October 28, 2021

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10 Biggest Tropes In The James Bond Movies

The James Bond series has featured many recurring details and fans could always use a refresher on them. These include quotes, characters, action scenes, and cool gadgets. These hallmarks of the series have come to be expected, and they can be found in many if not all of the films.

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The franchise includes the 25 Eon-produced films, with the Casino Royale spoof and Never Say Never Again not counting as official films in the series. In each of these films, the Bond legacy has grown and changed over the decades with a variety of tropes that have defined the legendary spy and made him a popular film character for nearly 60 years.


10 “Bond, James Bond.” – 21 Movies

Sean Connery as James Bond

James Bond uses this catchphrase to introduce himself in 21 of the 25 Bond movies. The only four he doesn’t say it in are From Russia with LoveThunderballYou Only Live Twice, and Quantum of Solace. Most of the time, he says it casually while introducing himself in conversation. However, the introduction has come during action sequences, most notably in The Living Daylights and The World Is Not Enough.

The original use of the quote in Dr. No is ranked 22nd on AFI’s Top 100 Movie Quotes. Bond’s introduction leads with his last name, and in turn, he’s most often referred to as “Bond” or “Mr. Bond” by allies and villains alike. It’s usually not an egotistical thing when he says his name, but there is a little bit of pride in a few instances of the catchphrase.

9 Q – 22 Movies

Sean Connery as James Bond and Desmond Llewelyn as Q in From Russia With Love

Q is the MI6 quartermaster. Q was played once by Peter Burton, twice by John Cleese (counting his appearing as “R” in The World Is Not Enough), 3 times by Ben Whishaw, and an impressive 17 times by Desmond Llewelyn. The only movies Q doesn’t appear in are Live and Let DieCasino Royale, and Quantum of Solace.

Q takes his work very seriously, and he wants his gadgets brought back in one piece (which Bond never does). Bond is usually goofing off during the gadget-giving scenes, often prompting Q to say “Now, pay attention.” They often banter with each other to hilarious results. A great moment occurs in For Your Eyes Only, when Bond goes to a confessional and says to a disguised Q, “Forgive me, Father, for I have sinned.” Q responds, “That’s putting it mildly, 007.”

8 Moneypenny – 23 Movies

M0oneypenny asks James Bond to take her on a date in Dr. No

Moneypenny works at the desk outside M’s office, where Bond must pass through. She’s been played 14 times by Lois Maxwell, twice by Caroline Bliss, 4 times by Samantha Bond, and 3 times by Naomie Harris. Moneypenny is never Bond’s love interest, though he often flirts with her, and she often asks when they’ll be going out.

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Moneypenny is also seen as a confidant to Bond, sometimes warning him if M is mad, or chitchatting after he gets his mission. In Skyfall, Moneypenny is actually a field agent, and she decides it’s not for her by the end of the film.

7 M – 24 Movies

M is the head of MI6 and usually gives Bond the mission for each movie. M has been played 11 times by Bernard Lee, 4 times by Robert Brown, 8 times by Judi Dench (counting her cameo in Spectre), and 3 times by Ralph Fiennes starting with Skyfall, one of his best movies. The only film without M is For Your Eyes Only, as Bernard Lee had recently passed away and the filmmakers left the role vacant out of respect.

M’s defining trait across all portrayals is that M trusts Bond. Even if Bond messes up, is falsely accused, or breaks the rules, M is almost always ready to have his back. Daniel Craig’s Bond and Judi Dench’s M were the closest of any pairings of the characters, with her almost having a tough mom type of role. When Bond is asked if M is his mother in Quantum of Solace, he responds, “She likes to think so.”

6 The Action-Packed Prologue – 24 Movies

The James Bond series is known for its thrilling prologue sequences before the opening credits. While Bond doesn’t appear in every prologue, these scenes are often action-packed and filled with narrow escapes by Bond. The only film that doesn’t have a prologue is Dr. No, which goes straight from the gun barrel sequence to the opening credits.

Some prologues have nothing to do with the main plot, like in For Your Eyes Only’s action sequence that ranks as one of James Bond’s best, and some are extremely important to the plot, like in Skyfall. The prologues also vary from quick to lengthy. The shortest are From Russia with Love at 3:10 and Casino Royale at 3:49, and those are the only two prologues under 4 minutes. The longest are No Time to Die at 23:47 and The World Is Not Enough at 14:20. The 4 Pierce Brosnan movies had longer prologues in general, with all of them being over 9 minutes.

5 A Chase Scene – 25 Movies

Quantum of Solace Daniel Craig James Bond

Every movie in the series has one or more chase scenes. In the movies with multiple chases, one of the chases always stands out as the “main chase.” The breakdown of main chases in the series is 14 car chases, 4 by boat, 2 chases on foot, 2 motorcycle chases, 2 on skis, and 1 chase by helicopter. The car chase in GoldenEye also involves a tank.

Chase scenes usually come after the halfway point in the movie, though a few chases are at the beginning. For instance, Quantum of Solace‘s prologue consists of a breathtaking automobile race on a mountain that ranks as one of the Bond’s franchise’s best car chases. They often begin suddenly, with Bond finding himself both in pursuit of villains or being pursued by them. These staples of the series provide excitement, action, and even plot exposition for the movies.

4 Deadly Henchmen – 25 Movies

Split image of Odd Job in Goldfinger, May Day in A View to a Kill, & Jaws from The Spy Who Loved Me.

There are many memorable Bond villains in the series, but the villains always have henchman doing their dirty work. Some of the henchmen and henchwomen are even more memorable than the villains. Standouts include Red Grant, Odd Job, Mr. Wint and Mr. Kidd, Jaws, and Xenia Onnatopp.

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The henchmen often have a shtick of some kind, like Odd Job throwing his deadly hat, Jaws’ steel teeth, and Xenia killing people with her thighs. They provide great fight scenes for Bond to get into, as the main villain is often not as physically threatening as the henchmen.

3 A Pun – 25 Movies

DANIEL CRAIG IN CASINO ROYALE

James Bond utters at least one pun in every movie. These often come after the defeat of the main antagonist, and many of them are puns about how the Bond villain perished in a memorable death. Examples are Bond saying “shocking” to a villain being electrocuted, “I think he got the point” after shooting a villain with a harpoon gun, and “he had to fly” after a villain is sucked out of an airlock.

Bond also uses puns to refer to situations he gets into it. After almost dying from poison during the card game in Casino Royale, Bond quips, “That last hand nearly killed me.” While some of the puns are corny, they show that Bond isn’t all serious all the time, and he has a sense of humor.

2 The Gadgets – 25 Movies

James Bond is definitely known for using memorable gadgets. Ranging from simple to sci-fi, Bond’s gadgets are one of the biggest hallmarks of the series. He’s had tricked-out cars, an exploding pen, and all manner of special watches. There’s a common trend of gadgets being everyday objects that contain extraordinary abilities.

Bond will often use the gadgets to get into places, break out of traps, or defeat villains. The gadgets rarely repeat, outside of the cars, watches, and Walther PPKs. A scene in Die Another Day shows many of the old gadgets stored away in Q’s lab, with Bond messing with the jetpack and asking, “Does this still work?”

1 The Gun Barrel Sequence / Opening Credits – 25 Movies

James Bond Gun Barrel Intro - Dr. No

Every movie has a gun barrel sequence (where Bond walks into frame inside a circle and fires a bullet at the camera) and an opening credits sequence (with various art and designs and an accompanying theme song). The traditional order of things is the gun barrel sequence, following by the prologue, and then the opening credits. This has been the formula in 21 movies. The exceptions are Dr. No having just the gun barrel and opening credits, Casino Royale having the gun barrel between the prologue and opening credits, and Quantum of Solace and Skyfall having the gun barrel at the end of the film.

These motifs get viewers ready to watch a Bond movie. The gun barrel is a very iconic image, and the opening credits sequences have yielded some hit songs over the many decades. The series wouldn’t be the same without them.

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