A hero is measured by his enemies, and James Bond has racked up some formidable adversaries over the decades. Here's our humble list of 007's defining foes - and, yes, we consciously chose Telly Savalas's charming, sociopathic Blofeld over the variations played by Donald Pleasance and Charles Gray.
1. Ernst Stavro Blofeld (Telly Savalas) in On Her Majesty's Secret Service
Panache. That's what Savalas brings to the role of 007's arch-nemesis - a certain swaggering confidence that comes from knowing you have a brilliant master plan, the resources to pull it off and enough spare time to indulge in carnal pleasures with your harem. (Hey, it was the 60s.) In You Only Live Twice, Donald Pleasance played Blofeld as a twitchy monster (his performance was Mike Myers's template for Dr. Evil); in Diamonds Are Forever, Charles Gray interpreted the character as a pissy martinet, but Savalas confirms what we've long suspected of our super-villains: being the bad guy is a blast.
2. Auric Goldfinger (Gert Fröbe) in Goldfinger
Dr. No basically just pulled levers, and Rosa Klebb wasn't particularly bright. Goldfinger was the first bad guy to seriously challenge James Bond, and set the standard for every psychotic would-be world-beater who followed. Sure, his master plan was comparatively modest - irradiate Fort Knox with a dirty bomb and corner the world's gold supply - but Fröbe makes the character larger than life with the sadistic glee he brings to his work and the smug satisfaction he takes in his own genius - even if he's not quite as clever as he thinks he is.
3. Le Chiffre (Mads Mikkelsen) in Casino Royale
Daniel Craig's no-nonsense interpretation of Bond is nicely matched by Mikkelsen's sinister financier, a power player in the global terrorism field. Le Chiffre isn't a thug or a sociopath; he's simply backed into a corner and willing to do anything to get out of it. (And that milky eye gives him one hell of a poker face.) He's also far more resourceful than the newly licensed Bond, and their battle of wits - interrupted by the occasional poisoning or torture session - gives Casino Royale a constant tension that few other Bond films can boast.
4. Francisco Scaramanga (Christopher Lee) in The Man With The Golden Gun
Roger Moore's Bond films weren't exactly defined by strong villains, but Scaramanga is the exception, an assassin for hire who's become a legend through merciless efficiency and absolute secrecy. (All MI-6 knows about him is that he has a third nipple.) Played by the imposing Lee, he's precisely the sort of foe 007 deserves - just as professional, just as debauched and with no designs on world domination, which means he's not distracted by outsized schemes. Moore's Bond seems almost dull by comparison.
5. Elliot Carver (Jonathan Pryce) in Tomorrow Never Dies
Here's another villain who's decided to have a good time being bad: Pryce's ruthless media baron - a telepod fusion of media barons Robert Maxwell, Rupert Murdoch and Bill Gates - is positively gleeful about his every nefarious scheme, whether it's triggering an Asian war in order to cover it or ship an intentionally buggy OS to computer owners so he can sell them slightly less buggy upgrades in the future. Evil? Sure. Fun? Absolutely. It's almost a shame Pierce Brosnan's Bond has to take him down; Carver would have thrived in the 21st century.