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"Most people don't know that the theme from Star Trek had lyrics. I do. Don't make me sing them."
Paul Goebel, a/k/a The TV Geek, on Comedy Central's "Beat The Geeks"

Many Instrumental Theme Tunes actually have lyrics, which for one reason or another were not used in the version that opens the show. This can be for stylistic reasons, or because the theme song lyrics were really terrible, or because they were written only after the show was produced. Alternatively, the lyrics may never have been intended to have been sung, and are included as an in-joke or to give the producer a share in the royalty payments from the song for providing the "lyrics." (Note that many of the latter are Title Theme Tunes, which may say something about those.)

When somebody unconnected to the show adds lyrics later for a joke, it's With Lyrics. Fans have written many Filk Songs in this manner.

Examples of Forgotten Theme Tune Lyrics include:


Live Action TV

  • M*A*S*H: "Suicide Is Painless" had lyrics which had been used in the film, but judged to be too dark and depressing to be used on television in 1972. (Today no one would blink an eye at them.)

 Suicide Is Painless

It brings on many changes

And I can take or leave it if I please

    • The lyrics were related to a B-plot of the film involving the unit's dentist, Captain Walter Kosciusko Waldowski (AKA "The Painless Pole") and his suicidal tendencies. Since the character was not included in the cast of the TV series, there was no presumable need to use the lyrics.
    • Mike Altman (the lyricist, and director Robert Altman's son), actually made more money from the movie than his father did due to the song being used sans lyrics by the TV show for 11 years. (Not to mention decades' worth of syndicated reruns, and countless cover versions by easy-listening artists.)
    • Unlike other entries in this list, the lyrics got a little publicity in the UK when the full version of the song made it to #1 in the UK in 1980. Welsh alternative rock band Manic Street Preachers did a cover of the song in 1992 and took it to #7.
  • I Dream of Jeannie: "Jeannie, fresh as a daisy/Just love how she obeys me/She does things that amaze me so..." Aren't you glad these weren't used?
  • I Love Lucy: "I love Lucy, and she loves me/We're as happy as two can be..." Ricky actually sings these to Lucy at one point in the series.
    • If you have "Special Edition" I Love Lucy tapes, the beginning has the sung version. Even some of the episodes on the Complete First Season DVD have them. Not all of them, though.
  • Star Trek the Original Series: "Beyond the rim of the starlight/My love is wandering in starflight..." This isn't so much "forgotten" as "never learned", being one of the more well-known examples of writing solely for royalties; Gene Roddenberry actually wrote the lyrics without composer Alexander Courage's knowledge. If you poke about on the Internet enough, you can find a recording of Nichelle "Lt. Uhura" Nichols singing his lyrics -- it's not pretty. Also a staple cover song at Tenacious D gigs.
  • Bonanza: "Here in the West we're livin' in the best, Bonanza!/If anyone fights any one of us, he's got to fight with me!" The lyrics were used for the first airing of the pilot, but were dropped for being a bit lame. (Worse yet, the cast -- none of whom could be considered even average singers -- performed it as part of the episode's action.) To his credit, Lorne Greene didn't sing the lyrics at all; he performed them as plainsong. Note: as little known as these lyrics are, they did get air play. Johnny Cash, back in his prime, sang the Bonanza theme just for the fun of it, and the video is available on the net.
    • Interestingly, Futurama references these lyrics in the episode "Where the Buggalo Roam", when Bender sings (to the Bonanza theme music) "We got a right to pick a little fight with russ-lers! Somebody wants to pick a fight with us, he better bite my ass!"
    • Ironically, the lyrics were featured more prominently on an episode of Cheers than they ever did in Bonanza.
    • An obscure fact is that a second set of lyrics also exist, sung by Lorne Greene as the flip side of his 1964 Country-Western hit "Ringo".
    • Mystery Science Theater 3000 referenced the lyrics during a host segment in Joel Robinson's last episode.
    • The song is included on a CD called My Rifle, My Pony, and Me, which is a collection of songs from Western movies and TV series.
  • Bewitched: "Bewitched, bewitched, you've got me in your spell/Bewitched, bewitched, you know your craft so well..." Actually recorded by Steve Lawrence (eerily channelling Frank Sinatra) in 1964; this recording can be heard in the 2005 movie.
  • The Munsters: "If when you're sleeping you dream a lot/Ghoulish nightmares parade through your head/And then you wake up and scream a lot/Oh the Munsters are under your bed." Good call on skipping these.
  • Last of the Summer Wine has a theme tune whose lyrics have only been used once in its (very, very long) run -- the special which adapted the original novel.
  • The Dick Van Dyke Show: Turns out it's an early Thematic Theme Tune. "So you think that you've got trouble/Well trouble's a bubble/So tell old mister trouble to get lost." Wheet-boomph.
  • The Andy Griffith Show: "Come on, take down your fishin pole and meet me at the fishin hole/I can't think of a better way to pass the time o' day." Another Thematic Theme Tune -- which makes sense, since the title doesn't lend itself to verse.
    • Oddly enough, these lyrics were written by Everett Sloane, a leading actor of Mercury Theater, Orson Welles's stock company.
  • Hogan's Heroes: "Heroes, heroes, husky men of war/Sons of all the heroes, of the war before/We're all heroes up to our ear o's/You ask questions -- we make suggestions/That's what we're heroes for."
  • The Odd Couple: "No matter where they go they are known as the couple/They're never seen alone so they're known as the couple." The lyrics, which along with the tune were originally written for the 1968 movie adaptation of the Neil Simon play, can be viewed here.
  • The theme to Buck Rogers in The 25th Century had lyrics which were sung by Kipp Lennon during the opening credits of the original Pilot Movie: "Far beyond the world I've known,/Far beyond my time/What am I, who am I, what will I be?/Where am I going, and what will I see?"
    • Used on some episodes under the closing credits. In this case the problem is not just corny lyrics, but with how winsome Kipp sounded singing them.
  • The theme tune of the Soap Opera Eastenders has been released as a single, beginning with the line "Anyone can fall in love".
  • Father Ted: originally composed as an short instrumental piece by The Divine Comedy, they later adapted into a full-length piece entitled "Songs of Love."
  • The theme song to All in The Family, "Those Were the Days", has a second verse that was never used on the show. The second verse had a much better ending than the first verse. Instead of that inane line, "Gee, our old LaSalle ran great" (which combined with the unison bad singing of Carroll O'Connor and Jean Stapleton is all but incomprehensible), the final stanza of the second verse went like this: "Hair was short and skirts were long/Kate Smith really sold a song/I don't know just what went wrong/Those were the days!" Doesn't that line, "I don't know just what went wrong", just fit Archie Bunker like a glove?
    • There were even more lyrics in the full version. See them here.
    • The closing theme, "Remembering You", also had lyrics (by Carroll O'Connor) but was always done as an instrumental. O'Connor supposedly sang them once on the Mike Douglas Show. They start out: "Got a feelin' it's all over now / All over now we're through / And tomorrow I'll be lonesome / REMEMBERING YOU."
    • When it became Archie Bunker's Place, the opening theme lyrics were dropped altogether and "Those Were the Days" became an instrumental as well.
  • F Troop: The first season had a black-and-white opening with an Expository Theme Tune. For the second season (done in color), the titles were redone, and the tune replaced with a lyrics-free instrumental version in the process.
  • Leave It to Beaver:

 Hey! Here they come with a rum-tee tum

They're having a toy parade.

A tin giraffe with a fife and drum

Is leading the kewpie parade.

A gingham cat in a soldier's hat

Is waving a Chinese fan,

A plastic clown in a wedding gown

Is dancing with Raggedy Ann.

Fee fie fiddle dee dee

They're crossing the living room floor

Fee fie fiddle dee dee

They're up to the dining room door.

They call a halt for a choc'late malt

Or cookies and lemonade

Then off they go with a ho ho ho

Right back to their toy brigade.

  • Richard Rodgers wrote an incidental tango theme for the World War II miniseries Victory At Sea called "Beneath the Southern Cross." Then Oscar Hammerstein wrote lyrics to it, and the resulting song, titled "No Other Love," appeared in their next Broadway musical, Me and Juliet.
  • Dollhouse similarly has a full-length song, whose lyrics even reference the theme of the show. The lyrics suck. The only good part is the "la la la" bit that's used in the show.
  • Twin Peaks has lyrics for its theme music. Julee Cruise sings the song late in the pilot, and the full version is on the soundtrack CD.
  • Hawaii Five-O's distinctive theme music is entitled "You Can Count On Me", and Sammy Davis Jr. at one point actually recorded it:

 If you get in trouble, bring it home to me

Whether I am near you, or across the sea.

I will think of something to do.

I'll be on the lookout for you.

And I'll find you -- you can count on me.

  • The theme song for Mama's Family, "Bless My Happy Home," reportedly has lyrics written by star Vicki Lawrence, who occasionally sings them at her Two-Woman Show.
  • The lyrics to the Remember WENN theme were only heard a couple of times, when they were performed on the show (the first time by Patti Lupone).
  • Allo Allo The theme song's lyrics are sung in the first season horribly badly by Madame Edith (the wife of Rene Artois who owns the cafe). The Actress Carmen Silvera actually could not sing, she was so tone deaf that she literally slaughtered any song she tried to sing. As a joke, this was written into the show. So badly did she sing, I cannot even remember any of the lyrics except that the refrain ends with "together once more!"
  • Partial example: Blakes Seven nearly acquired some unpleasantly saccharine lyrics to go with the remixed Season 4 theme, to be sung by the actor playing Tarrant. The theme tune was already at odds with the increasingly bleak tone of the series and the idea was quickly dropped, seemingly without the With Lyrics version ever being recorded.
  • On How I Met Your Mother, the lyrics to "Hey Beautiful" by The Solids are missing, with only the "pa pa pa pa pa, da da da da, da da da da da, da da da da" left in.
  • The various Stargate series apparently had lyrics, but were cut out of TV broadcasts. One commercial had a guy attempt to get on the show by singing them.
  • The theme tune to Dinnerladies had lyrics (written by Victoria Wood) in the closing credits to two episodes. They've got different words, but seem to fit together as the first two verses of the same song.
  • Of all shows, Family Guy has a theme song that goes beyond the first verse heard on the show. The only known recording of it, however, is a live recording made for a CD called "Family Guy: Live in Las Vegas". The lyrics of the song continue with Brian and Stewie getting lines about how old film stars were better than new ones, Lois getting a line comparing Peter to Dick Van Dyke and Mike Brady, and Peter getting a line about how his "titties are real".

Film

  • "Never Smile at a Crocodile", a song written for the Disney version of Peter Pan, but used only as underscore for the crocodile.
    • The version with lyrics is better known from an episode of The Muppet Show.
    • It can also be found on various collections of songs released by Disney on LP, tape and CD over the past 50 years.
  • The Star Wars theme has the "Life Day" song lyrics which don't exist, since they come from an Old Shame.
    • And then there was Bill Murray's sketch on Saturday Night Live in which he had his own as a lounge singer: "Star wars, nothing but star wars..."
  • Johnny Mercer wrote lyrics to "Laura" after the melody had been used as an Instrumental Theme Tune for the movie of that name.
  • Likewise -- but rather more strangely -- the theme music from the 1962 proto-shockumentary Mondo Cane attracted so much attention that it acquired lyrics and, under the title "More," became a standard.
  • Not to mention the "haunting Third Man theme." Adding lyrics made the Theme Tune into an actual song, not just a catchy zither riff.
  • The movie I Cover The Waterfront used the contemporaneous hit song of the same title as an Instrumental Theme Tune.
  • The "Tara Theme" from Gone with the Wind became "My Own True Love," with lyrics so insipid they could only have been written to cash in on the fame of instrumental theme music.
  • (Unfortunately) occurs with the film version of Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street. You know the opening theme? Well, it has lyrics, even more theme than that, and it kicks ass.
  • There apparently are lyrics to the James Bond theme, or at least the proto-tune that was eventually rearranged into the one we all know and love.
  • In Superman, though the main theme has no lyrics, the love theme does. The lyrics to "Can You Read My Mind?" are even in the movie, but most people wouldn't guess since they're spoken by Margot Kidder as a mental monologue.
    • Word on the street was that Barbra Streisand was originally lined up to sing it in the film. The producers decided to go with Kidder to make the scene more intimate ... but Margot Kidder isn't a singer, so all she should do was speak them.
  • Chico Marx's theme music, used most prominently in Monkey Business, was published in two different versions with lyrics: "I'm Daffy Over You" and "Lucky Little Penny."
  • A theme from Max Steiner's score to Now Voyager had lyrics added, and became the song "It Can't Be Wrong."
  • The opening music to Fiddler On the Roof: "A fiddler on the roof / a most unlikely sight / It might not mean a thing / but then again it might!"
  • The theme to Chariots of Fire has lyrics. The "refrain" part goes: "And if he should stumble as he goes / (and) If he should fall / It won't really matter if he knows he gave it his all".
  • The theme from Somewhere in Time was given lyrics and turned into a song of the same title in The Nineties for Michael Crawford -- specifically serving as a prerecorded prelude to EFX!, a Las Vegas show he toplined. Despite the strange origins, it's a rather sweet song (and performance) that would fit the movie much better than the flashy show.

Video Games

  • Here's a clip from the "Mario & Zelda Big Band Live" concert in Japan, adding Forgotten Theme Tune Lyrics to the original Mario theme.
  • On the subject of retroactive examples related to video games, a Wily Castle theme from Mega Man 2 was given lyrics about memories and nostalgia, titled "Omoida wa Okku Sen Man" (Memories are 110 million). Thanks to the Internet and sites like Nico Nico Douga and YouTube, Okkusenman was insanely popular for a time in Japan. Examples of the popularity of this, includes parodies showing bands such as if X Japan would be performing the song, covers, like the official one made by JAM Project, between others.
  • There is a vocal version of "World of Balance", the world map theme for the first part of Final Fantasy VI.
    • This is quite common amongst JRPGs, including Wild Arms: alone the world and Creid (from Xenogears), as well as at least seven or eight arrangements that include lyricized Final Fantasy music.
  • One of the Commander Keen games has a song called "You've Got to Eat Your Vegetables". It has lyrics, but the original game used FM sound that didn't support vocals.
    • Bobby Prince originally wrote the song for Keen Dreams, which featured evil vegetables, but it was used in Keen 4 (Secret of the Oracle), with no evil vegetables, so they wouldn't have made sense anyway.
    • Also, the map music from Keen 6 actually has lyrics to go with it. Of course, given the technical limitations the game was made with, they couldn't actually be used (and the game sounds better without them, anyway). Nevertheless, the notes for them can be heard in the music that's played in the game. Bobby Prince has made the text of the lyrics available on his web site.
  • The Super Smash Bros. Brawl rendition of the Fire Emblem theme is a retroactive example, the lyrics written by Masahiro Sakurai.
    • But they were based on the Japanese lyrics, which were used in commercials for the series.
  • Most of the important songs from Earthbound were written with lyrics and even had them included in the manuals. Of course, this was only for the Japanese version.
  • Many of the songs from the Guilty Gear series have had official releases with lyrics. This may be a very minorly retroactive example, depending on whether they were written with lyrics in mind, or whether they were added later.
    • Considering a lot of Japanese games have vocal music CDs (such as the aforementioned Final Fantasy vocal CDs as well as the Street Fighter vocal CDs set to the character's instrumentals) all of which were made after the respective games to cash-in on their success one could assume the same is true for Guilty Gear.
  • Team 17's Worms series originally had stories narrated over the songs, with one chorus shared inbetween them.

 We are worms, we're the best and we've come to win the war

We'll stand, and never run

Stay until it's done.

Though our friends may fall and our world be blown apart

We'll strike with all our might.

We'll fight for what is right 'til the end

Western Animation

  • Partial Example: for the Transformers series Armada and Energon, instrumental versions of the Title Theme Tune for the original Transformers cartoon (which was also reworked into the theme for Robots in Disguise before these two, and for Cybertron after them, albeit with lyrics fairly close to the original version for those) were used. In this case, though, the lyrics were hardly discarded... The assumption seemed instead to be that the original theme was iconic enough that a reworked instrumental version would still bring the lyrics to mind.
    • Animated sets the G1 lyrics to new music that could basically be called a remix of the original. This video demonstrates that they are fairly close.
      • I'd bump that to very close.
      • Of course, Animated then diverges into a different trope...
  • The Merrie Melodies and Looney Tunes themes, respectively "Merrily We Roll Along (My Honey And Me)" and "The Merry-Go-Round Broke Down."
    • Daffy Duck sang the latter in an old cartoon. "My name is Daffy Duck/I work in a merry-go-round..."
    • "Merrily We Roll Along", which was written by Eddie Cantor, is sung by a look-alike, "Eddie Camphor," and other characters in 1936's "Billboard Frolics."
  • The Ka Blam! theme song was an actual song ("Two-Tone Army" by The Toasters), but the lyrics weren't used because they had nothing to do with super action figures, an imaginative little girl, an alien and a caveman, two Funny Animal brothers, or two wacky kids.
    • Same goes with both ending themes (also by The Toasters), although the long version of the first ending has a voice-over saying "All right, get hip now, get up, whoo, yeah!".
    • The Toasters also used instumental clips of their songs for Henry and June's backround music (some of the BGM, the rest was stock music).
  • Totally Spies initially used an Expository Theme Tune set to the tune of Moonbaby's "Here We Go", but later airings only used the instrumental of the song.
  • Lisa Lougheed's version of "Run with Us", the theme to The Raccoons had a full set of lyrics, but only the first verse and chorus were used on the show, during the credits. The full version wouldn't be heard until the song got a proper release in 1987.

Theatre

  • The lyrics to the theme of the Broadway musical City of Angels were used on the cast album, but not in the show. (Unusually for a musical, this is a Thematic Theme Tune, not a Title Theme Tune.)
  • "Away above my head / I see the strangest sight / A fiddler on the roof / Who's up there day and night..." These lyrics were obviously never used in Fiddler On the Roof, and the melody does actually have lyrics in the show, as a part of the "Tradition" ensemble.

Anime

  • The Lupin III theme actually has lyrics, but the version traditionally used is a Title Theme Tune. For a while Adult Swim aired a vintage opening that used the lyrics.
    • Crystal King had this version of the opening on one of their singles. You might know them from another famous anime theme song: "Ai wo Toridomose", the first opening to Fist of the North Star.
  • The opening theme of Baccano, "Gun's & Roses" has a vocal version.
  • You know Miki's "Sunlit Garden" piano piece in Revolutionary Girl Utena? Thanks to the Opening of the Utena video game for the Sega Saturn, it and another oft-used background music has been given lyrics.

Other Music

  • The Standard Snippet part of Edward Elgar's "Pomp and Circumstance March No. 1" was made into the British patriotic song "Land of Hope and Glory." Elgar didn't care for the lyrics, but they are not so forgotten in Britain. Notably, they are sung annually by the audience at the Last Night of the Proms at the Royal Albert Hall.
  • If you think sitting through singers paid by the minute wailing their way through "The Star Spangled Banner" at ball games as slowly as humanly possible is annoying, you should actually thank your lucky stars (no pun intended) because the original version had three more stanzas that have since been omitted. In fact, the melody itself was originally a pub song called "To Anacreon in Heaven", the lyrics of which can be seen here.
    • This is common practice with national anthems, some of which are simply too long for anyone to want to sing them in full, ever. For example, only the third verse of the German national anthem is official (the other two bear Unfortunate Implications); those of Brazil and Israel have at least a dozen stanzas each, of which only one or two are commonly sung; Greece's has over a hundred.
    • This was parodied (or perhaps directly expressed) by Terry Pratchett when he wrote "We Can Rule You Wholesale", the anthem of Ankh-Morpork -- which has conveniently pre-forgotten lyrics for most of its second verse and part of its second chorus.
  • Johann Strauss, Jr.'s most famous waltz, „An der schönen, blauen Donau" ("The Blue Danube Waltz"), originally had a choral accompaniment, singing the inane and idiotic words, „Wiener, seid froh!" „Oho! Wieso?" „Nu, so blickt nur um!" „Ich bitt, warum?" ("Viennese, be merry!" "Oh, ho! How so?" "Now, just look around!" "Let me ask, why?")
  • As The Other Wiki explains, "The Stars and Stripes Forever" had lyrics written by John Philip Sousa which are rarely sung.
  • Many younger fans of the Harlem Globetrotters might not know that the "whistling" theme is an old jazz song (complete with lyrics) titled "Sweet Georgia Brown".
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