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The Greatest Movie Themes

List Criteria: Theme music for films

A memorable movie theme song is an underrated crucial element that helps turn a great movie into an iconic one. At its core, a movie score is supposed to capture the mood and set the tone of what's going on in a particular scene. But the theme song if done right, can be as iconic as the film itself. Many film score composers set out to write a theme that fully encapsulates what a film is going for, but only a handful have become the greatest.

Perhaps the most famous film composer is John Williams, who is well represented on this list. Williams is the musical mind behind some of the greatest movie themes like Jurassic Park, Indiana Jones, Superman, Jaws and the Star Wars movies. These film scores are as memorable and iconic as the films.

Great movie themes are often instrumentals that when played, can be easily recognized. Themes from Rocky, Batman, The Godfather franchise, 2001: A Space Odyssey, E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial and Psycho are among the most recognizable songs and have long since established their place in pop culture. You can hear these songs on commercials and often times at sporting events as well.

The key element to remember as you vote on your favorite theme song is that we are only voting on the theme, not the entire score or soundtrack. This is the Ultimate List specifically for theme songs, so vote on what you think is the greatest movie them of all time. If you think a movie theme is missing, feel free to add it.

To vote on the movies with the best "mix tape" style soundtracks, not scores, check out Movies with the Best Soundtracks. For best all-around sound, vote on The Greatest Soundtracks in Film History.

The Greatest Movie Themes Films
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  1. 1
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    • Actors: Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Mark Hamill, James Earl Jones, Alec Guinness + 16 more
    • Initial Release: 1977
    • Directed by: George Lucas
  2. 2
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    • Actors: Harrison Ford, Alfred Molina, Karen Allen, Frank Welker, Denholm Elliott + 42 more
    • Initial Release: 1981
    • Directed by: Steven Spielberg
  3. 3
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    • Actors: Kalabhavan Mani, Indrans Surendran, Raghu, Vani Viswanath
    • Initial Release: 1999
  4. 4
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    • Actors: Sylvester Stallone, Joe Frazier, Burgess Meredith, Carl Weathers, Talia Shire + 47 more
    • Initial Release: 1976
    • Directed by: John G. Avildsen
  5. 5
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    • Actors: Steven Spielberg, Richard Dreyfuss, Roy Scheider, Robert Shaw, John Searle + 72 more
    • Initial Release: 1975
    • Directed by: Steven Spielberg
  6. 6
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    • Actors: Bill Murray, Sigourney Weaver, Dan Aykroyd, Bill Walton, Ron Jeremy + 65 more
    • Initial Release: 1984
    • Directed by: Ivan Reitman
  7. 7
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    • Actors: Samuel L. Jackson, Jeff Goldblum, Richard Attenborough, Laura Dern, Sam Neill + 22 more
    • Initial Release: 1993
    • Directed by: Steven Spielberg
  8. 8
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    • Actors: Michael J. Fox, Christopher Lloyd, Lea Thompson, Crispin Glover, Billy Zane + 46 more
    • Initial Release: 1985
    • Directed by: Robert Zemeckis
  9. 9
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    • Actors: Clint Eastwood, Viggo Mortensen, Mark Strong, Jason Isaacs, Eli Wallach + 63 more
    • Initial Release: 2008
    • Directed by: Sergio Leone, Vicente Amorim
  10. 10
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    • Actors: Al Pacino, Marlon Brando, Robert Duvall, Diane Keaton, James Caan + 66 more
    • Initial Release: 1972
    • Directed by: Francis Ford Coppola
  11. 11
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    • Actors: Marlon Brando, Gene Hackman, Christopher Reeve, Terence Stamp, Margot Kidder + 13 more
    • Initial Release: 1978
    • Directed by: Richard Donner
  12. 12
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    • Actors: Peter Sellers, Claudia Cardinale, David Niven, Robert Wagner, John Le Mesurier + 13 more
    • Initial Release: 1963
    • Directed by: Blake Edwards
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    • Actors: Tom Cruise, Jon Voight, Vanessa Redgrave, Emmanuelle BĂ©art, Emilio Estevez + 47 more
    • Initial Release: 1996
    • Directed by: Brian De Palma
  14. 14
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    • Actors: Jack Nicholson, Kim Basinger, Michael Keaton, Jack Palance, Billy Dee Williams + 57 more
    • Initial Release: 1989
    • Directed by: Tim Burton
  15. 15
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    • Directed by: Gore Verbinski, Rob Marshall
  16. 16
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  17. 17
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    • Actors: Emma Watson, Daniel Radcliffe, Julianne Hough, John Hurt, John Cleese + 68 more
    • Initial Release: 2001
    • Directed by: Chris Columbus
  18. 18
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    • Actors: Jamie Lee Curtis, Kyle Richards, Donald Pleasence, Sandy Johnson, Charles Cyphers + 7 more
    • Initial Release: 1978
    • Directed by: John Carpenter
  19. 19
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    • Actors: Tom Cruise, Meg Ryan, Val Kilmer, Tim Robbins, Michael Ironside + 25 more
    • Initial Release: 1986
    • Directed by: Tony Scott
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    • Actors: Arthur C. Clarke, Leonard Rossiter, Ed Bishop, Keir Dullea, Gary Lockwood + 54 more
    • Initial Release: 1968
    • Directed by: Stanley Kubrick
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