The title of the latest James Bond film was announced on Tuesday, sending Twitter into a flurry because it’s No Time to Die.
If it sounds an awful lot like other Bond movie titles, that’s because it most definitely is. Seriously, a Bond movie title generator could easily be made. Insert a time frame and a verb about death, such as “live”, “die” or “kill”. Then you’d get Today Only Lives Once, which you’d definitely believe was a real Bond movie title – for at least 15 seconds.
With that in mind, here are the titles of every Bond ranked from worst to best. The film’s quality was not judged in this exercise (although there does seem to be a strong correlation between the two.)
25 Quantum of Solace (2008)
Not only is this the stupidest title of any Bond movie, it also might be the stupidest title of any movie that’s ever existed, and there exists a movie titled The Englishman Who Went Up a Hill But Came Down a Mountain, one called Existenz and another called Santa With Muscles. It’s worse than Phffft. It’s just a mismatch of lofty-sounding, utterly forgettable terms pretending to mean something important.
24 Tomorrow Never Dies (1997)
23 The Living Daylights (1987)
This would be a pretty great title if it was for a 1940s screwball rom-com about a pair of night-shift workers who meet on their way home from work and spend the day together in the sunlight for the first time in years, rediscovering life and love. But it’s not. It’s a Bond movie. So it’s terrible.
22 You Only Live Twice (1967)
No, you don’t.
21 No Time to Die (2020)
Where to begin? First off, this film has spent its troubled production with the stand-in title Bond 25, which is amusing because this is actually the 27th film to feature a James Bond. This was a terrible title when it was the name of an episode of detective show episode Columbo in 1992, and when it was the name of a German thriller in 2006, and it’s no better now. Is Bond a new parent, learning to juggle life and fatherhood? Maybe get a planner. If you don’t have time to die, you don’t have time to relax – and stress is a killer!
20 A View to a Kill (1985)
While it may have been nonsensical, A View to Kill would have been better. That second “a” just throws the whole thing into confusion and can’t help but bring to mind A Room with a View, which came out the same year. It just sounds like a listing for an apartment in a dodgy part of a scary city.
19 Die Another Day (2002)
Uhh, yo, James ... I thought you didn’t have time?
18 Moonraker (1979)
One common trope in these titles is to include the name of a bad guy and/or organisation in the movie itself. That works when it’s something like Dr No or Goldfinger, because it generates real questions in the potential audience. But Moonraker just sounds US President Trump’s proposed Space Force.
17 Thunderball (1965)
The template that Moonraker would later follow. Will Mad Max and James Bond square off in the Thunderdome for a hard-fought match of Thunderball? Because that’s what this title makes you think.
16 Spectre (2015)
On one hand, this is a fun title for Bond fans who remember enough about the mythology of the series to remember that “spectre” is the acronym for SPecial Executive for Counterintelligence, Terrorism, Revenge and Extortion (i.e. a criminal syndicate with a deeply idiotic name). On the other hand, if you don’t know that, it’s yet another made-up phrase that makes no sense.
15 GoldenEye (1995)
Yes, the upper-case “e” makes it sound like an app for photo editing, but at least it made audiences wonder what the film is about. (Spoiler: mostly, it’s a video game.)
14 The World Is Not Enough (1999)
This title – that’s some creepy bad guy stuff. The sense of doom is baked right into it, promising an enemy who is finally strong enough to overcome our man. Whether the movie delivers on that promise is a whole other question.
13 Skyfall (2012)
It makes you think the sky will metaphorically – or, this being a Bond movie, perhaps literally – fall on 007 after all these years. Because that’s what basically happens – it ends up being one of the few titles to actually foreshadow what happens in the movie. That’s usually a plus.
12 On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (1969)
There’s something appealing about the old-school vibe of starting a title with “On”, especially when it’s tongue-in-cheek. So we’re gonna get an absurd treatise on the guardians of royal life? We’ll have that shaken, not stirred.
11 Diamonds Are Forever (1971)
Some phrases are just classic. Some just feel like Bond movie titles. This one does both, enough so that Kanye West honoured it all these years later.
10 Live and Let Die (1973)
Made for a pretty solid movie title, but a killer rock ’n’ roll song title. Impossible not to see it and immediately get hit with the urge to bang your head and belt out “When you were youuuuuuuuung and your heart was an open booooooook ...”. Seriously, check it out.
9 Goldfinger (1964)
Following the classic Bond trope of naming a movie for the bad guy in it, this would be a much higher-ranked title if it didn’t come just two years after Dr No playing the exact same trick.
8 The Spy Who Loved Me (1977)
This is an objectively great title, even if it brings to mind a bargain-bin spy novel. It’s intriguing and even a bit nostalgic, an emotion that fits the Bond brand pretty well. Plus, it set up the great title spoof for the second Austin Powers movie in 1999.
7 Casino Royale (2006)
There’s a lot to love here, from the promise of opulent set pieces to the knowledge that at least one scene will include Bond drinking martinis and gambling. Bond movies are known for their locales as much as the gadgets he’ll inevitably cycle through, but Casino Royale is one of the few titles that explains almost exactly what you’re in for.
6 The Man with the Golden Gun (1974)
If you don’t see this title and immediately need to know who has the golden gun and what’s the golden gun for anyway, then you don’t like movies.
5 For Your Eyes Only (1981)
Sure, it’s a pretty cheap way to stir up intrigue. But guess what? We all secretly yearn to be special, to be chosen, to be unique. The second-person usage here does just that, and it doesn’t hurt that it’s just a little sexy, too.
4 Octopussy (1983)
In the Bond world, “good” becomes a pretty subjective term. Does Octopussy actually mean anything? Of course not. It’s a choose-your-own-imagery kind of a title. But for a movie franchise aimed at 13-year-old boys, you can’t deny it’s intriguingly effective ...
3 From Russia With Love (1963)
This is a title that was as effective in 1963 as it would be today. After all, if we’re talking international espionage, then it’s safe to say that what comes from Russia doesn’t generally induce a side order of love. So the title immediately makes the viewer wonder if this is sarcasm, or is there a Russian hero (or, perhaps, Siberian Bond Girl). Only one way to find out.
2 Licence to Kill (1989)
Straight to the point. This one is gonna be a banger. What more could you want from an action spy movie?
1 Dr No (1962)
The directness and simplicity earns the first Bond movie the No 1 slot. Immediately, we wonder two things: “Who is Dr No?” and “What does he say ‘no’ to, exactly?” The more intellectually curious among us might also wonder if he is a medical doctor, or if he’s just one of those folks who get a PhD in Russian literature and call themselves a doctor. What we know for sure: this doctor sounds evil. And that’s all you need. A hook. And boom, you’ve sold a movie ticket.