QUICK QUESTION: Which Children's TV Theme Songs Have Been Stuck in Your Head the Most?

APOLOGIES IN ADVANCE: This week's Quick Question miiiiiiiiight just ruin your day.

Apparently it wasn't enough to create a children's show that young audiences might enjoy and/or learn from. No, many kids' show creators ALSO had to devise theme songs so insidiously catchy that they'd continue popping up in our heads years—decades even!—after we'd outgrown the shows themselves. Seriously, the other day I caught myself singing the words and melody to a show I haven't watched since I was TEN (and didn't even really like much to begin with). "Why am I singing the theme song to Adventures of the Little Koala," I asked myself after I'd Googled the lyrics to find out what I was singing. It turns out some children's TV theme songs aren't just catchy, they're terminal.

Below are the 13 children's show theme songs that stick out in my mind as being total earworms. (Full disclosure: I was born in the early '80s, so these are of mostly that era.) What kids' show themes do YOU recall having that effect on you? Or if you can't think of any, just listen to the ones below and then report back tomorrow to tell us if any of them got stuck!



DuckTales (1987-1994)


The two main things most people remember about this long-running Disney series are (1) that tower full of gold coins in which Scrooge McDuck would swim and (2) the theme song. Written by Mark Mueller and sung by Jeff Pescetto, the song was Huey Lewis-esque in an '80s dude-adventure kind of way.



Sesame Street (1969-Present)


"Can You Tell Me How to Get to Sesame Street" was written in 1969 by Joe Raposo and sung by a children's choir. Its jaunty, cascading melodies have been stuck in our heads for over 30 years now.



Pinwheel (1977-1989)


This Nick Jr. show was admittedly heavily inspired by the humans + puppets format of Sesame Street, but had a gentler, more bohemian vibe. Its nimble nursery rhyme of a theme song is credited to George James and was one of the first songs I ever learned the lyrics to. Not embarrassed.



Gummi Bears (1985-1991)


Despite being one of Disney's longest-running animated series, not many people have a ton of nostalgia for this fairly crass candy tie-in... except, of course, for its theme song, which continues to be just incredible. (Thomas Chase and Steve Rucker presided over the Gummi Bears soundtrack.)



Reading Rainbow (1983-2006)


We all remember host and executive producer LeVar Burton gently leading us into the wonderful world of reading, but perhaps even more memorable was the opening title sequence in which children would transform into animated adventurers while they reade. The stunner of a theme song was written by Steve Horelick, Dennis Neil Kleinman, and Janet Weir with POWERFUL vocals by Broadway performer Tina Fabrique.



Adventures of the Little Koala (1984-1985)


Adventures of the Little Koala was one of a handful of Japanese animated shows that Nick Jr. retrofitted for American audiences. While I think we can agree that original translations are generally better, one listen to the Japanese theme song leads me to conclude that the French-Canadians behind the English version (Pierre-Daniel Rhealt, Liz Joyce, Sonja Ball, Shari Chaskin, and Maxie Vauhann) definitely created the catchier (if slightly more dated) version. Look up there, way up high: koalas in balloons!



Pee-wee's Playhouse (1986-1990)


Before it was derailed by real-life scandal, Pee-wee's Playhouse was one of the most inventive, clever, and hilarious shows ever made for children. Its theme song was equally weird and wonderful, composed by Devo's Mark Mothersbaugh and sung by no less than Cyndi Lauper.



Eureeka's Castle (1989-1995)


Um, did you know that R.L. Stine co-created this show? I didn't! But it seems to make sense in retrospect: Despite being a lot of harmless fun, there was always an undercurrent of the macabre to this puppet-fronted series. I'll always love the theme song, a Broadway-esque tune that sets the tone for the show in the catchiest possible way.



The Electric Company (1971-1977)


Although this show was technically before my time, it reran plenty during my childhood and its theme song continues to give me chills. Fun fact: credited musician Joe Raposo also co-wrote the Sesame Street theme song.



Roundhouse (1992-1996)


This bizarre sketch show/breakdancing showcase premiered as part of Nickelodeon's teen-skewing Snick programming block back in 1992, but the theme song is still SO GOOD, sung Up With People-style by the cast (including an a cappella version that would conclude each episode).



Under the Umbrella Tree (1986-1993)


You may have seen this puppet-centric Canadian series when it was imported to the States by the Disney Channel. You also may remember its theme song, a catchy ditty credited to Dave Arthur, Peter Beaudoin, and a few others.



Sharon, Lois & Bram's Elephant Show (1984-1988)


Yes, this is that "Skinnamarinki-dinki-dink..." show. To watch clips of this thing today it seems like something straight out of The Mighty Wind, but I liked it just fine as a child! Anyway, the theme song remains bafflingly ridiculous and was credited to composer Joe Hampson but really all credit belongs to the titular trio. What a bunch of middle-aged rascals!



Kids Incorporated (1983-1993)


We all know that Stacy "Black Eyed Peas' Fergie" Ferguson got her start on this Disney Channel series that bore the most on-the-nose title of all time, but this theme song was one for the catchy-theme record books. It makes sense that a show revolving around child musicians should also have a catchy theme song, but the actual pop karaoke covers the characters sang rarely reached the addictive heights of the number that opened each episode.


YOUR TURN! Which children's TV theme songs have been stuck in your head the most?

Comments (207)
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Just a few: (note: these are from my baby brother's taste in TV shows) Wow wow Wubbzy, Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, Jungle Junction, The Backyardagains, and Little Einstiens.
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The Wonder Years for sure.. that song still brings a tear to my eyes ...
Jem, also Doug .. it was simple but catchy
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Sing Me a Story with Belle
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Inspector Gadget / TIny Toon Adventures / Animaniacs / Chip N Dale Rescue Rangers / Ducktales / Alvin And The Chipmunks / Goosebumps / The Smoggies / Jem / Widget The World Watcher / Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles / The Mysterious Cities Of Gold / Count Duckula / Dangermouse / Doctor Snuggles / The Snorks / Muppet Babies / Denver The Last Dinosaur / Fraggle Rock / Fireman Sam / Joshua Jones / SuperTed / Darkwing Duck... There are so many of them, I could go on for hours.
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Fireman Sam and The puzzle place.
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Lamb Chop's Play Along. That infernal song will accompany me to oblivion. I haven't heard it in well over fifteen years and I still catch myself humming it every once in a while.
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Haha I'm going with gummi bears. Oh, and Banana's in Pajamas -_-
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Reading Rainbow is the only one that still gets stuck in my head.
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As if I needed any help dating myself!
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teenage mutant ninja turtles heroes in a half shell turtle power
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Kidsongs tv show
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That was one of my favorites in the mid 90's; it's theme song was just as good as the videos the cast made, and the goings-on in the studio.
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Mighty Mouse!!!
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Great reference.
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Banana Splits! Tra La Laaaaaa One Banana Two Banana Three Banana Four!
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# 12 of Sesame Street
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no one would remember this one, but i still catch myself singing the h.r. pufnstuf theme song sometimes
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Oh and the "The Trapdoor" http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-9dbAQJIu1o&feature=fvwrel

and "Funnybones" http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RZYsUOZmRwM

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I always get Hey Arnold! stuck in my head even though haven't seen it in 10 years and its basically just random jazz piece with the Hey Arnold at the end. du du dubi dubi do duit do do do do duit.
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How was "Where in the World Is Carmen San Diego?" not on the list. Rockapella's song was great.
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Before there was Glee, there was KIDS Incorporated. I remember the theme song when Love Hewitt was on it better. Fraggle Rock was one of my favorite theme songs.
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The more we think about it, the more we remember. Anybody remembers Lost in Space and Batman with Adam West?
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How 'bout for the girls out there: Rainbow Brite, and My Little Pony's.

And lets not forget comercial jingles, I still get Toys R Us Kids stuck in my head.
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Which incarnation of "My Little Pony?"
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I'll add these:

Lamb Chop's Play-Along

David the Gnome

Pepper Ann

Arthur

Curious George (not the new one)

Where in the World Is Carmen Sandiego? (game show)

Zoobilee Zoo and all the Marvel cartoon shows from the 80s up to the 90s.
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I can add a couple other themes to the list: "Danny Phantom", "My Life As a Teenage Robot", "CatDog", and both season themes of "Jimmy Two-Shoes", as well as the 'Fish Hooks" theme. Those should be in most people's heads because they were so catchy. Some of them anyway.
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Um hello the Lady Lovely Locks theme, loved that show!!!!
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Meant to add a thanks that's kind of like a double sided sword -- I love the stroll down memory lane in actually re-listening to these old theme songs, but I know I will curse you later for bringing them ALL back to the forefront! haha. Nice.
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Definitely agree with a couple of these. In fact, only a few weeks ago I caught myself singing the Gummi Bears theme song, and also for some reason Kids Incorporated around the same time. It's like we're all on the same wavelength.
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Danger Mouse beeyatch.... but lots of cool ones missing



missing, mickey mouse, the tomorrow people, strawberry shortcake, care bears, my little pony, flintstones, scooby-dooby-doo!!!!!!!!!!! Captain Kangaroo????



aauugghh too many great ones not mentioned. head exploding.... SMURFS.... la, la, la, lalala, lalala, la, la....



who knew gummy bears had a show?? not me.
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Until I read this post for the first time, I myself didn't know that a media adaption of Gummy Bears existed. Also, which incarnation of "My Little Pony" are you referring to?
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Adventures Of The Little Koala is like a rip off of Australia's "Blinky Bill" Now THAT is an overly catchy tune.

Also todays 'Chuggington' I've never watched an episode, neither has the rest of my 16-year-old year level yet anytime someone says "CHuuuuginton" everyone goes 'Chugga-chugga-chugga-chugga-chug-in-ton"
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I watched the former when I was younger. The latter is one of my favs today. I can't believe someone would mention "Chuggington." You should check it out sometime. It airs on Disney Jr. in the US.
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you forgot the mickey mouse club theme song lol
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The thing is that people is that people here are of different ages, so of course we remember different things. I'm old enough to have grown up with Hanna Barbera shows, like The Flintstones and The Jetsons. Also, even as a child as a child, I really enjoyed Get Smart.
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Interesting fact: if I've heard correctly, "Get Smart" was the inspiration for "Inspector Gadget."
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It's funny that this article should be on here the day after I sang myself to sleep with the Gilligan's Island Theme. Yep, those songs will be with us long after we've forgotten our children's first words. Sad, but true.
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you forgot Care Bears!
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Ducktales but No Darkwing Duck?!?! That duck rulzzzz
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Spidy!
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Don't forget Inspector Gadget and Where in the World is Carmen San Diego!
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JEM AND THE HOLOGRAMS!!!! NUFF SAID END OF DISCUSSION!!! Truly Truly Outrageous truly truly truly outrageous....Jem is my name no one else is is the same Jem is my name JEM!!!! Or if you watched it the theme song was also "Me and my friends are Jem girls. exciting adventures,fashion and fame once you're a Jem girl you're never the same. C'mon C'mon and be a Jem girl Jem. Jem is my name. JEM!"
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We are the misfits our songs are better we are the misfits (the misfits) and we're gunna get her
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Nowadays the best theme song is from 'T.U.F.F. Puppy', but there was also "Cattanooga Cats" (1969), "Lilo & Stitch: The Series" (though technically not a genuine TV series theme per se), "Rescue Rangers", "TaleSpin", "Powerpuff Girls" (whose theme was actually during the end credits), "Phineas and Ferb" (still going strong), "American Dragon" theme, "Replacements" (Hello, Fleemco?), "Kim Possible" (I can't believe I thought of THAT one!), "Animaniacs" and the various segment themes, most notably Rita & Runt's theme; "Tiny Toons", "Road Rovers", "Timon & Pumbaa" (though actually first featured in the original "Lion King" movie), "Dalmatians".....those are probably the best known in my book. Perhaps yours as well?
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We didn't have most of these this side of the Atlantic but some American and Japanese series' theme songs stuck with me: Gummi Bears, Tiny Toons, Darkwing Duck, Heidi (cartoon version) and of course the Smurfs (all dubbed in German but catchy as the flu). Oh, almost forgot: Captain Baloo or whatever it is called originally.
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The last one you're talking about is "TaleSpin."

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Duck Tales is probably the best one for me. But its a total RIPOFF of the song "You Make My Dreams Come True" by Hail & Oates! Total Pierce Hawthorn move there. That song was streets ahead.
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The similarity between the 2 is in the back-up vocals. Chances are Mark Mueller may have looked to "You Make My Dreams Come True" for inspiration for the other.
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Oh I forgot ...Inspector Gadget!

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Actually I liked watching Kids Inc.... :p

Stuck in my head:

Gummi Bears, Tiny Toons, Duck Tales, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Thundercats, Heathcliff...but also Dexter's Laboratory

PS does anyone remember that show "The Music Box"?

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definitely sesame street but our own local version's songs.. god they are so catcy.. other than that "denver the last dinasour" and "smurfs" have really catch theme songs (the latter had just instrumental tunes but still I remember my friends and I, humming them, while we were like, in university:D).. oh and then there is Lucky Luke.. "I'm a poor, lonesome cowboy.."
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Gummi Bears & Duck Tales & a non children's theme song - Fresh Prince of Bel-air
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Damn... That is some serious effing up with our heads, Price. I just know I'll be humming the the Duck Tales songs now for a long time... And, as if it is not enough, you just read a dozen comments and in your head goes Captain Planet, Get Along Gang, Care Bears and Muppets Babies in a second.
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AHHH you didn't forget kids incorporated! I don't care if people call it a poor man's Mickey Mouse club, this was that show with the ridiculously catchy theme song that I know just by name. In my list I would add the theme to PowerPuff Girls and Dexter's labaratory. I know those don't have lyrics but I knew the tune and would hum it constantly. I know this probably doesn't fit but I have a lot of teen shows that fit

Saved by the bell and all the early morning NBC teen shows like Hang Time, california dreams.

Then there was the boy meets world and TGIF shows.

man... I miss theme songs.
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I'm a 94 baby I dont know any of these :( but wheres Cailou,Dragon Tales, and Johnny Bravo.
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now reading this felt really heavy:)
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My real favorite child's tv show theme song was and still is beyond a doubt the "Banana Split Song". I actually still listen to it these days.
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Oh, yes, definitely I can't forget that one.
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Four banana, three banana, two banana, one...

Four bananas playing in the bright warm sun

Flipping like a pancake, popping like a cork,

Fleegle, Bingo, Drooper & Snork!



Added bonus...cringe if you must: "Uh-oh...Chongo!"
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And Tales Spin...Okay I'm gonna stop now lol
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oh yea, can't forget Banana's in Pajamas
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80's baby here so...David the Gnome, and Zoobilee Zoo
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"David the Gnome" was one of my favorites as a child.
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