40 Greatest Movie Character Theme Music

From the stirring to the soaring...

Ghostbusters, (Ghostbusters)

The Theme: Even though it’s played over the opening and closing titles, Ray Parker Junior’s classic is truly in its pomp over the montage of Venkman, Stantz and Spengler as their reputation grows and they get more requests for their services.

Its Effect: Ridiculously bawdy, Ghostbusters not only places you into a pulsating groove but also provides sage advice about who to ring if you ever find yourself going toe-to-toe with a poltergeist.

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Carl & Ellie, Up

The Theme: Michael Giacchino’s music charts the entire love affair of Ellie and Carl Fredricksen but really pulls at your heartstrings later in the movie when the latter looks through a book left by the former in their now decrepit home atop Paradise Falls.

Its Effect: As equally sentimental as it is jubilant, Giacchino constantly changes the pace of the music to change the viewer’s emotions throughout, making you chuckle like a pig at one point and then cry like a baby in another.

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Pat Garrett & Billy The Kid, (Pat Garrett And Billy The Kid)

The Theme: Bob Dylan’s plucking of his guitar strings introduces us to the movie’s two titular protagonists as Sam Peckinpah cuts masterfully between Pat’s death and Billy as he kills chickens for fun. Like you do.

Its Effect: Having apparently been Billy The Kid in a past life, Dylan was obviously the perfect choice to coin a song for Peckinpah’s wonderful western. His tune is oddly hypnotic yet safely nostalgic at the same time.

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Martin Riggs, (Lethal Weapon)

The Theme: Eric Clapton’s wailing guitar is the perfect sound to accentuate Mel Gibson’s suicidal cop, and no scene orchestrates this more than his emotional semi-suicide attempt whilst watching Bugs Bunny. What a way to go it would have been!

Its Effect: Slightly erratic, Clapton’s axe adds to Riggs down and out persona whilst random saxophone blasts also give Richard Donner’s movie a strangely 80s urban feel.

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Jake La Motta, (Raging Bull)

The Theme: Scorsese’s opening to Raging Bull is so iconic that it’s literally impossible to picture Jake La Motta’s (Roberto De Niro) eloquent prancing inside the boxing ring without Pietro Mascagni’s piece guiding his jabs.

Its Effect: Infectiously rousing you feel like you could go ten rounds with Ali after hearing it. Scorsese also manages to somehow make hoodies look cool.

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Sam Flynn, (Tron Legacy)

The Theme: OK, maybe 2010’s return to the grid was slightly misguided but at least Daft Punk’s soundtrack gave us something to get giddy over.

Especially when Sam Flynn (Garrett Hedlund) slaloms through downtown L.A. on his motorbike to the French duo's efforts.

Its Effect: Engaging and perfectly in tune with the electronic world of the film, Daft Punk are at the heart of everything that is good with Joseph Kosinski’s sequel. Except for when Martin Sheen throws an all night disco party, *Shudder*.

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Jesse James, (The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford)

The Theme: Andrew Dominik’s criminally undervalued western thrives due to a mixture of Nick Cave’s sounds, the Kiwi director’s unique vision, Hugh Ross’ pitch perfect narration and Brad Pitt’s greatest ever performance, all of which combine to create a mesmeric opening scene that acquaints us with the gunslinger.

Its Effect: Absorbing whilst slightly emotional it hints towards the outlaw’s untimely demise at the hands of his supposedly BFF.

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Miles Raymond, (Sideways)

The Them e: Named after an aggressive loser with an over bearing penchant for wine, Miles’ (Paul Giamatti) theme introduces us to the want to be writer and his miserable existence as he prepares for a week of booze with his best friend Jack (Thomas Haden Church).

Its Effect: Pretentious and even slightly annoying, it’s the kind of music that distils any sexual ambience almost instantly. Perfect for Miles then.

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Austin Powers, (Austin Powers : International Man of Mystery)

The Theme: Gregariously fun and groovy, British spy/amateur photographer Austin Powers (Mike Myers) is the coolest man in 1960s Britain and anytime his pumping harmony is played in Jay Roach’s 1997 comedy you can’t help but feel in awe of the man.

Its Effect: You’ll either long to dance spontaneously on a London street in Joan Holloway and Peter Campbell’s spare clothes or play football with Brazil’s 1998 World Cup team in a French airport. Either one is cool.

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Batman, (Batman -1966)

The Theme: Any time Batman (Adam West) and Robin (Burt Ward) find themselves running, driving or part of a montage the immortal sound of Neal Hefti’s iconic salvo can be heard.

Its Effect: It makes you think, who needs Christopher Nolan? And did his incarnation really need to be so damn dark? The answers to both are, all of us and yes.

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