The title of the latest James Bond film was announced today, 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, if we had told you was a real Bond movie title, you’d definitely have believed us for at least 15 seconds.
With that in mind, we decided to rank the titles of every Bond movie from worst to best. Each title was considered in a vacuum, so this is in no way a ranking of the movies themselves. (That said, there does seem to be a strong correlation between title and film quality.)
25. “Quantum of Solace” (2008)
Not only is this the stupidest title of a 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.” This is just a mismatch of lofty sounding, utterly forgettable terms pretending to convey 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 starring Spencer Tracy and Rosalind Russell as 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, except that two of those were made by independent production companies (the 1967 version of “Casino Royale” and 1983’s “Never Say Never Again”). But that aside, this was a terrible title when it was the name of a “Columbo” episode in 1992 and when it was the name of a German thriller in 2006 (about a hearse driver in Ghana seeking a wife but finding women are put off by his profession. Really!) and it’s no better now. Is Bond a new parent, learning to juggle life and fatherhood? Maybe get a planner, buddy. If you don’t have time to die, you probably don’t have time to relax — and stress can be 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. Is “a kill” just a really weird way of saying “a murder”? As it stands, it just sounds like a Craigslist ad for a creepy Hell’s Kitchen apartment that’ll cost far more than the appropriate 30 percent of your salary.
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 organization in the movie itself. That works when it’s something like “Dr. No” or “Goldfinger,” because it generates real questions in the potential audience. “Moonraker,” on the other hand, just sounds like the Space Force cadet President Trump is going to send to rake the moon’s forest floors to prevent forest fires.
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 me 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 will wash off your brain like soft water from your skin.
15. GoldenEye (1995)
Yes, the punctuation makes it sound like an app for turning all your photos sepia or an East Asian fast-casual joint, but it was a welcome return to form, if not a little tired at this point. What’s a GoldenEye? Is that a person, or, like, an eye? Spoiler alert: Mostly, it’s a video game.
14. “The World Is Not Enough” (1999)
Now that title there — that’s some creepy bad guy stuff. The sense of doom is baked right into the title, 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)
Perhaps I’m just a sucker for the proper construction of an essay title, but I adore when things begin 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 honored it all these years later.
10. Live and Let Die (1973)
Made for a pretty solid movie title, but a killer rock-and-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 . . .
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 John le Carré 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 of “Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me."
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 a golden gun and what’s a golden gun for anyway, then you don’t like movies.
5. “For Your Eyes Only” (1981)
Sure, it’s a pretty cheap way to gin 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, to boot.
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, damn if it’s not 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. “License 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.