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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.

Examples of Thematic Theme Tune include:


  • 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 One Half 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.

  • Not so much the main theme, but Gurren Lagann has the more famous Row Row Fight The Powah Rap Is a Man's Soul, which is pretty much about being Hot-Blooded and going Beyond the Impossible, the two main points of the series. The only thing that connects it to the series is a few vague mentions of "the underground".
  • 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).

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 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.

Live-Action TV

  • "Love Is All Around" (the theme toThe 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."
  • 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 Desmonds 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.
  • Three's Company: "Come and knock on our door, we've been waiting for you, where the kisses are hers and hers and his..."

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