10 instrumental TV theme songs we can never skip, from Succession to Game of Thrones

Jeremy Strong in Succession season 2
Jeremy Strong in Succession season 2 /

Theme songs can truly set the tone for a show. Along with the visual elements, the music can make a break a show’s title sequence. Sometimes, theme songs can be unmemorable — there only as a formality and easily fast-forwarded. However, every once in a while, a truly iconic theme song will come along and get stuck in our heads. Some of the absolute best don’t even need lyrics, letting the music do all the work.

Read on to discover the 10 best instrumental theme songs that would be a sin to skip.

Best TV theme songs: Succession

Much has been dissected about Succession’s theme song. (Not to mention the many incredible memes that have come from it.) The composition by Nicholas Britell has a sense of class and sophistication underscored with dissonance and chaos — the perfect embodiment of the show’s tone.

Best TV theme songs: House of Cards

Like Succession, the House of Cards theme song has an air of regalness about it combined with a sense of unease. Considering the show’s glossy composition and penchant for scheming characters, the theme song encapsulates the brutal world of DC politics.

Best TV theme songs: The X-Files

The X-Files theme song is so legendary that the sound has come to be used for any spooky situation at all. The eerie whistling, the echoing — it all creates a creepy effect. (Fun fact: the song was released as a single in 1996 and charted at #1 in France.)

Best TV theme songs: Game of Thrones

You’d be hard-pressed to find a theme song more epic than Game of Thrones — and for good reason. With a large, rich world and giant cast of compelling characters, the soundtrack of Westeros needs to be fittingly cinematic. The tune expertly combines the historical and adventurous feeling one of the most popular shows of all time is known for.

Best TV theme songs: Mad Men

The Mad Men opening credits seamlessly blend a fun, jazzy feeling with something more dangerous and tension-filled simmering underneath. Combining a classic vibe with something more modern, it fits the time period. This is a theme song that has layers, and considering Don Draper is one of the most complex characters television has ever known, it’s only appropriate.

Best TV theme songs: Sex and the City

Playful, flirty, and easily recognizable, the Sex and the City theme song has a spunky and refreshing sound. It truly captures both the dramatic and carefree nature of being a woman in New York City, drinking cosmos, and gossiping over brunch.

Best TV theme songs: The Crown

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Queen Elizabeth II (OLIVIA COLEMAN) Credit – Liam Daniel/Netflix /

Composed by Hans Zimmer, one of the most famous and renowned composers in recent history, there’s something both incredibly grand and incredibly sad about The Crown’s theme song. The traditional royal tunes mixed with an air of tragedy makes for the perfect soundtrack to Queen Elizabeth’s long, complicated reign.

Best TV theme songs: Law and Order: SVU / Law and Order: OC

From its deep voiceover starting off every episode to its iconic dun duns, Law and Order has several culturally impactful elements. The theme songs to long-running Law and Order: SVU and the newest Dick Wolf installment, Law and Order: OC, are timeless bops.

Best TV theme songs: Hawaii 5-0

Tropical, upbeat, and undeniably catchy, the Hawaii 5-0 theme song makes us want to take down some bad guys and go surfing. It is considered by many to be the best television theme of all time — a fact that’s pretty hard to argue with.

Best TV theme songs: Breaking Bad

Intense and moody, the Breaking Bad theme song is a fitting sound to the highly decorated drama. Equal parts dark and twangy, it’s a perfect theme for the show’s entire run — something that was important to composer Dave Porter from the get-go.

Next. 5 shows to watch while you wait for The Crown season 5. dark

What’s your favorite instrumental TV theme song? Comment below!