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

1,524 519
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Star Wars Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Mark Hamill

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1,003 435
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Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark Harrison Ford, Alfred Molina, Karen Allen

885 478
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Rocky Sylvester Stallone, Joe Frazier, Burgess Meredith

932 473
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James Bond Kalabhavan Mani, Indrans Surendran, Raghu

880 435
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Jurassic Park Samuel L. Jackson, Jeff Goldblum, Richard Attenborough

681 360
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Jaws Steven Spielberg, Richard Dreyfuss, Roy Scheider

594 340
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The Good, the Bad and the Ugly Clint Eastwood, Viggo Mortensen, Mark Strong

614 332
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The Pink Panther Peter Sellers, Claudia Cardinale, David Niven

666 333
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Ghostbusters Bill Murray, Sigourney Weaver, Dan Aykroyd

621 341
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Back to the Future Michael J. Fox, Christopher Lloyd, Lea Thompson

576 345
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Superman Marlon Brando, Gene Hackman, Christopher Reeve

761 385
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560 352
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The Godfather Al Pacino, Marlon Brando, Robert Duvall

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

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430 316
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Batman Jack Nicholson, Kim Basinger, Michael Keaton

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

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

342 251
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E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial Drew Barrymore, Erika Eleniak, Debra Winger

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

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

336 299
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Gladiator Russell Crowe, Joaquin Phoenix, Michael Sheen

316 273
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Halloween Jamie Lee Curtis, Kyle Richards, Donald Pleasence

284 299
Star Trek is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Greatest Movie Themes
Star Trek Zoe Saldana, Jennifer Morrison, Winona Ryder

393 316
Titanic is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Greatest Movie Themes
Titanic Leonardo DiCaprio, Kate Winslet, Kathy Bates

250 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

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

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

247 125
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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272 238
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The Magnificent Seven Steve McQueen, Charles Bronson, James Coburn

224 160
Grease is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list The Greatest Movie Themes
CraigAlarm added Grease John Travolta, Olivia Newton-John, Stockard Channing

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

221 250
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The Last of the Mohicans Daniel Day-Lewis, Madeleine Stowe, Pete Postlethwaite

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

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

191 195
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Braveheart Mel Gibson, Sophie Marceau, Brendan Gleeson

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

193 142
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Psycho Alfred Hitchcock, Janet Leigh, Anthony Perkins

154 126
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

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

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

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

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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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

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

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

181 94
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Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl Johnny Depp, Keira Knightley, Zoe Saldana

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

115 128
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Conan the Barbarian Arnold Schwarzenegger, James Earl Jones, Max von Sydow

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