With the release of the latest Bond film, "Spectre," what better time is there to come up with a list of the greatest villains ever to threaten 007? They are some of the most vivid, unique villains in cinema that have spawned countless parodies and homages throughout history, and the best of the bad are now here to be ranked in all their villainy. This list will contain spoilers for any of the Bond movies from "Skyfall" backward.
12. Doctor Kananga
Appeared In: Live and Let Die
Portrayed By: Yaphet Kotto
The first villain faced by Roger Moore's Bond has the dual identity of Katanga, a Caribbean prime minister and Mr. Big, a mob boss. This creates an interesting dynamic of a man working two angles, but he doesn't really contribute the visceral threat that is expected in a Bond villain. His plot to make a heroin monopoly by giving his heroin for free thus bankrupting other dealers is far fetched and ultimately a small plot compared to the rest of the villains on this list. His death by inflating until exploding is still one of the most over-the-top moments in Bond history and a good precursor to the less than serious Moore-era of Bond films.
11. Hugo Drax
Appeared In: Moonraker
Portrayed By: Michael Lionsdale
Drax is responsible for BOND IN SPACE, which isn't inherently a good thing, but is charismatic in his own right. His scheme is probably the most ambitious of the Bond villains: eradicating the human race in order to create a perfect master race. However, his personality ultimately falls flat and lacks the mania you would expect from someone whose plan is to kill everyone on Earth.
You also cannot deny the uncanny resemblance that this villain has with Tyrion Lannister. Not really relevant to the list, but still fun to point out.
10. Max Zorin
Appeared In: A View to a Kill
Portrayed By: Christopher Walken
The world's best oddball actor was a Bond villain. Who knew? In a role originally written for David Bowie, Walken portrays a super-child engineered by the Nazis by injecting pregnant women with massive amounts of steroids. The zany Walken helps save what is considered the weakest Bond film, but not by much, as his plan to monopolize the microchip market was both hokey and dated. However, his psychopathic nature and unpredictability make him a memorable Bond baddie.
9. Emilio Largo
Appeared In: Thunderball
Portrayed By: Adolfo Celi
Largo is the number two of the villainous SPECTRE organization, and does not suffer fools gladly. He has no problem feeding his subordinates to sharks when they fail him and even physically torturing his mistress when he discovers her betrayal to Bond. He is sadistic and capable of great evil; however he is also responsible for the "hold the world hostage with weapons until they pay us $1 billion" trope that is used and spoofed to no end. Though not exactly his fault, it prevents him from reaching higher on the list.
8. Rosa Klebb
Appeared In: From Russia With Love
Portrayed By: Lotte Lenya
The Russian number three SPECTRE agent was the main villain in From Russia With Love, and her scheme was simple: pure, good old fashioned revenge against James Bond for killing SPECTRE agent Dr. No. Using the lure of a Russian code breaker to get Bond into her clutches, Klebb used Bond's weakness for women in order to assassinate him. Though her plan ultimately fails, she is not afraid to get her own hands dirty at the end, attempting to kill Bond with a shoe knife. This dedication to the task earns her a spot on the list, but the lack of a truly exciting plan makes her lower than she could have been.
7. Le Chiffre
Appeared In: Casino Royale
Portrayed By: Mads Mikkelsen
This is a villain that just screams evil. He cries tears of blood, ("Nothing sinister," he says. "Yeah right," we say) has a nasty eye scar, and tortures Bond maliciously when he loses all of the money he needed to win in poker in a way that leads the torture scene featured in Casino Royale to be one of the most cringe-worthy brutal scenes in the history of Bond. However, for most of the movie he is basically just an evil stockbroker, and he is ultimately killed before the third act of the movie, preventing him from having a higher spot on the list.
6. Dr. No
Appeared In: Dr. No
Portrayed By: Joseph Wiseman
Dr. No was a man shrouded in mystery until well into the second act of the first Bond movie, enabling the film to build up his threat and mystique until finally showing the man behind the plan. His hands were lost to massive doses of radiation, so he built himself a pair of super-strong bionic hands. He wishes to disrupt the launch of nuclear weapons by interfering with their guidance systems, but ultimately falls into a boiling coolant of a reactor due to being unable to get a grip on a railing after an explosion rocked the compound. The fact that his metal bionic hands ultimately lead to his demise make for a good callback with the character and a fitting end to the first cinematic Bond villain.
5. Raoul Silva
Appeared In: Skyfall
Portrayed By: Javier Bardem
This most recent villain (besides the villains in Spectre) has the distinction of actually succeeding in his plan to murder M for betraying him. Though he ultimately falls to Bond from a thrown knife, his plans throughout the movie play out like the Joker's in The Dark Knight, making you think that each and every thing that happens to him were all orchestrated and planned to a T. However the preciseness of all of the events that occur within the movie are a little hard to believe, as it seems this guy has backup plans for every letter of the alphabet. Regardless, Silva makes a lasting impression with his cyanide scarred face and his maniacal mannerisms.
4. Auric Goldfinger
Appeared In: Goldfinger
Portrayed By: Gert Frobe
The megalomaniacal maniac is almost synonymous with the Bond franchise, with his famous quip when Bond asks him if he expects him to talk: "No Mr. Bond, I expect you to die!" He had a girl killed by suffocating her with gold paint which effectively blocked the pores of her skin, threatened to radiate the gold supply in Fort Knox in order to stifle the American economy, and is overall obsessed with gold. Plus he has Oddjob in his employ, a killer capable of death by hat throw. Being sucked out of his own airplane is a less than fitting end to this villain, but his charisma and threat makes him a great Bond villain.
3. Fransico Scaramanga
Appeared In: "The Man With the Golden Gun"
Portrayed By: Christopher Lee
One of the greatest assassins in the world played by one of the greatest actors in the world? You bet this character makes the top 3! Scaramanga is an interesting character, with his one shot gun made out of a pen, a cigarette case, a cuff-link, and a lighter. He is a master at trick shots, having grown up in a travelling circus for a good portion of his life. His plan to auction off a solar energy controller he stole is kind of a weak plot, but his hunt for Bond and other prey a la The Most Dangerous Game inside his funhouse Hall of Mirrors on his private island is a great concept. If he had a stronger villainous plot he may be higher on the list, but the third best isn't anything to cough at.
2. Alec Trevelyan
Appeared In: Goldeneye
Portrayed By: Sean Bean
A double-0 agent becoming a Bond villain was the greatest thing to come out of the Brosnan-era films, and what better actor to portray the nuanced rouge agent than Sean Bean? 006 had great motive for getting back at MI6 as England refused sanctuary to his Cossack parents and they were ultimately sent back to Russia to be killed by firing squad. His plan to throw England into economic chaos works well enough, and the personal turmoil he puts his former partner Bond through is a wonderful plot point. Though his death by being crushed under the eponymous satellite was a bit weak, Alec Trevelyan managed to double agent his way into the number two spot.
1. Ernst Starvo Blofeld
Appeared In: From Russia With Love, Thunderball, You Only Live Twice, On Her Majesty's Secret Service, Diamonds Are Forever, For Your Eyes Only
Portrayed By: Anthony Dawson, Donald Pleasence (pictured), Telly Savalas, Charles Gray, John Hollisas
Without a doubt, Blofeld is the ultimate Bond villain. The number one of the evil organization SPECTRE is also number one on this list, as he has come back to haunt Bond in several of the films and even over several actors that played Bond. In addition to his puppeteering of several of the villains on this list, Blofeld has also managed to kill Bond's wife Tracy in the often overlooked On Her Majesty's Secret Service, making him a deadly adversary against Bond. With his constant plastic surgery (and change of actors) Blofeld has evaded Bond time and again, and is the only villain truly worthy of the number one spot.
With the 24th James Bond film released, the legacy of the British secret agent will continue on. Whatever actor portrays him next will continue the line, and we can always count on the fact that there will always be the Bond villains hoping to take him down.