The Greatest Movie Themes

23k votes 2.4k voters 95k views 217 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
    + 882
    - 185
    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
    + 593
    - 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
    + 567
    - 171
    James Bond is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Greatest Movie Themes


    Kalabhavan Mani, Indrans Surendran, Raghu

    ;
  4. 4
    + 486
    - 185
    Rocky is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Greatest Movie Themes


    Sylvester Stallone, Joe Frazier, Burgess Meredith

    ;
  5. 5
    + 427
    - 147
    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
    + 496
    - 155
    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
    + 348
    - 130
    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
    + 409
    - 139
    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
    + 352
    - 167
    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
    + 327
    - 158
    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
    + 289
    - 138
    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
    + 348
    - 166
    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
    + 371
    - 124
    Pirates of the Caribbean Franc... is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Greatest Movie Themes

    ranked low on reranks

    ;
  14. 14
    + 351
    - 114
    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
    + 272
    - 129
    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
    + 340
    - 109
    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
    + 198
    - 143
    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
    + 265
    - 114
    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
    + 174
    - 110
    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
    + 173
    - 114
    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
    + 189
    - 113
    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
    + 172
    - 111


    Zoe Saldana, Jennifer Morrison, Winona Ryder

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  23. 23
    + 163
    - 123
    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
    + 185
    - 112
    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
    + 185
    - 122
    Halloween is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Greatest Movie Themes


    Jamie Lee Curtis, Kyle Richards, Donald Pleasence

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  26. 26
    + 204
    - 111


    Leonardo DiCaprio, Kate Winslet, Kathy Bates

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  27. 27
    + 144
    - 100
    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
    + 147
    - 43

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

    ;
  29. 29
    + 88
    - 113
    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
    + 139
    - 101
    The Phantom of the Opera is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list The Greatest Movie Themes


    Emmy Rossum, Gerard Butler, Minnie Driver

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  31. 31
    + 125
    - 101
    The Terminator is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list The Greatest Movie Themes


    Arnold Schwarzenegger, Bill Paxton, Linda Hamilton

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  32. 32
    + 118
    - 111
    The Last of the Mohicans is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list The Greatest Movie Themes


    Daniel Day-Lewis, Madeleine Stowe, Pete Postlethwaite

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  33. 33
    + 118
    - 52

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

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  34. 34
    + 92
    - 56

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

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  35. 35
    + 120
    - 74
    Psycho is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Greatest Movie Themes

    ranked low on reranks
    Alfred Hitchcock, Janet Leigh, Anthony Perkins

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  36. 36
    + 85
    - 86
    A Fistful of Dollars is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list The Greatest Movie Themes

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

    ;
  37. 37
    + 75
    - 55

    often listed & added by CraigAlarm
    Daniel Craig, Ralph Fiennes, Javier Bardem

    ;
  38. 38
    + 90
    - 49

    ranked low on reranks & added by slaft
    John Travolta, Fran Drescher, Denny Dillon

    ;
  39. 39
    + 99
    - 99
    Braveheart is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list The Greatest Movie Themes

    often listed
    Mel Gibson, Sophie Marceau, Brendan Gleeson

    ;
  40. 40
    + 112
    - 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
    + 95
    - 43

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

    ;
  42. 42
    + 47
    - 36

    added by CraigAlarm
    Paul Newman, Robert Redford, Robert Shaw

    ;
  43. 43
    + 76
    - 93

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

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  44. 44
    + 104
    - 96
    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
    + 98
    - 98
    Men in Black is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list The Greatest Movie Themes


    Will Smith, Sylvester Stallone, Steven Spielberg

    ;
  46. 46
    + 62
    - 97
    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
    + 57
    - 55

    added by CraigAlarm
    Charlie Sheen, Matthew Broderick, Jeffrey Jones

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  48. 48
    + 73
    - 87
    For a Few Dollars More is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list The Greatest Movie Themes


    Clint Eastwood, Lee Van Cleef, Sergio Leone

    ;
  49. 49
    + 66
    - 101
    RoboCop is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list The Greatest Movie Themes

    often listed & ranked high on reranks
    Alex Van Halen, Peter Weller, Leeza Gibbons

    ;
  50. 50
    + 40
    - 44

    added by CraigAlarm
    Liam Neeson, Ralph Fiennes, Ben Kingsley

    ;
218 +

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