The “Bond girl” has been a key part of the James Bond series since Ursula Andress walked out of the sea in Dr. No. All Bond girls are gorgeous, but that’s just about the only thing they have in common.
In a series that includes 24 films stretched out over more than 50 years, it’s unsurprising that Bond girls have a wide range. From sweet and innocent to homicidal, from incompetent dimwit to martial arts dynamo. We’ve seen mercenaries, traitors, and patriots alike, and while many have been played by talented actors others were a bit lacking in that department.
Here’s a worst-to-best ranking of Bond girls, based on everything from how interesting the character is to how good the actor’s performance turned out to be. Listing every woman Bond’s bedded in the series would be impossible, so we’re focusing on the main Bond girl from each film, plus the occasional female villains. For space reasons, we haven’t include Never Say Never Again or the 1967 Casino Royale.
With the exception of Bond’s wife Tracy, Dame Judi Dench’s M is easily the most important and memorable woman in his life, followed by Lois Maxwell’s flirtatious and lovelorn Moneypenny. As neither one is a conventional Bond girl, we’re acknowledging them up front instead of adding to the list. For the rest of Bond’s long line of women, read on.
30) Mary Goodnight (Man With the Golden Gun)
Most Bond girls aren’t written as deep thinkers, but only Bond’s fellow agent Goodnight (Britt Eklund) is written as completely stupid. So stupid she’s coming in at the rock bottom of this list.
At crucial moments in Golden Gun, Goodnight’s bad decisions turn what should have been Bond’s victory into a win for the assassin Scaramanga. Even when she performs a classic Bond move, dropping a thug into a vat of liquid nitrogen with a quip about “cooling you off,” she blows it — the thug’s body warms up the nitrogen, threatening to overheat and explode Scaramanga’s equipment. As Goodnight tries to help Bond stop the big boom, she makes things worse.
29) Kissy Suzuki (You Only Live Twice)
Goodnight is the dumbest Bond girl; Japanese agent Kissy Suzuki is the most colorless.
Kissy (Mie Hama) poses as Bond’s wife when 007 disguises himself in bad yellowface to spy on SPECTRE. Despite being a spy herself, her race is the only skill or personality trait the script gives Kissy. Maybe screenwriter Roald Dahl thought “Japanese” was all the personality she needed. His script certainly celebrates how those wonderful Japanese women submit to their men, unlike pushy Western broads.
Kissy does participate in the final assault on SPECTRE’s base, but her participation consists of cowering behind her boss while wearing lingerie. At least she doesn’t do anything as creepy as in the Fleming novel, where she convinces an amnesiac Bond he really is her husband.
28) Holly Goodhead (Moonraker)
Like several characters in this list, Goodhead starts out as a possible adversary, but after a couple of encounters, she turns out to be an ally. She’s a CIA agent on the same case as Bond, Hugo Drax’s theft of the Moonraker space shuttle.
Goodhead was a first for the series, a woman who not only has a skill set, but one that includes skills Bond doesn’t have. Defeating the genocidal Drax requires flying the space shuttle, and Goodhead, not Bond, is the one who can do it. Without Goodhead piloting Moonraker, Bond would have had no way to deactivate Drax’s doomsday gas bombs.
27) Stacy Sutton (A View to a Kill)
Former Charlie’s Angels actor Tanya Roberts is a stunningly beautiful woman. If this list rated Bond girls by beauty alone, she’d score very high. Alas, everything else about her role as Stacy Sutton, an oil heiress battling billionaire villain Zorin, is dreadful. Beauty can’t triumph over a performance this wooden.
There are several bad actors in this list, but they at least understand the concept of acting; Roberts doesn’t seem to have a clue. She also has an annoying, wispy voice, except when she screams. As Stacy, she screams a lot and doesn’t do much of anything else. Even with a good actor, the character wouldn’t be that interesting. A View to a Kill is a very poor film, but Roberts is close to the worst thing in it.
26) Christmas Jones (The World Is Not Enough)
Like Goodhead, nuclear physicist Christmas Jones brings something to the table besides stunning good looks. Bad girl Elektra King (#12) is scheming to nuke Istanbul; Christmas understands nuclear technology. Unlike Holly Goodhead’s astronaut skills, Christmas’ know-how doesn’t contribute much to stopping Elektra. That said, she’s still more interesting than Stacy Sutton.
With a good actor in the role, Christmas might rank several notches higher. Denise Richards, however, is not a good actor, and she’s less than convincing (much, much less) as a physicist. Even so, she shows more understanding of what acting is than Roberts does.
25) Camille Montes (Quantum of Solace)
Bolivian agent Montes (Olga Kuryenko) has more personality than than our #29 Kissy Suzuki, but she’s almost as dull. Bond first meets her as mistress to Greene, the mysterious agent for the Quantum organization. After Greene decides to kill Montes as a security risk, Bond saves her. It turns out that she’s a Bolivian spy out to thwart the coup Quantum is backing.
Apparently that wasn’t dramatic enough for the writers, so they give Montes a cliched — er, tragic — backstory: coup leader Medrano murdered her father, raped her mother and sister, then burned down the family house with her in it. It’s amazing the writers didn’t throw in “he shot my dog” along with everything else.
Given the Brosnan films had several memorable women, it’s a shame Craig’s run couldn’t keep up the trend (so far, anyway).
24) Tatiana Romanova (From Russia With Love)
Russian embassy clerk Tatiana is technically the first bad girl turned by Bond, assigned to sleep with him as Step One in a SPECTRE scheme. But she’s not really bad. Indeed, she comes off so sweet and loving that it’s hard not to feel that she’s sincerely fallen for 007. Unlike Volpe or May Day, the worst thing Tatiana has to do is stand aside when Bond is attacked, and it turns out that she can’t even be that evil.
Played by Daniela Bianchi (who also appears in the Italian Bond knockoff OK Connery), Tatiana comes off as one of the few innocents among Bond’s women. That 007 at one point is willing to abandon her to complete his mission demonstrates how hard he was at the start of the series.
23) Solitaire (Live and Let Die)
It’s unfortunate a woman as talented and beautiful as Jane Seymour wound up playing the most passive of the Bond girls, the clairvoyant Solitaire.
Solitaire has one moment of independence, when she warns Bond there’s a double agent working against him. The rest of the time, she docilely does what she’s told, whether the orders are coming from the villainous Kananga or 007. Solitaire doesn’t even choose Bond over Kananga: Bond uses a fake Tarot deck to trick her into thinking sex with Bond is her destiny. There’s little opportunity for Seymour to show off her acting chops.
Unlike the Fleming novel where she’s the villain’s mistress, the movie’s Solitaire is a virgin. As Kananga is black, virginity ducked the implications of interracial sex – a silly side effect of its era.
22) Pam Bouvier (License to Kill)
License to Kill plays like a generic 1980s action thriller (they crippled James Bond’s friend – big mistake) rather than a Bond series film. A drug lord cripples Bond’s longtime ally Felix Leiter; M tells Bond to let it go, so Bond goes rogue.
Pam Bouvier is one of the better parts of the movie, an ex-military pilot Bond helps out of a jam. In return, she transports him to meet Sanchez, the drug-lord villain of the film, and provides backup. She’s tough and more than capable of holding her own in a fight.
21) Domino Vitali (Thunderball)
Like Tatiana, Domino is a kind of generic Bond girl — a wonder to behold and highly sexual (when Bond meets her she’s mistress to SPECTRE’s Largo) — adequately but not memorably performed by Claudine Auger. Bond turns her against Largo both by his own charm and revealing that Largo murdered Domino’s brother as the first step in a nuclear blackmail scheme.
In a nice variation from earlier Bond girls, though, Domino realizes that 007 is manipulating her, and resents it. But she still wants revenge for her brother, so she cooperates. At the end, she gets her reward, finishing off Largo with a spear gun. Then she puts her resentment aside for the usual sexy ending.
20) Miranda Frost (Die Another Day)
MI6 agent Miranda Frost (Rosamund Pike) was the first British traitor in both the Bond films or the novels (all previous traitors were always foreign by birth). Working undercover to spy on the sinister Graves for M, she’s actually hand-in-glove with him. She sleeps with Bond, then betrays him and attempts to kill Jinx, who will appear later on our list.
But what else can you expect from a woman who’s also a cheat? Frost is a gold medalist in fencing, but it turns out that she and Graves cheated to get the win. A rotter who’d violate the British code of fair play is obviously capable of anything.
19) Natalya Simonova (Goldeneye)
Simonova is another Bond girl with a skill set Bond actually needs: she’s an IT professional, whereas Bond is computer illiterate (something that remains true even two decades later — does 007 even know how to turn a computer on?). She barely survives the bad guys’ initial takeover of the Soviet Goldeneye project, which gives her every reason to join forces with Bond and fight back.
Played by Izabella Scorupco, Simonova saves the day by programming the Goldeneye satellite weapon to crash and burn. Bond then sabotages the villains’ controls so they can’t countermand the order. Like Goodhead, she saves the day as much as Bond does.
18) Madeleine Swann (Spectre)
The Bond girls in Daniel Craig’s Bond films are far less interesting than the women in the Brosnan movies. Madeleine Swann (Léa Seydoux) is one of the better ones.
Midway through the film, Bond’s old enemy Mr. White offers him vital information about the new Spectre, in return for Bond protecting White’s daughter, Madeleine. A psychiatrist by profession, she can handle a gun (though she doesn’t like them) and helps Bond fight the brutal Spectre agent Hinx. It’s implied that when Blofeld visited her father years earlier, she took a shot at him.
17) Octopussy (Octopussy)
Maud Adams’ performance as Octopussy won’t win any acting awards, but she still steals the show. When her all-woman smuggling ring attacks the villainous Khan’s castle at the climax, it’s the high point of a largely forgettable Bond adventure.
When Bond meets Octopussy, she reveals they already have a history. Bond hunted down her father, a renegade military officer, but let him commit suicide rather than suffer the scandal of a trial. Octopussy appreciates that courtesy. She sees herself and Bond as two of a kind, but 007 scoffs that he’s an agent of England, not a common crook. Octopussy resents that, but Bond’s kisses make it all better.
16) Eve Moneypenny (Skyfall)
In the Skyfall teaser, Bond and an agent called Eve (Naomie Harris) are hunting a thief carrying valuable stolen intel. As 007 and the thief struggle, M orders Eve to take the kill shot — but she hits Bond.
When 007 returns after months of drunken idleness, it turns out that Eve has been removed from the field. She nevertheless assists Bond, and at the end of the film, we learn this is how Moneypenny got her start.
Harris is solid in the role but the premise seems sexist: Craig’s Bond screws up far worse than her without getting demoted. In Spectre, when Mallory and Q go out in the field, Moneypenny still stays behind in the office, even though she’s fully qualified for field work.
15) Helga Brandt (You Only Live Twice)
SPECTRE’s Number Eleven, played by Karin Dor, only has a few scenes as a bad Bond girl, but she’s a memorable one. After SPECTRE captures an undercover Bond, 007 offers Helga money and his body to get her to switch sides. Not knowing he’s SPECTRE’s archfoe (Blofeld really should have circulated some Wanted posters), Helga succumbs, like so many others.
Nothing new in that, of course. However, unlike most of Bond’s bad girls, Helga’s running a game of her own. It turns out that she’s only using Bond for sex; the morning after, she tries to kill him. It’s a neat twist.
14) May Day (A View to a Kill)
Like Onatopp and Volpe (still to come on our list), Grace Jones’ May Day is a sexually aggressive outlaw who kills with a laugh and makes sure she’s on top when she and Bond get horizontal. The normal outcome in a 007 film would reverse that — either Bond kills her or he seduces her into changing sides.
Instead, May Day turns against her boss, Zorin, when the first phase of his master plan almost kills her. Rather than go after Zorin, however, May Day heroically sacrifices herself to stop the earthquake he plans to trigger. It’s wildly out of character for her to turn so altruistic. More than one critic found it both racist and sexist: if a black woman’s too much to handle, let her blow herself up! It wasn’t a good look for the franchise.
13) Vesper Lynd (Casino Royale)
Next to M and Tracy, Vesper (Eva Green) is the woman in Bond’s life. In the original Fleming Casino Royale, as in the film, her death turns Bond from a flippant, cynical adventurer into someone who takes his mission seriously.
Vesper is a Treasury agent assigned to help Bond break the terrorist financier Le Chiffre at poker. She and 007 immediately find each other obnoxious and irritating which is, of course, a surefire sign of true love. Bond eventually leaves MI6 to be with her, but it turns out that she’s been working with the bad guys all along, albeit under pressure. She saves Bond from their revenge, but at the cost of her own life, and the breaking of Bond’s heart. In the new series, he’s never quite the same after her demise.
12) Elektra King (World Is Not Enough)
The twist of The World Is Not Enough is that the Bond girl, business woman Elektra King, is also the Bond villain. The apparent villain, Renard, is her puppet: together, they will nuke Istanbul to advance Elektra’s business interests. The nuke will also take out M, who’s been imprisoned in the city. Elektra blames M for a tragedy in her past, and she’s not the forgiving type.
Assuming Elektra is Renard’s target, Bond becomes her protector and then her lover. Elektra’s confident she can play Bond and turn him to her side, but even when she offers him the world, it’s not enough (hence the title).
11) Melina Havelock (For Your Eyes Only)
Although Bond’s mission in For Your Eyes Only is to beat the Soviets to a key McGuffin, that goal takes second place to Melina’s mission — avenging her murdered parents.The Havelocks were working with British intelligence, so Soviet agent Kristatos murdered them. The crossbow-wielding Melina is determined to see him dead.
It’s Melina’s agenda, not Bond’s, that really drives the movie. She’s so consumed with rage that she doesn’t let herself sleep with Bond until the end of the film. But will she listen to Bond’s warning that giving in to revenge could destroy her too?
10) Pussy Galore (Goldfinger)
Honor Blackman’s Pussy Galore was a landmark Bond girl. She was the first to have an outlandish, insanely suggestive name, and she’s the first thoroughly bad girl to switch sides after a taste of what the good guys have to offer (read: Bond).
When Bond first meets Ms. Galore, she’s working as Auric Goldfinger’s pilot. She and her flying team are preparing to assist Goldfinger in Operation Grand Slam, the robbery of Fort Knox. Galore is also a judo expert, able to throw Bond to one side the first time he puts moves on her. Bond doesn’t take no for an answer though, and soon converts a no to a yes in a move that probably wouldn’t be taken quite so lightheartedly today. Thanks to Pussy’s help, Goldfinger goes down.
9) Kara Milovy (The Living Daylights)
Bond and his women don’t spend a lot of time just hanging out, but The Living Daylights was an exception. It’s true, he has an ulterior motive: find out why Kara Milovy’s lover Koskov had her stage an assassination attempt as Koskov defected. Despite his agenda, Bond genuinely seems to enjoy spending time with Kara outside of the bedroom. And who can blame him? As Kara, Maryam D’Abo radiates charm; it’s impossible not to like her.
The Living Daylights got a lot of attention because Kara’s the only woman Bond sleeps with in the film — was it a reaction to the then-novel AIDS crisis? It’s actually not the first time Bond’s bedded only one woman (that would be Diamonds Are Forever) so we probably shouldn’t read too much into it.
8) Jinx (Die Another Day)
As the 20th anniversary Bond, Die Another Day has lots of callbacks to the past. For example, when we first see Jinx (Halle Berry) emerging from the sea in a bikini, it’s meant to evoke Honey (still to come) in Doctor No.
Bond meets Jinx when he’s at lowest ebb: PTSDed from torture, suspected of selling out MI6, working rogue. Sleeping with Jinx, though, soon puts a smile back on his face. As the case continues, Bond runs into Jinx in the field too. It turns out that she’s an NSA agent working a different strand of the same case; like Amasova and Wai Lin (see below), they wind up working together. As Jinx enjoys risking death and danger as much as Bond does, it’s a match made in heaven.
7) Fiona Volpe (Thunderball)
Pussy Galore was the first bad girl in the series, but SPECTRE assassin Volpe is the first evil Bond girl. She uses sex as a weapon just as effectively as Bond and executes her targets with a smile. When she and 007 make love, Bond jokes afterwards that Volpe makes love so savagely, she should be caged in the zoo.
After revealing her true agenda, she takes Bond captive: bedding him doesn’t compromise her devotion to the job. She even mocks the idea of Bond as a man who only has to sleep with a woman and “she repents and turns to the side of right and virtue.” Volpe pays with her life for not giving in to the power of Bond’s love, but it’s still a heck of a speech.
6) Honey Rider (Dr. No)
Honey Rider wasn’t the first woman Bond slept with in Dr. No. When the stunningly beautiful Ursula Andress emerged from the Caribbean in her bikini, however, she set a standard for male fantasy that helped define the Bond series.
Like Tatiana, Honey comes off an innocent. Although she’s not a virgin — she was raped years ago — there’s no hint of any lovers since then. She seems almost unaware of her own beauty, and when she mentions killing her rapist, she has a childlike uncertainty about whether that was okay.
Unfortunately, her chief role in the film is to be protected, and to reward Bond when the protecting is done. Better Bond girls would follow in Honey’s wake, but Andress will always have an iconic status as the original.
5) Maj. Anya Amasova (The Spy Who Loved Me)
Barbara Bach’s Amasova is Bond’s mirror image. At the start of the movie, he leaves his latest woman and reports to M, while Amasova leaves her man and reports to M’s Soviet counterpart, Gogol. Both 007 and Amasova have the same assignment — find who’s stealing nuclear-armed submarines — and when they cross paths, Amasova proves a formidable adversary. After it becomes obvious that they have the same enemy, they start working together, despite Bond having killed Amasova’s lover on a previous case.
This was a turning point for the series, the first time the Bond girl overshadowed the villain. Of course, Bond repeatedly has to save Amasova — he is the star, after all — but she was still the most self-sufficient Bond woman to that point.
4) Xenia Onatopp (Goldeneye)
The bad girls of the Bond films don’t come any badder than Onatopp. As portrayed by Famke Janssen, Onatopp is a cheerful sociopath who loves fast cars, good cigars, and murder. She kills with orgasmic glee, preferably by breaking men’s backs while they make love. However, she’s willing to do it in hand-to-hand combat if the occasion arises, and she can take it as rough as she dishes it out. Like Fiona Volpe, to imagine Bond turning her to the side of the angels is to laugh. Onatopp’s bad to the bone.
In some Bond films, Onatopp would have completely dominated the film. It’s to Sean Bean’s credit as the renegade agent Trevalyan that his kinky, bloodthirsty henchwoman doesn’t completely steal the show.
3) Tiffany Case (Diamonds Are Forever)
Played by 1960s sex symbol Jill St. John, Tiffany Case (she was born while her parents were ring-shopping) is one of the sexiest Bond girls. She’s also one of the first to have a strong agenda of her own. It’s not a terribly complicated one — work for a diamond-smuggling ring and get rich — but it is a personal goal. That makes her more interesting than Kissy, Domino, or Honey.
Even after she becomes Bond’s lover, Tiffany doesn’t become any less of a mercenary — although she does choose Bond over Blofeld at the climax. Then she gets the last line in the film, and it’s nothing to do with sex or love. It’s to discuss getting all the stolen diamonds off Blofeld’s orbiting satellite.
2) Wai Lin (Tomorrow Never Dies)
Like Amasova and Melina, Wai Lin initially works at cross purposes with Bond, only to join forces when it turns out they have a common foe. The villain is Elliott Carver, a media mogul plotting a regime change in China, something Wai Lin objects to as much as Bond does.
What wins Wai Lin the #2 slot is that it’s a cool character portrayed by a good actor. Played by martial arts star Michelle Yeoh, Wai Lin is unsurprisingly breathtaking in the action sequences, fighting like an angel of death. When she and Bond are shackled together, they fall into instant partnership as if they’d been kicking butt as a team for years. In the words of an earlier Bond theme song, nobody does it better.
1) Tracy Draco (On Her Majesty’s Secret Service)
Tracy Draco gets the top spot because she’s a triple threat — a great character played by Diana Rigg, who’s both beautiful and an incredibly talented actor.
When Bond meets Tracy, she’s suicidal (the Fleming novel explained that the death of her child ripped her apart), but her father believes Bond’s love can save her. Bond, though, has no intention of giving up his freedom for any woman. During the fight against Blofeld, however, Bond finds himself relying on Tracy, time and again; at the end of the film, he marries her and retires from the service.
…At which point Blofeld pulls a drive-by. The film ends with a sobbing 007 cradling the body of his wife in his arms, and the best Bond girl of them all was gone.
If you think we rated your favorite or least favorite incorrectly, tell us in comments.
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