Thematic Theme Tune

A Theme Tune which, while not specific to the show in the manner of an Expository Theme Tune, nevertheless attempts to capture the thematic elements of the show in its lyrics, usually mushy stuff about love, relationships, and family.

The most common form of Theme Tune for the Sitcom in the late 70s and 80s. Often overlaps with the Real Song Theme Tune. For children's shows, often overlaps with the Title Theme Tune.

It may be interesting to note that, at least among the Sitcom examples, the title of the show itself is also usually something thematic and non-specific meant to indicate the general scope of the show without tying itself too closely to the specifics of the premise.

Most Anime Theme Tunes are a form of this, especially '70s Super Robot ones.


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  • Samurai Champloo and its opening rap song, "Battlecry", an examination of the samurai life.
  • The lyrics of many of the opening themes for Bleach involve protecting someone — a major theme of the series.
  • Over its run, the Ranma television series, movies, and OVA, had over 30 opening and ending theme songs, in some cases sung by the characters, but usually only peripherally relating to the characters (if at all). A notable exception is "Lambada Ranma" which references characters by name.
  • Maison Ikkoku often did this with its opening theme. Particularly the first opening Kanashimi yo Konnichiwa (Hello Sadness), which became so identified with the series that a string orchestra version was played for the climactic finale. While Kanashimi yo Konnichiwa expressed many of main female lead's perspective and feelings, the 1st ending Ashita Hareru Ka (Will Tomorrow Be Sunny?) was well juxtaposed because it expressed the conflicted feelings of the male lead. This dynamic was reversed for the one episode Maison Ikkoku used "Alone Again (Naturally)" and "Get Down" both by Gilbert O'Sullivan.
  • Monster's end theme has lyrics reflecting Tenma's idealistic philosophy.
  • The movie Fate/stay night: Unlimited Blade Works has the song "Imitation", with lyrics which describe both the protagonist's powers and his ideals without directly referencing the story.
    I'll show you that this false dream can be fulfilled/You can still ridicule me now/Even if it's idealistic, I want to make it my aim/It's still far away now, But surely/What is fake will become what is real.
  • Gurren Lagann has Rap Is a Man's Soul, which is about being Hot-Blooded and doing the impossible with fighting spirit, the two main points of the series. The only thing that connects it to the series is a few vague mentions of "the underground".
    • Sorairo Days, the theme song for the show itself, also covers themes of not giving in to despair and making your own future, two concepts that are heavily explored in the second season, and even more so the Lagann-Hen movie.
  • The Area 88 OVA has "How Far to Paradise," an appropriate question for a series whose protagonist has been duped into enlisting in a foreign legion air force.
  • "A Cruel Angel's Thesis", the famous opening theme to Neon Genesis Evangelion, contains lyrics relevant to the themes of the show and is seemingly sung to Shinji — in fact, series director Hideaki Anno rejected the addition of a proposed male chorus because he wanted to maintain the "maternal" quality of the song. (And if you've seen Evangelion, you know that mothers play a pretty huge part in the story.)
  • While the various opening and ending themes to Fullmetal Alchemist vary considerably in degrees of relevance to the show, the second ending theme to the 2003 anime, "Tobira no Mukou He" ("The Other Side of the Gate") contains lyrics that are more than a little bit relevant to the plot of the show - particularly, interestingly enough, when looked upon in retrospect.
  • Bokurano's "Uninstall" has a haunting female chorus, with lines about being helpless and insignificant, and having no choice but to "pretend to be a warrior with no fear" (which all are core aspects of the show).
  • "Connect" and "Magia" from Puella Magi Madoka Magica. Especially the former, taking into account the events of episode 10 where everything finally makes sense.
  • The theme song of Dragon Ball Z Kai is an exhortation apparently from the boisterous Goku to his timid son Gohan to explore the world around him because the two of them together are invincible.
  • Sailor Moon Crystal:
    • OP "Moon Pride," while not literally expository is pretty explicit as feminist group battlecry fitting a set of Magical Girl Warriors. Given it's cleary written for the series (The last words spoken in the entire song are the heroine's Senshi name), this is entirely justified.
    We all have unshakeable wills
    We will fight on our own
    Without leaving our destiny to the prince
    • Ed "Gekkou" while a typical romantic ballad, fits Princess Serenity thinking on her romance with Endymion, scenes from which play as the credits roll.
  • "Guren no Yumiya", the first opening theme for Attack on Titan, is a hot-blooded anthem about rejecting false peace and "the complacency of cattle" in favor of going down fighting.

    Comic Books 
  • Nextwave has a song which pretty much gives you a quick audio burst of what to expect from the series ...yeah

    Films — Live-Action 
  • "Eye of the Tiger" — it's really on the border of this and Expository Theme Song, seeing as how it rehashes all the themes from the first three Rocky movies, and is specific almost to the point of being expository.
  • The various James Bond themes (barring one) all have lyrics that, if not directly relevant to the plot, at least help set the tone of the rest of the movie. And are of course fuel for endless parodies.
  • Flashdance... "What a Feeling"
  • "Wish (Komm Zu Mir)" from the movie Run, Lola, Run.
  • Spider-Man has "Hero", by Chad Kroeger and Josey Scott.
  • In A Face in the Crowd, the titular Show Within a Show has "Jes' Plain Folks," sung by the Barefoot Baritones. Lonesome Rhodes supposedly wrote it, but Marcia says that it was actually the work of two uncredited songwriters.

    Live-Action TV 
  • "Love Is All Around" (the theme to The Mary Tyler Moore Show, written and sung by Sonny Curtis) is one of the most memorable and hummable examples.
  • Family Matters
  • Growing Pains
  • Full House
  • Step by Step
  • Boy Meets World (for the last three seasons, following a succession of instrumental themes)
  • Whos The Boss
  • Friends ("I'll Be There For You", which would later be released as a full-length single.)
  • Cheers ("Where Everybody Knows Your Name" by Gary Portnoy, also released as a single.)
  • Star Trek: Enterprise
  • WKRP in Cincinnati: The theme song repeats the show's title frequently, but is more about the nomadic life of a DJ in the radio business.
  • All in the Family ("Boy, the way Glen Miller played/Songs that made the Hit Parade...")
  • The Jeffersons ("We're movin' on up/To the East Side/To a deluxe apartment/In the sky...")
  • Monk, season 2 on ("It's a Jungle Out There"). The first season had an Instrumental Theme Tune.
  • Welcome Back, Kotter
  • The ending theme of Red Dwarf was halfway this, halfway Surreal Theme Tune; it had lyrics that switched from fantastic and weird to dark and depressing, much like the show itself. Word of God from Howard Goodal is that it was supposed to be an Expository Theme Tune about Lister's desire to settle on Fiji. Which never got mentioned after the first episode.
  • The Drew Carey Show... amazingly, all three Theme Tunes are Thematic Theme Tunes.
  • Firefly's theme is quiet and defiant, befitting a Space Western ("Take my love, take my land / take me where I cannot stand / I don't care, I'm still free / You can't take the sky from me..."). It makes sense, since Joss Whedon did write the song.
  • Psych: "I know you know that I'm not telling the truth / I know you know they just don't have any proof..." For bonus points, it's actually sung by the show's creator.
  • Slings and Arrows has a different theme tune each season: all of them are comic songs, sung by the show's Those Two Guys, about whichever tragedy the season focuses on.
  • The Unit used a hip-hop version of a Military Cadence, Fired Up... Feels Good, in the first two seasons, and a 30-second theme called "Walk Through Fire" in the second two, both appropriate to the show, which is about an elite miltary unit whose members risk their life daily to save the world.
  • "Way Down in the Hole", the theme song for the HBO series The Wire, is performed by a different artist in every season (The Blind Boys Of Alabama, Tom Waits, The Neville Brothers, Baltimore choir Domaje and Steve Earle), and the song runs over a series of images emphasizing the themes and issues of each season.
  • So Weird's "In the Darkness": "In the darkness is the light / Surrender, we'll win the fight / This girl's walked through fire and ice / But I come out on the other side of paradise." This song has an interesting double-meaning: as the theme tune, it seems to be about Fiona/Annie, a girl facing off against dark supernatural forces. But the song is also a "Do It Yourself" Theme Tune performed by Mackenzie Phillips as Molly Phillips, a secondary character. In the context of the show, the song is meant to be about the character's struggle with alcoholism.
  • Dollhouse uses an instrumental version of a song that has lotsa meaningful stuff about memory, regret, and being whoever you want me to be.
  • The Sopranos ("Woke up this morning/ Got yourself a gun...") To elaborate: the song establishes the dark and introspective tone of the show, as well as hinting at the sociopathy of its main characters. The lyrics "Your momma always said you'd be the chosen one", on the other hand, make for an ironic contrast with Tony's severe mommy issues.
  • Scrubs ("I can't do this all on my own / No, I know I'm no Superman..."), emphasizing the show's Central Theme that you need help from the people around you to deal with the enormous stress and responsibility of being a doctor. Also a Real Song Theme Tune.
  • The game show To Tell the Truth in the 1970s: "It's a lie, lie, you're telling a lie / I never know why you don't know how / To tell the truth, truth, truth, truth..."
  • Similarly, the game show Chain Reaction, when revived on GSN, used a vocal theme that ended with "It's guys against girls right now on Chain Reaction."
  • And the short-lived game show adaptation of Monopoly likewise: "M-O-N-O-P-O-L-Y[]Roll the dice, it's paradise / But if you fail, you go to jail!"
  • The Big Bang Theory: "Math, science, history / Unraveling the mysteries / That all started with a big BANG!!"
  • If a Power Rangers Theme isn't an Expository Theme Tune, it is this. Although some blur the line of which is which.
  • And then there's Maude!
  • Taggart has "No Mean City", which not only sums up the main characters' relationship with Glasgow ("City life is strange, you take your share of the good times and bad times / It's the only life I've ever seen / This town ain't so mean"), but — as a Genius Bonus — shares its title with a novel about working class Glasgow in the 1930s.
  • Frasier is a rather odd example of this. The lyrics to the ending theme "Tossed Salad and Scrambled Eggs" are thematic, but metaphorical. Psychology is never mentioned, nor is anything explicit said, making them almost Word Salad Lyrics but it's fairly obvious that the lyrics double as oblique references to both Frasier's life and psychiatric profession. For example, the title probably refers to crazy people and things (which can mean Frasier's mind, his callers, the people around him, the bizarre situations he gets himself into, or all four at once); and the lines "And maybe I seem a bit confused / Well maybe — but I got you pegged!" in particular describe Frasier's character: rather nutty himself, but a brilliant psychiatrist.
  • Ally McBeal "I've Been Searching My Soul"
  • The theme to Desmond's is about the "windrush"; Jamaican families arriving in Britain in the 1950s and unsure what to expect.
  • That '70s Show
  • "Making Our Dreams Come True" from Laverne and Shirley, which became a Top 40 pop hit for singer Cyndi Grecco.
  • Whose Line Is It Anyway? had a game where 2 players would sing the title sequence to a made-up 70s sitcom while Ryan & Colin acted it out.
  • The theme song of Malcolm in the Middle, "Boss of Me" by They Might Be Giants, is thematic in three ways. The verse ("Yes, no/Maybe, I don't know/Can you repeat the question?") arguably reflects Malcolm's confusion with the trials of growing up. The chorus ("You're not the boss of me now/And you're not so big") may refer to any of the recurring themes of rebellion and Coming of Age running through the series, especially with regards to the relationship between Lois and her children. The stinger line ("Life is unfair") is the one most associated with the show (explicitly discussed in the pilot and finale), and describes the world the characters live in, particularly the unfairness of Malcolm's intelligence being treated by society as a stigma that gives him nothing but grief rather than a blessing to be admired.

  • The ballet Fancy Free has "Big Stuff," a blues song played before the action begins as a prerecorded theme. In the ballet music proper, the tune is used for the Pas de Deux.

    Video Games 

    Web Comics 
  • This page of GastroPhobia presents the "opening credits" as if the comic were a TV Show. The opening theme definitely fits this trope.

    Western Animation 
  • Family Guy: Intended as a parody/homage, but still a theme that explains the idea behind the show.
  • The Boondocks: "I am the stone that the builder refused/ I am the visual/ The inspiration that made Lady sing the blues"
  • Wakfu has a Thematic Theme Song, if you can understand French.
  • The Japanese theme song to Transformers Animated never mentions the word "Transformers," but contains lyrics such as "Fight and Transform." Also, it's by JAM Project, and is pure, unrefined AWESOME.
  • The original theme song of The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes!, "Fight as One", describes the protagonists' personal struggles without referring to any of them by name. Only a fleeting use of the phrase, "Avengers Assemble!",note  tips this off as a song about the Avengers. It's still pretty kickass.
  • Goof Troop has a theme song that suggests the show is about father/son and best friend relationships (which is true), while also being very misleading about the show's actual content, in terms of characterization and how well characters get along.
  • "Stop That Pigeon," the theme to Dastardly and Muttley in Their Flying Machines, is performed by Dick Dastardly as he prattles off what his crew fails at or is consigned to do. It was the show's original title and had a different antagonist and dog before they became Dick and Muttley.