7. Ernst Stavro Blofeld
The Film: From Russia With Love, Thunderball, You Only Live Twice, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, Diamonds Are Forever, For Your Eyes Only, and Spectre
The Actor: Donald Pleasence, Telly Savalas, Charles Gray, Max von Sydow, and Christoph Waltz
The Basics: S.P.E.C.T.R.E. agent Number 1; Bond’s arch-enemy
All roads eventually lead to Blofeld. The mastermind of S.P.E.C.T.R.E., Bond’s arch-nemesis casts a large shadow over the Sean Connery and George Lazenby eras. First introduced as the mysterious and unseen overlord giving marching orders to all of Bond’s villains, he eventually meets 007 face-to-face. He’s a bald, hideously scarred, and crazy about his fluffy white cat. When he shows up again, the scars are gone and he’s more laid-back, genial menace with a fluffy white cat. When he shows up again, he’s grown hair and has become a hopelessly generic bore with a fluffy white cat. When he makes a brief cameo in the Roger Moore era, he’s a silly cartoon character who goes down easily… but at least he’s bald and has a fluffy white cat. Being a Bond fan means coming to terms with the fact that 007’s arch-nemesis, his most famous villain, the bane of his existence and the man who helped murder his wife, is only effective about 50% of the time. Still, he’s impossible to ignore since he’s the glue that holds the early films together in a loose continuity and his impact on popular culture cannot be overstated (Donald Pleasence’s take on the character directly inspired Dr. Evil). Since every actor has a different take on Blofeld, he’s impossible to pin down and impossible to fully appreciate. He’s less of a character and more of a vessel for different performers to riff as a Bond villain. Whether he’s a deranged psycho, a practical businessman, a hammy oddball, or something else entirely depends on the movie you’re watching. Blofeld is too important to ignore, but too inconsistent to warrant ranking any higher.