The Bond girl is the litmus test of every James Bond film. Yes, many Bond girls are written as nothing more than one-dimensional sexist clichés, but it's not a coincidence that all of the best Bond films treated their female leads like actual humans. And when that happened, some truly captivating Bond girls emerged. In honor of the upcoming October 5 anniversary of the premiere of James Bond's first film, Dr. No, we narrowed down the series' 50-plus Bond girls into a list of the very best.
10. Tiffany Case (Jill St. John) in Diamonds Are Forever
Unlike most of the Bond girls in the series, Tiffany dodged being neatly labeled as either “bad” or “good.” She didn't bother getting hung up on questions of morality – instead, she just really liked money and did whatever she could to get it. Plus, thanks to Jill St. John's skeptical reactions to Bond's shenanigans, Tiffany managed to be one of the funniest characters in the entire series. (Whoa, it's almost like women have senses of humor.)
9. May Day (Grace Jones) in A View to a Kill
May Day was one of the only Bond girls to pose an actual physical threat to Bond – though, at this point in the Roger Moore era, Moore looked so old and fragile besides the ageless Grace Jones that it's not really surprising. Still, May Day's fabulous style and dismissive attitude toward the world, including Bond, made her the best part of the soulless A View to A Kill. Like countless “bad” Bond girls before and after, she eventually joined Bond's side, but at least she went out in a triumphant blaze of glory (literally).
8. Octopussy (Maud Adams) in Octopussy
Okay, so this one's a bit of a cheat. Maud Adams actually showed up in two films in the series, but as two different Bond girls. In The Man With the Golden Gun, Adams played a desperate woman who's ultimately murdered by her evil lover. In Octopussy, Adams returned as the titular character, an international smuggler – and cult leader, an occupation that the eccentric film barely bothered to explain – who never let Bond make her lose her cool.
7. Fiona Volpe (Luciana Paluzzi) in Thunderball
Evil SPECTRE agent Fiona was a part of some of the most iconic scenes in the entire Bond series, from calling Bond out for believing any girl who sleeps with him will fall in love with him to being handed a pair of shoes after she asks him for something to wear. It's too bad Fiona was only the main bad guy's sidekick, since she was way more exciting than her boss.
6. Wai Lin (Michelle Yeoh) in Tomorrow Never Dies
Thanks to the fact that she was played by martial arts goddess Michelle Yeoh, Chinese intelligence agent Wai Lin was likely one the most useful, practical Bond girls on this list. After Wai Lin and Bond got stranded in Ho Chi Minh City, her fighting skills and street savvy were the only reasons that Bond managed to stay alive. And, unlike Bond, she valued business over pleasure – she initially rejected Bond, and the two only get it on after saving the world.
5. Anya Amasova/Agent XXX (Barbara Bach) in The Spy Who Loved Me
During the often paint-by-numbers Roger Moore era, Anya Amasova (or Agent XXX, as her Soviet spy code name was known) was thrillingly unique. Not only could she hold her own in a fight, but she possessed an inner emotional life and arc that didn't revolve around Bond. Ringo Starr, Barbara Bach's real-life husband, is a lucky guy.
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4. Teresa “Tracy” Bond (Diana Rigg) in On Her Majesty's Secret Service
Of course Tracy was the only woman to ever get Bond to put a ring on it. The charismatic and stubborn Rigg outshone George Lazenby, in his only outing as Bond, in every single scene they shared. Tragically, Tracy was gunned down as the couple drove off to celebrate their honeymoon, but that gave her a kind of immortality within the series as Bond mourned her for multiple movies.
3. Xenia Onatopp (Famke Janssen) in GoldenEye
The name alone should earn her a spot on this list, if only for how literal it is. Xenia, an ex-Soviet assassin, liked to kill men by squeezing them to death. With her thighs. During sex. Even though Xenia was only the GoldenEye's secondary villain, Janssen's hammy devotion to her ridiculous character makes her one of the best bad guys in the entire series.
2. Vesper Lynd (Eva Green) in Casino Royale
Until Vesper Lynd sauntered on-screen, Daniel Craig's first film as James Bond is good, but not great. It was Vesper's ability to trade quip for quip, her (gasp!) emotional arc and her ultimate betrayal of Bond that transformed the film into a classic in the series. No wonder that, even three films later, the memory of Vesper still haunts Bond.
1. Sylvia Trench (Eunice Grayson) in Dr. No and From Russia With Love
Sylvia Trench managed to achieve something that no Bond girl repeated: She showed up in two Bond films. (Adams is disqualified because she played two different Bond girls.) Okay, yes, Sylvia was barely in both Dr. No and From Russia With Love, and had absolutely nothing to do with the films' plots. But that's the best thing about her: Sylvia waltzed in, cheerfully used Bond for sex and went back to having her own adventures. Can't you imagine, in an alternate universe, a feminist version of the Bond series that instead follows Sylvia out of the bedroom? She even gives Bond his immortal line, when she introduces herself as, “Trench. Sylvia Trench.”