film 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
1,527 520
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Star Wars Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Mark Hamill

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2
1,005 436
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Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark Harrison Ford, Alfred Molina, Karen Allen

3
887 480
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Rocky Sylvester Stallone, Joe Frazier, Burgess Meredith

4
933 473
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James Bond Kalabhavan Mani, Indrans Surendran, Raghu

5
882 435
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Jurassic Park Samuel L. Jackson, Jeff Goldblum, Richard Attenborough

6
682 360
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Jaws Steven Spielberg, Richard Dreyfuss, Roy Scheider

7
595 340
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The Good, the Bad and the Ugly Clint Eastwood, Viggo Mortensen, Mark Strong

8
615 332
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The Pink Panther Peter Sellers, Claudia Cardinale, David Niven

9
667 333
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Ghostbusters Bill Murray, Sigourney Weaver, Dan Aykroyd

10
622 341
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Back to the Future Michael J. Fox, Christopher Lloyd, Lea Thompson

11
577 345
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Superman Marlon Brando, Gene Hackman, Christopher Reeve

12
762 385
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13
561 353
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The Godfather Al Pacino, Marlon Brando, Robert Duvall

14
607 266
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15
552 319
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Mission: Impossible Tom Cruise, Jon Voight, Vanessa Redgrave

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16
430 316
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Batman Jack Nicholson, Kim Basinger, Michael Keaton

17
480 313
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Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone Emma Watson, Daniel Radcliffe, Julianne Hough

18
350 338
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Terminator 2: Judgment Day Arnold Schwarzenegger, Edward Furlong, Linda Hamilton

19
343 251
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E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial Drew Barrymore, Erika Eleniak, Debra Winger

20
342 261
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Chariots of Fire Stephen Fry, Kenneth Branagh, Ian Holm

21
302 307
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Top Gun Tom Cruise, Meg Ryan, Val Kilmer

22
336 300
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Gladiator Russell Crowe, Joaquin Phoenix, Michael Sheen

23
317 273
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Halloween Jamie Lee Curtis, Kyle Richards, Donald Pleasence

24
284 300
Star Trek is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Greatest Movie Themes
Star Trek Zoe Saldana, Jennifer Morrison, Winona Ryder

25
394 316
Titanic is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Greatest Movie Themes
Titanic Leonardo DiCaprio, Kate Winslet, Kathy Bates

26
251 31
Forrest Gump is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list The Greatest Movie Themes
codebreaker added Forrest Gump Tom Hanks, Kurt Russell, Sally Field

27
286 257
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2001: A Space Odyssey Arthur C. Clarke, Leonard Rossiter, Ed Bishop

28
310 141
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
248 125
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
273 238
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The Magnificent Seven Steve McQueen, Charles Bronson, James Coburn

31
225 160
Grease is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list The Greatest Movie Themes
CraigAlarm added Grease John Travolta, Olivia Newton-John, Stockard Channing

32
184 231
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Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves Morgan Freeman, Sean Connery, Kevin Costner

33
222 250
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The Last of the Mohicans Daniel Day-Lewis, Madeleine Stowe, Pete Postlethwaite

34
215 184
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The Phantom of the Opera Emmy Rossum, Gerard Butler, Minnie Driver

35
201 200
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The Terminator Arnold Schwarzenegger, Bill Paxton, Linda Hamilton

36
193 195
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Braveheart Mel Gibson, Sophie Marceau, Brendan Gleeson

37
163 126
The Breakfast Club is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list The Greatest Movie Themes
CraigAlarm added The Breakfast Club Judd Nelson, Molly Ringwald, Anthony Michael Hall

38
194 142
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Psycho Alfred Hitchcock, Janet Leigh, Anthony Perkins

39
154 127
Saturday Night Fever is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list The Greatest Movie Themes
slaft added Saturday Night Fever John Travolta, Fran Drescher, Denny Dillon

40
206 122
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The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring Cate Blanchett, Ian McKellen, Liv Tyler

41
133 179
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A Fistful of Dollars Clint Eastwood, Gian Maria Volonté, Aldo Sambrell

42
154 143
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The Exorcist Max von Sydow, Ellen Burstyn, Linda Blair

43
98 98
The Sting is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list The Greatest Movie Themes
CraigAlarm added The Sting Paul Newman, Robert Redford, Robert Shaw

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44
112 153
Star Trek II: The Wrath of Kha... is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Greatest Movie Themes
Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan Kirstie Alley, William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy

45
124 152
Skyfall is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list The Greatest Movie Themes
CraigAlarm added Skyfall Daniel Craig, Ralph Fiennes, Javier Bardem

46
118 76
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Dances with Wolves Kevin Costner, Mary McDonnell, Charles Rocket

47
182 94
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Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl Johnny Depp, Keira Knightley, Zoe Saldana

48
189 112
Philadelphia is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list The Greatest Movie Themes
CraigAlarm added Philadelphia Tom Hanks, Denzel Washington, Julius Erving

49
115 129
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Conan the Barbarian Arnold Schwarzenegger, James Earl Jones, Max von Sydow

50
146 170
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Men in Black Will Smith, Sylvester Stallone, Steven Spielberg