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How to watch the James Bond movies in order

The best James Bond movies and how to watch them in chronological order

(Image: © Universal Pictures)

James Bond movies first starting hitting the big screen in 1962, but which one is the best? This question alone can start a million arguments. 

Dr No was the first adaptation of Ian Fleming's creation, and in the intervening five-plus decades, James Bond has become British cinema’s most universal export. The spy has since made the most of his license to kill, downed a distillery’s worth of Vodka-Martinis, and had very close encounters with a baffling number of femmes fatales. Over 58 years he’s headlined 24 official movies (the 25th, No Time to Die, arrives in April 2020) – and two unofficial films – to become one of the most iconic characters in movie history.

But with such an extensive list of missions behind him, what’s the best way to catch up on 007’s all-action past? Watching the movies in release order seems logical, but that doesn’t take into account the 2006 Daniel Craig reboot, which went back to Bond’s origin story with Casino Royale. Is it even possible to watch the Bond movies in chronological order? 

We’ve listed the Bond movies by release order, actor in the lead role, and even tried to solve the mystery of the series’ continuity. You'll also find them ranked from best to worst, based on their IMDb score. Read on to see how you can watch the James Bond movies in order.

James Bond movies in release order

Other movie franchises have nothing on 007 when it comes to longevity. 2020’s No Time To Die will be the 25th official James Bond movie (in other words, those produced by long-term rights holders Eon Productions), and there are two additional non-canon Bond movies: 1967 spoof Casino Royale, and Sean Connery’s 1983 comeback Never Say Never Again (released the same year as Octopussy). Due to some quibbles over rights, the latter is effectively a remake of Thunderball.  

  • Dr No (1962)
  • From Russia with Love (1963)
  • Goldfinger (1964)
  • Thunderball (1965)
  • Casino Royale (1967) UNOFFICIAL
  • You Only Live Twice (1967)
  • On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (1969)
  • Diamonds Are Forever (1971)
  • Live and Let Die (1973)
  • The Man with the Golden Gun (1974)
  • The Spy Who Loved Me (1977)
  • Moonraker (1979)
  • For Your Eyes Only (1981)
  • Octopussy (1983)
  • Never Say Never Again (1983) UNOFFICIAL
  • A View to a Kill (1985)
  • The Living Daylights (1987)
  • Licence to Kill (1989)
  • GoldenEye (1995)
  • Tomorrow Never Dies (1997)
  • The World is Not Enough (1999)
  • Die Another Day (2002)
  • Casino Royale (2006)
  • Quantum of Solace (2008)
  • Skyfall (2012)
  • Spectre (2015)
  • No Time to Die (2020)

The best James Bond movies: ranking the 007 films

Considering the Bond franchise has been running for well over 50 years, 007 has headlined surprisingly few bona fide classics. Ranking the 26 existing films based on IMDb user scores, however, it’s no surprise to see Casino Royale, Daniel Craig’s brilliant debut in the role, topping the table – closely followed by Goldfinger, arguably the film that established the gadget-heavy template that Bond would follow for years to come. 

The upper end of the list is dominated by Sean Connery, with his first five outings in the tuxedo all sitting pretty in the top 10. Roger Moore is defiantly midtable, while Pierce Brosnan (always a reliable 007) sees three of his four appearances languishing in the bottom 10 – the fun GoldenEye is the exception. It’s also interesting to note that films called Casino Royale appear at opposite ends of the chart.

James Bond movies by actor

(Image credit: Eon Productions)

Like TV stalwart Doctor Who, James Bond eras are defined by the actor playing him. This list would be identical to James Bond movies in release date order were it not for Sean Connery’s two departures and subsequent returns to the role. With Connery having quit the gig after his fifth Bond movie, You Only Live Twice, George Lazenby took over for On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. Connery was then tempted back for Diamonds Are Forever two years later, before leaving again – seemingly for the final time… Until he was tempted back as an older 007 over a decade later in the unofficial Never Say Never Again.

Sean Connery

  • Dr No
  • From Russia with Love 
  • Goldfinger 
  • Thunderball 
  • You Only Live Twice 
  • Diamonds Are Forever
  • Never Say Never Again

David Niven

  • Casino Royale

George Lazenby

  • On Her Majesty’s Secret Service 

Roger Moore

  • Live and Let Die 
  • The Man with the Golden Gun 
  • The Spy Who Loved Me 
  • Moonraker 
  • For Your Eyes Only 
  • Octopussy 
  • A View to a Kill 

Timothy Dalton

  • The Living Daylights
  • Licence to Kill 

Pierce Brosnan

  • GoldenEye
  • Tomorrow Never Dies 
  • The World is Not Enough 
  • Die Another Day  

Daniel Craig

  • Casino Royale
  • Quantum of Solace
  • Skyfall
  • Spectre
  • No Time to Die

James Bond movies in chronological order

(Image credit: Eon Productions/007.com)

This is where it gets really complicated and confusing, because there is no definitive Bond timeline as there is for a saga like Star Wars – indeed, some elements of 007’s long screen life are actually contradictory. 

Bond usually exists in a Simpsons-like state of suspended animation, where the man stays more or less the same age (give or take a decade or two) while the world evolves around him. One long-standing fan theory attempts to explain this – and the secret agent’s ever-changing appearance – with the idea that James Bond is not actually one man, but an alias for a succession of spies with the 007 codename. We think that’s unlikely, however, because various elements of Bond’s personal history continue between agents – and Skyfall quite explicitly shows us the Bond family home. 

It’s probably better to look at the Bond series as two distinct continuities. The original saga began with Dr No, and runs all the way through to Die Another Day, released 40 years later. Although it’s never explicitly stated, you can comfortably assume that these films run in sequence. In fact, there are several key continuity elements that appear to confirm this. 

The most compelling piece of evidence is the fact that in several movies released after On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, Bond refers to the fact he was married once – his wedding turned into a wake when Bond’s wife was assassinated by Blofeld in that film. This is most explicit in For Your Eyes Only, where we see 007 visiting his late wife Tracy’s grave, before going on a revenge mission against Blofeld. Blofeld never appeared again in the original continuity, so it’s safe to deduce that being dropped into a chimney did actually kill him. We also know that The Man with the Golden Gun takes place after Live and Let Die because 007 meets Sheriff JW Pepper for the second time. The same reasoning can be applied to super-sized henchman Jaws in The Spy who Loved Me and Moonraker. 

The second continuity began with origin story Casino Royale (2006), and runs all the way to 2020’s No Time to Die. This is the beginning of James Bond’s '00s story – based on Ian Fleming’s first Bond novel – as we see him qualifying as a government assassin and embarking on his first mission. The movies that followed have all been part of the same chronology, much more serialized than we ever saw in the original Bond run – particularly with evil organizations Quantum and Spectre providing a throughline between each movie. 

Whether the events of the five Daniel Craig films take place before Dr No is open to debate. On the yes side, we do see Bond’s first encounter with Ernst Stavro Blofeld in Spectre – and it’s there the bad guy gets his famous scars. On the against side, in No Time to Die Craig will be nearly 20 years older than Sean Connery was in Dr No, while the fact Bond takes his classic Aston Martin DB5 out of storage in Skyfall suggests that Goldfinger is in his past. Maybe Craig’s films just exist in a parallel timeline like JJ Abrams’ Trek movies…

The 1967 Casino Royale and Never Say Never Again exist entirely separately from the official continuity. 

See, we told you it was confusing.

Daniel Craig continuity

  • Casino Royale
  • Quantum of Solace
  • Skyfall
  • Spectre
  • No Time to Die

Original run

  • Dr No (1962)
  • From Russia with Love (1963)
  • Goldfinger (1964)
  • Thunderball (1965)
  • You Only Live Twice (1967)
  • On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (1969)
  • Diamonds Are Forever (1971)
  • Live and Let Die (1973)
  • The Man with the Golden Gun (1974)
  • The Spy Who Loved Me (1977)
  • Moonraker (1979)
  • For Your Eyes Only (1981)
  • Octopussy (1983)
  • A View to a Kill (1985)
  • The Living Daylights (1987)
  • Licence to Kill (1989)
  • GoldenEye (1995)
  • Tomorrow Never Dies (1997)
  • The World is Not Enough (1999)
  • Die Another Day (2002)