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.

list ordered by

1
1,397 476
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Star Wars Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Mark Hamill

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2
936 408
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Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark Harrison Ford, Alfred Molina, Karen Allen

3
822 451
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Rocky Sylvester Stallone, Joe Frazier, Burgess Meredith

4
890 435
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James Bond Kalabhavan Mani, Indrans Surendran, Raghu

5
825 403
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Jurassic Park Samuel L. Jackson, Jeff Goldblum, Richard Attenborough

6
642 338
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Jaws Steven Spielberg, Richard Dreyfuss, Roy Scheider

7
537 317
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The Good, the Bad and the Ugly Clint Eastwood, Viggo Mortensen, Mark Strong

8
570 310
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The Pink Panther Peter Sellers, Claudia Cardinale, David Niven

9
620 322
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Ghostbusters Bill Murray, Sigourney Weaver, Dan Aykroyd

10
576 328
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Back to the Future Michael J. Fox, Christopher Lloyd, Lea Thompson

11
537 328
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Superman Marlon Brando, Gene Hackman, Christopher Reeve

12
704 363
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13
522 336
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The Godfather Al Pacino, Marlon Brando, Robert Duvall

14
518 308
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Mission: Impossible Tom Cruise, Jon Voight, Vanessa Redgrave

15
560 258
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16
408 300
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Batman Jack Nicholson, Kim Basinger, Michael Keaton

17
316 320
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Terminator 2: Judgment Day Arnold Schwarzenegger, Edward Furlong, Linda Hamilton

18
441 293
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Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone Emma Watson, Daniel Radcliffe, Julianne Hough

19
311 241
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E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial Drew Barrymore, Erika Eleniak, Debra Winger

20
315 256
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Chariots of Fire Stephen Fry, Kenneth Branagh, Ian Holm

21
279 295
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Top Gun Tom Cruise, Meg Ryan, Val Kilmer

22
307 286
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Gladiator Russell Crowe, Joaquin Phoenix, Michael Sheen

23
292 260
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Halloween Jamie Lee Curtis, Kyle Richards, Donald Pleasence

24
267 281
Star Trek is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Greatest Movie Themes
Star Trek Zoe Saldana, Jennifer Morrison, Winona Ryder

25
367 307
Titanic is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Greatest Movie Themes
Titanic Leonardo DiCaprio, Kate Winslet, Kathy Bates

26
273 255
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2001: A Space Odyssey Arthur C. Clarke, Leonard Rossiter, Ed Bishop

27
247 235
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The Magnificent Seven Steve McQueen, Charles Bronson, James Coburn

28
277 134
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
210 124
The Sound of Music is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Greatest Movie Themes
slaft added The Sound of Music Julie Andrews, Christopher Plummer, Eleanor Parker

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30
210 242
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The Last of the Mohicans Daniel Day-Lewis, Madeleine Stowe, Pete Postlethwaite

31
167 223
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Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves Morgan Freeman, Sean Connery, Kevin Costner

32
196 146
Grease is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list The Greatest Movie Themes
CraigAlarm added Grease John Travolta, Olivia Newton-John, Stockard Channing

33
198 178
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The Phantom of the Opera Emmy Rossum, Gerard Butler, Minnie Driver

34
179 184
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Braveheart Mel Gibson, Sophie Marceau, Brendan Gleeson

35
181 192
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The Terminator Arnold Schwarzenegger, Bill Paxton, Linda Hamilton

36
150 121
The Breakfast Club is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list The Greatest Movie Themes
CraigAlarm added The Breakfast Club Judd Nelson, Molly Ringwald, Anthony Michael Hall

37
218 24
Forrest Gump is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list The Greatest Movie Themes
codebreaker added Forrest Gump Tom Hanks, Kurt Russell, Sally Field

38
143 120
Saturday Night Fever is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list The Greatest Movie Themes
slaft added Saturday Night Fever John Travolta, Fran Drescher, Denny Dillon

39
128 172
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A Fistful of Dollars Clint Eastwood, Gian Maria Volonté, Aldo Sambrell

40
172 137
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Psycho Alfred Hitchcock, Janet Leigh, Anthony Perkins

41
184 119
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The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring Cate Blanchett, Ian McKellen, Liv Tyler

42
187 99
Philadelphia is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list The Greatest Movie Themes
CraigAlarm added Philadelphia Tom Hanks, Denzel Washington, Julius Erving

43
115 139
Skyfall is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list The Greatest Movie Themes
CraigAlarm added Skyfall Daniel Craig, Ralph Fiennes, Javier Bardem

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44
88 90
The Sting is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Greatest Movie Themes
CraigAlarm added The Sting Paul Newman, Robert Redford, Robert Shaw

45
163 87
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Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl Johnny Depp, Keira Knightley, Zoe Saldana

46
136 160
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Men in Black Will Smith, Sylvester Stallone, Steven Spielberg

47
145 140
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The Exorcist Max von Sydow, Ellen Burstyn, Linda Blair

48
102 71
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Dances with Wolves Kevin Costner, Mary McDonnell, Charles Rocket

49
97 90
Ferris Bueller's Day Off is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list The Greatest Movie Themes
CraigAlarm added Ferris Bueller's Day Off Charlie Sheen, Matthew Broderick, Jeffrey Jones

50
81 79
Schindler's List is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list The Greatest Movie Themes
CraigAlarm added Schindler's List Liam Neeson, Ralph Fiennes, Ben Kingsley