***SPOILERS – Major plot points for all 25 Eon films may appear in this post***
Yes, this concept has been done to death over the years, and I think that says something. On the one hand, the list gets redone because Eon provides new films and we get new characters. On the other hand, time changes the way we view and appreciate the characters. As a feminist, I’ve always had an interest in the portrayal of these women through the years because it reflects something about our society.
Before we get into this list of 75 characters from the 25 Eon films (Dr. No to No Time to Die), I want to provide some writer details that help put some of the decisions on such a subjective list in perspective.
Moore is my least favourite Bond, partially for the camp nature of the films and partially for the heavily stereotyped characters. Nothing against Moore as a person (certainly better than Connery in that respect), but his Bond is my least favourite. Craig is my favourite because there is a depth present across those films I do not see in any of the others, perhaps owing to the overarching story of his time in the role.
Lazenby did better than most seem to regard, and Dalton should have gotten more turns as Bond (I’m a big fan of his two). I also like the Brosnan movies but, if I can be perfectly frank, in their efforts to avoid magnifying glass put on the franchise by the Austin Powers films they managed to somehow climb up their own ass – I really think that is why Die Another Day is so bananas and effectively froze the franchise until the Casino Royale reboot. Brosnan started really strong and should have been given a better run.
Without further ado, let’s break down the list:
Tier Four: The Minor Characters
75. Estrella (played by Stephanie Sigman) in Spectre – She’s a stunning actress and captivates during the opening sequence, but we have to relegate her to the bottom spot as she barely utters a word and Bond leaves her never to return a few moments later.
74. Linda (portrayed by Kell Tyler) in The Living Daylights – Technically Timothy Dalton’s first Bond Woman, she is seen during the pre-title sequence enjoying her day on a yacht where Dalton’s Bond lands with his parachute. They share a brief moment, title sequence rolls, and we never see her again.
73. Miss Caruso (portrayed by Madeleine Smith) in Live and Let Die – Technically Roger Moore’s first Bond Woman, we meet her also in the pre-title sequence with her sharing a romantic moment. She has some playful interaction but is also never seen again once the scene ends.
72. Prof. Inga Bergstrøm (portrayed by Cecile Thomsen) in Tomorrow Never Dies – The first entrant from the Pierce Brosnan era, she is the language tutor we see with Bond at the start of the film when he is “brushing up on some Danish.”
71. Felicca (portrayed by Olga Bisera) in The Spy Who Loved Me – Her task is simple: seduce and distract 007. She sinks into the moment a little too much though and Bond winds up putting her between himself and the descending assassins. Short but memorable.
70. Kimberly Jones (portrayed by Mary Stävin) in A View to a Kill – This is Bond’s sidekick from the pre-title sequence for the film piloting an escape vehicle for James. That’s all.
69. Pola Ivanova (portrayed by Fiona Fullerton) in A View to a Kill – You may remember her as the short-haired lass from the hot tub scene (parodied to perfection by Austin Powers) or her excited reaction to Tchaikovsky coming over the speakers. She thinks she’s stolen some intel for the villains only to discover that Bond has slipped her the spa music instead.
68. Vida (portrayed by Aliza Gur) in From Russia With Love – Vida is one of the two “gypsy” women prepared to fight to the death over their love for the same man. After James helps the camp fight off the villains, James request permission to end their feud and is given authority to decide the matter himself. It’s…not a great moment.
67. Zora (portrayed by Martine Beswick) in From Russia With Love – Zora is the other half of the “gypsy” feud, and given the slightly higher rank because she is portrayed by Martine Beswick who will appear again later on this list in a much better light.
66. Manuela (portrayed by Emily Bolton) in Moonraker – Manuela helps Bond a few times in the film, but is probably best remembered for a scene in a New Orleans alley where Jaws nearly kills her.
65. Nancy (portrayed by Catherine Schell) in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service – As a quick refresher as Lazenby tends to get less attention than any of the 007s, Blofeld is hypnotizing young women to carry out an attack under the guise of providing allergy treatments. Nancy is one of the women at the clinic who stands out for brief romantic dalliance with Bond and inadvertently helping him along.
64. Ruby Bartlett (portrayed by Angela Scoular) in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service – Another of the allergy sufferers, but Ruby does manage to steal the scene a bit. She seems more like an extra from a production of The Great Gatsby than a Bond movie, becoming the standout among the unwitting assistants to Blofeld’s plan.
63. Patricia Fearing (portrayed by Molly Peters) in Thunderball – We’re still in the brief roles. Patricia is the attendant who works at the spa where Bond is receiving treatment. She leaves him unattended for a moment on “the rack,” allowing a SPECTRE henchman the chance to kick it into high gear and nearly kill Bond. He survives and convinces her to buy his silence about the matter with sex.
62. Della Churchill (portrayed by Priscilla Barnes) in License to Kill – This is the woman who marries Felix Leiter, and she makes a brief reference to Bond’s marriage to Tracy to set up some emotional connection. When she is subsequently murdered (and possibly raped, it’s very implied that this also happens) and Felix gets maimed, it sets Bond off on a mission mostly of vengeance.
61. Dr. Molly Warmflash (portrayed by Serena Scott Thomas) in The World Is Not Enough – After Bond sustains a serious shoulder injury in the pre-title sequence, M benches him from active service. Dr. Warmflash is the physician Bond…persuades to clear him for active service. She would be lower on the list if not for the additional inclusion of her as the medical expert briefing the team on the villain’s medical background.
60. Caroline (portrayed by Serena Gordon) in Goldeneye – Technically Pierce Brosnan’s first Bond woman, appearing as the driving evaluator in the car with him when he first encounters Xenia and races her. While she does ultimately succumb to Bond’s charm, she sets the tone for the new Bond by asserting her professionalism and the knowledge of Bond’s reputation. Then she gives in to it anyway.
59. Pan Ho (portrayed by Papillon Soo Soo) in A View to a Kill – Pan is one of the two women who assist May Day in the film. There’s not much to say about her beyond her skill and faithfulness in assisting her boss.
58. Jenny Flex (portrayed by Alison Doody) in A View to a Kill – The other of May Day’s henchwomen, given a little more screen time and speaking time than her counterpart. Their deaths at the hands of Zorin serves as the catalyst to changes May Day’s loyalty.
Tier Three: The Minor Influencers
This next group have small but more direct and consequential roles in their stories.
57. Plenty O’Toole (portrayed by Lana Wood) in Diamonds are Forever – This is probably one of the first names that more casual Bond fans recognize on the list, and also where I think the debate starts to begin. Perhaps because of the name alone, I have seen Plenty rank rather high on some of these lists, but her big contribution to the film is being mistaken for Tiffany Case and murdered after providing some comedic relief (she portrays a somewhat ditzy opportunist who follows Bond because of his perceived wealth). She’s somewhat iconic in the franchise, but ultimately a small player.
56. Countess Lisl von Schlaf (portrayed by Cassandra Harris) in For Your Eyes Only – Posing as a countess to get information on Bond, Lisl finds herself attracted to him and spends the night. Hours later on a beach, assassins descend on the pair and manage to run her over with a dune buggy.
55. Corinne Dufour (portrayed by Corinne Cléry) in Moonraker – Corinne is a personal pilot for the villain who escorts Bond to the location and falls for him. While spending a night together, she somewhat unintentionally indicates the location of a safe to Bond and then waits as he cracks it an photographs the documents within. Henchmen observe her leaving and the next day the villain has his hunting dogs unleashed on her.
54. Lucia Sciarra (portrayed by Monica Belluci) in Spectre – This is another where I felt some social pressure because Monica Belluci is herself iconic. That said, her character is the wife of a SPECTRE agent murdered by Bond. Knowing that SPECTRE is closing in on her to eliminate a loose end, Bond provides her at least temporary protection in exchange for information to go after the organization. It’s an important breadcrumb in the mission, but still just a single breadcrumb rather than a full role.
53. Octopussy (portrayed by Maud Adams) in Octopussy – Maud Adams played two separate Bond Women over the years. This one is the more uneven of the two. Initially she is part of a plot to stage an “accidental” nuclear attack that will force the world into disarmament (it’s a bonkers plot), but she changes loyalties and agrees to help Bond when he reveals that her partners betrayed her.
52. Rosie Carver (portrayed by Gloria Hendry) in Live and Let Die – Rosie is on her second assignment and overreacts to everything, including nearly killing a Bond ally she mistakes as trying to kill Bond. These all appear to be deliberate character choices to build a level of distrust for the audience, the payoff coming when Bond outs her as a double agent working for the villain. Caught, she again panics and tries to flee but is murdered during the attempt.
51. Sévérine (portrayed by Bérénice Marlohe) in Skyfall – This is similar to Monica Belluci’s role but with a little more in the story. Bond tracks his mission to Macau and pursues a meeting with her in a casino after taking out an assassin. She leads him to an abandoned island that Silva uses as a command centre, where Silva promptly ties her a stone fixture and challenges Bond to shoot a glass off her head. After Bond misses the glass, Silva responds by shooting Sévérine to “win.”
50. Miss Taro (portrayed by Zena Marshall) in Dr. No – The first femme fatales of the series (technically the first Bond Woman we meet), secretly working for Dr. No to keep an eye on a geologist who nearly discovers the nuclear secrets of his island, and then to eliminate Bond.
49. Paula Caplan (portrayed by Martine Beswick) in Thunderball – Paula is a local agent who rendezvous with Bond in the Caribbean to assist with the mission. She does a tremendous job until her capture and torture at the hands of the villains, popping a cyanide capsule to kill herself rather than reveal information. Her death serves as the catalyst for Bond to decide to inform the “true” Bond Woman of the film (later on the list) of what is happening and get her direct help.
48. Magda (portrayed by Kristina Wayborn) in Octopussy – Not a fan of this movie (possibly my least favourite of the entire franchise), but I do think Magda deserves more credit here than the titular character. Serving as their assistant, she does a fantastic job for them including a memorable escape moment from Bond’s room (I mean, Bond allowed it as a means to track them, but it was still a cool move). Magda, like Octopussy, decides to assist Bond after learning they’ve been double-crossed by their partners.
47. Aki (portrayed by Akiko Wakabayashi) in You Only Live Twice – Aki is tasked to help provide Bond’s cover story while in Japan (Connery goes embarrassingly under cover as a Japanese man in the film) by actually marrying 007 and becoming his wife. Aki does her job wonderfully, only to fall at the hands of an assassin targeting Bond when she rolls over in their bed and accidentally receives the poison.
46. Bambi (portrayed by Lola Larson) in Diamonds are Forever – This sequence seems better suited for a Roger Moore film. Bambi and Thumper are SPECTRE assassins assigned to guard a businessman being extorted by the group. When Bond locates the VIP and attempts to contact him, Bambi and Thumper greet him with a gymnastic beating.
45. Thumper (portrayed by Trina Parks) in Diamonds are Forever – The sequence is way too extra for a pair of elite assassins (think of the Lost World scene where Malcolm’s daughter “uneven parallel bars” the velociraptor to death). The two actors are impressive in ridiculous roles, forcing 007 into a pool and attempting to drown him…until he simply reaches up to grab their heads and force them underwater instead. He submerges them into exhaustion and leaves them in the custody of the American agents who show up moments later.
44. Valenka (portrayed by Ivana Miličević) in Casino Royale – This is Le Chiffre’s assistant and definitely deserves at least some credit as the person who came the closest to killing James Bond. I mean, she did kill James Bond. If Vesper doesn’t show up to defibrillate him back to life, franchise over. Unfortunately her role beyond this consists mostly of being attractive and some African warlords threatening to remove her arm with a machete if Le Chiffre doesn’t pay.
43. Lupe Lamora (portrayed by Talisa Soto) in License to Kill – Another villain’s girlfriend, Lupe spends much of the film attached to an abusive drug runner with Bond going through her to track him. She also serves as a secondary love interest in the film, much to the annoyance of Bond’s sidekick. Her reluctant assistance turns to full-fledged loyalty in exchange for help escaping the villain, and Lupe finds herself a happy ending.
42. Solange Dimitrios (portrayed by Caterina Murino) in Casino Royale – She is Daniel Craig’s first Bond Woman, the girlfriend of a terrorist who is assisting unknown parties with an unknown act that Bond discovered while after a bomb maker. Bond seduces her for information on the villain and tracks him to Miami, disrupting the plan and sparking the second act. Bond returns to the resort to discover that she’s been brutally murdered, determined by the unknown enemy as the only possible mole still alive.
41. Strawberry Fields (portrayed by Gemma Arterton) in Quantum of Solace – Fields is somewhat similar to Solange in establishing the character of Craig’s Bond. Sent to intercept Bond and return him to England, Bond uses the time until his flight to seduce her for help. It works and Fields decides to allow him the brief time to do what he can, actively helping him evade the villains at a party. The decision costs Fields her life, with Bond finding her covered in oil, posed in the same iconic way as Shirley Eaton in Goldfinger.
40. Paris Carver (portrayed by Teri Hatcher) in Tomorrow Never Dies – Paris provides a little insight into background one doesn’t often see in Bond movies, referencing an established romance she had with Bond. When the villain discovers that Bond is the one responsible for disrupting his network launch and that he has a history with Paris, who is currently linked with him, he decides to have an assassin murder her and stage it to frame Bond.
Tier Two – Major Players
39. Irma Bunt (portrayed by Ilse Steppat) in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service – Irma serves as a sort of matron to the women at the clinic in the film, and liaison to SPECTRE. When they discover that Bond has been sneaking out of his room and seducing the women for information, she poses as one of the girls to help capture Bond. More importantly, and this seems to get ignored because the subsequent film makes such a big deal about Blofeld, Irma is the one who guns down Bond’s wife at the end of the film – Blofeld merely drives the car. Tracy’s death is a major part of the character moving forward, and Irma is the one directly responsible.
38. Andrea Anders (portrayed by Maud Adams) in The Man with the Golden Gun – The better Maud Adams performance, made all the more iconic by the presence of Christopher Lee as the villain and Nick Nack as his assistant. Andrea is the one who contacts Bond for help, hoping to eliminate Scaramanga from the world and assisting him along the way. Unfortunately for her, he discovers this and Bond arrives at a rendezvous to discover she’s been murdered and left sitting in public to draw him closer.
37. Sylvia Trench (portrayed by Eunice Gayson) in Dr. No and From Russia With Love – Sylvia has two big claims to fame on this list despite her limited role. First, she was the first Bond Woman to appear in more than one film (apart from staples like Moneypenny and later Judi Dench’s M). She held the sole distinction until Léa Seydoux reprised her character. Second, we can credit her character with the creation of the iconic “Bond, James Bond.” introduction. She introduces herself as “Trench. Sylvia Trench” and Bond gives the iconic line in the same cadence as a response.
36. Stacey Sutton (portrayed by Tanya Roberts) in A View to a Kill – Stacey is a geologist who is set to inherit her family’s company when Zorin executes a hostile takeover. Viewing it as a greedy move from a standard businessperson, Stacey files a lawsuit against him and actively looks into Zorin’s activities. All her meddling puts her in the crosshairs, and she winds up working with Bond to prevent a calamity.
35. Naomi (portrayed by Caroline Munro) in The Spy Who Loved Me – Another personal pilot for the main antagonist (villains love their flying women), Naomi spends a lot of the film flirting with James and annoying his sidekick before finally attempting to kill the pair. She thinks she succeeds by sending Bond’s car into the sea, unaware that it also functions as a submersible, only for Bond to announce it’s time to say goodbye to her and blowing her aircraft out of the sky. There Moore movies are interesting.
34. Giulietta da Vinci (portrayed by Maria Grazia Cucinotta) in The World is Not Enough – Bond undertakes a pre-title mission to recover stolen funds. Back at MI-6 headquarters they are toasting to their success when Bond realizes that they played into a trap and the booby-trapped package kills the VIP. While exploring the scene, Bond nearly loses his life to this assassin, firing at him from a boat on the Thames and leading to a high speed chase. Cornered by Bond in a hot air balloon above London, she kills herself and nearly Bond while claiming that she’s already dead because her employer knows she’s been seen. I mean, she was a one-woman army against MI-6 headquarters and nearly took out Bond in the process.
33. Tiffany Case (portrayed by Jill St. John) in Diamonds are Forever – Tiffany is an accomplished diamond smuggler and crucial to the plot of this film, but is definitely more inept than some rankings describe. Had Plenty O’Toole not pursued Bond as aggressively as she had, the whole film might collapse around Tiffany because she is oblivious to the more nefarious plan unfolding. Once she realizes that the villains are targeting her, she takes a more active, albeit still awkward role in helping James.
32. Dr. Christmas Jones (portrayed by Denise Richards) in The World is Not Enough – My favourite memory of this character is Denise Richards appearing in an episode of 30 Rock, playing herself as an “idiot” and announcing to Liz Lemon that she once played as “nuke-ular psychologist in a James Bond movie. Indeed, she does play a prominent nuclear physicist who is needed to help disarm the threat, but she’s fairly unconvincing in the role and acts more as eye candy – otherwise she’d be much higher in the rankings.
31. Elektra King (portrayed by Sophie Marceau) in The World is Not Enough – I like Sophie Marceau, and there is nothing inherently wrong with her character in this movie. Her bold ambition makes her a solid villain, but I think the presence of Robert Carlyle’s Renard, who is revealed as taking orders from her rather than extorting her, is overwhelming. It’s hard to buy into the extent of her criminal mastery when Renard seems so in control of the antagonist side of the board, but Elektra remains one of the premier female villains in the franchise.
30. Rosa Klebb (portrayed by Lotte Lenya) in From Russia With Love – That said – Rosa Klebb. The one with the knife in her shoe that she uses to try and kill 007 at the end of the film. She’s one of SPECTRE’s highest members, recruiting an assassin to target Bond and a vixen to seduce him into the crosshairs. When that fails, she attempts to complete the mission herself. Oh, and she’s the source of Mindy Sterling’s Frau Farbissina character in the Austin Powers franchise.
29. Paloma (portrayed by Ana de Armas) in No Time to Die – Look, I couldn’t do it. My instinct is that Paloma, who appears only for one sequence in the film, should be lower on the list. She’s just so adorable in the role. Her barely contained excitement at getting to work with 007 (and the re-pairing of Knives Out co-stars de Armas and Craig, who genuinely seemed to enjoy working together) sandwiching her kickass action sequence has to boost her further up the list than her limited screen time should allow.
28. Jill Masterson (portrayed by Shirley Eaton) in Goldfinger – I yo-yoed a bit on this one. Yes, I can hear the voices upset that Jill Masterson is so low on the list because the character is iconic. The image of her gold-plated body dead on the bed is one of the highlights of a franchise spanning half a century. That said, she helps Goldfinger cheat at cards until Bond steps in and forces him to lose. They sleep together and Bond leaves. Jill really doesn’t do anything except get murdered.
27. Mary Goodnight (portrayed by Britt Ekland) in The Man With the Golden Gun – Mary Goodnight is iconic but I do question her level of effectiveness. I tend to give her a little slack because she appears in a Roger Moore film where he tends to be a little heavy-handed and seems to regard women as incompetent as a gender. Her particular character does repeatedly mess up the mission or complicate things though.
26. Kara Milovy (portrayed by Maryam d’Abo) in The Living Daylights – I adore her character and it took a lot of restraint to move her lower on the list in the name of “objectivity.” The fact that she is so willing to assist and yet abhors violence made her a compelling character in the James Bond franchise (where violence is inevitable). She’s not a child and exists with world-class competence in the film (it ends with her getting to tour the world with her musical talents), but she has an innocence that contrasts well with Bond.
25. Solitaire (portrayed by Jane Seymour) in Live and Let Die – The beautiful tarot card reader on whom the villain relies for his plans, Moore’s Bond coerces her with a fake deck of tarot cards to convince her to sleep with him. This causes her to lose her powers and fall out of grace with the villain, resulting in Bond having to rescue her and forcing the final confrontation. It’s questionable at best, but there’s little doubting Seymour’s iconic role in the franchise.
24. Tilly Masterson (portrayed by Tania Mallet) in Goldfinger – People seem to recall Jill Masterson because of the iconic scene, but that moment is what spurs her sister Tilly on a mission of vengeance. James encounters Tilly several times attempting to eliminate Goldfinger from the world, eventually finding her outside his base with a questionable shot at the ready. He attempts to stop her and trips the perimeter alarm, with Tilly getting killed by Oddjob in the response. Still, Tilly is the one who set out to kick ass for the Masterson sisters.
23. Camille Montes (portrayed by Olga Kurylenko) in Quantum of Solace – The debate here, I think, depends on perspective. Dominic Green is the villain and the one we’re rooting for Bond to stop. In that sense, Camille isn’t the greatest of Bond allies. However, Camille ingratiates herself with Green as a means of getting to the General, the man who killed her family and left her scarred as a child. With their interests aligned, she teams with Bond (who foils several of Camille’s attempts) and gets her chance at revenge. While it takes place after the action of the film, we’re also left to believe that Camille uses her abilities to help the region start to recover from Green’s environmental damage.
22. Nomi (portrayed by Lashana Lynch) in No Time to Die – Hedging a bit to see if we get more of this character in the future. When Bond retires in the wake of Spectre to begin a life with Dr. Swann, Nomi takes over as the new 007 and proves very effective in the role. She spends the first part of the film in competition with Bond as the official MI-6 agent tasked with the mission, trying to prove her skills to her predecessor (which she does). Her ability to kick ass is unquestioned, but she’s lower on the list because her impact on the franchise doesn’t feel as significant – yet.
21. Fiona Volpe (portrayed by Luciana Paluzzi) in Thunderball – She starts by seducing a French pilot so they can kill and replace him with a lookalike to steal two atomic bombs. She then kills a member of her own team whose incompetence nearly costs them the mission. The film establishes Fiona as a skilled femme fatale who accomplishes her mission at all costs, and she proves to be a thorn in Bond’s shoes. The pursuit of Bond through a Junkanoo festival shows her relentlessness, as Fiona and her henchmen keep appearing on his tail. It’s unfortunate that the film dispatches her by having Bond use her as a bullet shield against one of her own henchmen on the dancefloor. It should take a lot more than that to stop someone like Fiona.
Tier One – The Legends
20. Helga Brandt (portrayed by Karin Dor) in You Only Live Twice – Another villainous pilot, another incredible femme fatale. Helga proves a formidable foe throughout the movie, and even James never gets a chance at eliminating her as a threat. Helga’s tragic end comes at the hands of a frustrated Blofeld. Piranhas.
19. Melina Havelock (portrayed by Carole Bouquet) in For Your Eyes Only – What is interesting to me abut Melina is that one can say, “Name famous Bond Women” and the name Melina will rarely appear. Look for any list such as this ranking the Bond Women and one will find Melina consistently near the top. She’s endearing, relatable, and lethal – the daughter of two agents assisting MI-6 with a seafloor exploration for missing equipment, murdered by the villain. Melina takes up a crossbow with deadly efficiency, falling in with Bond and helping him to complete the mission. And she doesn’t kill the villain – she restrains herself as a final show of her character (before the villain dies anyway because it’s a Bond film).
18. Miranda Frost (portrayed by Rosamund Pike) in Die Another Day – This movie is ridiculous, and it makes me feel bad for Brosnan because you know it was the final nail. Where was Eon going to go after this except to take a hiatus and reboot like they did? Brosnan was great, but this film is zany. Still, Miranda plays a compelling femme fatale who feels bigger than her role. Her lethality only appears in a swordfight sequence with Jinx at the end, but we get to see her sharp intellect throughout the runtime
17. Domino Derval (portrayed by Claudine Auger) in Thunderball – I am a fan of complexity, and I think Domino is the earliest example of it in the 007 franchise. Revealed to be the brother of the French pilot murdered early in the film, she’s also the villain’s romantic interest and kept under his abusively watchful eye. She assists Bond quietly for much of the film, but once Paula kills herself James reveals the full backstory to her and Domino steps in as an active sidekick. It’s a complex and fun character to watch, especially as one of the first Bond Women.
16. Eve Moneypenny (portrayed by Naomie Harris) in Skyfall, Spectre, and No Time to Die – The new iteration of Moneypenny arrives in Skyfall as a new field agent assisting 007 in the recovery of a list. With Bond engaged in a fistfight atop a train, M gives the order for Moneypenny to fire a tight shot that winds up wounding Bond and releasing the list into the wild. Bond recovers and Moneypenny is assigned a desk role. From there, she continues assisting Bond above and beyond the call, sometimes crossing MI-6 orders to do so and becoming one of his most critical allies.
15. Natalya Simonova (portrayed by Izabella Scorupco) in Goldeneye – The Timothy Dalton movies were the first released during my lifetime, but I was too young to see them. Goldeneye was the first true Bond movie of my life, making Natalya my first experience with the “Bond girl.” What I would not appreciate until seeing the other films is the critical shift in making her a non-assassin professional (her role as a high level computer programmer) that was crucial to the plot. Natalya is not a physical fighter, but her technical proficiency made her critical, as she is the one who disrupts Boris’ work and later crashes the Goldeneye satellite.
14. Xenia Onatopp (portrayed by Famke Janssen) in Goldeneye – Of course, I think the one that most people think of from Goldeneye is the femme fatale Xenia. She’s ice cold and efficient like many other assassins on the list, but it was that tendency for her to crush men with her thighs that captivated the 007 audience. As I was looking over other lists ranking these characters, Xenia consistently appeared at the top, which seems a bit too much as beyond her “black widow” ways she does not do much. She’s a modern icon of the franchise, but that cannot come at others’ expense.
13. Giacinta “Jinx” Johnson (portrayed by Halle Berry) in Die Another Day – Again, not the biggest fan of the film and I’ve seen plenty of criticism to go along with praise for Jinx. To me, this goes back to the Nomi listing where we have a Bond equal (this time with the CIA rather than MI-6) who crosses paths and aligns with 007 after they find themselves on the same assignment. That distinction though (making her a direct equal rather than a replacement) gives her room to breathe (by not inviting as many direct comparisons).
12. Honey Ryder (portrayed by Ursula Andress) in Dr. No – She’s the original, and Honey coming out of the water singing “Underneath the mango tree” is one of the most iconic in the franchise. Halle Berry paid homage it in Die Another Day, and Daniel Craig accidentally recreated it in Casino Royale. Her sharp retort to Bond’s promise that he won’t touch her shells (“I promise you you won’t either”) is great. That said, she collects seashells and knows a bit about the island. That’s pretty much it. Lots of points for being the original, but we’re breaking with the trend of placing her in the top ten.
11. Pam Bouvier (portrayed by Carey Lowell) in License to Kill – If keeping Honey Ryder from the top ten doesn’t rile some feathers, I expect nearly including Pam Bouvier in it will. I do not see her near the top of many lists and actually found several lists of “worst Bond girls” that featured her, but I suspect that Bouvier upsets some fans much the same way Captain Marvel does. She’s a former USAF pilot and CIA agent doing a crack job against a drug ring. Bond becomes something of a liability with his focus on avenging Leiter, but the two team up effectively and win the day. If I were picking teams to have characters on this list help me, Bouvier would be near the top.
10. May Day (portrayed by Grace Jones) in A View to a Kill – If you take everything that made Xenia Onatopp iconic, subtract the weird sexualization in favour of a normal one, and add some complexity you would get May Day. She’s every bit as iconic because she’s the definition of bad ass, but her ambitions are not blind. When Zorin sacrifices his people, including her to assistants, as part of his plan, May Day realizes that Zorin does not care about her. An incredible feat of strength and a feat of bravery later, and it’s May Day who saves Silicon Valley from destruction.
9. Kissy Suzuki (portrayed by Mie Hama) in You Only Live Twice – This movie grabbed me when I went back and watched it because 1) older movies deal heavily in stereotypes (not that this movie doesn’t – it has several problematic scenes) and 2) Bond women tended to fit into stereotypes. The extent to which Kissy Suzuki exists as her own person who kicks ass was striking. Similar to Melina Havelock, she’s not a name that comes up often when discussing the franchise, but she frequents the tops of these lists because of how awesome she is.
8. Holly Goodhead (portrayed by Lois Chiles) in Moonraker – A pair of Moore sidekicks to round of that era’s inclusion on the list, Holly is a CIA agent and scientist who can hold her own with Bond. Another way to view it is that this is the Pam Bouvier entry, but with an added layer of iconic (partially because she has one of those Austin Powers-mock-level names). In a movie that features a bizarre space battle, Holly is the most grounded thing in the film.
7. Anya Amasova (portrayed by Barbara Bach) in The Spy Who Loved Me – Along those same lines, Anya takes over a mission after her KGB lover is killed (by Bond no less). When she encounters Bond later, she mistakes him for an enemy having been framed by Jaws, who then proceeds to attack the pair. The two form an antagonistic partnership that proves highly effective and settles as the film progresses.
6. Dr. Madeleine Swann (portrayed by Léa Seydoux) in Spectre and No Time to Die – Bond approaches Dr. Swann after meeting with Mr. White one last time and learning that she’s his daughter. Madeleine represents his only tenuous connection to the Spectre organization and James promises to look after her. The two form a bond deep enough that James decides not to kill Blofeld, instead leaving him for the authorities and retiring to start a new life with Madeleine. That relationship carries over into the most recent film where Blofeld manages to sow distrust and separate the pair, only for Bond to reconnect with her and learn about his daughter. The threat he poses to them after exposure to a nanobot virus causes Bond to sacrifice himself, and few characters can claim to have that profound an effect on the franchise.
5. Tatiana Romanova (portrayed by Daniela Bianchi) in From Russia With Love – Before Madeleine, before Vesper, and before Tracy there was Tatiana. Believing she is tasked by the KGB with seducing James Bond (it’s actually SPECTRE), Tatiana finds herself quickly fall in love with the agent and do what she can to assist him. That even includes killing Klebb, the person who hired her. As the second Eon production, Tatiana becomes the first true love interest for 007 and sets a tone for decades to come.
4. Wai Lin (portrayed by Michelle Yeoh) in Tomorrow Never Dies – Our last Brosnan entry, Wai Lin is the epitome of ass kickers on this list. She’s a Chinese agent sent to investigate stolen stealth material that the villain is using for his sea craft. The separate investigations collide with Bond and Wai Lin discovering a plot to set England and China at war, and Wai Lin helps 007 take down the operation with a level of espionage tradecraft not otherwise seen in the franchise – not by Bouvier, not by Jinx, not by anyone.
3. Teresa di Vicenzo (portrayed by Diana Rigg) in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service – Now I did have Tracy further down on the list initially, but after considering the whole list and reasoning you will read in a moment, I had to reassess. This is the only character to marry James Bond, and the franchise doesn’t gloss over that point. When Blofeld has her assassinated (targeting James) at the end of the film, it heightens Bond’s animosity for SPECTRE (when Connery returns in the subsequent film, the opening montage is a ruthless pursuit of Blofeld). Connery, Moore, and Dalton all have callbacks to the event (Moore visits her grave, Leiter’s wedding stirs up memories). While Tracy’s shadow remains over the next several decades, it’s also worth recognizing her active role in OHMSS. When Bond descends from the clinic into the village, he encounters Tracy who steps in to assist his escape and disrupt Blofeld’s plan.
2. Pussy Galore (portrayed by Honor Blackman) in Goldfinger – Galore checks off a lot of boxes. She is herself iconic. She features in an iconic Bond film. She proves herself to be a badass fighter and pilot. Unlike other badasses on the list though, she’s also responsible for training a fleet of them. Many of the lists I found when looking at comparisons grant the number one spot to Pussy Galore.
- Vesper Lynd (portrayed by Eva Green) in Casino Royale – I have had this debate with countless people. I get the extent of Vesper’s offense is wrestling the gun out of the African warlord’s hand as James kills him, so she isn’t the assassin that we see in Wai Lin or Jinx. However, the film introduces her with sharp mental acuity, cutting down Bond’s own perceptiveness with her own. She forms a brilliant juxtaposition with his character while remaining complex in her own right, and her genuine love for James is what leads to her sacrifice. My bigger point in raising her to the top spot is, that sacrifice colours an entire era of Bond films. Yes, we revisit the Tracy death on several occasions, but mostly as a mention. Vesper sets the emotional tone for Quantum of Solace, Skyfall, Spectre, and No Time to Die without even appearing. In No Time to Die, Bond is happily with Madeleine and we still stop to address the pain of losing Vesper (a realistic point I’m happy the film did not ignore). No one has impacted the franchise the way Vesper did.