While Saturday morning cartoons weren't anything new in the 1980s, it kind of feels like that's when they hit their peak.
Producers had refined their strategies (improving upon the '60s and '70s), the stories balanced lightness with coolness (unlike the brightness of the '90s to come), and also, I just like them better.
And nothing sticks in my head much better than a catchy tune. Most of the time when I start randomly humming to myself, I quickly realize it's one of these theme songs that's wormed its way in.
While most of these shows are indeed awesome, I'm basing my selection truly only on the song itself. Is it catchy? Do the lyrics do a good job of explaining what the show is about? Does the production quality and instrumentation place it squarely within the decade? And it has to actually be a song — if it's just someone talking over music, even if that music rocks, that doesn't count.
These 10 '80s cartoon theme songs ruled the day in their time and could use a relisten today.
Originally running for four seasons over 200 episodes from 1987 to 1990, this song is just a straight-up banger.
It also does a really great job of explaining exactly what you're going to get from the show:
Might solve a mystery
Or rewrite history
Not to overthink it here, but solving a mystery and rewriting history seem like pretty big differences in terms of scale and impact. Pretty glib way to refer to possibly rewriting timelines, to be honest.
In fairness, there are hardly any words in this theme song, but as soon as you hear that bassline drop, you know exactly what you're in for.
The cartoon ran for two seasons from 1983 to 1985 with 86 episodes and enjoyed a long life in syndication.
And the theme song was written by none other than Shuki Levy and Haim Saban — Saban being the future creator of the Power Rangers.
Considering over 150 original songs were penned for this cartoon, it's no surprise the theme song is truly, truly, truly outrageous.
Running from 1985 to 1988, Jem was the no. 1 rated syndicated cartoon in 1986 and received over 2.5 million weekly viewers — despite the fact that the inclusion of music videos was considered "radical" at the time.
Adventures of the Gummi Bears
Of all the songs on this list, this one might do the best of explaining the show's premise in the lyrics. And the chorus is simply infuriatingly catchy.
The show asks the age-old question of science: What if gummy bear candies were actually anthropomorphic bears that lived in the Middle Ages?
It ran for six seasons from 1985 to 1991.
While it only ran for one season in 1986, SilverHawks produced 86 episodes that feature this scorching '80s theme song.
This is definitely one to throw on your workout mix, complete with a shredding guitar solo and motivating synths — and just check out the animation in this opening. Bad A.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
I really just have to hand it to the performers on this one for somehow singing the phrase "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" (with excellent enunciation, I might add) in a totally catchy and enjoyable way.
This theme song also does an excellent job of very simply explaining both the premise and the core personalities of each turtle. Turtle power, indeed.
The original animated series got its start in 1987 and ran all the way through 1996.
This one really gets right to the point — this show is about a cat that's a total troublemaker. Boom, that's it.
For 86 episodes from 1984-85, plus several years after in syndication, you could hear this infectious tune — and perhaps it's no surprise the powerhouse duo of Shuki Levy and Haim Saban penned this one.
Denver the Last Dinosaur
What's better than a bunch of uber-80s kids who discover a dinosaur who turns into a totally rad sunglasses-wearing guitar player? Nothing. There is literally nothing better.
A precursor to the dino boom to come in the early '90s, the show ran for two seasons over 50 episodes, starting in 1988, and convinced me that I, too, would someday befriend a dinosaur.
If you're not down to do the Care Bears Countdown at a moment's notice, then we're not friends anymore.
It gets a bit complicated when you're talking about the original series and when it ran, but suffice it to say this song outlasted that original run, which took place roughly from 1985 to 1988. And of course, the franchise went on to experience multiple iterations across multiple formats.
I could seriously hear this song on the radio and you could tell me it was the Go-Gos and I wouldn't even bat an eyelash. This one really just makes you want to get up and dance.
And surprise! Once again we have Shuki Levy and Haim Saban to thank for composing it.
The original run only received 13 episodes from 1985-86, but also tacked on two half-hour live-action specials and four read-along videos. Guess it was just too wild of a place for kids to visit to last much longer than that.
There were a lot of great songs used as intros for '80s cartoons, but these 10 rise above them all. With that said, what else would you put on this list?