Without a villain, there can be no hero. That’s been proven time and again by Agent 007. Over the past 50 years, James Bond has done battle with some of the most maniacally bloodthirsty villains bent on world domination. In addition, the majority of these villains have gone on to become pop-culture icons. And so, in celebration of Bond’s 50th birthday, we have listed our picks for the 10 best Bond villains.
10. Boris Grishenko – Goldeneye
Measly computer programmers like Boris Grishenko sometimes hide the worst sides of evil within them. Recruited to help operate the Goldeneye satellite, Grishenko offers a truly technological side of evil that hints at the future of villains. Unfortunately for Grishenko, he is not “invincible” after all.
9. Rosa Klebb – From Russia With Love
Rosa Klebb had a very unique way of torturing people in From Russia With Love. While she had a very strong Russian persona, she would talk to her victims in a motherly tone all while inflicting misery upon them. Her signature style was stern, and she knew how to boss around her subordinates. Carrying around a whip and donning a pair of shoes with a poisonous blade, she was one lady you wouldn’t want to cross.
8. Alec Trevelyan – Goldeneye
Perhaps Bond’s most formidable opponent would come in the form of someone who understands how he thinks, how he operates and how he’s been trained. Such is the case of Alec Trevelyan, agent 006, who goes rogue in hopes of world domination. Luckily, Bond has never been one to play by the book, and manages to outwit his worthy adversary.
7. Mr. Big/Kananga – Live and Let Die
Political corruption, a rubber-mask-wearing alter ego and a psychic mistress made Yaphet Kotto the perfect villain in Live and Let Die. As a corrupt evil genius, Kananga devises a master plan to control a monopoly on the heroin market. The plan involves two different identities that Bond begins to investigate. Dr. Kananga is the Prime Minister of the island San Monique, where the drugs are being made. His second persona is Mr. Big, the restaurant-owning Harlem gangster that smuggles the drugs into America. Kananga originality earns him a spot on this list. Also, his death is just too iconic not to include him.
6. Le Chiffre – Casino Royale
Le Chiffre’s role as Bond’s nemesis in Casino Royale was the rebirth for the classic Bond bad guy; he even came complete with a creepy eye. His expert pokerface causes Bond some trouble during the high-stakes poker game, as do his coyness and joking manner while poisoning Bond. Le Chiffre was also responsible for one of the most creative and unique forms of torture that audiences have seen in a Bond film. It’s hard to look at a wicker chair in the same way after watching that scene.
5. Jaws – The Spy Who Loved Me and Moonraker
Though merely a henchman, Jaws played an integral part in the Bond franchise and has gone on to become one of the most popular villains in the series. As much a creation of Richard Kiel’s massive frame, Jaws didn’t need words to cast fear into those he encountered. Though he eventually turned on Hugo Drax in Moonraker and came to Bond’s aid, a list of Bond villains would not be complete without this steel-teethed giant.
4. Oddjob – Goldfinger
Auric Goldfinger’s trusty bodyguard Oddjob became a staple of the historic franchise with his discus-like throwing skills. Except his weapon of choice was a steel-brimmed bowler hat capable of much more damage than your average clothing accessory.
3. Dr. No – Dr. No
As the first villain from the Bond movies, Dr. No set the bar for what was to be expected from a Bond villain. He was the total package; a physically defected evil doctor trying to destroy the world with laser bands. Dr. No became the archetype for nearly all villains to follow.
2. Auric Goldfinger – Goldfinger
Gold has tantalized men since its discovery. Its hypnotic powers led Goldfinger to try to place an atomic device inside Fort Knox. And Goldfinger doesn’t expect Bond to talk; he expects him to die, and for that line alone he earns the a top spot on our list.
1. Ernst Stavro Blofeld – From Russia With Love, Thunderball, You Only Live Twice, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, Diamonds Are Forever and For Your Eyes Only
Making his appearance in six different Bond films, there’s no other place for Ernst Stavro Blofeld than number one. He was the master of all the villains and the man behind the evil SPECTRE corporation. He was the rich, powerful evil genius who would change his appearance in each film. The first appearance of Blofeld only reveals him from the chest down, but yet it was still enough to classify him as Bond’s ultimate nemesis. The man in a suit stroking a white cat has become an iconic image in film history.