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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Star Wars Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Mark Hamill

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Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark Harrison Ford, Alfred Molina, Karen Allen

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Rocky Sylvester Stallone, Joe Frazier, Burgess Meredith

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James Bond Kalabhavan Mani, Indrans Surendran, Raghu

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Jaws Steven Spielberg, Richard Dreyfuss, Roy Scheider

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Jurassic Park Samuel L. Jackson, Jeff Goldblum, Richard Attenborough

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The Good, the Bad and the Ugly Clint Eastwood, Viggo Mortensen, Mark Strong

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The Pink Panther Peter Sellers, Claudia Cardinale, David Niven

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Ghostbusters Bill Murray, Sigourney Weaver, Dan Aykroyd

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Back to the Future Michael J. Fox, Christopher Lloyd, Lea Thompson

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Superman Marlon Brando, Gene Hackman, Christopher Reeve

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The Godfather Al Pacino, Marlon Brando, Robert Duvall

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Mission: Impossible Tom Cruise, Jon Voight, Vanessa Redgrave

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Batman Jack Nicholson, Kim Basinger, Michael Keaton

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Terminator 2: Judgment Day Arnold Schwarzenegger, Edward Furlong, Linda Hamilton

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Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone Emma Watson, Daniel Radcliffe, Julianne Hough

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Chariots of Fire Stephen Fry, Kenneth Branagh, Ian Holm

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E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial Drew Barrymore, Erika Eleniak, Debra Winger

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Top Gun Tom Cruise, Meg Ryan, Val Kilmer

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Gladiator Russell Crowe, Joaquin Phoenix, Michael Sheen

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Halloween Jamie Lee Curtis, Kyle Richards, Donald Pleasence

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

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2001: A Space Odyssey Arthur C. Clarke, Leonard Rossiter, Ed Bishop

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Titanic is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list The Greatest Movie Themes
Titanic Leonardo DiCaprio, Kate Winslet, Kathy Bates

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Forrest Gump is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Greatest Movie Themes
Forrest Gump Tom Hanks, Kurt Russell, Sally Field

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The Magnificent Seven Steve McQueen, Charles Bronson, James Coburn

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Return of the Jedi is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Greatest Movie Themes
Return of the Jedi Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Mark Hamill

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The Last of the Mohicans Daniel Day-Lewis, Madeleine Stowe, Pete Postlethwaite

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Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves Morgan Freeman, Sean Connery, Kevin Costner

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The Sound of Music is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list The Greatest Movie Themes
The Sound of Music Julie Andrews, Christopher Plummer, Eleanor Parker

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Philadelphia is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list The Greatest Movie Themes
Philadelphia Tom Hanks, Denzel Washington, Julius Erving

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Grease is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list The Greatest Movie Themes
Grease John Travolta, Olivia Newton-John, Stockard Channing

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Braveheart Mel Gibson, Sophie Marceau, Brendan Gleeson

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The Terminator Arnold Schwarzenegger, Bill Paxton, Linda Hamilton

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The Phantom of the Opera Emmy Rossum, Gerard Butler, Minnie Driver

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Psycho Alfred Hitchcock, Janet Leigh, Anthony Perkins

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The Breakfast Club is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list The Greatest Movie Themes
The Breakfast Club Judd Nelson, Molly Ringwald, Anthony Michael Hall

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A Fistful of Dollars Clint Eastwood, Gian Maria Volonté, Aldo Sambrell

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

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Skyfall is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list The Greatest Movie Themes
Skyfall Daniel Craig, Ralph Fiennes, Javier Bardem

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The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring Cate Blanchett, Ian McKellen, Liv Tyler

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

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The Exorcist Max von Sydow, Ellen Burstyn, Linda Blair

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Men in Black Will Smith, Sylvester Stallone, Steven Spielberg

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Dances with Wolves Kevin Costner, Mary McDonnell, Charles Rocket

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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

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Live and Let Die is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list The Greatest Movie Themes
Live and Let Die Jane Seymour, Roger Moore, Yaphet Kotto

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Conan the Barbarian Arnold Schwarzenegger, James Earl Jones, Max von Sydow