1. DR. NO GETS NUKED, 'Dr. No'
Where it all began. Bond dispatches Dr. No (Joseph Wiseman), whose physical eccentricity, his metal hands (spawning a long line of eye patches, third nipples, severed earlobes, and blood-spewing tear ducts in the 007 Rogues Gallery), doom him. The titular SPECTRE agent and 007 fight to the death on a platform descending into a scalding-hot nuclear reactor. Unfortunately for the doctor, he can’t get a grip on the platform to pull himself out in time and instead gets boiled alive.
2. BOND FLARES UP From Russia With Love
One of the great pleasures of the 007 franchise is its long history of thrilling boat chases (see Live and Let Die, Moonraker, and The World Is Not Enough for other prime aquatic action). But Bond is at his surf-spraying best in From Russia With Love when he’s being pursued at sea by three SPECTRE boats crammed with baddies firing grenade launchers. What does Bond do? He turns his boat’s extra gas barrels into floating bombs by igniting them with his flare gun, frying up some SPECTRE henchmen. Bond 3, SPECTRE 0.
3. POSITIVELY SHOCKING Goldfinger
Bond always makes an electrifying opponent. Sometimes literally. In fact, in Goldfinger 007 electrocutes two foes. First, he lights up a Latin American drug lord’s henchman by dunking him in a full bathtub and then tossing in an electric fan. ”Shocking. Positively shocking,” Bond quips in one of the series’ wittiest punch lines. Unconcerned about repeating himself, Bond also jolts Goldfinger’s formally-attired manservant Oddjob (Harold Sakata) with a few thousand volts when the killer tries to retrieve his lethal hat.
4. A DEFLATING SITUATION Goldfinger
This is subject to debate, but I’ve never really thought Bond intended for Goldfinger’s gun to go off as he and the gold-lover (Gert Frobe) struggled onboard his hijacked jet. I mean, Bond could just as easily have been sucked out into the vacuum as Auric. Thankfully, with his 00-like reflexes he was able to brace himself. The dubbed supervillain was not so lucky. He who was so full of hot air got deflated, or rather, depressurized.
5. BOND'S HUMAN SHIELD Thunderball
Any woman he wants, he gets…killed. Spicy SPECTRE temptress Fiona Volpe (Luciana Paluzzi) sought to bang Bond both in the sack and for real. When she and a posse of black-shirted thugs corner Bond at a Junkanoo dance, he’s only capable of throwing back lyrics from My Fair Lady (Bond tells Volpe, sarcastically, ”I’ve grown accustomed to your face,” while dancing with her). But when she tries to quick-step him over to one of her henchmen preparing to shoot him, Bond twirls his hostile dance partner into the line of fire.
6. HUMAN FISH BAIT You Only Live Twice
Blofeld (Donald Pleasence) supplied the piranhas, Bond served up the henchman. While struggling with Germanic SPECTRE muscle Hans over the self-destruct key for Blofeld’s rocket, Bond dumps the lug into the volcano hideout’s piranha pool to sleep with the…well, you know.
7. A MUD BATH TO DIE FOR Diamonds Are Forever
In the colossally unsatisfying opening to Diamonds Are Forever, Bond almost strangles a woman with her own bikini top, carries what appears to be some sort of mousetrap in his breast pocket to prevent someone from frisking him, drowns a plastic surgery patient in a mud shower, throws surgery scalpels into a thug, and immerses a Blofeld impersonator in a boiling mudbath. And this coming on the heels of the genuinely tragic ending of the preceding film, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, when Blofeld and henchwoman Irma Bunt killed James’ wife Tracy (Diana Rigg). If you think this beginning sounds wildly over-the-top and self-parodying, you would not be wrong.
8. FLAMING SHASHLIK AND A CROTCH BOMB Diamonds Are Forever
Diamonds ends even more poorly than it begins, with what may be the series first (and thankfully, only) gay bashing. The film strongly implies that Mr. Wint (Bruce Glover) and Mr. Kidd (Putter Smith) are gay, from the fact that they hold hands after killing people, Wint wears perfume, and all other sorts of snickering in-jokes. At the end, Wint and Kidd pose as waiters serving up a gourmet meal to Bond and Tiffany Case (Jill St. John) in a cruise ship cabin. Kidd lunges at Bond with a pair of flaming Shashlik, but catches himself on fire — when Bond throws alcohol on him — and jumps overboard. Bond straps a bomb to Wint’s crotch and throws him overboard too.
9. JAMES, PREPARE A COFFIN Live and Let Die
Bond has always kept up with the times, and in Live and Let Die, the franchise’s answer to Shaft, 007 takes on an assignment that should have been left to the DEA. That said, the film has one of the most humorous Bond-inflicted deaths in the series, when James briefly crosses swords with the flamboyant Baron Samedi (Geoffrey Holder), then knocks him into a coffin full of poisonous snakes. Strange thing is, although we see his body go limp, Samedi does actually reappear at the end of the film riding on the front of a train. Oh, yes, this film also has a supernatural voodoo component, perhaps explaining the Baron’s apparent resurrection.
10. AN INFLATABLE DRUG LORD Live and Let Die
While Goldfinger suffered from too little air pressure, Kananga (Yaphet Kotto) suffered from too much. Bond stuffed an inflating bullet in the drug lord’s mouth as they clashed underwater in a shark tank, causing him to burst like a balloon. Talk about trapped gas.
11. SPACEWALK Moonraker
WTF? James Bond in space? 007’s answer to Star Wars features a return appearance from Jaws, Bond dressed as a gaucho, a Venice gondola that may be a Transformer, the Magnificent Seven theme, and a Bond girl killed by a pack of hunting dogs. It also features an endless sci-fi showdown in the cosmos aboard a space station owned by billionaire Hugo Drax (Michael Lonsdale) — he plans to destroy the human race with nerve gas, then repopulate the Earth with his astronaut hotties. Bond corners Drax, shoots him with a poison dart, then launches him out an airlock, a la President Roslin. Note how Roger Moore practically skips to the airlock door.
12. BLOFELD GETS THE SHAFT For Your Eyes Only
It took Roger Moore to accomplish what Connery and Lazenby could not: avenging Bond’s wife Tracy. When Blofeld had Tracy killed at the end of On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, it made sense that 007 would be out for payback in Diamonds Are Forever. Instead, we got a cross-dressing Blofeld and a duo of female assassins named after Disney characters. Ten years later, at the beginning of For Your Eyes Only, Roger Moore’s Bond visits Tracy’s grave, after which a now wheelchair-confined Blofeld hijacks his helicopter via remote. Bond regains control, picks up Blofeld’s chair with the chopper and drops him down a factory smokestack.
13. CLIFF DIVING For Your Eyes Only
Every so often the Bond films need to reboot and get back down to basics. After the sci-fi excess of Moonraker, director John Glen stepped in to give Bond a stronger footing in reality with For Your Eyes Only. Case in point: Bond corners villain Emile Locque (Michael Gothard) in his car on the edge of a cliff, tosses Locque back his dove pin, then kicks the car off the cliff. Roger Moore badass? Yup. Although Moore has said he originally was just going to toss the pin into the car, and just that little extra weight would have sent it over the edge, without the kick. I, for one, am glad Glen pushed to give Moore a harder edge.
14. DEATH BY ART The Living Daylights
At least 007 probably had a lot of practice for the wolf whistle. Timothy Dalton’s Bond confronted Brad Whitaker (Joe Don Baker) in the arms dealer’s private war museum/funhouse. Bond placed a small plastic explosive, triggered by a wolf whistle, on one of Whitaker’s statues of the Duke of Wellington. When the statue toppled, it crushed Whitaker, who met his Waterloo.
15. SHARKBAIT AND KINDLING Licence to Kill
The most unfairly underrated film in the series (okay, Wayne Newton’s appearance is unforgivable) also features four juicy deaths. First, Bond flings a henchman into a tank with an electric eel, to be properly fried. Then he feeds turncoat CIA agent Killifer to a shark. Then he pushes Benicio Del Toro’s thug into an industrial shredder. And finally, he sets a gasoline-soaked Sanchez (Robert Davi) on fire with the lighter Felix Leiter (David Hedison) gave Bond for being Best Man at his wedding. Considering Sanchez partly fed Leiter to a shark and killed the CIA agent’s wife, this revenge was sweet, if not served cold.
16. DRILL, BABY, DRILL! Tomorrow Never Dies
Bond always knows how to put industrial machinery to good use. After he and newspaper mogul Elliot Carver (Jonathan Pryce) discuss media ethics (Carver is trying to start World War III, just so he can report on it), Bond feeds the would-be Rupert Murdoch to an industrial drill.
17. THIS TIME IT'S PERSONAL The World Is Not Enough
It could be said that all these elaborate, sometimes outlandish methods of killing people are ways for Bond to psychologically distance himself from the reality of killing. The simpler deaths can be more painful. In TWINE, Bond finds himself drawn to the needy, traumatized kidnapping survivor Elektra King (Sophie Marceau). Turns out though, she’s working with her former kidnapper, Renard (Robert Carlyle), in an elaborate plot to gain an oil pipeline monopoly. When Bond tries to get her to call off Renard’s submarine, she refuses, and he shoots her at close range, face-to-face, in cold blood. This one definitely hurt Bond more than Elektra.
18. TWO TO TANGO Casino Royale
We learn for the first time how an MI6 agent earns 00-status. A neophyte James Bond shoots the corrupt Prague station chief who is selling British secrets and half-drowns his contact in a bathroom sink before shooting him too (all shot in glorious black and white). With two kills under his belt, 007 is born, and the franchise begins anew.