Darkwing Duck, Rescue Rangers, Duck Tales, Talespin, Gargoyles.

Ranking 11 Disney Television Theme Songs From the '80s &'90s

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Darkwing Duck, Rescue Rangers, Duck Tales, Talespin, Gargoyles.
Disney’s renaissance wasn’t just on film. Some of their best work was made for TV, including some of the best intros and theme songs ever!
Images and characters copyright Walt Disney. All rights reserved.

As a kid I got to experience Disney’s renaissance not only from the cushioned chair of a movie theater, but also from my living room floor. Though The Little Mermaid jump started an incredible animated film run that included The Lion King, Beauty and the Beast, and Aladdin, there was also some magical animation happening on the small screen after school or on the weekend cartoon block during the ’80s and ’90s. One of the reasons many of these cartoons are ingrained into our memories is due to their catchy theme songs that would leave viewers singing long after the television tube went black.

I’ve taken it upon myself to look at some of the most popular and iconic Disney cartoons from my childhood and rank them based solely on their theme song intros. This is not a definitive list, as I’m sure I neglected mentioning a few cartoons. Also, this is only my opinion, but I have a suspicion that I won’t be alone with some of my choices. Be warned when reading this list, however, I can almost guarantee you’ll be humming a few of these songs for days to come.

11. Gargoyles

Let’s just call this an honorable mention. Wait! Don’t throw stones yet! Remember, this list is solely about cartoon intro theme songs and not how cool a series was in general. While I love Gargoyles, their intro didn’t really include a theme song, it was simply some grim and gritty narration layered on top of a pretty haunting score that rivals the best in any Hollywood classic. Even though the intro is a perfect setup for the series, it can’t really compete on this list.

10. Bonkers

Quick! Before you click the video try to dig back deep into your memory and hum this song. More than likely, you can’t. That’s because this song is as much of a trainwreck as Bonkers himself. Yeesh!  What’s going on here? I have no idea.

9. Aladdin

Don’t get me wrong, Arabian Nights is a fantastic song… but is it a fantastic theme song? Remember, a theme song is supposed to set the tone for the show, draw interest, and be unique. While Arabian Nights is a perfect fit for the magic and the mystery of the theatrical release of Aladdin, I’m not sure it works for the much looser and goofier television series. However, regardless of that, I only put this one this far down on the list because it was just a rehash of the movie’s theme song, otherwise it would have ranked higher.

8. Goof Troop

Goof Troop tried to throw a little soul in the mix of their cartoon lineup, and the performer is certainly belting it out so high I can’t tell if I’m listening to a man or woman. Whoever it is, they’re no Tevin Campbell. If Goof Troop had tapped Campbell to craft and sing a television intro with the same talent he displayed on A Goofy Movie‘s soundtrack (Seriously, “Stand Out” and “Eye-to-Eye” were on constant loop on my Walkman, listen for yourself), we could possibly have a new contender for number one on this list. Instead we get a song that was pretty forgettable, just like this show.

7. Mighty Ducks

I’ll be honest, I didn’t really watch this cartoon. I was a tad too old and groaned just a little too hard at the live action film’s “Quack! Quack! Quack!” rallying cry. However, the intro to this mostly forgotten cartoon is definitely deserving to be mentioned in this list. A little more rock ‘n’ roll than the rest of the list, Mighty Ducks‘ theme song gets your head bobbing even if you find your head shaking in disbelief when you wonder how this cartoon was ever greenlit. Though the cartoon only lasted one season, at least the intro performer has a possible future as lead singer for Stryper.

6. Talespin

Oh-wee-ay! Too much grunting! And what’s with the stiff “Ha! Ha! Ha!” laughter? Creepy. I appreciate what they were trying to do with a tropical island vibe to the song, and I’ll give it to Disney, it certainly was unique and was pretty catchy. However, unlike some others on this list, even though I caught myself humming this theme song as a kid, I would purposely try to replace the song stuck in my head with almost anything else.

5. Darkwing Duck

“Let’s get dangerous!” For some reason, I didn’t even recall Darkwing Duck as being a Disney property, but rewatching the intro again and again (and again), I’m not surprised. The song builds to a catchy hook, throws in some surprises (“When there’s trouble you call DW!”), and is just plain fun – exactly what a Disney cartoon should be. Plus, I’m a sucker for some funky bass licks.

4. The Wuzzles

A little bit of this? Check. A little bit of that? You bet. Catchy hook? Got it. Earworm? Yessir. Ending on a literal high note? You got that right! This theme song alone should have earned The Wuzzles more than one season. Sadly, it wasn’t meant to be.

3. Chip ‘n Dale Rescue Rangers

Remember what I said about how I’m a sucker for a smooth bass line? Well, this theme song delivers more bass action than American Idol’s Randy Jackson did during his Journey concert days. I love how this one starts out with a sense of mystery that includes thunderclaps and police sirens, but then slowly builds to a high-energy chorus. Are the Chi-Chi-Chi-Chip ‘n’ Dale lyrics poetic? No, but who cares? I dare you to not find yourself singing this one in a few minutes.

2. Gummi Bears

I’m a firm believer that almost everything sounds better with a full orchestra. Gummi Bears‘ intro starts off with a light-hearted sing-songy tale perfectly suited as the beginning of what proves be a fantastical adventure before reaching full swell with an insanely entertaining hook. The song even serves a dual purpose of drawing attention at the same time providing new viewers a little background of the story before diving into the episode.

1. Duck Tales

I couldn’t tell you a single plot of an episode of Duck Tales, but I can still sing the entire theme song from memory twenty years later. That speaks to just how awesome this theme song remains to this day. Duck Tales was a great cartoon, lasted four seasons, enjoyed 100 episodes, but this theme song is a masterpiece in its own right.

What do you think about my rankings? Which of these theme songs do you now have stuck in your head? Let me know in the comments below!

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8 thoughts on “Ranking 11 Disney Television Theme Songs From the '80s &'90s

  1. There was no question about the top two…. I was a huge Gummi Bears fan as a kid, so I’d reverse them but that’s personal…
    Great job on the list overall… Thanks

  2. I am baffled that the Wuzzle theme song is ranked HIGHER than the theme for Darkwing Duck. O_O

    Totally agree on #1. Best. Disney theme. Ever.

  3. I’m okay with the rankings here. The Wuzzles might be the least memorable show on this list, but it has a damn good theme song. Darkwing Duck’s theme is okay, but I was never really into that show as a kid.

  4. Indeed this list misses several Disney themes from the ’90s. Of course, none of them were what you might call, um…good.

    Quack Pack – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YtnjqPMiXK8

    101 Dalmations – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=otL_75bDGmk

    Marsupilami – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=73xXVlR20q0

    There were also series for The Little Mermaid, Aladdin, Timon & Pumbaa, and Hercules, but all of those simply reappropriated music from their respective films. I do have a particular fondness for the upbeat Hercules one, though – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IxqzHpKeYUE

  5. Only problem I have with this list is the exclusion of The New Adventures of Winnie The Pooh.

    It has everything you want in a theme song. It’s catchy, it explains the premise of the show and it makes you smile.

    1. I agree. Good call, Michael. That was a complete oversight on my part. I had actually intended to write about it, but accidentally left it out. Where would you rank it? Top 5?

  6. i literally have a youtube playlist with at least 120 theme songs from cartoons, tv shows, and even commercials that i used to watch as a kid..and it’s still incomplete. all of these are on there, except wuzzles which i haven’t heard of before.

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