The Main Bond Villains: From ‘Dr. No’ To ‘SPECTRE’

A diabolical villain is one of the essential components of a James Bond movie. Without one (or several in certain cases), the film does what Bond never will: die.

This is a list of Bond’s arch enemies. It runs the gamut from scorned scientists to gold smugglers; double-agents to psychopathic businessmen. They’re here based on an unscientific scale of menace, threat, and memorability. Points are taken off for ridiculousness.

 
33) ARIS KRISTATOS (For Your Eyes Only – 1981)

Bond35This guy’s about as threatening as a CPA with a bendy straw. Kristatos (Julian Glover) is a Greek businessman in bed with the Soviets. The Commies task Kristatos with recovering the ATAC, a British intelligence device similar to the Lektor Decoder in From Russia With Love. Kristatos sits around a lot with his legs crossed, drinking and playing people off each other.

 
32) GEORGI KOSKOV (The Living Daylights – 1987)

Bond34Koskov (Jeroen Krabbe) is the Soviet Russian equivalent of a 1980’s yuppie. James Bond (Timothy Dalton) is sent to retrieve this defecting Soviet General, who’s really not defecting. If not for Krabbe’s performance, this character wouldn’t make a blip on the Bond villain radar. Yet, due to his whirlwind performance, the character is rather mesmerizing.

 
31) NICK NACK (The Man with the Golden Gun – 1974)

Bond33“I may be small, but I never forget!”

The dwarf assistant/bodyguard to the film’s main villain Francisco Scaramanga (Christopher Lee). In the beginning, Nick Nack (Herve Villechaize) is sort of menacing, especially his French-accented voice echoing throughout Scaramanga’s funhouse. As the movie progresses, Nick Nack’s exploits become more infantile and comical. The culmination of which is Bond (Roger Moore) trapping the feisty thug in a suitcase. Yikes.

 

30) GUSTAV GRAVES (Die Another Day – 2002)

Bond32“Plenty of time to sleep when you’re dead.”

You might need a flow chart for this one. Graves (Toby Stephens) is a philanthropic Brit who is really the supposedly dead North Korean General Zao. If your brain hurts trying to understand that, yours isn’t the only one. Zao is thought dead after a skirmish with Bond (Pierce Brosnon) during a prisoner exchange, but actually survives. Using some kind of party mask with psychedelic lights in it, Zao alters his facial appearance to look like a Caucasian Londoner. From there, he assumes the identity of never-sleeping adventurer Gustav Graves. This horseshit is made smellier only by his devious plot: to launch a diamond-encrusted satellite into space that can harness the power of the sun’s heat. And from where does he attempt such an endeavor? On an iceberg! Because ice and heat gel so well.

 
29) BRAD WHITAKER (The Living Daylights – 1987)

Bond31“You had your eight, now I’ll have my eighty!”

Doesn’t say much for the villains of this movie if they both appear in the bottom five on this list. Whitaker (Joe Don Baker) is a gun smuggler with a Napoleon complex who literally drops into the plot out of no where. Our engrossing spy epic is dead. It’s now a story about weapon smuggling. Baker relishes Whitaker’s craziness, as evident in his performance. Would’ve been nice to see him have more to do.

 
28) DOMINIC GREENE (Quantum of Solace – 2008)

Bond30The most Peter Lorre-looking baddie. Greene (Mathieu Amalric) is a environment-friendly businessman who wants the land rights to a newly discovered underground lake which he plans to exploit to the local Bolivians, who are suffering a massive drought. If not for Greene’s psychotic ballet with an axe in the third act, he wouldn’t even be here.

 

27) KARL STROMBERG (The Spy Who Loved Me – 1977)

Bond29“Down here, there is beauty. There is ugliness. And there is death.”

Curt Jurgens plays this shipping magnate who prefers fish to people. His plan: play America and the Soviets off each other to initiate World War III which will wipe everybody out. After that, he will rebuild society in an underwater city. Stromberg doesn’t see much action, but his plan is evilly ambitious. Plus he’s got webbed-hands. He takes a bullet to his coral reef and dies. In the script, Bond’s quip was “ballseye”, but it was ultimately dropped.

 
26) KAMAL KHAN (Octopussy – 1983)

Bond28“You have an annoying habit of surviving, Mr. Bond.”

Another one who doesn’t pose much of a physical threat to Bond (Moore), but he’s certainly tenacious as hell. Louis Jourdan plays this exiled prince involved with the Soviets and smuggling. He’s poised and calculating, making him a very cerebral threat. Plus he hunts Bond through the jungles of India from atop an elephant. Pretty badass.

 

25) SIR HUGO DRAX (Moonraker – 1979)

Bond27“Look after Mr. Bond. See that some harm comes to him.”

Remember folks, never cheat at card games. Especially if you’re a millionaire who plans on gassing the world to death from your space station-city where you will create an ultra-race of humans. Didn’t work for Hitler, and it didn’t work for Drax (Michael Lonsdale). On the upside, he is sucked out into space. Maybe he can tangle with the alien that hunted Sigourney Weaver.

 

24) DR. KANANGA/MR. BIG (Live and Let Die – 1973)

Bond26“Ingenious!”

The great Yaphet Kotto plays this Caribbean prime minister who moonlights as a drug lord. He believes in the powers of voodoo and the mystical insight of his fortune-teller, Solitaire (Jane Seymore). As Kananga, he ships his drugs to America. As Mr. Big, he sells them. Kananga should be higher up on the list, but his death scene destroys his menace. Bond (Moore) shoves an expanding gas pellet down Kanaga’s throat. The villain turns into a skin-balloon, rockets to the ceiling of his underground lair, and explodes against a stalactite. Is this a James Bond movie or a Wile E. Coyote/Road Runner cartoon? Pitiful.

Fun fact: the Kananga name comes from an alligator farm the producers found while scouting locations in Haiti. The farm, and its ominous warning sign (“trespassers will be eaten”), make it into the film.

 

23) MR. WINT & MR. KIDD (Diamonds Are Forever – 1971)

Bond25“If at first you don’t succeed, Mr. Kidd–“

“Try, try again, Mr. Wint.”

Donald Glover and Putter Smith play this team of gay assassins. So far, they’re the only male homosexual characters in the franchise. Not counting Raoul Silva in Skyfall (who knows what gets him going). Wint and Kidd are quite formidable because they’re always lurking in the background, indirectly causing mayhem. Because of this, they go unnoticed until the last scene. During it, Bond (Sean Connery) sets Kidd on fire and attaches an explosive to Wint before tossing him overboard.

Fun fact: Bruce Glover is the father of Crispin Glover, who plays George McFly in Back To The Future. Small world.

 

22)  MAX ZORIN (A View To A Kill – 1985)

Bond24“You two have joined forces? That simplifies things.”

Christopher Walken as Zorin is one of the few highlights of this movie. Zorin is a Nazi test-tube-baby-experiment gone awry who grows up to be a microchip-manufacturing industrialist. He plans to cause an earthquake along the San Andreas Fault which will cause a lake to drain and flood Silicon Valley, destroying his competition, which will allow him to corner the market on the electronic devices. Zorin’s joyous, doomed laughter atop the Golden Gate Bridge is something to hear.

 

21) VICTOR “RENARD” ZOKAS (The World Is Not Enough – 1999)

Bond23Scottish actor Robert Carlyle plays this former KGB agent turned terrorist. Years prior to the start of the movie, Renard kidnaps the daughter of a wealthy oil magnate and holds her for ransom. An MI6 agent shoots Renard, but instead of the bullet killing him, it lodges in Renard’s brain, which shuts down his ability to experience pain. In the end, he’s just a piece of ass to the movie’s main villain, Elektra King (Sophie Marceau).

 

20) ELLIOT CARVER (Tomorrow Never Dies – 1997)

Bond22“There’s no news like bad news.”

“Let the mayhem begin!”

With dialogue like that, there’s no way you cannot like this guy. Jonathan Pryce plays this media mogul who wants to start a war between the United State and China to (get this) increase his TV ratings and newspaper circulation. This plot has more believability now than it did the year the movie hit theaters.

 

19) MR. WHITE (Casino Royale, Quantum of Solace, SPECTRE – 2006-2015)

image“You’re trying to stop us, and you don’t even know who we are!”

Jesper Christensen plays this weasel who is catalyst for everything that occurs in the Daniel Craig James Bond movies. In Casino Royale, White is a financier for an unnamed terrorist organization. One movie later, that organization is revealed to be Quantum. Two movies later, the real name of the company is revealed: SPECTRE.

 

18) DR. NO (Goldfinger (I keed!) Dr. No – 1962)

Bond20“East, west, just points of the compass; each as stupid as the other. I’m a member of SPECTRE… The Special Executive for Counterintelligence, Terrorism, Revenge, Extortion.”

Joseph Wiseman plays the very first Bond villain. He is an agent of SPECTRE who sets up a base in Jamaica to topple American rockets launching from Cape Canaveral. Again, not much of a physical threat, but his dinner time exchange with Bond (Connery) is sinisterly memorable. Plus he’s hands are claws, a unfortunate side effect from working with radioactive material.

Fun fact 1: In the original script, Dr. No was the name of a monkey who sat on the bad guy’s shoulder.

Fun fact 2: Bond author Ian Fleming asked his friend, notable playwright Noel Coward, to play Dr. No. Coward sent Fleming a note saying: “Dear Ian: In answer to your question about Dr. No, the answer is no, no, no.”

 

17) BORIS GRISHENKO (GoldenEye – 1995)

Bond19“I am invincible!”

Alan Cumming is most famous for playing the Emcee in the 1998 Broadway revival of Cabaret, but his role as Boris is just as memorable. Boris is a Russian computer programmer who betrays his country and friends to help Alec Trevelyn (Sean Bean) use the GoldenEye satellite to steal money from the Bank of England. He’s obnoxious, arrogant, and pretentious – all great traits for a Bond villain.

 

16) ELEKTRA KING (The World Is Not Enough – 1999)

Bond18“There’s no point in living if you can’t feel alive!”

Sophie Marceau plays the franchise’s first female lead villain. Elektra teams up with her kidnapper Renard to enact revenge on MI6 and her father. Quite the manipulative brat.

 

15) DARIO (Licence To Kill – 1989)

BondDelToro“You’re dead.”

Long before he won an Oscar, Benicio del Toro played this sadistic henchman with a switchblade. Dario likes nothing more than to kill, an act in which he takes great pleasure. His death is one of the franchise’s most gruesome: falling into a giant shredding machine.

 

14) FRANZ SANCHEZ (Licence To Kill – 1989)

BondDaviRobert Davi plays this psychotic drug lord with a penchant for iguanas. Sanchez is one of Bond’s most ruthless enemies. Early in the movie, Sanchez feeds Bond’s long-time friend CIA agent Felix Leiter (David Heddison) to a shark. Bond (Dalton) find’s Felix’s mutilated (yet alive) body, with a note stuffed in his mouth that reads: “He disagreed with something that ate him.” Bond burns him to a crisp using a silver lighter, which Felix gave him as a present for being Best Man at his wedding.

 

13) FRANCISCO SCARAMANGA (The Man with the Golden Gun – 1974)

BondLee“I never miss, Mr. Bond.”

The great Christopher Lee portrays this expensive hitman. For one million dollars, Scaramanga will kill anyone you want. When a golden bullet with “007” engraved on it reaches MI6, Bond (Moore) sets out to find who hired Scaramanga, then kill the assassin before he puts one in Bond’s skull. The air of mystery surrounding Scaramanga is a welcome buffer against some of the plot’s buffoonery. Outside of Bond, Scaramanga has the coolest gadget in the franchise: a golden gun that can be broken down into three ordinary components: a lighter, a pen, and a cigarette case.

Fun fact: Lee is Bond author Ian Fleming’s cousin.

 

12) FIONA VOLPE (Thunderball – 1965)

BondPaluzzi“James Bond, who only has to make love to a woman and she starts to hear heavenly choir singing. She repents and immediately returns to the side of right and virtue. But not this one.”

Luciana Paluzzi plays the original bad bitch of the franchise. She’s a seductress who cozies up to a NATO Commander in order to kill him and help steal two atomic weapons for SPECTRE. Every future villainous Bond Girl is patterned after her.

 

11) EMILIO LARGO (Thunderball – 1965)

BondCeli“My dear, you thought to be a little too clever; and now you are caught!”

SPECTRE’s second-in-command. Adolfo Celi picked up this novel at an airport earlier in the same day he was cast. Largo is the ruthless, calculating architect behind a plot to steal two atomic weapons from NATO and use them to hold the world ransom. One of the most ambitious undertakings in the franchise. Largo’s fight with Bond (Connery) aboard the Disco Volante yacht is claustrophobic and brutal.

 

10) ROSA KLEBB (From Russia With Love – 1963)

BondLenya“If you do you will be SHOT!”

Stage actress Lotte Lenya plays this Soviet/SPECTRE double agent with lesbian tendencies. Klebb is one of many cogs in a plot to kill Bond (Connery) for the death of Dr. No. Her task is to find the hitman and the unsuspecting broad who will lead Bond to his doom. She puts up a helluva fight with a pair of poison-tipped shoes.

 

9) JAWS (The Spy Who Loved Me – 1977, Moonraker – 1979)

BondKiel“Well, here’s to us.”

That’s Jaws’ only line of dialogue in the two movies in which he appears. Richard Kiel plays this 7’2” assassin who kills people with titanium teeth. Jaws stalking Bond (Moore) and Anya Amasova (Barbara Bach) around the Great Pyramids is unsettlingly scary. In his second appearance, Jaws becomes comic relief. Especially cringe-worthy is when he flaps his arms after falling out of an airplane without a parachute. Way to dumb down a great character.

 

8) ODDJOB (Goldfinger – 1964)

BondSakataThe first legendary henchman. Harold Sakata (Tosh Togo) plays this mute bodyguard to Auric Goldfinger (Gert Frobe). Oddjob suffocates a girl by coating her in gold paint, crushes a golf ball with his bare hands, and wears a razor-brimmed bowler hat. He uses the hat to decapitate one of Bond’s allies. When he tries to do the same thing to Bond (Connery) inside Fort Knox, Bond electrocutes him dead.

Fun fact: Sakata represented the United States in weightlifting during the 1948 Olympic Games.

 

7) RAOUL SILVA/TIEGO RODRIGUEZ (Skyfall – 2012)

BondBardem

Javier Bardem plays Silva, one of the most memorable and psychotic villains in the franchise. After years in seclusion, Silva wages an all-out war to destroy M (Judi Dench), who he believes betrayed him during his time as an MI6 operative. Held captive, Silva decides to kill himself instead of leaking government secrets. The cyanide capsule he ingests backfires. Instead of killing him, is burns away the insides of his skull. His ruse to get himself captured just to gain access to MI6 headquarters is executed more elegantly by the Joker (Heath Ledger) in The Dark Knight, but it still works here. Silva caressing Bond’s thighs is skin-crawling and adds so much to the character.

 

6) XENIA ONATOPP (GoldenEye – 1995)

BondJanssen

I had to ventilate someone.”

Famke Janssen launched her career after playing this Russian psycho-hitwoman who’s method of killing involves crushing a man to death between her legs! What a way to go. Possibly the most iconic modern day Bond Girl. Actress Sela Ward auditioned to play Xenia, but her age (she was in her 40s at the time) was a hindrance. The most recent Bond movie featured a female love interest in her 50s. Times change.

 

5) ALEC TREVELYN (GoldenEye – 1995)

BondBean“I may as well ask you for a vodka martini for all the women you’ve rescued. Or all the dead ones you failed to protect.”

Every bit Bond’s equal. Why? Because he’s 006! In a 1986 operation, Bond and Trevelyn (Sean Bean) infiltrate a Soviet dam. Their plan goes wrong and Trevelyn is seemingly killed. Years later, Bond learns that Trevelyn is still alive, operating a crime syndicate under the identity of Janus. Trevelyn’s betrayal of Bond is nothing compared to how the British government betrayed his parents. They were Lienz Cossacks who fought with the British against the Nazis. After the war, England turned them back over to Russian dictator Lenin who had them executed. Revenge is Trevelyn’s objective, but he never achieves it. Bean dies, just like he does in every one of his movies.

 

4) DONALD “RED” GRANT (From Russia With Love – 1963)

BondShawRobert Shaw (Quint from Jaws) plays this SPECTRE hitman. Grant is sent to protect Bond (Connery) until he posses the Lektor Decoder machine. Once Bond has the machine, Grant is to kill him and hand it over to SPECTRE. Grant doesn’t utter a single word until he makes contact with Bond aboard the Orient Express. Bond and Grant’s claustrophobic fight inside Bond’s cabin is one of the best in the history of film.

 

3) LE CHIFFRE (Casino Royale – 2006)

BondMikkelson“You are funny, Mr. Bond.”

The minute Mads Mikkelsen first appears we understand his character is a calculating machine of a human, in total control of everything he does. As Le Chiffre’s plan unravels, so does he. Desperation takes over. But by that point, Le Chiffre is marked for death.

His plan is simple: sponsor a high stakes poker game in Montenegro in a desperate bid to get SPECTRE’s money back. Unfortunately for Le Chiffre, Bond wipes him out.

This character is a brilliant adaptation from the character in the novel. He’s a genius with numbers, an asthmatic, and nearly tortures Bond to death by beating him with the balled-up end of an industrial rope. You’re almost sorry for Le Chiffre when his plan disintegrates. Almost. Very memorable.

 

2) ERNST STAVRO BLOFELD

You Only Live Twice – 1967 (Donald Pleasance)
On Her Majesty’s Secret Service – 1969 (Telly Savalas)
Diamonds Are Forever – 1971 (Charles Gray)
SPECTRE – 2015 (Christoph Waltz)

BondWaltz“Yes, give him his cigarettes. It won’t be the nicotine that kills you, Mr. Bond.”

Yes, Blofeld appears in From Russia With Love and Thunderball with his white cat, but he wasn’t the main protagonist until 1967. His plots for world domination range from trying to start World War III between the United States and Russia by stealing their space capsules; brainwashing an army of beautiful women to disperse a virus that will wipe out the world’s livestock and botany; launch a diamond-encrusted satellite that can destroy any target on earth if a ransom isn’t paid; to just plain old revenge on Bond. Blofeld even kills Bond’s wife! Either with hair or without, he’s insidious.

 

1) AURIC GOLDFINGER (Goldfinger – 1964)

BondFrobe

“No, Mr. Bond, I expect you to die!”

It has to be Gert Frobe as Goldfinger. He’s the archetype for every Bond villain that follows him. Goldfinger is a smuggler obsessed with… Gold! He hatches a scheme to detonate an “atomic device” inside Fort Knox, making the United States gold supply radioactive (and therefore unusable) for 58 years, which will increase the value of his own gold. No Bond villain in the franchise takes more joy in criminal activity than Goldfinger, and it’s a delight to watch.

That’s it! Every main Bond villain in their place of importance. The plot for Bond 25 is still being worked on right now, although there’s no doubt it will feature an antagonist worthy of James Bond.

Ryan Malik
Ryan Malik
Ryan is a screenwriter with a BFA in Film from The School of Visual Arts in New York City. He's a connoisseur of Batman, Ghostbusters, Hitchcock, Scorsese, Stephen King, and Pop-Tarts. Tweet me @Theaterfilms1