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

1,452 495
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Star Wars Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Mark Hamill

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961 419
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Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark Harrison Ford, Alfred Molina, Karen Allen

843 461
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Rocky Sylvester Stallone, Joe Frazier, Burgess Meredith

902 444
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James Bond Kalabhavan Mani, Indrans Surendran, Raghu

843 413
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Jurassic Park Samuel L. Jackson, Jeff Goldblum, Richard Attenborough

654 345
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Jaws Steven Spielberg, Richard Dreyfuss, Roy Scheider

560 325
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The Good, the Bad and the Ugly Clint Eastwood, Viggo Mortensen, Mark Strong

592 317
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The Pink Panther Peter Sellers, Claudia Cardinale, David Niven

633 326
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Ghostbusters Bill Murray, Sigourney Weaver, Dan Aykroyd

593 334
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Back to the Future Michael J. Fox, Christopher Lloyd, Lea Thompson

731 370
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549 336
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Superman Marlon Brando, Gene Hackman, Christopher Reeve

533 342
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The Godfather Al Pacino, Marlon Brando, Robert Duvall

579 262
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528 314
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Mission: Impossible Tom Cruise, Jon Voight, Vanessa Redgrave

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414 307
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Batman Jack Nicholson, Kim Basinger, Michael Keaton

329 328
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Terminator 2: Judgment Day Arnold Schwarzenegger, Edward Furlong, Linda Hamilton

459 301
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Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone Emma Watson, Daniel Radcliffe, Julianne Hough

323 244
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E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial Drew Barrymore, Erika Eleniak, Debra Winger

328 257
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Chariots of Fire Stephen Fry, Kenneth Branagh, Ian Holm

287 298
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Top Gun Tom Cruise, Meg Ryan, Val Kilmer

322 291
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Gladiator Russell Crowe, Joaquin Phoenix, Michael Sheen

304 265
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Halloween Jamie Lee Curtis, Kyle Richards, Donald Pleasence

376 310
Titanic is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Greatest Movie Themes
Titanic Leonardo DiCaprio, Kate Winslet, Kathy Bates

272 291
Star Trek is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Greatest Movie Themes
Star Trek Zoe Saldana, Jennifer Morrison, Winona Ryder

279 255
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2001: A Space Odyssey Arthur C. Clarke, Leonard Rossiter, Ed Bishop

254 236
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The Magnificent Seven Steve McQueen, Charles Bronson, James Coburn

227 124
The Sound of Music is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Greatest Movie Themes
slaft added The Sound of Music Julie Andrews, Christopher Plummer, Eleanor Parker

294 137
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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174 227
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Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves Morgan Freeman, Sean Connery, Kevin Costner

214 246
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The Last of the Mohicans Daniel Day-Lewis, Madeleine Stowe, Pete Postlethwaite

208 154
Grease is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list The Greatest Movie Themes
CraigAlarm added Grease John Travolta, Olivia Newton-John, Stockard Channing

206 181
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The Phantom of the Opera Emmy Rossum, Gerard Butler, Minnie Driver

184 188
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Braveheart Mel Gibson, Sophie Marceau, Brendan Gleeson

190 196
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The Terminator Arnold Schwarzenegger, Bill Paxton, Linda Hamilton

158 124
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

230 25
Forrest Gump is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list The Greatest Movie Themes
codebreaker added Forrest Gump Tom Hanks, Kurt Russell, Sally Field

181 139
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Psycho Alfred Hitchcock, Janet Leigh, Anthony Perkins

147 124
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

130 176
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A Fistful of Dollars Clint Eastwood, Gian Maria Volonté, Aldo Sambrell

196 120
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The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring Cate Blanchett, Ian McKellen, Liv Tyler

93 93
The Sting is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list The Greatest Movie Themes
CraigAlarm added The Sting Paul Newman, Robert Redford, Robert Shaw

119 146
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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187 105
Philadelphia is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Greatest Movie Themes
CraigAlarm added Philadelphia Tom Hanks, Denzel Washington, Julius Erving

111 73
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Dances with Wolves Kevin Costner, Mary McDonnell, Charles Rocket

150 141
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The Exorcist Max von Sydow, Ellen Burstyn, Linda Blair

170 91
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Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl Johnny Depp, Keira Knightley, Zoe Saldana

141 165
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Men in Black Will Smith, Sylvester Stallone, Steven Spielberg

104 123
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Conan the Barbarian Arnold Schwarzenegger, James Earl Jones, Max von Sydow

101 91
Ferris Bueller's Day Off is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list The Greatest Movie Themes
CraigAlarm added Ferris Bueller's Day Off Charlie Sheen, Matthew Broderick, Jeffrey Jones