cartoon used "Back in Time" by Huey Lewis and the News (which also appeared in the first movie).
  • The Beatles cartoon used real Beatles songs throughout the series, including the title sequences. "Can't Buy Me Love" and "Help!" were both used as theme songs, but the one that seems to be the best remembered is "And Your Bird Can Sing," which was used during the last season. A rearrangement of "I Should Have Known Better" was used in the title cards.
  • Bill The Minder, a British children's series of the 1980s based around the drawings of Heath Robinson, used Giuseppe Verdi's famous march from "Aida" as its theme.
  • Birdz used a cover of "Surfin' Bird" by The Trashmen.
  • G4's Code Monkeys uses Jonathan Coulton's song "Code Monkey", one of his better-known works.
  • Father of the Pride opens with John Goodman's rendition of Elvis Presley's "Viva las Vegas".
  • Fillmore! uses the instrumental opening to "Das Uber Tuber" by Ookla the Mok.
  • Finding Nemo features a Robbie Williams cover of Bobby Darin's "Beyond The Sea" (originally Charles Trenet's French-language "La Mer") during the closing credits.
  • In 1985, DIC Entertainment created an animated show called Hulk Hogans Rock N Wrestling which was based on the WWE (then known as the WWF) superstars of the era. The theme song was a Bonnie Tyler song called "Ravishing", however, this is a subversion of the trope since it doesn't use the actual song proper (it doesn't even feature any of the lyrics), just various musical sections of the song as an instrumental with occasional chants of "Hulk! Hulk!".
  • The Jackson5ive cartoon used a specially recorded medley of four of the group's biggest hits during that time ("ABC", "I Want You Back", "The Love You Save", and "Mama's Pearl"; in that order) for both the opening and closing.
  • KaBlam!'s theme song is an instrumental to "2-Tone Army" by The Toasters, with the original closing theme being "Skaternity" then later changed to "Everything You Said has been a Lie" from season two onward, all by the same band.
  • The French cartoon A Kind of Magic uses the Queen song of the same name.
  • The Life & Times of Tim: "I'll Never Get Out of This World Alive" by Hank Williams.
  • Though it's best known as the Looney Tunes theme, "The Merry-Go-Round Broke Down" was originally a #1 hit in 1937.
    • "Merrily We Roll Along" is best known as the "Merrie Melodies" theme.
  • Mission Hill uses an instrumental version of Cake's "Italian Leather Sofa".
  • The Osmonds' 1972 cartoon show used their hit "One Bad Apple" as the theme.
  • Phineas and Ferb uses Bowling For Soup's "Today Is Gonna Be a Great Day" (which, in extended form, ironically does not directly mention the show's characters, yet describes things that they do in the episodes).
    • Although one of the verses is, "This is Ferb-tastic!"
  • Disney's Robin Hood underscores its opening credits with a cover of "Whistle Stop" by Roger Miller (who voiced the Rooster in the movie).
  • If songs originally first used in movies count, the spin-off cartoon of The Lion King, Timon & Pumbaa, used "Hakuna Matata" for its' opening theme.
  • The Totally Spies! theme uses the tune of Moonbaby's "Here We Go" with Expository Theme Tune lyrics.
  • Transformers: Beast Machines used the techno song "Phat Planet" for its theme, spiced up with animal noises. The music in the series itself modeled itself off the theme.
    • Not as well known as "Still Alive", the closing them of the game Portal, but that one was written specifically for the game and so is not an example.

    Other 
  • A Prairie Home Companion uses a version of "Tishomingo Blues" with rewritten lyrics. Nobody really seems to remember the original.
    • The original 1970s-80s run of the show opened with Garrison Keillor singing Hank Snow's "Hello Love", a #1 country hit in 1974.
  • The CBC Radio international affairs program Dispatches uses "What It Is" by Mark Knopfler.
    • Likewise the CBC show As It Happens, syndicated in the US on PRI, uses "Curried Soul" by Moe Koffman.
  • Rush Limbaugh uses the instrumental parts of "My City Was Gone" by the Pretenders as his theme.
  • Jean Shepherd opened and closed each episode of his long-running local New York radio show with "Bahn Frei" by Austrian composer Eduard Strauss.
  • The theme song for most The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy media is "Journey of the Sorcerer" by The Eagles. It appeared as the opening theme for the television and radio programs and appears in the scene introducing the titular guide in the 2005 film adaptation.
    • According to The Other Wiki, the reason "Journey of the Sorcerer" was chosen was because Douglas Adams wanted a theme song that was both futuristic-sounding and suggestive of a traveler at the same time. Adams felt that the fact that a banjo was among the instruments used to make this song gave it an "on the road, hitchhiker-esque feel".
  • Formula One's theme is Fleetwood Mac's The Chain, when shown on the BBC - a song that has always been somewhat of an unofficial theme for the sport.
  • ESPN employs this trope during sports coverage. The network used "Superwoman" by Alicia Keys for the 2008 WNBA season, and Aloe Blacc's "I'm the Man" for the 2014 NFL Draft.
  • Many sports teams use existing songs as "fight songs" and entrance themes:
    • The University of Tennessee uses "Rocky Top" by The Osborne Brothers as its unofficial fight song. It's far better known than UT's official one.
    • Jazz standard "Tiger Rag" (AKA "Hold That Tiger") is used by multiple schools with the "Tiger" nickname, including Auburn, Clamson, LSU, Missouri and Princeton.
    • "Eye of the Tiger" by Survivor is used by the University of Memphis.
    • The New England Patriots use Ozzy Osborne's "Crazy Train" as their home entrance music.
    • The Chicago Bulls have long used Alan Parsons Project's instrumental "Sirius" as their entrance theme.
  • A few visual effects companies will utilize this trope for their reels (especially if there's more than one), normally editing the song down while they're at it:

No Theme TuneTheme TuneRearrange the Song
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