Soundtracks The Greatest Movie Themes  

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Originally by Ranker Community
60.6k votes 7.1k voters 220k views 340 items

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.

1
2,220 782
Star Wars is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Greatest Movie Themes
Star Wars Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Mark Hamill Star Wars is a 1977 American epic space opera film written and directed by George Lucas. The first release in the Star Wars franchise, it stars Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Peter ...more

2
1,374 603
Indiana Jones and the Raiders ... is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Greatest Movie Themes
Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark Harrison Ford, Alfred Molina, Karen Allen Raiders of the Lost Ark is a 1981 American adventure film directed by Steven Spielberg. The screenplay by Lawrence Kasdan was from a story by George Lucas and Philip Kaufman. It was produced by ...more

3
1,209 685
Rocky is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Greatest Movie Themes
Rocky Sylvester Stallone, Joe Frazier, Burgess Meredith Rocky is a 1976 American sports drama film directed by John G. Avildsen and both written by and starring Sylvester Stallone. It tells the rags to riches American Dream story of Rocky Balboa, an ...more

4
1,220 679
James Bond is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Greatest Movie Themes
James Bond Kalabhavan Mani, Indrans Surendran, Raghu James Bond is a 1999 Malayalam language comedy film directed by Baiju Kottarakkara and starring Premkumar, Kalabhavan Mani, Bheeman Raghu, Indrans, Abi and Vani Viswanath. The film is a remake ...more

5
1,265 584
Jurassic Park is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Greatest Movie Themes
Jurassic Park Samuel L. Jackson, Jeff Goldblum, Richard Attenborough Jurassic Park is a 1993 American science fiction adventure film directed by Steven Spielberg. It is the first installment of the Jurassic Park franchise. It is based on the 1990 novel of the ...more

6
846 495
The Good, the Bad and the Ugly is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Greatest Movie Themes
The Good, the Bad and the Ugly Clint Eastwood, Viggo Mortensen, Mark Strong The Good, the Bad and the Ugly is a 1966 Italian epic Spaghetti Western film directed by Sergio Leone, starring Clint Eastwood, Lee Van Cleef, and Eli Wallach in the title roles respectively. ...more

7
909 492
Jaws is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Greatest Movie Themes
Jaws Steven Spielberg, Richard Dreyfuss, Roy Scheider Jaws is a 1975 American thriller film directed by Steven Spielberg and based on Peter Benchley's novel of the same name. The prototypical summer blockbuster, its release is regarded as a ...more

8
873 447
Ghostbusters is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Greatest Movie Themes
Ghostbusters Bill Murray, Sigourney Weaver, Dan Aykroyd Ghostbusters is a 1984 American sci-fi-fantasy comedy film, directed and produced by Ivan Reitman and written by Dan Aykroyd and Harold Ramis. The film stars Bill Murray, Aykroyd, and Ramis as ...more

9
829 454
The Pink Panther is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Greatest Movie Themes
The Pink Panther Peter Sellers, Claudia Cardinale, David Niven The Pink Panther is a 1963 Technicolor American comedy film filmed in 70mm Super Technirama directed by Blake Edwards and co-written by Edwards and Maurice Richlin, starring David Niven, Peter ...more

10
831 430
Back to the Future is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Greatest Movie Themes
Back to the Future Michael J. Fox, Christopher Lloyd, Lea Thompson Back to the Future is a 1985 American comic science fiction film. It was directed by Robert Zemeckis, written by Zemeckis and Bob Gale, produced by Steven Spielberg, and stars Michael J. Fox, ...more

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775 454
The Godfather is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Greatest Movie Themes
The Godfather Al Pacino, Marlon Brando, Robert Duvall The Godfather is a 1972 American crime film directed by Francis Ford Coppola and produced by Albert S. Ruddy from a screenplay by Mario Puzo and Coppola. Starring Marlon Brando and Al Pacino as ...more

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742 462
Superman is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Greatest Movie Themes
Superman Marlon Brando, Gene Hackman, Christopher Reeve Superman is a 1978 superhero film directed by Richard Donner. It is based on the DC Comics character of the same name and stars Marlon Brando, Gene Hackman, Christopher Reeve, Margot Kidder, ...more

13
763 429
Mission: Impossible is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Greatest Movie Themes
Mission: Impossible Tom Cruise, Jon Voight, Vanessa Redgrave Mission: Impossible is a 1996 American action spy film directed by Brian De Palma, based on the 1960s television series. IMF Agent Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) must uncover the mole who has framed ...more

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569 421
Batman is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Greatest Movie Themes
Batman Jack Nicholson, Kim Basinger, Michael Keaton Batman is a 1989 American superhero film directed by Tim Burton and produced by Jon Peters, based on the DC Comics character of the same name. It is the first installment of Warner Bros.' ...more

15
687 392
Harry Potter and the Philosoph... is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Greatest Movie Themes
Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone Emma Watson, Daniel Radcliffe, Julianne Hough Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone is a 2001 fantasy film directed by Chris Columbus and distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures. It is based on the novel of the same name by J. K. Rowling. ...more

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458 340
Chariots of Fire is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Greatest Movie Themes
Chariots of Fire Stephen Fry, Kenneth Branagh, Ian Holm Chariots of Fire is a 1981 British historical drama film. It tells the fact-based story of two athletes in the 1924 Olympics: Eric Liddell, a devout Scottish Christian who runs for the glory of ...more

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588 402
Titanic is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Greatest Movie Themes
Titanic Leonardo DiCaprio, Kate Winslet, Kathy Bates Titanic is a 1997 American epic romantic disaster drama film directed, written, co-produced, and co-edited by James Cameron. A fictionalized account of the sinking of the RMS Titanic, it stars ...more

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444 331
E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Greatest Movie Themes
E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial Drew Barrymore, Erika Eleniak, Debra Winger E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial is a 1982 American science fiction-family film co-produced and directed by Steven Spielberg and written by Melissa Mathison, featuring special effects by Carlo ...more

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431 428
Terminator 2: Judgment Day is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Greatest Movie Themes
Terminator 2: Judgment Day Arnold Schwarzenegger, Edward Furlong, Linda Hamilton Terminator 2: Judgment Day is a 1991 American science fiction action thriller film written, produced and directed by James Cameron. The film stars Arnold Schwarzenegger, Linda Hamilton, Robert ...more

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386 385
Top Gun is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Greatest Movie Themes
Top Gun Tom Cruise, Meg Ryan, Val Kilmer Top Gun is a 1986 American action drama film directed by Tony Scott, and produced by Don Simpson and Jerry Bruckheimer, in association with Paramount Pictures. The screenplay was written by Jim ...more

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443 381
Gladiator is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Greatest Movie Themes
Gladiator Russell Crowe, Joaquin Phoenix, Michael Sheen Gladiator is a 2000 American-British epic historical drama film directed by Ridley Scott, starring Russell Crowe, Joaquin Phoenix, Connie Nielsen, Ralf Möller, Oliver Reed, Djimon Hounsou, ...more

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362 372
Star Trek is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Greatest Movie Themes
Star Trek Zoe Saldana, Jennifer Morrison, Winona Ryder Star Trek is a 2009 science fiction film directed by J. J. Abrams, written by Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman, and produced by Damon Lindelof and Bryan Burk. It is the eleventh film based on the ...more

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338 184
The Sound of Music is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Greatest Movie Themes
slaft added The Sound of Music Julie Andrews, Christopher Plummer, Eleanor Parker The Sound of Music is a 1965 American musical drama film produced and directed by Robert Wise and starring Julie Andrews and Christopher Plummer. The film is an adaptation of the 1959 Broadway ...more

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380 347
Halloween is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Greatest Movie Themes
Halloween Jamie Lee Curtis, Kyle Richards, Donald Pleasence Halloween is a 1978 American independent slasher horror film directed and scored by John Carpenter, co-written with producer Debra Hill, and starring Donald Pleasence and Jamie Lee Curtis in her ...more

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306 218
Grease is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Greatest Movie Themes
CraigAlarm added Grease John Travolta, Olivia Newton-John, Stockard Channing Grease is a 1978 American musical romantic comedy-drama film directed by Randal Kleiser and produced by Paramount Pictures. It is based on Warren Casey and Jim Jacobs' 1971 musical of the same ...more

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356 315
2001: A Space Odyssey is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list The Greatest Movie Themes
2001: A Space Odyssey Arthur C. Clarke, Leonard Rossiter, Ed Bishop 2001: A Space Odyssey is a 1968 epic science fiction film produced and directed by Stanley Kubrick. The screenplay was written by Kubrick and Arthur C. Clarke, and was partially inspired by ...more

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358 93
Forrest Gump is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Greatest Movie Themes
codebreaker added Forrest Gump Tom Hanks, Kurt Russell, Sally Field Forrest Gump is a 1994 American epic romantic-comedy-drama film based on the 1986 novel of the same name by Winston Groom. The film was directed by Robert Zemeckis and stars Tom Hanks, Robin ...more

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404 183
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 Return of the Jedi is a 1983 American epic space opera film directed by Richard Marquand. The screenplay by Lawrence Kasdan and George Lucas was from a story by Lucas, who was also the executive ...more

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296 303
The Last of the Mohicans is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Greatest Movie Themes
The Last of the Mohicans Daniel Day-Lewis, Madeleine Stowe, Pete Postlethwaite The Last of the Mohicans is a 1992 historical epic film set in 1757 during the French and Indian War and produced by Morgan Creek Pictures. It was directed by Michael Mann and based on James ...more

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260 245
Braveheart is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list The Greatest Movie Themes
Braveheart Mel Gibson, Sophie Marceau, Brendan Gleeson Braveheart is a 1995 epic historical medieval war drama film directed by and starring Mel Gibson. Gibson portrays William Wallace, a 13th-century Scottish warrior who led the Scots in the First ...more

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341 304
The Magnificent Seven is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list The Greatest Movie Themes
The Magnificent Seven Steve McQueen, Charles Bronson, James Coburn The Magnificent Seven is an American western film directed by John Sturges and starring Yul Brynner, Eli Wallach and Steve McQueen. The picture is an Old West-style remake of Akira Kurosawa's ...more

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297 155
The Lord of the Rings: The Fel... is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list The Greatest Movie Themes
The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring Cate Blanchett, Ian McKellen, Liv Tyler The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring is a 2001 epic fantasy film directed by Peter Jackson based on the first volume of J. R. R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings. It is the first ...more

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274 234
The Phantom of the Opera is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list The Greatest Movie Themes
The Phantom of the Opera Emmy Rossum, Gerard Butler, Minnie Driver The Phantom of the Opera is a 2004 British film adaptation of Andrew Lloyd Webber's 1986 musical of the same name, which in turn is based on the French novel Le Fantôme de l'Opéra ...more

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211 176
Saturday Night Fever is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list The Greatest Movie Themes
slaft added Saturday Night Fever John Travolta, Fran Drescher, Denny Dillon Saturday Night Fever is a 1977 American dance film directed by John Badham and starring John Travolta as Tony Manero, a young man whose weekends are spent visiting a local Brooklyn discotheque; ...more

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221 167
The Breakfast Club is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Greatest Movie Themes
CraigAlarm added The Breakfast Club Judd Nelson, Molly Ringwald, Anthony Michael Hall The Breakfast Club is a 1985 American coming-of-age comedy-drama film written, produced, and directed by John Hughes and starring Emilio Estevez, Paul Gleason, Anthony Michael Hall, John ...more

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215 291
Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list The Greatest Movie Themes
Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves Morgan Freeman, Sean Connery, Kevin Costner Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves is a 1991 American-British adventure film directed by Kevin Reynolds. The film stars Kevin Costner as Robin Hood, Morgan Freeman as Azeem, Christian Slater as Will ...more

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280 129
Pirates of the Caribbean: The ... is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list The Greatest Movie Themes
Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl Johnny Depp, Keira Knightley, Zoe Saldana Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl is a 2003 American fantasy swashbuckler film based on the Pirates of the Caribbean ride at Disney theme parks. It was directed by Gore ...more

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176 221
A Fistful of Dollars is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list The Greatest Movie Themes
A Fistful of Dollars Clint Eastwood, Gian Maria Volonté, Aldo Sambrell A Fistful of Dollars, titled on-screen as Fistful of Dollars, is a 1964 spaghetti western film directed by Sergio Leone and starring Clint Eastwood, alongside Gian Maria Volonté, Marianne ...more

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239 246
The Terminator is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list The Greatest Movie Themes
The Terminator Arnold Schwarzenegger, Bill Paxton, Linda Hamilton The Terminator is a 1984 American science fiction/horror action film directed by James Cameron, written by Cameron and the film's producer Gale Anne Hurd, and starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, ...more

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243 184
Psycho is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list The Greatest Movie Themes
Psycho Alfred Hitchcock, Janet Leigh, Anthony Perkins Psycho is a 1960 Psychological thriller and horror film written by Joseph Stefano and directed by Alfred Hitchcock.

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185 214
Men in Black is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list The Greatest Movie Themes
Men in Black Will Smith, Sylvester Stallone, Steven Spielberg Men in Black is a 1997 American science fiction action comedy film directed by Barry Sonnenfeld, produced by Walter F. Parkes and Laurie MacDonald and starring Tommy Lee Jones and Will Smith. ...more

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168 117
Footloose is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list The Greatest Movie Themes
CraigAlarm added Footloose Sarah Jessica Parker, Kevin Bacon, John Lithgow Footloose is a 1984 American musical-drama directed by Herbert Ross. It tells the story of Ren McCormack, an upbeat Chicago teen who moves to a small town in which, as a result of the efforts of ...more

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177 187
Skyfall is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list The Greatest Movie Themes
CraigAlarm added Skyfall Daniel Craig, Ralph Fiennes, Javier Bardem Skyfall is the twenty-third James Bond film produced by Eon Productions. It features Daniel Craig in his third performance as James Bond, and Javier Bardem as Raoul Silva, the film's villain. It ...more

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137 136
Ferris Bueller's Day Off is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Greatest Movie Themes
CraigAlarm added Ferris Bueller's Day Off Charlie Sheen, Matthew Broderick, Jeffrey Jones Ferris Bueller's Day Off is a 1986 American comedy film written, produced and directed by John Hughes. The film follows high school senior Ferris Bueller, who skips school and spends the day in ...more

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194 184
The Exorcist is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list The Greatest Movie Themes
The Exorcist Max von Sydow, Ellen Burstyn, Linda Blair The Exorcist is a 1973 American supernatural horror film directed by William Friedkin, adapted by William Peter Blatty from his 1971 novel of the same name. The book, inspired by the 1949 ...more

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149 117
Dances with Wolves is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list The Greatest Movie Themes
Dances with Wolves Kevin Costner, Mary McDonnell, Charles Rocket Dances with Wolves is a 1990 American epic western film directed, produced by, and starring Kevin Costner. It is a film adaptation of the 1988 book of the same name by Michael Blake and tells ...more

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210 160
Philadelphia is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list The Greatest Movie Themes
CraigAlarm added Philadelphia Tom Hanks, Denzel Washington, Julius Erving Philadelphia is a 1993 American drama film and one of the first mainstream Hollywood films to acknowledge HIV/AIDS, homosexuality, and homophobia. It was written by Ron Nyswaner, directed by ...more

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132 136
The Sting is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list The Greatest Movie Themes
CraigAlarm added The Sting Paul Newman, Robert Redford, Robert Shaw The Sting is a 1973 American caper film set in September 1936, involving a complicated plot by two professional grifters to con a mob boss. The film was directed by George Roy Hill, who had ...more

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Schindler's List is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list The Greatest Movie Themes
CraigAlarm added Schindler's List Liam Neeson, Ralph Fiennes, Ben Kingsley Schindler's List is a 1993 American epic historical period drama, directed and co-produced by Steven Spielberg and scripted by Steven Zaillian. It is based on the novel Schindler's Ark by Thomas ...more

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Doctor Zhivago is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list The Greatest Movie Themes
slaft added Doctor Zhivago Omar Sharif, Julie Christie, Alec Guinness Doctor Zhivago is a British-American 1965 epic drama–romance film directed by David Lean, starring Omar Sharif and Julie Christie. It is set in Russia between the years prior to World War I and ...more