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
+ - 913 398
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Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark Harrison Ford, Alfred Molina, Karen Allen

3
+ - 798 443
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Rocky Sylvester Stallone, Joe Frazier, Burgess Meredith

4
+ - 858 426
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James Bond Kalabhavan Mani, Indrans Surendran, Raghu

5
+ - 798 390
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Jurassic Park Samuel L. Jackson, Jeff Goldblum, Richard Attenborough

6
+ - 621 330
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Jaws Steven Spielberg, Richard Dreyfuss, Roy Scheider

7
+ - 517 307
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The Good, the Bad and the Ugly Clint Eastwood, Viggo Mortensen, Mark Strong

8
+ - 549 301
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The Pink Panther Peter Sellers, Claudia Cardinale, David Niven

9
+ - 598 314
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Ghostbusters Bill Murray, Sigourney Weaver, Dan Aykroyd

10
+ - 676 351
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11
+ - 552 323
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Back to the Future Michael J. Fox, Christopher Lloyd, Lea Thompson

12
+ - 515 322
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Superman Marlon Brando, Gene Hackman, Christopher Reeve

13
+ - 502 329
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The Godfather Al Pacino, Marlon Brando, Robert Duvall

14
+ - 498 297
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Mission: Impossible Tom Cruise, Jon Voight, Vanessa Redgrave

15
+ - 538 253
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The Best Songs in the History of South Park The Creepiest Kids in Horror Movies

16
+ - 393 296
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Batman Jack Nicholson, Kim Basinger, Michael Keaton

17
+ - 426 282
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Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone Emma Watson, Daniel Radcliffe, Julianne Hough

18
+ - 302 310
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Terminator 2: Judgment Day Arnold Schwarzenegger, Edward Furlong, Linda Hamilton

19
+ - 304 249
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Chariots of Fire Stephen Fry, Kenneth Branagh, Ian Holm

20
+ - 294 237
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E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial Drew Barrymore, Erika Eleniak, Debra Winger

21
+ - 269 287
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Top Gun Tom Cruise, Meg Ryan, Val Kilmer

22
+ - 289 282
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Gladiator Russell Crowe, Joaquin Phoenix, Michael Sheen

23
+ - 277 254
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Halloween Jamie Lee Curtis, Kyle Richards, Donald Pleasence

24
+ - 258 273
Star Trek is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Greatest Movie Themes
Star Trek Zoe Saldana, Jennifer Morrison, Winona Ryder

25
+ - 351 296
Titanic is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Greatest Movie Themes
Titanic Leonardo DiCaprio, Kate Winslet, Kathy Bates

26
+ - 267 248
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2001: A Space Odyssey Arthur C. Clarke, Leonard Rossiter, Ed Bishop

27
+ - 238 228
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The Magnificent Seven Steve McQueen, Charles Bronson, James Coburn

28
+ - 202 113
The Sound of Music is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Greatest Movie Themes
The Sound of Music Julie Andrews, Christopher Plummer, Eleanor Parker

29
+ - 262 131
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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30
+ - 202 234
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The Last of the Mohicans Daniel Day-Lewis, Madeleine Stowe, Pete Postlethwaite

31
+ - 160 216
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Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves Morgan Freeman, Sean Connery, Kevin Costner

32
+ - 186 138
Grease is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list The Greatest Movie Themes
Grease John Travolta, Olivia Newton-John, Stockard Channing

33
+ - 211 19
Forrest Gump is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list The Greatest Movie Themes
Forrest Gump Tom Hanks, Kurt Russell, Sally Field

34
+ - 192 172
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The Phantom of the Opera Emmy Rossum, Gerard Butler, Minnie Driver

35
+ - 169 180
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Braveheart Mel Gibson, Sophie Marceau, Brendan Gleeson

36
+ - 142 116
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
+ - 172 188
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The Terminator Arnold Schwarzenegger, Bill Paxton, Linda Hamilton

38
+ - 135 115
Saturday Night Fever is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list The Greatest Movie Themes
Saturday Night Fever John Travolta, Fran Drescher, Denny Dillon

39
+ - 122 166
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A Fistful of Dollars Clint Eastwood, Gian Maria Volonté, Aldo Sambrell

40
+ - 165 133
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Psycho Alfred Hitchcock, Janet Leigh, Anthony Perkins

41
+ - 182 94
Philadelphia is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list The Greatest Movie Themes
Philadelphia Tom Hanks, Denzel Washington, Julius Erving

42
+ - 179 117
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The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring Cate Blanchett, Ian McKellen, Liv Tyler

43
+ - 111 134
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
+ - 84 88
The Sting is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Greatest Movie Themes
The Sting Paul Newman, Robert Redford, Robert Shaw

45
+ - 151 83
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Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl Johnny Depp, Keira Knightley, Zoe Saldana

46
+ - 138 136
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The Exorcist Max von Sydow, Ellen Burstyn, Linda Blair

47
+ - 129 157
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Men in Black Will Smith, Sylvester Stallone, Steven Spielberg

48
+ - 93 69
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Dances with Wolves Kevin Costner, Mary McDonnell, Charles Rocket

49
+ - 94 85
Ferris Bueller's Day Off is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list The Greatest Movie Themes
Ferris Bueller's Day Off Charlie Sheen, Matthew Broderick, Jeffrey Jones

50
+ - 89 117
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Conan the Barbarian Arnold Schwarzenegger, James Earl Jones, Max von Sydow