The past decade’s apparent success in predicting and experimentally discovering distinct classes of topological insulators (TIs) and semimetals masks a fundamental shortcoming: out of 200,000 stoichiometric compounds extant in material databases, only several hundred of them are topologically nontrivial. Are TIs that esoteric, or does this reflect a fundamental problem with the current piecemeal approach to finding them? To address this, we propose a new and complete electronic band theory that highlights the link between topology and local chemical bonding, and combines this with the conventional band theory of electrons. We classify the possible band structures for all 230 crystal symmetry groups that arise from local atomic orbitals, and show which are topologically nontrivial. We show how our topological band theory sheds new light on known TIs, and demonstrate the power of our method to predict new TIs.