Getting Animated: Fave Cartoon Themes from Bugs to Batman

Getting Animated: Fave Cartoon Themes

This one came in by request, appropriately enough. A reader thought we should do a post on the greatest cartoon theme songs and show openings of all time. That’s fair. I wasn’t sure whether to confine this to the regular fare (comic-related, etc.) or throw it open, so we’ll see what happens. I will however endeavor to make this installment a U.S.-centric affair. I think that all involved would agree that adding anime to the equation would seriously tilt the aspect ratio, and I’m getting the vibe that this question was originally derived from Saturday morning/weekday afternoon nostalgia.

So? I’d go with . . .

The Bugs Bunny Show, “This is it!”: There’s a great, bizarre Vaudeville quality to it. I like the fact that essentially the entire cast gets trotted out (including the boxing kangaroo that’s frequently mistaken for an oversize mouse).

The Road Runner Show: Quite possibly one of my favorite cartoon theme songs ever. I love it because, in a lyrical sense, it totally articulates the premise: “Road Runner/The coyote’s after you/Road Runner/If he catches you, you’re through.”

Animaniacs: There’s a special place in Animation Heaven for whomever conceived of the line “there’s baloney in our slacks”. It also fulfills a number of tasks: it introduces the Warners, it introduces the other regulars, it’s stuffed with jokes, and it changed the penultimate line in nearly every episode (“Citizen Kaney” and “Dana Delaney” being two of my favorite choices for the end couplet).

Freakazoid: Freaka me, freaka you, indeed.

The Tick: The jazzy swing of this is sheer perfection.

Scooby-Doo, Where Are You?: To quote the late lamented Rastapiece Theatre: The classics, mon, they never die.

Challenge of the Super Friends: Yes, there were a number of Super Friends seasons with an essentially similar theme song. But if you add the opening into the equation, the 1978 “Challenge” season is the hands down winner. Why? Three words: Legion. Of. Doom. Another perfect articulation of the premise, this opening lays out the rosters for both sides and actually invokes the phrase “Justice League of America”. For a five-year-old in 1978, these 60 seconds were the rough equivalent of seeing Kiss hit the stage.

X-Men: The wordless theme from the ‘90s X-Men cartoon is actually pretty great. It’s certainly better than the horrific “X-Men! X-Men!” abomination that preceded “Pryde of the X-Men”. However, as good as this is . . .

X-Men, Japanese Intro #2: Okay, so I’m cheating a little here. This wasn’t a different cartoon; this was the Japanese introduction (the second one, in fact; the first one is here: ) to the above ‘90s X-Men when it was shown in that country. Ah, would that the whole series have looked like this . . . and yes, that’s Krakoa.

Batman, Superman, and Batman and Superman: I have to admit that I have a soft spot for the combined intro, a great mash-up that came into use when Batman and Superman episodes were paired in the hour-long “New Batman and Superman Adventures”. And I’d just stick with that:

That is, of course, if the individual openings weren’t just pure classics. (Batman: TAS is unembeddable for some reason, sorry!)

Duck Tales: Don’t hassle me. Give it up.

Darkwing Duck: This one’s goin’ out to Ian Brill.

Justice League: Some disdain the metal guitars in the “Unlimited” opening. They’ve never bothered me. I frankly think that both themes are high quality, but I give the pure opening edge to the original for its “big seven intro walk” and the blinding sunrise effect that accompanies it. Honestly, it doesn’t matter which one you pick; if my kids hear either one, then they know that they’re going to have fun for the next 30 minutes. Here’s both intros in one video.

That seems like a great start. Thoughts, suggestions, tweets for Part 2? Let’s have ‘em.


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