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
1,456 496
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Star Wars Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Mark Hamill

The Best James Bond Movie Theme Songs The Best Current Disney Channel Shows

2
964 420
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Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark Harrison Ford, Alfred Molina, Karen Allen

3
847 462
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Rocky Sylvester Stallone, Joe Frazier, Burgess Meredith

4
905 445
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James Bond Kalabhavan Mani, Indrans Surendran, Raghu

5
846 414
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Jurassic Park Samuel L. Jackson, Jeff Goldblum, Richard Attenborough

6
655 347
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Jaws Steven Spielberg, Richard Dreyfuss, Roy Scheider

7
563 326
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The Good, the Bad and the Ugly Clint Eastwood, Viggo Mortensen, Mark Strong

8
596 318
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The Pink Panther Peter Sellers, Claudia Cardinale, David Niven

9
636 327
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Ghostbusters Bill Murray, Sigourney Weaver, Dan Aykroyd

10
736 370
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11
596 335
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Back to the Future Michael J. Fox, Christopher Lloyd, Lea Thompson

12
553 337
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Superman Marlon Brando, Gene Hackman, Christopher Reeve

13
536 343
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The Godfather Al Pacino, Marlon Brando, Robert Duvall

14
581 262
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15
532 315
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Mission: Impossible Tom Cruise, Jon Voight, Vanessa Redgrave

The Best Songs in the History of South Park The Scariest Clown Movies in Film History

16
416 308
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Batman Jack Nicholson, Kim Basinger, Michael Keaton

17
332 329
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Terminator 2: Judgment Day Arnold Schwarzenegger, Edward Furlong, Linda Hamilton

18
461 303
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Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone Emma Watson, Daniel Radcliffe, Julianne Hough

19
328 244
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E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial Drew Barrymore, Erika Eleniak, Debra Winger

20
330 257
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Chariots of Fire Stephen Fry, Kenneth Branagh, Ian Holm

21
287 298
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Top Gun Tom Cruise, Meg Ryan, Val Kilmer

22
324 291
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Gladiator Russell Crowe, Joaquin Phoenix, Michael Sheen

23
308 265
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Halloween Jamie Lee Curtis, Kyle Richards, Donald Pleasence

24
378 311
Titanic is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Greatest Movie Themes
Titanic Leonardo DiCaprio, Kate Winslet, Kathy Bates

25
273 293
Star Trek is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Greatest Movie Themes
Star Trek Zoe Saldana, Jennifer Morrison, Winona Ryder

26
280 255
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2001: A Space Odyssey Arthur C. Clarke, Leonard Rossiter, Ed Bishop

27
256 236
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The Magnificent Seven Steve McQueen, Charles Bronson, James Coburn

28
230 124
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

29
296 137
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

The Greatest Soundtracks of All Time The Biggest Turn Ons in a Person

30
176 227
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Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves Morgan Freeman, Sean Connery, Kevin Costner

31
215 246
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The Last of the Mohicans Daniel Day-Lewis, Madeleine Stowe, Pete Postlethwaite

32
209 155
Grease is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list The Greatest Movie Themes
CraigAlarm added Grease John Travolta, Olivia Newton-John, Stockard Channing

33
206 181
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The Phantom of the Opera Emmy Rossum, Gerard Butler, Minnie Driver

34
184 189
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Braveheart Mel Gibson, Sophie Marceau, Brendan Gleeson

35
193 196
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The Terminator Arnold Schwarzenegger, Bill Paxton, Linda Hamilton

36
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

37
234 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

38
185 139
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Psycho Alfred Hitchcock, Janet Leigh, Anthony Perkins

39
147 125
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
130 176
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A Fistful of Dollars Clint Eastwood, Gian Maria Volonté, Aldo Sambrell

41
198 120
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The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring Cate Blanchett, Ian McKellen, Liv Tyler

42
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

43
119 147
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
188 107
Philadelphia is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Greatest Movie Themes
CraigAlarm added Philadelphia Tom Hanks, Denzel Washington, Julius Erving

45
113 73
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Dances with Wolves Kevin Costner, Mary McDonnell, Charles Rocket

46
172 91
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Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl Johnny Depp, Keira Knightley, Zoe Saldana

47
151 141
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The Exorcist Max von Sydow, Ellen Burstyn, Linda Blair

48
141 165
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Men in Black Will Smith, Sylvester Stallone, Steven Spielberg

49
106 123
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Conan the Barbarian Arnold Schwarzenegger, James Earl Jones, Max von Sydow

50
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