The title of the next James Bond film was announced 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, if we had told you was a real Bond movie title, you probably would 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 separate from its accompanying film, 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 ever — and that list includes “The Englishman Who Went Up a Hill But Came Down a Mountain” and “Santa With Muscles.” It’s worst than “Phffft.” This is just a mismatch of lofty-sounding, utterly forgettable terms pretending to convey something important.
24. “Tomorrow Never Dies” (1997) Umm, what?
23. “The Living Daylights” (1987) This would be a 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) This was a terrible title when it was the name of a 2006 German movie about a hearse driver seeking a wife but finding that women are put off by his profession. (Really!) 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. As it stands, it sounds like a Craigslist ad for an apartment in a creepy neighborhood.
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 the movie’s bad guy and/or organization. That works when it’s something like “Goldfinger” because it generates questions in the potential audience. “Moonraker,” on the other hand, just sounds like a sci-fi lawn care service.
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 us 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) The punctuation makes it sound like an app for turning all your photos sepia, 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) The sense of doom is baked 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 the movie’s plot twists. That’s usually a plus.
12. “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service” (1969) When essay titles begin with “On,” should we expect 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 is both.
10. “Live and Let Die” (1973) This made for a pretty solid movie title, but it was a killer song title.
9. “Goldfinger” (1964) Following the classic 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, 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 a golden gun is used for, 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) Does this title 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, 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.
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 earn 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 Ph.D. 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.