Shaken, Not Stirred: Ranking the Best Bond Girls
The James Bond franchise is an iconic part of modern pop culture. Born from a series of 12 novels and 2 short-story collections, James Bond’s real fame skyrocketed when he jumped from the pages to the silver screen in 1962.
Since then, the Bond series has spanned six decades, 25 movies, and seven actors playing the titular role, all the while continuing to thrill audiences with its blend of action, villainy, exotic locales, and unforgettable Bond girls.
Bond girls are as synonymous with the franchise as martinis, high-speed car chases, and menacing villains. These characters have ranged from allies, love interests, to foes, each one unique, carrying her charm, and leaving an indelible mark on each movie.
Some stand out for their charisma, complexity, and the depth they bring to the Bond story, and we have compiled a list of the Best Bond Girls taken from our poll. Before anyone starts complaining that we are objectifying these amazing and beautiful women, pipe down because we haven’t judged on their appearance, after all they’re all beautiful.
Determining the best Bond girls is no easy task and we offer what we believe to be the top 10, and our list is determined by the votes. Then we give our opinion on why they make the best Bond girls list, taking in factors of character development, their influence on the plot, and finally their enduring popularity.
So, sit back, pour yourself a martini and read on why we believe these to be the best Bond girls…
The Top 10 Bond Girls: An Overview
From sultry spies to formidable foes and heart-stirring love interests, the following list contains the crème de la crème of Bond Girls. These women, from various backgrounds and roles, have added depth, intrigue, and allure to the Bond movies they have appeared in.
Each one has left a distinct imprint on the franchise, setting the bar for future Bond Girls to come.
#10: Tatiana Romanova – From Russia with Love (1963)
Tatiana Romanova, portrayed by the Italian actress Daniela Bianchi, is a stunning and smart corporal from the Soviet Army, serving as a cryptographer in the Istanbul consulate in the movie From Russia with Love. Deceptively innocent-looking, Tatiana possesses an inner strength and resourcefulness that makes her one of the best Bond Girls.
As a pawn in an elaborate scheme by SPECTRE, Tatiana played a vital role in the movie. Her character was key to the plot, luring James Bond into a trap with the promise of a Soviet decoding machine. As the narrative unfolds, she grows fond of Bond and helps him, showcasing her transition from a naive operative to a woman who takes control of her own destiny.
Tatiana Romanova secures the 10th spot on this list due to her critical role in the plot and her character evolution throughout the film. While she may not have the hardened toughness of some of her fellow Bond Girls, her transformation from pawn to player makes her a noteworthy character.
#9: Natalya Simonova – GoldenEye (1995)
Natalya Simonova, depicted by Izabella Scorupco, is an intelligent and resourceful computer programmer at a Russian space weapon facility in GoldenEye. Her grit, determination, and technical prowess set her apart from many other Bond girls, with her character bringing a sense of reality to the movie.
In GoldenEye, Simonova plays a significant role in both the plot development and Bond’s mission. She is the lone survivor after a deadly attack on the Severnaya Space Weapons Control Centre and becomes pivotal in exposing the true villains behind the plot.
With her specialized knowledge of the GoldenEye weapon, she helps Bond dismantle the weapon and bring the antagonists to justice. Her relationship with Bond evolves organically, leading to a genuine connection that enhances the plot.
Natalya Simonova earns the #9 spot due to her integral role in the plot, her technical skills that prove vital in thwarting the villain’s plan, and the unique depth she adds to Bond’s usually fleeting romantic entanglements. And her character stands as a testament to the shift towards creating more empowered, complex, and multi-dimensional female characters.
#8: Pam Bouvier – Licence to Kill (1989)
Portrayed by Carey Lowell, Pam Bouvier is a former army pilot turned CIA informant, who plays an integral role in Licence to Kill. Not your typical Bond Girl, Bouvier is a tough, independent, and competent character who can hold her own in a fight, showcasing a level of bravery and skill often reserved for James Bond himself.
In Licence to Kill, Pam Bouvier partners with Bond, and aids him in his quest for vengeance against the drug lord Franz Sanchez, who maimed Bond’s friend Felix Leiter. Bouvier’s military training and undercover skills come in handy throughout the movie, and she becomes Bond’s equal partner, saving his life on more than one occasion, which underscores her importance in the film’s narrative.
Pam Bouvier lands at #8 due to her exceptional competence and independence. Her character marked a progressive step for the Bond franchise, portraying a Bond Girl with skill sets, boldness, and crucial role in the movie’s plotline all contributing to her inclusion as one of the best Bond girls.
#7: Madeleine Swann – Spectre (2016) and No Time to Die (2021)
Madeleine Swann, portrayed by Léa Seydoux, is a psychiatrist and the daughter of Quantum criminal, Mr. White, a character with deep connections to Bond’s past. Introduced in Spectre and reprising her role in No Time to Die, Swann is a complex and layered character, who significantly impacts Bond’s journey.
In Spectre, Swann is initially distrustful of Bond but grows to see the man behind the agent, becoming his love interest. Her knowledge about SPECTRE proves vital in guiding Bond’s mission. She returns in No Time to Die, further solidifying her relationship with 007. Her character arc plays a central role in these movies, influencing Bond’s decisions and his life outside of his duty as a spy.
Madeleine Swann secures the #7 spot for a few key reasons. Her character’s depth and development across two films offer a profound understanding of her persona. Also, her role is crucial to the storylines of both movies, contributing significantly to the narrative’s emotional weight. And most importantly, her influence on Bond’s personal and professional life marks a notable shift in the traditional Bond girl role.
#6: Honey Ryder – Dr. No (1962)
Honey Ryder, famously portrayed by Ursula Andress in the first Bond movie Dr. No, is the iconic Bond Girl who set the standard for all those to follow. Emerging from the Caribbean Sea in a white bikini with a knife strapped to her side, Honey Ryder, a shell diver on the island of Crab Key, is remembered as one of the most unforgettable images in the Bond franchise.
In Dr. No, Honey Ryder doesn’t appear until halfway through the movie but leaves an indelible mark with her introduction as she emerges from the Caribbean Sea. Her knowledge about Dr. Julius No‘s private island proves vital for Bond to uncover the villain’s plans. Despite not being deeply involved in the plot, she became a cinematic icon, setting the template for the Bond Girls to come.
Honey Ryder secures the #6 spot primarily due to her iconic status. As the first Bond Girl in the series, she set a benchmark for the characters to come. While her role in the plot might not be as substantial as some of the other Bond girls on this list, her lasting impact on popular culture is undeniable. Honey Ryder represents the beginning of the Bond Girl legacy, ultimately making her an essential character in the history of James Bond.
#5: Anya Amasova, aka Agent XXX – The Spy Who Loved Me (1977)
Anya Amasova, also known as Agent XXX, played by Barbara Bach, is a highly skilled and resourceful Soviet agent featured in The Spy Who Loved Me. The character represents a significant evolution of the Bond Girl, matching Bond in intelligence, skill, and determination.
In The Spy Who Loved Me, Amasova and Bond find themselves forced to work together despite representing different sides of the Cold War divide. Her character is instrumental in the narrative, not just as a love interest, but as an equal partner in their shared mission.
The dynamics between the characters are intense and complex, with Anya even threatening to kill Bond in retaliation for the death of her lover, a subplot that adds depth to the plot.
Anya Amasova is a beautiful woman and earns her #5 spot due to her role as a match for Bond himself. She represents an empowered woman, highly capable in her profession, and she is not merely a love interest but a peer, displaying a combination of charm, strength, and intelligence.
#4: Wai Lin – Tomorrow Never Dies (1997)
Wai Lin, portrayed by the talented Michelle Yeoh, is a Chinese spy from the People’s External Security Force in Tomorrow Never Dies. Known for her martial arts skills and quick wit, Wai Lin is a strong and formidable character who is more than just a match for Bond.
Wai Lin plays a crucial role in Tomorrow Never Dies. Teaming up with Bond, she’s instrumental in uncovering media mogul Elliot Carver‘s plot to ignite a global war for media ratings. Her character contributes significantly to the movie’s action sequences, and her dynamic with Bond adds an intriguing layer to the plot.
Wai Lin is ranked at #4 due to her exceptional skills, independence, and crucial role in the movie. Her character pushes the boundaries of the traditional Bond Girl, being an accomplished spy and combatant, outmatching Bond in several instances. This distinct portrayal, combined with Yeoh’s performance, makes Wai Lin one of the most memorable and respected Bond Girls.
#3: Pussy Galore – Goldfinger (1964)
Pussy Galore, portrayed by Honor Blackman, is a skilled pilot and leader of an all-female flying circus in Goldfinger. Known for her sharp wit, confident demeanor, and of course her enticing name, Pussy Galore stands out as one of the most memorable Bond Girls.
Pussy Galore plays a key role in Goldfinger. Initially, she is loyal to the main antagonist, Auric Goldfinger, and is instrumental in his plan to raid Fort Knox. However, she is charmed by Bond and ultimately switches allegiances, tipping off the U.S. government to Goldfinger’s plot and becoming instrumental in his downfall.
Pussy Galore secures her #3 spot for several reasons. Her unique role as a capable and independent woman working initially in opposition to Bond, her change of heart, and her importance in the movie’s plot contribute to her high ranking. Additionally, Pussy Galore’s character breaks away from the damsel-in-distress trope seen in earlier films, instead presenting a competent and professional woman who’s more than capable of holding her own.
#2: Vesper Lynd – Casino Royale (2006)
Vesper Lynd, portrayed by Eva Green, is a treasury agent who accompanies Bond on his high-stakes poker game against the main villain, Le Chiffre in the 2006 movie, Casino Royale. With her wit, charm, and complexity, Vesper Lynd is far from a typical Bond Girl.
In Casino Royale, Vesper Lynd plays an integral part. She not only provides the funds for Bond’s poker game but also becomes his confidante and love interest, having a deep impact on his character development. Vesper’s tragic betrayal and death left an emotional mark on Bond, shaping his character in the subsequent movies.
Vesper Lynd secures the #2 spot due to her profound influence on James Bond himself. Her relationship with Bond is more emotional and complex than most, affecting Bond’s outlook towards his profession and his ability to trust anyone going forward. Vesper Lynd is also pivotal in the movie’s plot, adding layers of intrigue and suspense.
#1: Teresa ‘Tracy’ di Vicenzo – On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (1969)
Teresa ‘Tracy’ di Vicenzo, portrayed by Diana Rigg, is a rich and troubled woman, the only woman whom James Bond marries in the entire franchise. Tracy’s character is complex and layered, evolving from a reckless, suicidal woman into a resourceful partner and wife for Bond.
In On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, Tracy plays a pivotal role. She starts as a woman saved from a suicide attempt by Bond, and as the story unfolds, they fall in love. Tracy’s connection with her crime lord father, Marc-Ange Draco, helps Bond locate the villain Ernst Stavro Blofeld. More than that, Tracy proves herself to be a resourceful and brave woman, aiding Bond in several dangerous situations, including the final assault on Blofeld’s Swiss Alps lair.
The beautiful and resourceful Tracy di Vicenzo earns the top spot for several reasons. Firstly, her character undergoes a significant transformation, evolving from a damsel in distress to a brave woman who is crucial to the film’s narrative.
Her relationship with Bond is one of the most profound in the series, as she becomes his wife, an event that deeply impacts Bond. And her tragic death leaves a lasting impression on Bond and shapes his character in subsequent films.
The Spy Who Loved Them: The Best Bond Girls Ranked
Bond Girls have always been an integral part of the James Bond franchise, providing more than just glamour. The best Bond girls play crucial roles in the narrative, often influencing the plot and Bond’s decisions.
And, as the franchise has evolved, so too have Bond girls, reflecting changing societal attitudes towards women. Our list of the best Bond Girls, from Tatiana Romanova to Teresa ‘Tracy’ di Vicenzo showcases the variety and depth these characters have brought to the franchise.