The fact that the James Bond movies can’t get the death of 007’s arch nemesis Ernst Stavro Blofeld right is a point of frustration for many fans of the successful spy franchise. From the first introduction of Blofeld in 1963’s From Russia With Love, the character represented everything that a great Bond villain should be: ruthless and cunning with a desire for world domination (and of course, great taste in lairs). However, his role in the 007 film series has lacked throughout – in terms at least, of how his death is handled.
Ian Fleming detailed Blofeld’s death in his 1964 novel You Only Live Twice, the eleventh 007 novel. The villainous head of SPECTRE meets his end in a rather fitting manner, with Bond strangling him to death. Compared to the film series, this death is a suitable one for a character who caused Bond no small amount of grief for years. In total, Blofeld was killed off twice in the official James Bond film series – once in 1981’s For Your Eyes Only and again in 2021’s No Time To Die. Yet as significant as the death of Blofeld is, neither film succeeded in doing a good job of it.
Both Of Blofeld’s James Bond Deaths Were Awful
Between For Your Eyes Only and No Time To Die, exactly which Blofeld death scene does it better is very much a matter of preference. At the same time, however, both are pretty lacklustre, with the For Your Eyes Only scene downright laughable as Bond uses a helicopter to drop a wheelchair-bound Blofeld into a chimney, complete with silly sound effects. Not only is the scene capable of inducing a certain amount of eye-rolling, but it also turns the death of a character that is Bond’s biggest nemesis into a minor footnote. The entire event feels forced and of little significance to 007’s ongoing pursuits.
40 years later, it seems that a suitable death for Blofeld still couldn’t be worked out. No Time To Die definitely took the Bond franchise in a new direction, but in terms of how Blofeld’s character was handled, things still felt stale. After throttling Blofeld in what may or may not have been an intentional reference to Blofeld’s death in the You Only Live Twice novel, Bond’s attempt is interrupted. For a moment it seems Blofeld will survive, but because 007 is already infected with the highly contagious nanobot weapon, having put his hands on Blofeld is enough to kill him. It’s a dull ending to a great rivalry.
Blofeld’s Best Bond Death Was A Fake-Out
In 1971’s Diamonds Are Forever, Blofeld is seen preparing to have facial reconstruction surgery in order to continue on with his dastardly deeds undetected. Unfortunately for him, 007 shows up to throw a wrench into the plan. After killing who he believes to be Blofeld in a mud bath, Bond realizes that it wasn’t Blofeld after all. In an unexpected twist, the real Blofeld reveals himself and sets his minions on 007. Bond still manages to prevail, and he knocks Blofeld out before strapping him to gurney and launching it into a bubbling mud pool. In terms of Blofeld death scenes, it’s likely the best the franchise offers.
At the same time, however, Blofeld clearly didn’t die from drowning in the mud. As previously mentioned, he returns a decade later in For Your Eyes Only. If the franchise intended to get rid of the character once and for all, then his “death” in Diamonds Are Forever surely isn’t to be taken seriously. This is all fine, of course, as it adds to Blofeld’s mystique, but if the notorious villain has survived simply to be killed at a later date, then franchise has largely failed to secure a fitting end to Bond’s pesky adversary.
Why The James Bond Movies Can’t Get Blofeld’s Death Right
When it comes to the 007’s efforts to kill off Blofeld, it seems that the timing has always been off. A big part of Blofeld’s death in For Your Eyes Only being so hammy was that at the time, Eon was legally forbidden from using Blofeld. Fleming had created the villain in large part to the efforts of screenwriter Kevin McClory, but McClory didn’t appreciate this and filed a lawsuit against the famed author, claiming ownership over the character. This legal roadblock persisted for decades, with Blofeld finally becoming legally available again for Bond films in 2013.
By 2015, Spectre was set to be released and Blofeld was ready to make his long-awaited return into the world of 007. While the character is brilliantly portrayed by Christoph Waltz, the franchise missed a key moment to finally kill him off with style. Instead, Blofeld was brought back for No Time To Die, and this time around his role was reduced to a fleeting cameo with a deeply unsatisfying payoff. Although Bond at last succeeds in killing him, the nanobot plot lends a sort of unintentional angle to the entire thing. If anything, Blofeld seemed once again like nothing more than an inconvenience that needed to be dealt with in the quickest and easiest manner.
Bond’s Next Era Must Break The Trend Of Bad Blofeld Deaths
At this point in the Bond saga, it does seem that anything goes. With 007 having been killed off in No Time To Die, a new era is upon the franchise and what direction it will take is anyone’s guess. It remains to be seen if the series will reboot itself in some capacity and if this is the case, then it stands to reason that Blofeld could once again return. However, if Blofeld does return, the dilemma of how to best kill him off arguably persists to a greater degree than ever before. The key for the franchise is to stop treating Blofeld like an inconvenience.
Instead, Blofeld needs to be embraced for the immense potential that he brings to the series. On one hand, Blofeld’s inclusion in the franchise does maintain a connection to Bond’s older and somewhat hackneyed past aspects. Today, a supervillain in the James Bond franchise does seem a bit out of date. At the same time, however, bringing Blofeld back allows for all new opportunities with the character as well as a chance – at long last, to finish him off in a way that’s truly befitting of both a classic villain and the wider franchise as a whole.