Everyone loves to talk about Bond movie villains. Over the decades, they’ve given the world some of movie history’s greatest quotes, lairs, superweapons and bad guy schemes for global domination. But who is it doing the heavy lifting for these elaborate plans? It’s the colorful array of henchmen, propping up those villains and their schemes, that go consistently unsung. Well, no more. We’re here to pay homage to the best of the worst. To all of the shadowy chauffeurs and hazardous helpers. May they finally get the credit that they so rightly deserve.
Here’s our picks for the ten best Bond movie henchmen of all time.
10 Thug With Yo-Yo
We know that “Thug with Yo-yo” doesn’t exactly sound intimidating. In fact, it sounds like a background extra. But the thing that you have to take into consideration is that the yo-yo in question is made out of buzzsaw blades attached to a piece of steel wire.
All in all, it’s actually one of the most terrifying Bond movie weapons ever. When dropped from above, it’s gruesomely effective. From the movie Octopussy, the creative weapon elevates the nameless henchmen to a bonafide Bond movie icon. He doesn’t get much time in the spotlight, however, before Bond throws him into the jaws of a crocodile.
9 Nick Nack
Nick Nack is the personal butler of Francisco Scaramanga, the flamboyant titular assassin of The Man with the Golden Gun. Nick Nack’s a very interesting character in that he appears to be a servant to the main villain but he really seems to have no allegiances to anyone.
Nick Nack designs and operates a series of elaborate hunts in Scaramanga’s island lair, involving optical illusions and mechanical obstacles. From his control room, he can be heard taunting both Scaramanga and his prey. This is both to incentivize his employer and because Scaramanga has agreed to leave all of his assets to Nick Nack should he be killed.
A former Contra, Dario is a merciless henchman of License to Kill’s drug kingpin villain, Franz Sanchez. He’s not particularly quirky for a Bond movie henchman but he’s very memorable due to the performance attached to him from a young Benicio del Toro.
Fans of the franchise also remember Dario’s death for its unusual goriness. (It raised content objections from both the Motion Picture Association of America and the British Board of Film Classification and it remains the only Bond movie to be rated as a ‘15’ in its home country, making it the highest-rated Bond movie ever.) Through a series of scuffles, Dario gets fed into an industrial shredder designed to break up solid bricks of cocaine. It’s not pretty.
An exiled Chinese terrorist-for-hire, Zao is the main henchmen of North Korean Colonel Tan-sun Moon and, later, Moon’s alter-ego, Gustav Graves. He doesn’t appear to be anything special at first but he’s swiftly given a more interesting makeover when Bond detonates a bomb inside a nearby case of diamonds, permanently embedding some of them into Zao’s face.
The man with, as the movie puts it, very “expensive acne” becomes the main part of the movie’s biggest, best and most ridiculous action sequence. (Which is saying something for a movie that includes wind surfing on an arctic tsunami.) Both he and Bond become locked in a deadly automotive battle with heavily armed spy supercars on a frozen lake before ending up in an ice palace where Bond crushes him with a falling chandelier.
Throughout GoldenEye, Famke Jansenn’s ex-Soviet fighter pilot, Xenia Onatopp, is a challenging antagonist for Pierce Brosnan’s first outing as 007. Whether on the road, in the casino or on the battlefield, Onatopp is a formidable opponent. Her trademark is her preference for violent suffocation via crushing her targets with her powerful thighs.
She almost gets Bond with her signature move, from which she derives an ecstatic sexual thrill, but he’s able to shoot the pilot in the helicopter that she dropped from and reattach her harness to the drop line. She’s violently pulled away by the falling helicopter and wedged against a tree, giving her a fitting, crushing, death.
5 Baron Samedi
There’s a lot of underrated villainy going on in Roger Moore’s Bond debut Live and Let Die. But we choose the unforgettable Baron Samedi as our number one pick. A mystical henchman to the main villain in the movie, Baron Samedi is actually a prominent spiritual figure within the Haitian Vodou religion. He traditionally appears much in the same way as he does in the movie, with a top hat, long coat and painted skull on his face.
Fittingly, for his position as a spirit of resurrection, Baron Samedi cheats death several times in the movie. Bond shoots him initially, after he emerges out of a grave for a ritualistic sacrifice, finding his body to be made out some kind of clay. The Baron then emerges again out of another grave and Bond punches him into a coffin filled with poisonous snakes. You’d think that’d be it but Baron Samedi is seen alive and laughing on Bond’s train at the end of the movie.
4 Mr. Hinx
The newest name on the list, Dave Bautista’s Mr. Hinx came about when audiences were starting to think they’d never see another classic Bond movie henchman again. The character appears in 2015’s Spectre and is introduced as a challenger to another Spectre agent for the claim to a special mission. After gouging his coworkers eyes out with metallic thumbnails and snapping his neck, Hinx goes on to become Bond’s main threat throughout most of the movie.
He’s eventually despatched by being pulled off of a moving train by a makeshift noose around his neck, but fans like to think that he could have survived it. (He's shown to survive a bad car crash earlier in the movie, where he flies through his own windshield.) Bautista has expressed his willingness to return to the character and fans are overdue another immortal henchman...
The iconic henchman has become immortalized as a prime example of villainous action movie helpers. This is in no small part thanks to the spoof version of the character, Random Task, who appears in Mike Myers’ Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery and throws a shoe instead of Oddjob’s deadly steel-rimmed hat.
Strong enough to crush a golf ball in his bare hand, Oddjob is one of 007’s most physically tough opponents. After laughing off Bond’s attacks in their final fight inside Fort Knox, Oddjob only dies as a result of Bond’s quick thinking to electrocute the bars that Oddjob’s hat is stuck in. The character was played by Olympic weightlifter Harold Sakata, who was such a badass in real life that he refused to let go of the hat during the electrocution scene, even though his hand was being burned for real, until the director yelled ‘cut’.
One of the most beloved Bond movie characters ever, the gigantic henchman Jaws – named as such for his razor-sharp metal teeth – first appeared in 1977’s The Spy Who Loved Me. Played by 7ft 2 actor Richard Kiel, the character was so popular that he appeared again in the following Bond movie, Moonraker, in 1979.
His return wasn’t out of character for the gargantuan Terminator. Jaws was defined by his seeming indestructibility. Despite being electrocuted, kicked out of the window of a speeding train, crushed by falling scaffolding, crushed by a reversing van, shot in the teeth, dropped into a man-eating shark tank and falling several thousand feet into a circus tent – Jaws just keeps coming back for more. Though we would’ve loved to have seen him in a Bond movie one more time, he did get a great ending where he finds true love. Here’s to you, Jaws.
1 May Day
Played by the incomparable Grace Jones in 1985’s A View to a Kill, May Day isn’t just a badass assassin – she’s a force of nature. The beautifully intimidating henchwoman manages to steal the movie away from even the main villain, Max Zorin, played by Christopher Walken.
Aside from superhuman strength and ruthless fighting skills, May Day is a woman of principle and incredible courage. After being betrayed by her employer, Zorin, she helps Bond to thwart his plan to cause a devastating earthquake on America’s west coast via a huge underground explosion. When her and Bond are unable to move the primary bomb far enough away from the other explosives, she holds down a faulty handbrake on a mining cart to ensure that it gets to a safe distance in time, killing her in the process. A badass end for one badass character.