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The Greatest Movie Themes

Updated July 27, 2020 84.3k votes 10.4k voters 280.4k views383 items

List RulesTheme 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.

 

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  • 1
    Forrest Gump
    1,319
    258

    Forrest Gump

    Tom Hanks, Sally Field

    Released1994

    Directed byRobert Zemeckis

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  • 2
    The Good, the Bad and the Ugly
    1,270
    783

    The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

    Clint Eastwood, Eli Wallach

    Released1966

    Directed bySergio Leone

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  • 3
    Star Wars
    2,902
    1,811

    Star Wars

    Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher

    Released1977

    Directed byGeorge Lucas

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  • 4
    Mission: Impossible
    1,028
    565

    Mission: Impossible

    Tom Cruise, Jon Voight

    Released1996

    Directed byBrian De Palma

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  • 5
    The Pink Panther
    1,061
    634

    The Pink Panther

    Peter Sellers, Claudia Cardinale

    Released1963

    Directed byBlake Edwards

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  • 6
    The Godfather
    1,029
    644

    The Godfather

    Al Pacino, Marlon Brando

    Released1972

    Directed byFrancis Ford Coppola

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  • 7
    James Bond Franchise
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  • 8
    Chariots of Fire
    627
    435

    Chariots of Fire

    Stephen Fry, Kenneth Branagh

    Released1981

    Directed byHugh Hudson

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  • 9
    Singin' in the Rain
    233
    103

    Singin' in the Rain

    Debbie Reynolds, Gene Kelly

    Released1952

    Directed byStanley Donen, Gene Kelly

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  • 10
    Back to the Future
    1,081
    652

    Back to the Future

    Michael J. Fox, Christopher Lloyd

    Released1985

    Directed byRobert Zemeckis

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  • 11
    Ghostbusters
    1,042
    653

    Ghostbusters

    Bill Murray, Sigourney Weaver

    Released1984

    Directed byIvan Reitman

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  • 12
    The Good, the Bad and the Ugly
    226
    69

    The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

    Vidal Parker-Caldera

    Released2015

    Directed byCal Evans

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  • 13
    Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl

    Released2003

    Directed byGore Verbinski

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  • 14
    Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark
    1,777
    1,110

    Released1981

    Directed bySteven Spielberg

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  • 15
    The Sound of Music
    494
    297

    The Sound of Music

    Julie Andrews, Christopher Plummer

    Released1965

    Directed byRobert Wise

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  • 16
    Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone
    978
    522

    Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone

    Emma Watson, Daniel Radcliffe

    Released2001

    Directed byChris Columbus

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  • 17
    Rocky
    1,628
    1,222

    Rocky

    Sylvester Stallone, Joe Frazier

    Released1976

    Directed byJohn G. Avildsen

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  • 18
    Pinocchio
    177
    90

    Pinocchio

    Mel Blanc, Cliff Edwards

    Released1940

    Directed byWilfred Jackson, T. Hee, Bill Roberts, Hamilton Luske, Ben Sharpsteen

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  • 19
    Superman
    972
    551

    Superman

    Marlon Brando, Gene Hackman

    Released1978

    Directed byRichard Donner

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  • 20
    Jurassic Park
    1,668
    1,059

    Jurassic Park

    Samuel L. Jackson, Jeff Goldblum

    Released1993

    Directed bySteven Spielberg

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  • 21
    Titanic
    772
    569

    Titanic

    Leonardo DiCaprio, Kate Winslet

    Released1997

    Directed byJames Cameron

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  • 22
    The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring
    504
    203

    Released2001

    Directed byPeter Jackson

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  • 23
    Jaws
    1,188
    757

    Jaws

    Steven Spielberg, Richard Dreyfuss

    Released1975

    Directed bySteven Spielberg

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  • 24
    The Lion King
    110
    28

    The Lion King

    Whoopi Goldberg, Jeremy Irons

    Released1994

    Directed byRob Minkoff, Roger Allers

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  • 25
    Lawrence of Arabia
    192
    116

    Lawrence of Arabia

    Omar Sharif, Peter O'Toole

    Released1962

    Directed byDavid Lean

    Lawrence of Arabia is a 1962 British epic adventure drama film based on the life of T. E.... more on WikipediaAmazon buy button