From grunge music to rollerblades to boy bands and girl groups, the 90s had it all, including some great cartoons with great theme songs. The Nerd Stash is now ready to celebrate some of those songs by counting down the 10 best cartoon intros of the 90s. We recently took time to celebrate the 10 best cartoon intros of the 80s, and while that decade did offer some classics, the 90s offered up some of the most memorable cartoon intros that are attached to some major franchises. And so, without further ado, here are the top 10 best 90s cartoon intros.
10. Sailor Moon
Sailor Moon was a divisive show. Girls loved it, and boys lied and said they didn’t. Whether you want to fess up or not, you can’t deny that there was no escaping this memorable theme song. The theme of the English dub borrows the melody from the original Japanese dub, throwing in a killer electric guitar riff and lyrics celebrating fighting evil, finding romance, friendship, and girl power. To the girls and boys who sang along, you’ve got nothing to be ashamed of.
9. Digimon: Digital Monsters
Digimon is tragically dismissed by many as a rip-off of Pokemon, and to be fair… it is. However, it was still a remarkably impressive anime, and some preferred it to the cartoon it was ripping off. This theme was the opening to the respective series for three seasons, and like many of the theme songs from our 80s cartoon list, it doesn’t exactly do much lyrically. A good chunk of the song is simply, “Digimon: digital monsters, Digimon are the champions.” Repetitive for sure, but it was exciting enough to get kids ready for a weekly trip to the digital world. Later seasons featured themes with more inspired lyrics, with the Digimon: Frontiers theme being particularly impressive. But be honest: which song pops into your head when you think of Digimon? Chances are it’s this repetitive classic.
8. Tiny Toon Adventures
We included the theme of Tiny Toon Adventures on our top ten cartoon theme songs with lyrics, and for good reason. The amazing orchestra and the lyrics performed by “all the little loonies” had every 90s child to ready spend time with the residents of Acme Acres. It also features a nice tribute to the original Looney Tunes, who have been “getting laughs since 1933.” The show has a reboot right around the corner, Tiny Toons Looniversity, and while there appear to be some changes from the series, one can hope we will get a theme song that gets some inspiration from this one.
7. Pinky and the Brain
A spin-off of another 90s cartoon that we will talk more about momentarily, this intro introduced us to the ironically placed mouse duo. A genius and a not-so-brilliant whacko trying to take over the world on a nightly basis. The song’s melody and vocals sound almost eerie and foreboding, yet it’s ultimately funny and catchy. The show and its intro are so beloved that the mismatched pair of mice were brought back for Hulu’s reboot of the show that gave birth to them (again, we will come back to that show soon). Pinky and the Brain are icons, and this 90s cartoon intro is one we have never forgotten.
6. Darkwing Duck
Is there a greater line than “When there’s trouble, you call DW?” Heck no! A spin-off of Ducktales, this was Disney’s take on the superhero genre. The character was so popular that fans were eager to see him return in the Ducktales reboot, a demand that was satisfied in 2020. The catchy theme is remembered for its beat and its clever use of Darkwing’s catchphrase, “Let’s get dangerous!” It certainly would be dangerous not to include the song on this list.
Here it is. The show that gave us Pinky and the Brain, as well as Slappy Squirrel, the Goodfeathers, Rita and Runt, and of course, the Warners (Yakko, Wakko, and Dot). This intro basically sums up the plot of the show, introducing us to all these zany characters who made 90s kids and adults who caught wind of the NSFW humor laugh ’til they collapsed. You also got to give the writers points for consistently coming up with so many different rhymes for “totally insaney” at the end of the song. This 90s cartoon intro is truly a classic, and it’s no wonder Hulu felt the need to bring it back.
4. The Magic School Bus
A lot of cartoons attempt to make learning fun, but few of them get shown in classrooms. The Magic School Bus stands out in that vain quite strongly, and that made going to science class pretty exciting. The theme song, “Ride on the Magic School Bus,” teases what a field trip with Ms. Frizzle may have in store. Her bus took you through ocean depths, the human body, outer space, and more. The song is so timeless that the lyrics remained completely unchanged in Netflix’s reboot, The Magic School Bus Rides Again.
This is the only song on the list that is void of lyrics, but it does not need them. The second attempt at an animated X-Men animated series, and the first successful one, the show lasted for five years. It is celebrated for introducing a generation to the famous comic book characters and for paving the way for the live-action films that would soon follow. When it was announced that the show would be an exclusive on Disney+, many viewers got accounts solely to relive their childhoods. The intro is impressive for its killer guitar riffs and its showcasing of the various X-Men and their abilities. A new X-Men series has been announced for Disney+, and many are hoping that this show will provide some inspiration for that series.
Premiering in 1996 and ending earlier this year, Arthur was the second-longest-running series of all time, beaten out only by The Simpsons. And during its 25-season run, it held on to the exact same intro, albeit with a few minor re-drawings to keep up with the times. The lyrics celebrate what Arthur was all about, celebrating the importance of learning “to work and play and get along with each other.” The song is all about being a decent person in society and treating people with love and respect. It’s a fitting song for a kid’s show that wasn’t afraid to teach kids about how to deal with serious issues. This 90s cartoon intro didn’t require many changes because it still remains timeless 26 years later.
The very best like no song ever was. The Pokémon franchise has had many cartoon variations, and there’s even a live-action series in development. The franchise has also had many different theme songs. But when someone mentions “the Pokémon theme,” chances are they are referring one. The lyrics are remarkably corny, and that’s kind of what makes the song so great. It basically describes everything going on in Ash Ketchum’s head, namely his desire to be the greatest Pokémon master of all time. Conceited as that seems, the song also celebrates friendship and learning from one another when defending the world from evil. The song is a lasting classic and one that Pokémon fans, especially those from the 90s, are united around. That united love of the song and the franchise makes the Pokémon theme the best 90s cartoon intro.
- Dragonball Z
- Spongebob Squarepants
- Captain Planet and the Planeteers (with a nod to the end credits song)
- Rocko’s Modern Life
- The Powerpuff Girls
- Dexter’s Laboratory
The honorable mentions list could go far longer, proving that 90s cartoons and their intros really are classics. Is there one you feel that we missed? What’s your favorite 90s cartoon intro. Share your thoughts on The Nerd Stash Facebook page, @TheNerdStash on Twitter, and in the comments.