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Thematic Theme Tune

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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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  • Berserk (2016): The lyrics of the opening theme Inferno by 9mm Parabellum Bullet give voice to Guts' rage, his struggle against impossible odds, and his determination to put his life on the line to protect what little he has left.
  • 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 does this with its opening themes. 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 Kyoko'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 Godai. 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.
  • Tengen Toppa 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 Fullmetal Alchemist (2003), "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 first theme song of Dragon Ball Z Kai, "Dragon Soul", 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.
    Mysteries abound
    Made of a deep energy
    Foes all around
    But I will go, fearless and free
    I'll give you strength
    You give me love, that's how we'll live
    My courage won't fade
    If you're with me, my enemies can never win
  • 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
    • The ending theme "Gekkou" ("Moonbow") 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.
  • Many One Piece theme tunes are motivational songs, matching the idealistic main characters, with nautical and pirate terms thrown in (e.g. maps, ocean, waves, anchors, treasure, flags, sails, etc.).
  • While the original Japanese theme song of Heidi, Girl of the Alps is pretty thematic already, mention should be given to the German theme songnote  as well, which talks about how the mountains are "(her) world...because (she is) at home there", and which mentions "dark fir trees", and "green grass(lands) / meadows in the sunshine", among other things.

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

    Fan Works 

    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 Dr. Nonote , From Russia with Lovenote  and On Her Majesty's Secret Service) 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.
  • 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.
  • "Laid" by James serves as this for the American Pie series.

    Live-Action TV 
  • All in the Family ("Boy, the way Glen Miller played/Songs that made the Hit Parade...")
  • The Andy Griffith Show used an instrumental theme, but there was a version with words set to it called "The Fishin' Hole" about... relaxing at a fishing hole. It had almost nothing to do with the series itself aside from the fact that Andy and Opie were doing that in the title sequence, but it did fit the laid-back mood of the show perfectly.
  • The Animorphs theme song, "It's All in Your Hands", is about how the kids have to save the world on their own because can't rely on anyone else.
  • The Big Bang Theory: "''Math, science, history / Unraveling the mysteries / That all started with a Big Bang (BANG!!)"
  • Boy Meets World (for the last three seasons, following a succession of instrumental themes)
  • 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."
  • Cheers ("Where Everybody Knows Your Name" by Gary Portnoy, also released as a single.)
  • The theme to Desmond's is about the "windrush"; Jamaican families arriving in Britain in the 1950s and unsure what to expect.
  • 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 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.
  • Frasier is a rather odd example of this. The lyrics to the ending theme "Tossed Salads 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.
  • Janda Kembang is about the lives of several widows and its self-titled theme song is about how those lives feel like.
  • The Jeffersons ("We're movin' on up/To the East Side/To a deluxe apartment/In the sky...")
  • "Making Our Dreams Come True" from Laverne & Shirley, which became a Top 40 pop hit for singer Cyndi Grecco.
  • 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.
  • "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.
  • The Masked Singer, a Talent Show where every contestant is a celebrity performing in disguise, uses "Who Are You" to represent the mystery of their identity. (To drive the point home, it's also played during every elimination, which is invariably followed by a Dramatic Unmask.)
  • And then there's Maude!
  • Mimpi Metropolitan theme song (from episode 21 onwards) is about the general struggles of living in Jakarta and the characters' determination to go on.
  • Monk, season 2 on ("It's a Jungle Out There"). The first season had an Instrumental Theme Tune.
  • 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!"
  • If a Power Rangers theme isn't an Expository Theme Tune, it is this. Although some blur the line of which is which.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Slings & 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 Sopranos ("Woke up this morning/ Got yourself a gun...") Which is odd, considering it's a Real Song Theme Tune, not developed for the show or even with any knowledge of the show. However, after one of the production crew showed it to series creator David Chase, he agreed that it was perfect (grudgingly—Chase had always envisioned the show's intro having a different real song every season, or even every episode, but "Woke Up This Morning" was just too suitable to use anything else). 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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..."
  • 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.
  • Vinyl: "Sugar Daddy", by Sturgill Simpson. As the whole series is about the American music industry in The '70s, the theme song evokes the era in its hard, gritty guitar riffs as much as in its lyrics.
  • Welcome Back, Kotter: The show's title was originally "Kotter", but the producers liked the song so much, they incorporated it into the title.
  • 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.
  • "Way Down in the Hole", the theme song for the HBO series The Wire, is a strange one in that it is a Real Song Theme Tune written 15 years before The Wire ever aired (it's from Tom Waits' 1987 album Franks Wild Years). However, the song, performed by a different artist in every season (The Blind Boys Of Alabama, Waits, The Neville Brothers, purpose-assembled Baltimore choir Domaje and Steve Earle), references the struggle between Jesus and the Devil—a fitting subject for a show about the struggles people have in managing the ills of the modern American city.
  • 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.

  • You wouldn't think a music franchise would have one, but Kagerou Project's overarching theme tune is "Children Record", considered by Jin to be the "Opening" of the song series (despite being made much later than the first song). It's a song all about the youth rising up and carving their own destinies for themselves, which doesn't describe a lick of what's specifically going on with the Mekakushi Dan but gets their basic plot down.

  • 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.
  • A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum: The opening number "Comedy Tonight" serves as this. In between Pseudolus's prologue setting up the plot and setting, the song explains to the audience that they can expect a light-hearted, meta-humorous musical comedy that pays tribute to Greco-Roman theater.
    Nothing with kings, nothing with crowns
    Bring on the lovers, liars, and clowns!

    Old situations, new complications
    Nothing portentous or polite
    Tragedy tomorrow, comedy tonight!

    Video Games 
  • "Save This World", the OP to Phantasy Star Universe. The expansion's sorta qualifies, too.
  • The ending theme of Dragon Age II is a version of "I'm Not Calling You A Liar" by Florence + the Machine. It's officially the theme of Varric (Unreliable Narrator being interrogated as part of the Framing Device) but the lyrics can apply to oh-so many other characters.
  • "War Has Never Been So Much Fun" from Cannon Fodder.
  • Fate/Grand Order
    • The opening for ''Observer on Timeless Temple, "Shikisai", sung by Maaya Sakamoto, which ties into the game's Central Theme of the concept of humanity and the fleeting ephemerality of humans. It has an Orchestral Bombing remix for the protagonist's fight against the Big Bad, as an affirmation of those ideals and a repudiation of the Big Bad's plans.
    • The second Cosmos in the Lostbelt opening, "Yakudou", sung again by Maaya Sakamoto, which ties into the themes of the sixth Lostbelt Avalon le Fae and the struggles of its Arc Hero, Altria Caster.
  • The opening theme of Napple Tale: Arsia in Daydream sums up the game's feel quite well. Shippo no Uta, yet another song by Maaya Sakamoto is a cheery tune accompanied by pretty grounded visuals of the main character meeting her friends at a summer festival. The lyrics are full of cute-yet-surreal Alice in Wonderland imagery. An example, in translation:
    ''Morning has come! - My clock does a handstand
    My desk laughs and my hat flies away
    My shoes left home without me
    So in a panic I jump to my feet"
  • The Persona series has one for almost all of its games. They even provide the page captions on this very wiki:
    • The PSP remake of Persona has "Dream of Butterfly", sung by Yumi Kawamura.
    • The remake of Persona 2: Innocent Sin has "Unbreakable Tie" by Lotus Juice and Asami Izawa. The remake of Eternal Punishment doesn't contain one, however.
    • Persona 3 has the song "Burn My Dread", performed by Yumi Kawamura. As the title of the song suggests, the lyrics are about overcoming one's fear and diving into the unknown. The lyrics of the full version from the game's Reincarnation album pretty much spoils the entire plot. At the end of the game, a remix with rapping by Lotus Juice, first heard in a muffled version in the game's very first cutscene, plays when fighting the final boss.
      • The Portable remake has a new opening song - "Soul Phrase", sung by Shuhei Kita. The lyrics tie into the Alternate Continuity presented by playing as the newly introduced female protagonist and the changes she makes to the game's plot.
    • Persona 4's is "Pursuing My True Self", sung by Shihoko Hirata. In just the first 90 seconds, the lyrics quickly sum up several of the game's themes: the influence mass media can have on the population and looking past convenient lies to uncover the real truth.
      • The Golden rerelease has the new "Shadow World", also sung by Hirata. It has a similar theme to uncovering the truth presented in "Pursuing My True Self", but also emphasizes The Power of Friendship and that finding the "truth" means getting other people's perspectives.
    • Persona 5 has "Wake Up, Get Up, Get out There", sung by Korean R&B vocalist Lyn. The lyrics are about stepping out of one's comfort zone, reforming the world and stopping the evil people in it. It also says that if someone wants change, they have to do it themselves rather than waiting for someone else to come along. At the climax of each major story arc, it gets a Triumphant Reprise in the form of "Life Will Change," whose lyrics have the heroes boasting about their impending victory and how their actions will inspire the masses.
      • Persona 5's own rerelease, Royal, has the new tune "Colors Flying High". Ostensibly, the lyrics are a quick summation of many of the game's themes: how public opinion and virtues can be manipulated, fighting for justice against those who would abuse their power, and staying true to one's beliefs, with the lyrics using various colors as euphemisms for those beliefs. Less obviously, it's full of double entendres serving as massive foreshadowing for Kasumi's true identity as Sumire — "Sumire" is Japanese for "violet".
      "So choose a color to live by..."
  • Super Mario Odyssey has "Jump Up, Super Star!", which focuses on taking risks and exploring the wide, wacky world around you. The lyrics go hand in hand with how big of a Wide-Open Sandbox the game is, as well as all the surprises the player can find in it. Just about every line contains a reference to the games' mechanics.

    Web Comics 
  • Unusually for a webcomic, PepsiaPhobia has crafted its own opening sequence starting from "Ready, Willing, and a Bull". The song, "Everything's Gonna Be A-Okay", stays mostly unchanged throughout the "seasons", but it perfectly captures the lighthearted and energetic tone that the rest of the series embodies. The scrapped version of Volume 4 changes the lyrics to instead cover struggling through adversity.

    Web Original 
  • Carmilla the Series: Soles's "Love Will Have Its Sacrifices", whose title / main chorus doubles as the show's Epigraph and was based on a quote from the original novella. Technically, the song closes out each season, but the first four bars open each episode.
  • Parodied in the Strong Bad Email "theme song", when Strong Bad imagines his "email show" having a "life-affirming pop ballad type theme song".

    Western Animation 
  • Arthur's theme song isn't directly about the show or any of its characters, but still touches on many of its central themes, like The Power of Friendship and Family, Team Spirit, and believing in yourself.
  • 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.
  • The Boondocks: "I am the stone that the builder refused/ I am the visual/ The inspiration that made Lady sing the blues"
  • Dastardly and Muttley in Their Flying Machines: "Stop That Pigeon" 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.
  • Face's Music Party's theme song isn't directly about the show, instead, it mainly focuses on the central theme of music.
  • Family Guy: Intended as a parody/homage, but still a theme that explains the idea behind the show.
  • Garfield and Friends' first opening theme parodies this trope. It's an upbeat, silly song with mushy lyrics about friendship that don't fit the cynical tone of Garfield or even the more laid-back vibes of U.S. Acres. For added irony, it plays over a slapstick battle between the two casts as they fight for screen time.
  • 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.
  • Lilo & Stitch: The Series's upbeat theme song "Aloha, e Komo Mai"—especially in its full studio version as played in the end credits of Pilot Movie Stitch! The Movie—reflects the show's Hawaiian setting, lighthearted tone, and themes of ʻohana with finding belonging within a loving family, fitting with the show's main plot of the titular duo finding Stitch's "cousins" (the word "cousin" itself being sung in the chorus) to give them a "one true place" where they can use their abilities to help society. Stitch's interjections in his native alien language Tantalog also reflect the constant presence of aliens in the show. Additionally, the same song also recalls the original Lilo & Stitch film that the show serves as a Sequel Series to, with the titular duo having previously been feeling lost and lonely in the world until they found a loving family in each other.
  • Milo Murphy's Law has "It's My World (And We're All Living In It)" by "Weird Al" Yankovic (Milo's voice actor), which has Milo singing about making the best of his hectic life and the crazy things that happen to him and his friends every day.
  • Transformers: Animated: The Japanese theme song, by JAM Project, never mentions the word "Transformers," but contains lyrics such as "Fight and Transform."
  • Wakfu has a Thematic Theme Song, if you can understand French.


Video Example(s):


DP ED#02

The ED song "Numbers" from the episode "Daydream" talks of someone who's been overworked in the job. And there's no way to go back for days that go by.

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