The Top Ten Bond Villains

The quality of a Bond movie, to a large extent, is determined by the strength of its villain. Over the course of the franchise, each movie has set up a head honcho, a chief villain, a nemesis for Bond to conquer. And these adversaries and their plans often determine the quality of that particular movie. When they’re poor, it can be near impossible to overcome (“Tomorrow Never Dies”), when they’re done exceptionally well, it can launch the movie into classic status (“Goldfinger”)!

These are the chiefs, the bosses. For the Top Ten Henchmen in the series, click here! Here’s my list of the ten best top dogs. Those villains who gave us chills or made our skin crawl or simply that we love to hate! These are the characters that add to the legacy of the franchise from the evil side of things! The Top Ten Bond Villains of all time!

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10) Franz Sanchez: Robert Davi, “Licence to Kill”

Sanchez, though more easily conned than other Bond villains appear to be, basically controlled the entire South American country of Isthmus. He runs a casino, has a huge drug manufacturing facility, and has created an enormous religious temple as cover for use in his drug operation. He has trouble trusting his girlfriend and his henchmen, which Bond exploits, but there’s no denying he has the coolest pet of all Bond villains!
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9) Hugo Drax: Michael Lonsdale, “Moonraker”

Probably the most ambitious (and evil) plan ever encountered in a bond villain. Plus he had the french palace lair, the underground tropical lair, and the outer space lair. Oh! And the swedish reproduction team, the rockets, the dobermans… and one of the coolest henchmen ever in Jaws! On top of that, every line he delivers is in that Super Droll monotone. You’ve gotta love him!
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8) Rosa Klebb: Lotte Lenya “From Russia With Love”

Sour, curt, and mean, Rosa Klebb is all business. The business of evil. She embodied the cold war, with her Soviet background and icy demeanor. She’s put in charge of orchestrating the trap SPECTRE sets for Bond in “From Russia with Love”, conning Tatiana Romanova into defecting with the Lektor and setting Red Grant after Bond. But in the end, she’s forced to resort to trying to finish the job herself, with her boot!

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7) Francisco Scaramanga: Christopher Lee, “The Man with the Golden Gun”

Lee turns in the best villain of the Roger Moore era. Though his interest in solar energy feels tacked on in order to give the film “saving the world stakes”, his desire to square off against Bond in order to see who is the world’s deadliest makes him a compelling adversary. His lair is a little too “fun house”, and his third nipple is a little TMI, but his weapon of choice is the coolest gun ever!

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6) Alec Travelyan: Sean Bean, “Goldeneye”

Bean is a tremendous actor and does a great job here, but mainly it’s the character’s personal connection to Bond that makes him so memorable. Both were Double Os, we even get to see them serving together on a mission where Bond scars him and disrupts his plan. That history gives more weight to their confrontations than Bond typically has with his villains. It was a great element to add to the launch of a new era of Bond.

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5) Le Chiffre: Mads Mikkelsen “Casino Royale”

Stoic. Menacing, the bleeding eye gimmick lends just a bit of cartoonishness to him. I only wish he had a henchman. I know he worked with others, but he needs some lumbering comic book goon with one name at his side. Then he’d have been awesome! As is though, he was still a great adversary to begin the Craig era with. Ill-tempered, intelligent, and ruthless, he made an excellent Bond foe.

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4) Emilio Largo: Adolfo Celi “Thunderball”

Eyepatch? Check. Thick accent? Check. Henchmen? Check. Shark Tanks for disposing of enemies and underlings that fail him? Abso-frickin-lutely. Emilio Largo is awesome. No wonder he was SPECTRE’s number 2. Add in the gorgeous women that he surrounds himself with, and the fact that he has a yacht that can detach a state of the art speedboat, and you have yourself a world-class Bond villain!
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3) Dr. Julius No: Joseph Wiseman “Dr. No”

In our introduction to Dr. No, he’s instructing a henchman – over an intercom, in an empty, circular, all white room with these really weirdly angled shadows – to kill Bond with a tarantula. SUPER cool. Just creepy, unsettling, stylistic. Love it. And when we finally meet him, he’s got a lair with huge fish tanks with magnifying glass windows… it’s just so awesome. Cant forget the mechanical hands, and his super cold manner of speaking, and his nuclear reactor room! Dr No rules.

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2) Auric Goldfinger: Gert Fröbe, “Goldfinger”

Auric Goldfinger is the quintessential Bond villain. Rich and powerful already, he has plans to enrich himself even further, regardless of the lives it will cost. He’s arrogant, overconfident, and surrounded by underlings to do his bidding. The mint julep scene where he reveals his plans to Bond is my favorite villain plan reveal in the entire series. Now if only Pussy Galore had been as loyal as Odd Job, he would have gotten away with it!

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1) Ernst Stavro Blofeld: Donald Pleasance, “You Only Live Twice”

 Pleasance’s Blofeld had the benefit of build up in two previous movies. In spite of never having his face shown, Blofeld and his kitty made appearances in “From Russia with Love” and “Thunderball”. When he finally appears here, he’s bald and scarred. We get to see him kill his own henchmen instead of Bond, so he obviously makes poor choices, but nevertheless, he’s chillingly evil. Subsequent Blofelds do NOT measure up!

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So there you have it folks, the Top Ten Bond Villains of all time!

What do you think? Any that I missed? Someone too high or too low? Does anyone want to argue that I should have included Elliot Carver? Let me hear it!!

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50 thoughts on “The Top Ten Bond Villains

  1. Totally agree with Le Chiffre being on the list – that dude freaked me out so much that I spent the whole movie trying to figure him out rather than admiring the hunk of Bond in front of me! Did you know it’s the same guy from Clash of The Titans? So weird…

      • Wow, that will be awesome! I can absolutely see him in that role! I’ll keep an eye out for that, thanks for the heads up!

  2. Haven’t even seen it yet but Raoul Silva could be #1. Part seems made for Bardem. Going to be interesting. Of the ones on the list, I have to go with Lotte Lenya. Had the good fortune to see her on Broadway in one of her few plays. She had the most tiny commanding voice and presence, she dominated the stage. In “From Russia–” she’s totally credible. After all anyone who inspires “Mack the Knife” to be written has some kind of special aura!

      • She was married to Kurt Weill in the early Nazi days. I think the song’s from “Three Penny Opera”. Weill’s signature work. Anyway LL’s the real deal!

  3. Wait? What about Max Zorin?

    He was played by Academy Award winner Christopher Walken, was birthed by evil Nazi magic, had a super-speedy super-stealth blimp, is a world-renowned champion thoroughbred raiser, is a cautionary tale about the unethical business practices of Microsoft before that was ever really a thing yet, and could only be defeated by tossing the One Ring back to the fires from whence it came!

    In other news, I had way too much Halloween candy last night.

    • Max Zorin!! The People’s Choice!!

      I’d have to agree with Tank. Bond lighting Sanchez on fire at the end of “Licence to Kill” is mine. That’s pretty hardcore.

      Although, certainly the Kananga balloon popping has its appeal. :D

      • Agree on both Sanchez death and the ones campaigning for Zorin he is top-3 on my list easily. Trevelyan is probably on top because of the same reason you state here, there’s a connection.

        You convinced me with presentation of Hugo Drax, even though his lame ass death don’t help his case. The ones I’d remove or place lover than your list are Dr. No, Le Chiffre and Largo.

  4. Without looking at your list I put Goldfinger first. Then I saw your list and now totally agree with you. Blofeld it is (but the Donald Pleasance one.) Telly Savalas would be my second favorite Blofeld.

    • LOL. The Blofelds certainly were a case of diminishing returns, werent they? :D

      Its hard to not put Goldfinger at the top, because probably, within his movie, he’s better than any other villain. But they give Blofeld such a huge part to play in the series, and Pleasance was the face of that…

  5. I still say Blofeld was at his best when he was mostly unseen, but Pleasence is great. As for the rest of the choices, pretty awesome. Really happy to see Sanchez. I think Drax is too high, Scaramanga is only memorable because of Lee’s performance (and the gun I suppose), and that while even though Largo has cool things, he himself is relatively uninteresting.

    None the less, good list.

    • No way man! Love Largo’s accent! :D And eyepatch!

      Pleasance is awesome. They had to show him eventually, you know?

      Youre right about Scaramanga though, “on paper” his character is awful. Lee is the reason he’s memorable, for sure!

  6. Love Walken, but Zorin is maybe the least memorable part he ever played. Two good shots of him in the movie: one with the Uzi, the other grabbing the axe and swinging down to attack Bond. Drax is not droll, he is dull. Nothing about him is provocative or interesting, lucky we got the worst Bond Villain in the Worst Bond movie. Donald Pleasance was not in the movie enough to be featured here. This sounds like wish fulfillment, Blofeld is the most consistent villain and you want the best casting to go with it. The electric chair in Thunderball was more ominous without seeing his face. Rosa Klebb is so creepy as she eyeballs Tatiana, practically licking her lips. Kananga gets the best death, although Goldfinger getting sucked out of the plane is pretty swell. You have limited it to head honchos, planners, top of the food chain types, so by default “GOLDFINGER” number 1. He had the best line, “No Mr. Bond, I expect you to die!”

    • I don’t… think I’m… getting the proper resPECT… from you, Richard.

      LOL. I would actually beg to differ in that Zorin is interesting in a COMICAL way. Seriously. He’s a nazi experiment trained by the KGB! I laugh at the fact that… steroids make you intelligent? What? Still, he cracks me up with that Uzi. And it’s fun to do your Walken impersonation as you watch it. “I need more Cowbell!” :D

      Goldfinger rates very highly for me, but there’s no way to dethrone Blofeld. He was in YOLT quite a bit, they just did the whole “Dont show his face” thing again til the end. He whacks a few people out with his pirhanas and he captures a few space capsules before he and Bond finally meet. And then there’s the scar! Gotta pay him his props…

      Though obviously, Goldfinger DID have the best line.

  7. I like the list. Auric Goldfinger (Gert Frobe) is tops for me because he is, as Fogs mentioned, the man with the plan. He’s civil enough to compete in a golf game head-to-head with Bond. He’s got one of the best villain lines “No Mr. Bond, I expect you to DIE.” Additionally, he’s got the ultimate enforcer (well almost) in Oddjob a silent beast with a deadly hat; very slick. Too bad for Auric that Bond is so charming with the ladies a la Ms. Galore (another well-named henchman, henchperson, whatever). BTW, I do hate that Le Chiffre though; what an unforgettable villain. Nice list again. ;-)

    • Thanks S. People seem to be championing Goldfinger pretty hardcore here. Sticking by my guns with the Pleasance Blofeld though. He’s gotta be king.

      That is an awesome scene with the laser though. Iconic.

      Auric Goldfinger: Man has climbed Mount Everest, gone to the bottom of the ocean. He’s fired rockets at the Moon, split the atom, achieved miracles in every field of human endeavor… except crime!

  8. I’d have Scaramanga higher, personally, but that’s just me. Christopher Lee by third nipple super-villainy!

  9. Solid list Dan. Not the most hardcore James Bond fan out there so I don’t really know all of them ahah. Let’s hope Javier Bardem in Skyfall will be one for the ages!

  10. Le Chiffre did have a henchman! The baldy guy! Though… he was fairly useless.

    Good to see Alec on the list here. He was a solid villain. A “what if” for Bond…

    • LOL. See? “The Baldy Guy” Thats not a henchman! He didnt even have a name! LOL. That doesnt count!!

      006 was a MUST include for me. In fact, I was disappointed he didnt rank higher. There’s just so many awesome Bond Villains!

  11. Hi, Fogs and company:

    Excellent list and placements!

    For me, deciding between Gert Frobe’s Auric Goldfinger and Donald Pleasance’s Ernst Stavro Blofeld basically comes down to memorable lines delivered and an elegant, spoiled and pampered cat.

    Delivered lines win!
    Though the cat does add a bit of mystery to the already mysterious Blofeld.

    Kudos for adding the evil Dr. Klebb and Bond’s bent equal, Alec Travelyan!

    • Yes, but Frobe had to have his dialogue dubbed. :D Does that detract points? Not that it did for me, I’m just saying!

      I basically think Blofeld needs to be number one because he’s Blofeld, which actually gives him credit for things beyond that one movie… which may or may not be fair. But there’s no bigger Bond villain than him, even if I do like to pretend the character stopped existing after YOLT. LOL

      • Hi, Fogs:

        Odd that you should mention that, regarding Blofeld.

        I remember the day after Martin Luther King was murdered in Memphis. The FBI was busy tracking down someone (James Earl Ray), Who had been and still was using the alias Ernst Stavro Galt.

        Blofeld’s ‘cool factor’ also increased with the scar over his right eye.
        A Schlagger Mensur, or Dueling scar, no doubt. And Donald Pleasance’s deadpan delivery.

      • The scar was awesome. I was sad they didnt continue it on with the other actors who played the part. At least in DAF they acknowledge (I think they do at least) Plastic Surgery. Not sure they ever even mention it in OHMSS though.

        The scar is awesome. Being ties in to real life villains of course, is not. :(

  12. Franz Sanchez is way too low! Putting him behind Drax, Klebb, and Scaramanga is no good, Fogs! Even so, this is a strong list. I’m glad to see Largo up there, who I doesn’t get enough attention at all. Dr. No is also sometimes dismissed because he only appears in the final act. That’s also true for Blofeld, but the build-up was so great at that point that it makes sense. Pleasance looks a bit silly in that part, but it’s a convincing scene. I actually think Telly Savalas is a better Blofeld in OHMSS, but that is a much larger part. Back to Drax, his plans are basically just another version of Stromberg’s in The Spy Who Loved Me. Lame! Nice work, though.

    • Yes, I agree Dan, I’d have put Sanchez on the top 5. Glad to see a lot of my faves here Fogs! I prefer Drax to Stromberg, though both seems to have a penchant for classical music :)

      Love Sean Bean as Alec Travelyan, I think he auditioned to play Bond? I’d have loved to see what he’d do with that. I think he’s cooler than Brosnan.

    • Franz Sanchez is way too low! Putting him behind Drax, Klebb, and Scaramanga is no good, Fogs!

      [Sanchez] I’ll drink to that [/Sanchez]

      LOL. Bah. He’s a glorified drug dealer, Dan! James Bond fights Scarface – only without the fun accent and Manolo!

      Yes, though, glad you concur on Largo and No. They’re great! I cant believe they get lost in the shuffle as badly as they do. I disagree about the Savalas Blofeld, I’m not a big fan, but a lot of that was due to I hate the film. Plus I resent that they had to recast the role. If they were going to lose Connery, the least they could do was get Pleasance again for us!

      • That’s the genius about Sanchez! He’s a drug dealer! You can’t have Bond always fighting guys like Drax and Stromberg. Bond is being proactive in this story and isn’t trying to stop the end of the world. I wouldn’t want this every time, but it’s refreshing to see something different.

      • :D JUst remember this phrase for your Licence to Kill show tomorrow… “Scarface Lite” LOL I like him a lot, and love that flick. But… he’s about right where he is IMO. Maybe if Bond hadn’t been able to trick him into killing his own men so easy!

  13. What, no Renard? Just kidding, he sucked.

    I’m glad you included Drax. I always liked him as a villain, and most bloggers seem to hate him. Nice work, Fogs.

  14. I’m so glad Sanchez cracked the list! I’m one of the few who loved Dalton’s Bond outings and to have Special Agent Johnson…..no the other one…..show up as a Bond villain was amazing!

    • Die Hard reference. Nice. Points for Makus. ;)

      See if you agree on this if you stop back. My assertion now is that it seems like the “in thing” to be a Dalton fan, now. When they came out, I felt like the world’s only Dalton fan, too. But time and the internet have been SUPER kind to his legacy, and now its almost rare (and rightfully so) to find people who still badmouth those two movies.

      • Well maybe its just a fact that his (Dalton’s) films are the only ones being close to aging with grace. That would be my five cents on it. LTK is really good and Living Daylights has some good individual scenes. Daylights suffers from the normal Bond problem because its lacking a coherent and straight plot.

    • LOL. I dont know man. I knew the second I saw the Bond Mannequin that Bond would defeat him by posing as a dummy :D Knew it first time I ever saw it, first second it was onscreen!

      And you know, the third nipple thing is a little gross. Emphasis on little, but still a bit gross.

  15. Great list! LOVE Rosa Klebb. That punch she gives her thug is just priceless – WHAM, then on with her day. She’ll always be one of my faves.

  16. Pingback: Skyfall – Ten Arguments for it being the Best Bond Movie Ever | UnderScoopFire!

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