films The Greatest Movie Themes  

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List Rules 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.

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1
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Star Wars Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Mark Hamill

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2
+ - 873 384
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Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark Harrison Ford, Alfred Molina, Karen Allen

3
+ - 756 421
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Rocky Sylvester Stallone, Joe Frazier, Burgess Meredith

4
+ - 821 410
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James Bond Kalabhavan Mani, Indrans Surendran, Raghu

5
+ - 594 315
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Jaws Steven Spielberg, Richard Dreyfuss, Roy Scheider

6
+ - 752 380
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Jurassic Park Samuel L. Jackson, Jeff Goldblum, Richard Attenborough

7
+ - 489 282
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The Good, the Bad and the Ugly Clint Eastwood, Viggo Mortensen, Mark Strong

8
+ - 526 285
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The Pink Panther Peter Sellers, Claudia Cardinale, David Niven

9
+ - 564 301
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Ghostbusters Bill Murray, Sigourney Weaver, Dan Aykroyd

10
+ - 520 313
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Back to the Future Michael J. Fox, Christopher Lloyd, Lea Thompson

11
+ - 492 307
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Superman Marlon Brando, Gene Hackman, Christopher Reeve

12
+ - 637 336
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13
+ - 474 315
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The Godfather Al Pacino, Marlon Brando, Robert Duvall

14
+ - 481 282
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Mission: Impossible Tom Cruise, Jon Voight, Vanessa Redgrave

15
+ - 504 245
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The Best Songs in the History of South Park The Best Movie Sequels

16
+ - 375 281
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Batman Jack Nicholson, Kim Basinger, Michael Keaton

17
+ - 294 293
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Terminator 2: Judgment Day Arnold Schwarzenegger, Edward Furlong, Linda Hamilton

18
+ - 398 273
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Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone Emma Watson, Daniel Radcliffe, Julianne Hough

19
+ - 285 237
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Chariots of Fire Stephen Fry, Kenneth Branagh, Ian Holm

20
+ - 274 231
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E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial Drew Barrymore, Erika Eleniak, Debra Winger

21
+ - 251 278
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Top Gun Tom Cruise, Meg Ryan, Val Kilmer

22
+ - 272 272
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Gladiator Russell Crowe, Joaquin Phoenix, Michael Sheen

23
+ - 261 247
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Halloween Jamie Lee Curtis, Kyle Richards, Donald Pleasence

24
+ - 241 264
Star Trek is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Greatest Movie Themes
Star Trek Zoe Saldana, Jennifer Morrison, Winona Ryder

25
+ - 329 289
Titanic is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Greatest Movie Themes
Titanic Leonardo DiCaprio, Kate Winslet, Kathy Bates

26
+ - 258 239
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2001: A Space Odyssey Arthur C. Clarke, Leonard Rossiter, Ed Bishop

27
+ - 226 219
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The Magnificent Seven Steve McQueen, Charles Bronson, James Coburn

28
+ - 249 126
Return of the Jedi is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Greatest Movie Themes
Return of the Jedi Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Mark Hamill

29
+ - 176 109
The Sound of Music is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Greatest Movie Themes
The Sound of Music Julie Andrews, Christopher Plummer, Eleanor Parker

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30
+ - 188 225
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The Last of the Mohicans Daniel Day-Lewis, Madeleine Stowe, Pete Postlethwaite

31
+ - 193 16
Forrest Gump is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list The Greatest Movie Themes
Forrest Gump Tom Hanks, Kurt Russell, Sally Field

32
+ - 150 212
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Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves Morgan Freeman, Sean Connery, Kevin Costner

33
+ - 166 135
Grease is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list The Greatest Movie Themes
Grease John Travolta, Olivia Newton-John, Stockard Channing

34
+ - 160 173
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Braveheart Mel Gibson, Sophie Marceau, Brendan Gleeson

35
+ - 177 169
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The Phantom of the Opera Emmy Rossum, Gerard Butler, Minnie Driver

36
+ - 133 109
The Breakfast Club is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list The Greatest Movie Themes
The Breakfast Club Judd Nelson, Molly Ringwald, Anthony Michael Hall

37
+ - 166 182
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The Terminator Arnold Schwarzenegger, Bill Paxton, Linda Hamilton

38
+ - 181 87
Philadelphia is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list The Greatest Movie Themes
Philadelphia Tom Hanks, Denzel Washington, Julius Erving

39
+ - 119 156
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A Fistful of Dollars Clint Eastwood, Gian Maria Volonté, Aldo Sambrell

40
+ - 161 127
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Psycho Alfred Hitchcock, Janet Leigh, Anthony Perkins

41
+ - 124 112
Saturday Night Fever is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list The Greatest Movie Themes
Saturday Night Fever John Travolta, Fran Drescher, Denny Dillon

42
+ - 170 111
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The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring Cate Blanchett, Ian McKellen, Liv Tyler

43
+ - 105 125
Skyfall is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list The Greatest Movie Themes
Skyfall Daniel Craig, Ralph Fiennes, Javier Bardem

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44
+ - 77 82
The Sting is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Greatest Movie Themes
The Sting Paul Newman, Robert Redford, Robert Shaw

45
+ - 136 129
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The Exorcist Max von Sydow, Ellen Burstyn, Linda Blair

46
+ - 123 151
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Men in Black Will Smith, Sylvester Stallone, Steven Spielberg

47
+ - 139 81
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Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl Johnny Depp, Keira Knightley, Zoe Saldana

48
+ - 87 77
Ferris Bueller's Day Off is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list The Greatest Movie Themes
Ferris Bueller's Day Off Charlie Sheen, Matthew Broderick, Jeffrey Jones

49
+ - 98 133
Star Trek II: The Wrath of Kha... is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list The Greatest Movie Themes
Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan Kirstie Alley, William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy

50
+ - 83 54
Live and Let Die is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list The Greatest Movie Themes
Live and Let Die Jane Seymour, Roger Moore, Yaphet Kotto