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The Greatest Movie Themes

Updated July 27, 2020 83.1k votes 10.1k voters 279.7k views384 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 is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Greatest Movie Themes
    1,081
    245

    Forrest Gump

    Tom Hanks, Sally Field

    Released1994

    Directed byRobert Zemeckis

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  • 2
    Star Wars is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Greatest Movie Themes
    2,884
    1,585

    Star Wars

    Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher

    Released1977

    Directed byGeorge Lucas

    Star Wars is a 1977 American epic space opera film written and directed by George Lucas. The... more on Wikipediaamazon buy button

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  • 3
    The Good, the Bad and the Ugly is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Greatest Movie Themes
    1,255
    774

    The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

    Clint Eastwood, Eli Wallach

    Released1966

    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
  • 4
    Mission: Impossible is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Greatest Movie Themes
    1,020
    548

    Mission: Impossible

    Tom Cruise, Jon Voight

    Released1996

    Directed byBrian De Palma

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  • 5
    The Godfather is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Greatest Movie Themes
    1,022
    639

    The Godfather

    Al Pacino, Marlon Brando

    Released1972

    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
    James Bond Franchise is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Greatest Movie Themes
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  • 7
    The Pink Panther is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Greatest Movie Themes
    1,056
    630

    The Pink Panther

    Peter Sellers, Claudia Cardinale

    Released1963

    Directed byBlake Edwards

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  • 8
    Singin' in the Rain is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Greatest Movie Themes
    229
    98

    Singin' in the Rain

    Debbie Reynolds, Gene Kelly

    Released1952

    Directed byStanley Donen, Gene Kelly

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  • 9
    The Good, the Bad and the Ugly is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Greatest Movie Themes
    223
    65

    The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

    Vidal Parker-Caldera

    Released2015

    Directed byCal Evans

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  • 10
    Back to the Future is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Greatest Movie Themes
    1,075
    648

    Back to the Future

    Michael J. Fox, Christopher Lloyd

    Released1985

    Directed byRobert Zemeckis

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  • 11
    Chariots of Fire is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Greatest Movie Themes
    622
    430

    Chariots of Fire

    Stephen Fry, Kenneth Branagh

    Released1981

    Directed byHugh Hudson

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  • 12
    Harry Potter and the Philosoph is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Greatest Movie Themes
    977
    517

    Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone

    Emma Watson, Daniel Radcliffe

    Released2001

    Directed byChris Columbus

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  • 13
    Pinocchio is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Greatest Movie Themes
    177
    82

    Pinocchio

    Mel Blanc, Cliff Edwards

    Released1940

    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 on Wikipediaamazon buy button
  • 14
    Indiana Jones and the Raiders  is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Greatest Movie Themes
    1,769
    1,108

    Released1981

    Directed bySteven Spielberg

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  • 15
    The Sound of Music is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Greatest Movie Themes
    493
    293

    The Sound of Music

    Julie Andrews, Christopher Plummer

    Released1965

    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
  • 16
    Pirates of the Caribbean: The  is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Greatest Movie Themes

    Released2003

    Directed byGore Verbinski

    Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl is a 2003 American fantasy swashbuckler... more on Wikipediaamazon buy button

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  • 17
    Ghostbusters is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Greatest Movie Themes
    1,038
    649

    Ghostbusters

    Bill Murray, Sigourney Weaver

    Released1984

    Directed byIvan Reitman

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  • 18
    The Lion King is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Greatest Movie Themes
    107
    24

    The Lion King

    Whoopi Goldberg, Jeremy Irons

    Released1994

    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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  • 19
    Rocky is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Greatest Movie Themes
    1,624
    1,218

    Rocky

    Sylvester Stallone, Joe Frazier

    Released1976

    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
  • 20
    Superman is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Greatest Movie Themes
    965
    547

    Superman

    Marlon Brando, Gene Hackman

    Released1978

    Directed byRichard Donner

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  • 21
    Jurassic Park is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Greatest Movie Themes
    1,662
    1,057

    Jurassic Park

    Samuel L. Jackson, Jeff Goldblum

    Released1993

    Directed bySteven Spielberg

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  • 22
    Titanic is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Greatest Movie Themes
    771
    566

    Titanic

    Leonardo DiCaprio, Kate Winslet

    Released1997

    Directed byJames Cameron

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  • 23
    Jaws is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Greatest Movie Themes
    1,182
    754

    Jaws

    Steven Spielberg, Richard Dreyfuss

    Released1975

    Directed bySteven Spielberg

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  • 24
    Lawrence of Arabia is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Greatest Movie Themes
    190
    112

    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
  • 25
    The Lord of the Rings: The Fel is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Greatest Movie Themes
    501
    198

    Released2001

    Directed byPeter Jackson

    The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring is a 2001 epic fantasy film directed by... more on Wikipediaamazon buy button
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