Ten Most Badass TV Theme Songs of the '80s
Say what you will about '80s TV shows -- the one-dimensional characters and ludicrous plot devices -- but they just don't make theme songs like they used to.
If you were alive and watching television in the '80s, then you've most likely got the intro music to classic shows like Knight Rider, Miami Vice, and A-Team stuck in your head for eternity. And with good reason. These were some pretty epic tunes, full of grit, emotion and unforgettably cheesy electric guitar solos.
See the cut for Crossfade's ten most badass TV theme songs of the '80s.
10. Knight Rider
Before The Hoff was a washed-up loser getting wasted on YouTube, he was the
biggest badass on television. This show's theme
song -- an unforgettable, dark and sultry electro-funk number -- would
later get revamped for the dancefloor by the likes of Busta Rhymes and
9. Miami Vice
The show that put '80s Miami chic, i.e. Don Johnson's
white linen suits with sockless loafers, on the map. At the time,
Miami Vice was also known for its innovative New Wave soundtrack, and
the opening theme song follows suit with its pounding drum machine
toms and glossy guitar riffs.
The ultimate theme song for the ultimate badasses. But we all know
this song was written especially for Mr. T. In a perfect world, a marching
band would follow him 24 hours per day, playing this song wherever the T-Man might roam.
This 21 Jump Street spinoff would get cancelled after its first season, prematurely ending Richard Grieco's career. It was incredibly unfair for the prodigious thespian and his fans. Our
consolation: This banging theme song by Billy Idol lives on.
'80s America had a serious obsession with flashy technology. Hence,
shows like Knight Rider, Small Wonder and Airwolf featuring a machine
or robot as main characters. Airwolf's theme song is pure high-speed
adrenaline-pumping techno ear porn.
5. Magnum P.I.
Few leading men of the '80s exuded as much virility and heroism as Tom
Selleck with his magnificent 'stache. Selleck's contract commitment to
the Magnum, P.I. series famously cost him the role of Indiana Jones in
Raiders of the Lost Ark. But if it's any consolation, Tom, you were
born to play Magnum and we wouldn't have you any other way.
Richard Dean Anderson's character exploits on this show were so
popular by the late '80s, that they even tried to get the term
"MacGyverism" entered into Webster's Dictionary as a way of describing
technical problem-solving and resourcefulness. McGyver was the
ultimate brainy badass.
3. T.J. Hooker
William Shatner has been TV's most versatile actor for a half-century. He was forever
immortalized as Captain Kirk in the Star Trek franchise. He's
astounded listeners with his interpretive spoken-word rendition of pop
songs. And who could forget his work in commercials? But Shatner will
always be LAPD detective Thomas Jefferson Hooker to us. And the
dramatic complexity of the character that only Shatner could have
played is perfectly captured in the theme song.
Automan was exactly like Tron, but in reverse. Instead of a human
entering the virtual world, the computer in Automan creates a
crime-fighting holographic hero projected into the real world. The
theme song is a slice of retro-futurist awesomeness
and tacky old-school sci-fi sound effects.
Sgt. Rick Hunter was the Dirty Harry of cop shows, a trigger-happy
shoot-first-ask-questions-later kind of badass. Therefore, the show's
porn-soundtrack-on-steroids theme song was perfect.
Get the Music Newsletter
Keep your thumb on the local music scene each week with music news, trends, artist interviews and concert listings. We'll also send you special ticket offers and music deals.