10.3k voters

The Greatest Movie Themes

Updated July 27, 2020 84.2k votes 10.3k 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.


  • 1
    Forrest Gump

    Forrest Gump

    Tom Hanks, Sally Field


    Directed byRobert Zemeckis

    Forrest Gump is a 1994 American epic romantic-comedy-drama film based on the 1986 novel of the... more on WikipediaAmazon buy button

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  • 2
    The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

    The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

    Clint Eastwood, Eli Wallach


    Directed bySergio Leone

    The Good, the Bad and the Ugly is a 1966 Italian epic Spaghetti Western film directed by... more on WikipediaAmazon buy button

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  • 3
    Star Wars

    Star Wars

    Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher


    Directed byGeorge Lucas

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  • 4
    Mission: Impossible

    Mission: Impossible

    Tom Cruise, Jon Voight


    Directed byBrian De Palma

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  • 5
    The Godfather

    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 on WikipediaAmazon buy button

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  • 6
    The Pink Panther

    The Pink Panther

    Peter Sellers, Claudia Cardinale


    Directed byBlake Edwards

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  • 7
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  • 8
    Singin' in the Rain

    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 on WikipediaAmazon buy button

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  • 9
    Chariots of Fire

    Chariots of Fire

    Stephen Fry, Kenneth Branagh


    Directed byHugh Hudson

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  • 10
    Back to the Future

    Back to the Future

    Michael J. Fox, Christopher Lloyd


    Directed byRobert Zemeckis

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  • 11


    Bill Murray, Sigourney Weaver


    Directed byIvan Reitman

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  • 12
    The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

    The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

    Vidal Parker-Caldera


    Directed byCal Evans

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


    Directed byGore Verbinski

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  • 14
    The Sound of Music

    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 on WikipediaAmazon buy button
  • 15
    Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone

    Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone

    Emma Watson, Daniel Radcliffe


    Directed byChris Columbus

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  • 16
    Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark


    Directed bySteven Spielberg

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  • 17


    Mel Blanc, Cliff Edwards


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

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  • 18


    Sylvester Stallone, Joe Frazier


    Directed byJohn G. Avildsen

    Rocky is a 1976 American sports drama film directed by John G. Avildsen. A small-time boxer... more on WikipediaAmazon buy button
  • 19


    Marlon Brando, Gene Hackman


    Directed byRichard Donner

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  • 20
    Jurassic Park

    Jurassic Park

    Samuel L. Jackson, Jeff Goldblum


    Directed bySteven Spielberg

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  • 21


    Leonardo DiCaprio, Kate Winslet


    Directed byJames Cameron

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


    Directed byPeter Jackson

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  • 23


    Steven Spielberg, Richard Dreyfuss


    Directed bySteven Spielberg

    Jaws is a 1975 American thriller film directed by Steven Spielberg and based on Peter... more on WikipediaAmazon buy button

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  • 24
    Lawrence of Arabia

    Lawrence of Arabia

    Omar Sharif, Peter O'Toole


    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

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  • 25
    The Lion King

    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 on WikipediaAmazon buy button

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