The Greatest Movie Themes

24k votes 2.5k voters 96k views 218 items tags f p @

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.
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  1. 1
    + 892
    - 189
    Star Wars is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Greatest Movie Themes

    the people's #1 & most listed
    Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Mark Hamill

    ;
  2. 2
    + 600
    - 154
    Indiana Jones and the Raiders ... is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Greatest Movie Themes


    Harrison Ford, Alfred Molina, Karen Allen

    ;
  3. 3
    + 571
    - 174
    James Bond is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Greatest Movie Themes


    Kalabhavan Mani, Indrans Surendran, Raghu

    ;
  4. 4
    + 494
    - 187
    Rocky is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Greatest Movie Themes


    Sylvester Stallone, Joe Frazier, Burgess Meredith

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  5. 5
    + 433
    - 150
    Jaws is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Greatest Movie Themes


    Steven Spielberg, Richard Dreyfuss, Roy Scheider

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  6. 6
    + 500
    - 158
    Jurassic Park is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Greatest Movie Themes


    Samuel L. Jackson, Jeff Goldblum, Richard Attenborough

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  7. 7
    + 352
    - 133
    The Pink Panther is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Greatest Movie Themes


    Peter Sellers, Claudia Cardinale, David Niven

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  8. 8
    + 411
    - 145
    Ghostbusters is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Greatest Movie Themes


    Bill Murray, Sigourney Weaver, Dan Aykroyd

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  9. 9
    + 356
    - 169
    Back to the Future is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Greatest Movie Themes


    Michael J. Fox, Christopher Lloyd, Lea Thompson

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  10. 10
    + 330
    - 160
    The Godfather is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Greatest Movie Themes


    Al Pacino, Marlon Brando, Robert Duvall

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  11. 11
    + 296
    - 139
    The Good, the Bad and the Ugly is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Greatest Movie Themes


    Clint Eastwood, Viggo Mortensen, Mark Strong

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  12. 12
    + 351
    - 168
    Superman is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Greatest Movie Themes

    often listed & ranked high on reranks
    Marlon Brando, Gene Hackman, Christopher Reeve

    ;
  13. 13
    + 379
    - 128
    Pirates of the Caribbean Franc... is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Greatest Movie Themes

    ranked low on reranks

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  14. 14
    + 354
    - 117
    Mission: Impossible is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Greatest Movie Themes

    ranked low on reranks
    Tom Cruise, Jon Voight, Vanessa Redgrave

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  15. 15
    + 275
    - 133
    Batman is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Greatest Movie Themes


    Jack Nicholson, Kim Basinger, Michael Keaton

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  16. 16
    + 346
    - 110
    The Lord of the Rings film tri... is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Greatest Movie Themes

    ranked low on reranks

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  17. 17
    + 202
    - 145
    Terminator 2: Judgment Day is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Greatest Movie Themes


    Arnold Schwarzenegger, Edward Furlong, Linda Hamilton

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  18. 18
    + 270
    - 118
    Harry Potter and the Philosoph... is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Greatest Movie Themes


    Emma Watson, Daniel Radcliffe, Julianne Hough

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  19. 19
    + 175
    - 114
    Top Gun is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Greatest Movie Themes


    Tom Cruise, Meg Ryan, Val Kilmer

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  20. 20
    + 178
    - 116
    E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Greatest Movie Themes


    Drew Barrymore, Erika Eleniak, Debra Winger

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  21. 21
    + 192
    - 115
    Chariots of Fire is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Greatest Movie Themes


    Stephen Fry, Kenneth Branagh, Ian Holm

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  22. 22
    + 173
    - 113


    Zoe Saldana, Jennifer Morrison, Winona Ryder

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  23. 23
    + 164
    - 124
    Gladiator is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Greatest Movie Themes


    Russell Crowe, Joaquin Phoenix, Michael Sheen

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  24. 24
    + 186
    - 113
    2001: A Space Odyssey is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Greatest Movie Themes


    Arthur C. Clarke, Leonard Rossiter, Ed Bishop

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  25. 25
    + 207
    - 112


    Leonardo DiCaprio, Kate Winslet, Kathy Bates

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  26. 26
    + 186
    - 125
    Halloween is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list The Greatest Movie Themes


    Jamie Lee Curtis, Kyle Richards, Donald Pleasence

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  27. 27
    + 146
    - 101
    The Magnificent Seven is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Greatest Movie Themes


    Steve McQueen, Charles Bronson, James Coburn

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  28. 28
    + 151
    - 43

    ranked low on reranks
    Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Mark Hamill

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  29. 29
    + 90
    - 115
    Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Greatest Movie Themes

    often listed & ranked high on reranks
    Morgan Freeman, Sean Connery, Kevin Costner

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  30. 30
    + 127
    - 104
    The Terminator is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list The Greatest Movie Themes


    Arnold Schwarzenegger, Bill Paxton, Linda Hamilton

    ;
  31. 31
    + 143
    - 103
    The Phantom of the Opera is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list The Greatest Movie Themes


    Emmy Rossum, Gerard Butler, Minnie Driver

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  32. 32
    + 121
    - 112
    The Last of the Mohicans is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list The Greatest Movie Themes

    often listed & ranked high on reranks
    Daniel Day-Lewis, Madeleine Stowe, Pete Postlethwaite

    ;
  33. 33
    + 118
    - 56

    ranked low on reranks & added by CraigAlarm
    John Travolta, Olivia Newton-John, Stockard Channing

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  34. 34
    + 92
    - 60

    added by CraigAlarm
    Judd Nelson, Molly Ringwald, Anthony Michael Hall

    ;
  35. 35
    + 124
    - 76
    Psycho is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Greatest Movie Themes


    Alfred Hitchcock, Janet Leigh, Anthony Perkins

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  36. 36
    + 78
    - 56

    added by CraigAlarm
    Daniel Craig, Ralph Fiennes, Javier Bardem

    ;
  37. 37
    + 86
    - 89
    A Fistful of Dollars is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list The Greatest Movie Themes

    often listed & ranked high on reranks
    Clint Eastwood, Gian Maria Volonté, Aldo Sambrell

    ;
  38. 38
    + 93
    - 52

    added by slaft
    John Travolta, Fran Drescher, Denny Dillon

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  39. 39
    + 105
    - 101
    Braveheart is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list The Greatest Movie Themes

    often listed
    Mel Gibson, Sophie Marceau, Brendan Gleeson

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  40. 40
    + 116
    - 68
    The Lord of the Rings: The Fel... is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list The Greatest Movie Themes

    ranked low on reranks
    Cate Blanchett, Ian McKellen, Liv Tyler

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  41. 41
    + 102
    - 45

    ranked low on reranks & added by slaft
    Julie Andrews, Christopher Plummer, Eleanor Parker

    ;
  42. 42
    + 50
    - 39

    added by CraigAlarm
    Paul Newman, Robert Redford, Robert Shaw

    ;
  43. 43
    + 77
    - 96

    often listed & ranked high on reranks
    Kirstie Alley, William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy

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  44. 44
    + 105
    - 99
    The Exorcist is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Greatest Movie Themes


    Max von Sydow, Ellen Burstyn, Linda Blair

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  45. 45
    + 99
    - 101
    Men in Black is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list The Greatest Movie Themes


    Will Smith, Sylvester Stallone, Steven Spielberg

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  46. 46
    + 62
    - 101
    Blade Runner is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list The Greatest Movie Themes

    often listed & ranked high on reranks
    Harrison Ford, Daryl Hannah, Sean Young

    ;
  47. 47
    + 58
    - 58

    added by CraigAlarm
    Charlie Sheen, Matthew Broderick, Jeffrey Jones

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  48. 48
    + 73
    - 90
    For a Few Dollars More is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list The Greatest Movie Themes


    Clint Eastwood, Lee Van Cleef, Sergio Leone

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  49. 49
    + 96
    - 85
    Spider-Man is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list The Greatest Movie Themes


    Kirsten Dunst, Elizabeth Banks, James Franco

    ;
  50. 50
    + 66
    - 105
    RoboCop is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list The Greatest Movie Themes


    Alex Van Halen, Peter Weller, Leeza Gibbons

    ;
219 +

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