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
1,465 499
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Star Wars Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Mark Hamill

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2
967 422
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Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark Harrison Ford, Alfred Molina, Karen Allen

3
851 463
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Rocky Sylvester Stallone, Joe Frazier, Burgess Meredith

4
908 448
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James Bond Kalabhavan Mani, Indrans Surendran, Raghu

5
849 418
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Jurassic Park Samuel L. Jackson, Jeff Goldblum, Richard Attenborough

6
658 349
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Jaws Steven Spielberg, Richard Dreyfuss, Roy Scheider

7
568 327
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The Good, the Bad and the Ugly Clint Eastwood, Viggo Mortensen, Mark Strong

8
596 322
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The Pink Panther Peter Sellers, Claudia Cardinale, David Niven

9
640 327
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Ghostbusters Bill Murray, Sigourney Weaver, Dan Aykroyd

10
600 336
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Back to the Future Michael J. Fox, Christopher Lloyd, Lea Thompson

11
739 373
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12
558 338
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Superman Marlon Brando, Gene Hackman, Christopher Reeve

13
539 346
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The Godfather Al Pacino, Marlon Brando, Robert Duvall

14
585 263
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15
534 315
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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
417 311
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Batman Jack Nicholson, Kim Basinger, Michael Keaton

17
463 306
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Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone Emma Watson, Daniel Radcliffe, Julianne Hough

18
335 332
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Terminator 2: Judgment Day Arnold Schwarzenegger, Edward Furlong, Linda Hamilton

19
330 247
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E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial Drew Barrymore, Erika Eleniak, Debra Winger

20
332 257
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Chariots of Fire Stephen Fry, Kenneth Branagh, Ian Holm

21
289 300
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Top Gun Tom Cruise, Meg Ryan, Val Kilmer

22
327 294
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Gladiator Russell Crowe, Joaquin Phoenix, Michael Sheen

23
308 268
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Halloween Jamie Lee Curtis, Kyle Richards, Donald Pleasence

24
275 295
Star Trek is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Greatest Movie Themes
Star Trek Zoe Saldana, Jennifer Morrison, Winona Ryder

25
378 312
Titanic is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Greatest Movie Themes
Titanic Leonardo DiCaprio, Kate Winslet, Kathy Bates

26
237 26
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
281 256
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2001: A Space Odyssey Arthur C. Clarke, Leonard Rossiter, Ed Bishop

28
298 139
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
260 237
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The Magnificent Seven Steve McQueen, Charles Bronson, James Coburn

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30
232 125
The Sound of Music is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list The Greatest Movie Themes
slaft added The Sound of Music Julie Andrews, Christopher Plummer, Eleanor Parker

31
210 157
Grease is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list The Greatest Movie Themes
CraigAlarm added Grease John Travolta, Olivia Newton-John, Stockard Channing

32
177 229
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Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves Morgan Freeman, Sean Connery, Kevin Costner

33
215 248
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The Last of the Mohicans Daniel Day-Lewis, Madeleine Stowe, Pete Postlethwaite

34
207 182
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The Phantom of the Opera Emmy Rossum, Gerard Butler, Minnie Driver

35
194 198
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The Terminator Arnold Schwarzenegger, Bill Paxton, Linda Hamilton

36
184 191
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Braveheart Mel Gibson, Sophie Marceau, Brendan Gleeson

37
158 125
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
186 140
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Psycho Alfred Hitchcock, Janet Leigh, Anthony Perkins

39
148 125
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
130 177
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A Fistful of Dollars Clint Eastwood, Gian Maria Volonté, Aldo Sambrell

41
151 142
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The Exorcist Max von Sydow, Ellen Burstyn, Linda Blair

42
198 121
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The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring Cate Blanchett, Ian McKellen, Liv Tyler

43
93 94
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
119 148
Skyfall is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Greatest Movie Themes
CraigAlarm added Skyfall Daniel Craig, Ralph Fiennes, Javier Bardem

45
107 152
Star Trek II: The Wrath of Kha... is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list The Greatest Movie Themes
Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan Kirstie Alley, William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy

46
114 74
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Dances with Wolves Kevin Costner, Mary McDonnell, Charles Rocket

47
188 110
Philadelphia is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list The Greatest Movie Themes
CraigAlarm added Philadelphia Tom Hanks, Denzel Washington, Julius Erving

48
173 92
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Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl Johnny Depp, Keira Knightley, Zoe Saldana

49
142 166
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Men in Black Will Smith, Sylvester Stallone, Steven Spielberg

50
107 125
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Conan the Barbarian Arnold Schwarzenegger, James Earl Jones, Max von Sydow