10.5k voters

The Greatest Movie Themes

Updated July 27, 2020 82.5k votes 10.5k voters 281.7k views382 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.


  • Forrest Gump1

    Forrest Gump

    Tom Hanks, Sally Field


    Directed byRobert Zemeckis

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  • The Good, the Bad and the Ugly2

    The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

    Clint Eastwood, Eli Wallach


    Directed bySergio Leone

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  • The Godfather3

    The Godfather

    Al Pacino, Marlon Brando


    Directed byFrancis Ford Coppola

    The Godfather is a 1972 American crime film directed by Francis Ford Coppola, based on the...  more
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  • The Pink Panther4

    The Pink Panther

    Peter Sellers, Claudia Cardinale


    Directed byBlake Edwards

    The Pink Panther is a 1963 Technicolor American comedy film filmed in 70mm Super Technirama...  more
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  • Mission: Impossible5

    Mission: Impossible

    Tom Cruise, Jon Voight


    Directed byBrian De Palma

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    Directed byHugh Hudson

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  • Back to the Future7

    Back to the Future

    Michael J. Fox, Christopher Lloyd


    Directed byRobert Zemeckis

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  • Star Wars8

    Star Wars

    Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher


    Directed byGeorge Lucas

    Star Wars is a 1977 American epic space opera film written and directed by George Lucas. The...  more
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  • Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark9


    Directed bySteven Spielberg

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  • The Good, the Bad and the Ugly10

    The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

    Vidal Parker-Caldera


    Directed byCal Evans

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  • James Bond Franchise11

    James Bond Franchise

    Daniel Craig, Pierce Brosnan

    Released1962 - Present

    Directed byTerence Young, Guy Hamilton, Lewis Gilbert, Sam Mendes, Peter R. Hunt

    The James Bond film series is a British series of spy films based on the fictional character...  more
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  • The Lion King12

    The Lion King

    Whoopi Goldberg, Jeremy Irons


    Directed byRob Minkoff, Roger Allers

    The Lion King is a 1994 American animated musical epic film produced by Walt Disney Feature...  more
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  • Singin' in the Rain13

    Singin' in the Rain

    Debbie Reynolds, Gene Kelly


    Directed byStanley Donen, Gene Kelly

    Singin' in the Rain is a 1952 American musical comedy film directed by Gene Kelly and Stanley...  more
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  • Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl14


    Directed byGore Verbinski

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  • Ghostbusters15


    Bill Murray, Sigourney Weaver


    Directed byIvan Reitman

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  • Pinocchio16


    Mel Blanc, Cliff Edwards


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

    Pinocchio is a 1940 American animated musical fantasy film produced by Walt Disney Productions...  more
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  • Superman17


    Marlon Brando, Gene Hackman


    Directed byRichard Donner

    Superman is a 1978 superhero film directed by Richard Donner. It is based on the DC Comics...  more
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  • Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone18

    Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone

    Emma Watson, Daniel Radcliffe


    Directed byChris Columbus

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  • The Sound of Music19

    The Sound of Music

    Julie Andrews, Christopher Plummer


    Directed byRobert Wise

    The Sound of Music is a 1965 American musical drama film produced and directed by Robert Wise...  more
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  • Jurassic Park20

    Jurassic Park

    Samuel L. Jackson, Jeff Goldblum


    Directed bySteven Spielberg

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  • Rocky21


    Sylvester Stallone, Joe Frazier


    Directed byJohn G. Avildsen

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  • Titanic22


    Leonardo DiCaprio, Kate Winslet


    Directed byJames Cameron

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  • The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring23


    Directed byPeter Jackson

    The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring is a 2001 epic fantasy film directed by...  more
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  • Jaws24


    Steven Spielberg, Richard Dreyfuss


    Directed bySteven Spielberg

    Jaws is a 1975 American thriller film directed by Steven Spielberg and based on Peter...  more
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  • The Little Mermaid25

    The Little Mermaid

    Jodi Benson, Christopher Daniel Barnes


    Directed byRon Clements, John Musker

    The Little Mermaid is a 1989 American animated musical fantasy film produced by Walt Disney...  more
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