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
+ - 1,300 450
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Star Wars Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Mark Hamill

The Best James Bond Movie Theme Songs The Best Action-Adventure Games of All Time

2
+ - 876 390
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Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark Harrison Ford, Alfred Molina, Karen Allen

3
+ - 763 423
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Rocky Sylvester Stallone, Joe Frazier, Burgess Meredith

4
+ - 828 412
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James Bond Kalabhavan Mani, Indrans Surendran, Raghu

5
+ - 596 318
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Jaws Steven Spielberg, Richard Dreyfuss, Roy Scheider

6
+ - 757 383
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Jurassic Park Samuel L. Jackson, Jeff Goldblum, Richard Attenborough

7
+ - 494 286
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The Good, the Bad and the Ugly Clint Eastwood, Viggo Mortensen, Mark Strong

8
+ - 528 288
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The Pink Panther Peter Sellers, Claudia Cardinale, David Niven

9
+ - 570 303
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Ghostbusters Bill Murray, Sigourney Weaver, Dan Aykroyd

10
+ - 525 315
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Back to the Future Michael J. Fox, Christopher Lloyd, Lea Thompson

11
+ - 479 318
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The Godfather Al Pacino, Marlon Brando, Robert Duvall

12
+ - 644 339
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13
+ - 494 311
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Superman Marlon Brando, Gene Hackman, Christopher Reeve

14
+ - 482 285
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Mission: Impossible Tom Cruise, Jon Voight, Vanessa Redgrave

15
+ - 510 246
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The Best Songs in the History of South Park The Best Movie Sequels

16
+ - 377 283
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Batman Jack Nicholson, Kim Basinger, Michael Keaton

17
+ - 295 295
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Terminator 2: Judgment Day Arnold Schwarzenegger, Edward Furlong, Linda Hamilton

18
+ - 401 276
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Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone Emma Watson, Daniel Radcliffe, Julianne Hough

19
+ - 289 239
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Chariots of Fire Stephen Fry, Kenneth Branagh, Ian Holm

20
+ - 275 234
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E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial Drew Barrymore, Erika Eleniak, Debra Winger

21
+ - 256 279
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Top Gun Tom Cruise, Meg Ryan, Val Kilmer

22
+ - 275 274
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Gladiator Russell Crowe, Joaquin Phoenix, Michael Sheen

23
+ - 264 247
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Halloween Jamie Lee Curtis, Kyle Richards, Donald Pleasence

24
+ - 243 267
Star Trek is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Greatest Movie Themes
Star Trek Zoe Saldana, Jennifer Morrison, Winona Ryder

25
+ - 333 291
Titanic is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Greatest Movie Themes
Titanic Leonardo DiCaprio, Kate Winslet, Kathy Bates

26
+ - 258 242
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2001: A Space Odyssey Arthur C. Clarke, Leonard Rossiter, Ed Bishop

27
+ - 227 222
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The Magnificent Seven Steve McQueen, Charles Bronson, James Coburn

28
+ - 252 127
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
+ - 182 110
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
+ - 192 228
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The Last of the Mohicans Daniel Day-Lewis, Madeleine Stowe, Pete Postlethwaite

31
+ - 153 213
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Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves Morgan Freeman, Sean Connery, Kevin Costner

32
+ - 197 16
Forrest Gump is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list The Greatest Movie Themes
Forrest Gump Tom Hanks, Kurt Russell, Sally Field

33
+ - 170 135
Grease is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list The Greatest Movie Themes
Grease John Travolta, Olivia Newton-John, Stockard Channing

34
+ - 180 169
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The Phantom of the Opera Emmy Rossum, Gerard Butler, Minnie Driver

35
+ - 137 109
The Breakfast Club is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Greatest Movie Themes
The Breakfast Club Judd Nelson, Molly Ringwald, Anthony Michael Hall

36
+ - 162 175
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Braveheart Mel Gibson, Sophie Marceau, Brendan Gleeson

37
+ - 167 184
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The Terminator Arnold Schwarzenegger, Bill Paxton, Linda Hamilton

38
+ - 119 158
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A Fistful of Dollars Clint Eastwood, Gian Maria Volonté, Aldo Sambrell

39
+ - 181 88
Philadelphia is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list The Greatest Movie Themes
Philadelphia Tom Hanks, Denzel Washington, Julius Erving

40
+ - 161 128
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Psycho Alfred Hitchcock, Janet Leigh, Anthony Perkins

41
+ - 128 112
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
+ - 173 112
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The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring Cate Blanchett, Ian McKellen, Liv Tyler

43
+ - 107 127
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
+ - 79 83
The Sting is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Greatest Movie Themes
The Sting Paul Newman, Robert Redford, Robert Shaw

45
+ - 136 130
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The Exorcist Max von Sydow, Ellen Burstyn, Linda Blair

46
+ - 125 152
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Men in Black Will Smith, Sylvester Stallone, Steven Spielberg

47
+ - 90 78
Ferris Bueller's Day Off is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list The Greatest Movie Themes
Ferris Bueller's Day Off Charlie Sheen, Matthew Broderick, Jeffrey Jones

48
+ - 141 82
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Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl Johnny Depp, Keira Knightley, Zoe Saldana

49
+ - 85 65
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Dances with Wolves Kevin Costner, Mary McDonnell, Charles Rocket

50
+ - 98 135
Star Trek II: The Wrath of Kha... is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list The Greatest Movie Themes
Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan Kirstie Alley, William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy